Commentary

Big O, Larry Legend Top Player List

Updated: February 9, 2010, 4:26 PM ET
By Doug Huff & Ronnie Flores | ESPNRISE.com

Larry Bird HSIndiana Basketball Hall of FameLarry Bird was a star at Springs Valley long before he made his mark on the NBA.

100 Years of Indiana Hoops

ESPN RISE celebrates 100 years of high school basketball in Indiana with a collection of stories that spans the decades.

Hoosiers love a debate.

Indiana hoops fans constantly compare championship teams of yesteryear in the old single-class format to the current multi-class title teams. Some fans yearn for the old days of the winner-take-all format, while current high school players may be too young to remember the zenith of Hoosier Hysteria.

Debating the merits of Indiana's best players is different. There's not much debate when it comes to factoring in the high school, college and pro success of individual players. The strongest argument can clearly be made for 1956 Crispus Attucks of Indianapolis graduate Oscar Robertson.

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Robertson is the best all-around player in Indiana's history, and arguably, in the game's history. Nobody who ever dominated on all three levels can match his combination of scoring, rebounding and passing.

Robertson was a trailblazing prep who led Crispus Attucks to a 45-game winning streak, a state record that lasted until the 2006-2007 season. The Big O was a three-time college basketball national player of the year at Cincinnati and left for the NBA with a then NCAA record 2,973 points. At the pro level, of course, he's the only player to ever average a triple double for an entire season (30.8, 12.5, 11.4) in 1961-62. In his first five NBA seasons, Robertson averaged 30.3 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.6 assists per game.

John Wooden
Indiana Basketball Hall of FameJohn Wooden made his mark in college basketball where he turned UCLA into a dynasty. As a high school player, Wooden was good enough to crack the Indiana Top 10.

Debating just the merits of a player's high school career would undoubtedly alter this list and make compiling it a near impossible task. The high school career of the No. 2 player on our list, Springs Valley's Larry Bird, certainly was strong but possibly overlooked. The sinewy forward averaged 30.6 points and 20.6 rebounds per game as a senior, but it could have been Bird's small-town, small-school status that relegated him to second team all-state status in 1974.

There is no debating Bird's greatness on the college and pro level. Like Robertson, the Hick from French Lick is one of the greatest scorers in NCAA history. The three-time NBA MVP is one of only a handful of players that is in the conversation with Robertson as the NBA's best ever all-around player.

Three players that join Robertson as ESPN RISE Mr. Basketball USA picks highlight this Elite 100 list. Indianapolis Washington's George McGinnis followed Robertson as the choice in 1969, when he became the state's first player to score 1,000 points in a season. After leading Washington to an undefeated season, the powerful McGinnis made an immediate impact at Indiana University. He led the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore, was the ABA's 1975 MVP and a first team All-NBA choice in 1976.

Indianapolis Lawrence North's Greg Oden led his school to a 103-7 record as a four-year standout from 2003-2006. A time-time EA SPORTS All-American, Oden blocked 18 shots in one game as a junior, shot 74 percent from the floor as a senior and once converted 18 straight field goals in two consecutive state tournament games. One of the finest centers in high school history, Oden has struggled with injuries as a pro, but led Ohio State to the NCAA Div. I championship game in his only college season.

[+] EnlargeDamon Bailey
Indiana Basketball Hall of FameDamon Bailey (pictured) remains Indiana's all-time leading scorer, but that mark will be challenged by Deshaun Thomas.

Arguably the Hoosier State's most revered high school player is Bedford North Lawrence's Damon Bailey. He entered high school in 1986 with a ton of fanfare and lived up to the hoopla. A four-time all-state choice, Bailey capped his Mr. Basketball USA campaign in 1990 by leading BNL to a come-from-behind 63-60 victory over previous unbeaten Concord in the state final. Over 41,000 people (reportedly the largest crowd to ever witness a high school basketball game) saw Bailey score 30 points, including his team's final 11, to clinch the title. He finished his career as the state's all-time leading scorer with 3,134 points, a mark that is being threatened by current Fort Wayne Bishop Luers standout Deshaun Thomas.

Just missing the top five was Lebanon's Rick Mount. Like Bailey, "The Rocket" had a marginal pro career, but was a college standout and prep legend. After scoring 2,595 career points at Lebanon, Mount was edged out by Calvin Murphy of Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) for national player of the year honors, but holds the distinction of being the first high school athlete to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Read on to see if you agree with our top 100 and make sure to leave a comment about our selections.

INDIANA'S ALL-TIME ELITE 100 BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYERS

(Based on evaluation of high school, college and pro accomplishments, with a slight emphasis on high school. Those that led team to state championships, won Indiana Mr. Basketball or EA SPORTS Mr. Basketball USA are also given precedence over those who did not.)

