Kareem Abdul-Jabbar #2 & Bill Walton #1 on The Loop Final Four Countdown: Best NCAA Players

He was known as Lew Alcindor when he arrived on the scene as a prep phenom at New York’s Power Memorial High School. He matriculated to UCLA, where he won a national title, Most Outstanding Player and Player of the Year awards in 1967. And 1968. And 1969. The NCAA threw up a roadblock by banning the dunk shot, so Big Lew merely perfected his legendary sky hook. In his three years at Westwood, his Bruins went 88-2, 12-0 in the tourney. His March Madness averages: 26 points and 17 rebounds. The Milwaukee Bucks won a coin flip for the right to draft him No. 1 in 1969. But six was the magic number for his career. That’s how many NBA titles and Most Valuable Players awards he won.

He’s all talk now in his role as an ESPN analyst, but the hippie from Helix High School let his game do the talking at UCLA. That’s where he led the Bruins to an 88-game winning streak. He was a three time consensus player of the year, but he actually played better in the tournament. He was Most Outstanding Player as John Wooden’s team won its sixth and seventh consecutive NCAA titles in 1972 and ‘73. He averaged 22 points and 13 rebounds in a dozen tourney games, with his only loss coming in double overtime to North Carolina State in 1974. A year earlier, he had the single greatest performance in Final Four history, making 21 of 22 shots in the championship game against Memphis State. Not too bad for a Grateful Dead groupie.

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