A Brief Item: Highlights of Northwestern Basketball

This might be hard to believe, but there are some sports fans who are not familiar with Northwestern’s rich, rich basketball history. I am aghast at such ignorance. Why, how could any college basketball aficionado not be familiar with the legendary, um, hmmm, . . . I’ll get back to you on that.

So in the wake of a question posted on last week’s blog item, here’s a brief primer on Northwestern basketball. This is particularly pertinent because the Wildcats are playing at Washington State tonight for a prestigious spot in the prestigious semifinals of the prestigious NIT.

As mentioned last week, Northwestern has never played in the NCAA Tournament and is the only school from one of the big-six conferences that has never done so. Considering that the ‘Cats all-time record is 957-1,387 — just 12 unbeaten seasons and they’ll be close to .500 — this might not come as a surprise.

If that didn’t drive home the paucity of basketball tradition at the school, this will. Yes, it’s a list of all the Northwestern products who have gone on to play in the NBA or ABA. It’s a short list.

Since 1986, one NU player has appeared in the NBA. All-time, only Billy McKinney and Don Adams have had what could be called NBA “careers.” McKinney also is the leading scorer in school history.

But McKinney is not the greatest basketball player in Northwestern history. That distinction goes to . . . wait for it . . . Otto Graham. Yes, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history was a great college basketball player, a consensus first-team All-American. Let’s see Andrew Luck do that.

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