1. Oscar Robertson (Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis) 1956 G
2. Larry Bird (Springs Valley, French Lick) 1974 F
3. George McGinnis (Washington, Indianapolis) 1969 F
4. Greg Oden (Lawrence North, Indianapolis) 2006 C
5. Damon Bailey (North Lawrence, Bedford) 1990 G
6. Rick Mount (Lebanon) 1966 G
7. Clyde Lovellette (Garfield, Terre Haute) 1948 C
8. Glenn Robinson (Roosevelt, Gary) 1991 F
9. John Wooden (Martinsville) 1928 F
10. Bobby Plump (Milan) 1954 G
11. Shawn Kemp (Concord, Elkhart) 1988 F
12. Kent Benson (Chrysler, New Castle) 1973 C
13. Terry Dischinger (Garfield, Terre Haute) 1958 F
14. Steve Alford (Chrysler, New Castle) 1983 G
15. Kyle Macy (Peru) 1975 G
16. Eric Gordon (North Central, Indianapolis) 2007 G
17. Jim Bradley (Roosevelt, East Chicago) 1970 F
18. Dick Van Arsdale (Manual, Indianapolis) 1961 F
19. Tom Van Arsdale (Manual, Indianapolis) 1961 G
20. Ron Bonham (Muncie Central, Muncie) 1960 F
21. Marion Pierce (Lewisville) 1961 G
22. Dick Barnett (Roosevelt, Gary) 1955 G
23. Junior Bridgeman (Washington, East Chicago) 1971 F
24. Mike Conley (Lawrence North, Indianapolis) 2006 G
25. Sean May (Bloomington North, Bloomington) 2002 F
26. Jimmy Rayl (Kokomo) 1959 G
27. Mike Warren (South Bend Central, South Bend) 1964 G
28. Scott Skiles (Plymouth) 1982 G
29. Billy Keller (Washington, Indianapolis) 1965 G
30. Louie Dampier (Southport, Indianapolis) 1963 G
31. Steve Downing (Washington, Indianapolis) 1969 C
32. Ray Tolbert (Madison Heights, Anderson) 1977 F
33. Don Buse (Holland) 1968 G
34. Deshaun Thomas (Bishop Luers, Fort Wayne) 2010 F
35. James Blackmon (Marion) 1983 G
36. Monte Towe (Oak Hill, Converse) 1971 G
37. Steve Collier (Southwestern, Hanover) 1974 G
38. Mike Flynn (Jeffersonville) 1971 G
39. Eric Montross (Lawrence North, Indianapolis) 1990 C
40. Landon Turner (Arsenal Tech, Indianapolis) 1978 F
41. Hallie Bryant (Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis) 1953 G
42. Bobby Miles (Washington, East Chicago) 1962 G
43. Willie Merriweather (Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis) 1955 F
44. Jerry Sichting (Martinsville) 1975 G
45. Bryce Drew (Valparaiso) 1994 G
46. Mike Edwards (Greenfield) 1969 G
47. Dave Schellhase (North, Evansville) 1962 G
48. Delray Brooks (Rogers, Michigan City) 1984 G
49. Troy Lewis (Anderson) 1984 G
50. Roy Taylor (Anderson) 1974 F
51. Jared Jeffries (Bloomington North, Bloomington) 2000 F
52. Calbert Cheaney (Harrison, Evansville) 1989 F
53. Alan Henderson (Brebeuf, Indianapolis) 1991 F
54. Robert "Fuzzy" Vandivier (Franklin) 1922 F
55. Randy Wittman (Ben Davis, Indianapolis) 1978 F
56. Roger Kaiser (Dale) 1957 G
57. David Colescott (Marion) 1976 G
58. Steve Green (Silver Creek) 1971 F
59. Tim Stoddard (Washington, East Chicago) 1971 F
60. Jay Edwards (Marion) 1987 G
61. Winston Garland (Roosevelt, Gary) 1983 G
62. Jason Gardner (North Central, Indianapolis) 1999 G
63. Bobby "Slick" Leonard (Gerstmeyer Tech, Terre Haute) 1950 G
64. Tom Abernathy (St. Joseph, South Bend) 1972 F
65. Branch McCracken (Monrovia) 1926 F
66. Charles "Stretch" Murphy (Marion) 1926 C
67. Walter Jordan (Northrop, Fort Wayne) 1974 F
68. Pat Graham (Floyd Central, Floyds Knob) 1989 G
69. Vic Bubas (Lew Wallace, Gary) 1944 F
70. John Macleod (Providence, Clarkesville) 1955 G
71. Bob Wilkerson (Madison, Anderson) 1972 G
72. Tommy Kron (Tell City) 1962 G
73. Mike Woodson (Broad Ripple, Indianapolis) 1976 G
74. Roger Harden (Valparaiso) 1982 G
75. Ken Barlow (Cathedral, Indianapolis) 1982 F
76. Maurice "Kojak" Fuller (Anderson) 1993 G
77. Sam Drummer (Muncie North) 1975 F
78. Kenny Lofton (Washington, East Chicago) 1985 G
79. Bonzi Wells (Muncie Central, Muncie) 1994 G
80. Bailey Robertson (Crispus Attucks, Indianapolis) 1953 G
81. Pete Trgovich (Washington, East Chicago) 1971 G
82. Lee Nailon (Clay, South Bend) 1994 C
83. Brad Miller (East Noble, Kendallville) 1994 C
84. John Flowers (South Side, Fort Wayne) 1981 F
85. Josh McRoberts (Carmel) 2005 C
86. Jim "Goose" Ligon (Kokomo) 1962 F
87. Chris Thomas (Pike, Indianapolis) 2001 G
88. Jeff Teague (Pike, Indianapolis) 2007 G
89. Luke Harangody (Andrean, Merrillville) 2006 F
90. Steve Risley (Central, Lawrence) 1977 F
91. Brian Evans (South, Terre Haute) 1991 F
92. Jim Master (Harding, Fort Wayne) 1980 G
93. Courtney Lee (Pike, Indianapolis) 2004 G
94. Lyndon Jones (Marion) 1987 G
95. Luke Recker (DeKalb) 1997 G
96. Tyler Zeller (Washington) 2008 C
97. Luke Zeller (Washington) 2005 C
98. Woody Austin (Richmond) 1988 G
99. Billy Shepherd (Carmel) 1968 G
100. Dave Shepherd (Carmel) 1970 G