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THE TOP 20 TEAMS
December 01, 1969
Not in four years has anybody dared pick against UCLA. Even with Lew Alcindor gone, to do so now is still chancy. John Wooden's teams have always been good and this year's edition is no exception. But the Gamecocks of South Carolina, an almost all-New York team, and the Aggies of New Mexico State, not to mention Purdue with Rick Mount, may have enough finesse and—most of all—enough desire to unseat college basketball's biggest winner
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December 01, 1969

The Top 20 Teams

Not in four years has anybody dared pick against UCLA. Even with Lew Alcindor gone, to do so now is still chancy. John Wooden's teams have always been good and this year's edition is no exception. But the Gamecocks of South Carolina, an almost all-New York team, and the Aggies of New Mexico State, not to mention Purdue with Rick Mount, may have enough finesse and—most of all—enough desire to unseat college basketball's biggest winner

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13 WEBER STATE

While Coach Phil Johnson of Weber State was recruiting 6'5" Forward Kent Ross, who broke all scoring records at Cochise Junior College in Arizona, and Forward-Guard Bill Orr, who was New York all-city and averaged 28.5 points at Iowa Central, he rattled them both. "I just don't know if you have the basic equipment to measure up to what you'd be replacing," he told Orr, shaking his head.

"What's that?" asked Orr.

"No," Johnson said mournfully, "how can a guy named Bill Orr ever replace a Justus Thigpen?"

Thigpen will be hard to top, all right, particularly since he scored 18.6 points per game. So will Weber's record last year: 15-0 in the Big Sky Conference, 27-3 overall and third place in the NCAA Far West Regional. And the Wildcats from the Wasatch also lost some tall, muscly forwards. But Willie Sojourner and Sessions Harlan are back in the rack. Since 6'8" Sojourner and pepperpot Sessions are two of the most exciting, game-breaking ballplayers in the country, Johnson need not throw himself under a streetcar.

"That Sesh," he says admiringly. "He gets psyched way up for practice. He's so sky high the first two plays, I think if I told him anything, he'd faint."

Team Captain Sessions can jump three to four feet off the floor and also execute such fancy drives that his one weakness may be a tendency to bypass the easy shot. He is also one of the best nerve-twangling defensive guards in the nation. With his jokes, his Motown accent, his porkpie hat and his direct, engaging manner, Sessions is also that imponderable asset: a strong unifying influence. "I hate to seem like an authority figure," he says, worriedly. "If someone is slow, I'll just say, 'Man, let's get this play over.' "

Laconic, sly-witted Sojourner has an opposite, calming effect. "Except sometimes he really gets turned on when we keep hitting him," a Weber Stater says. "Then he just won't quit scoring."

Although Orr needs more roar on defense and Ross a little more on rebounding, they are of the Sojourner-Sessions stripe. Johnson hopes to use Orr at guard for his excellent ball handling, driving and passing. If Orr must be moved to forward, strong two-year letterman Rich Nielsen will play guard. Dave Sackolwitz, a street fighter of a forward, seems to lead smooth-shooting Jon Knoble for the fifth starting spot.

"We have seven great ballplayers," says one observer. "If one of the key men doesn't get hurt, if at least one newcomer gets good and if the Wildcats can pad past Arizona State, Arizona and Seattle in December, Weber will be something." It will be.

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