SI Vault
November 29, 1971
If they can resist the blandishments of the pros until graduation, the stars of the class of 1974 may turn out to be the best college basketball has ever seen. Assuredly, they are the biggest. Tom McMillen of Maryland (right), the nation's most sought-after high school player two years ago, is 6'11", yet he has to look up at such other giants as North Carolina State's 7'4" Tom Burleson (see cover) and 7-footers Tree Grant of New Mexico State and Dave Brent of Jacksonville. More of the new big men who are expected to lead their schools to national ranking appear in and among the scouting reports of 1971-72's best teams and players on the following pages.
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November 29, 1971

The Top 20

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But quibble not about St. John's. The Redmen are so well stocked that Coach Mulzoff allowed one big prospect (he was 6'10") to stay with the fencing team.


It was not anything like this at Minnesota a year ago. Oh, the football team was losing and Max Shulman was having his digs at the place, but the school had not won a Big Ten title outright in basketball since the year after the signing of the World War I Armistice and there was no immediate prospect of winning one. And there certainly wasn't all this awesome young talent clappin' and jivin' and gettin' ready under maximum security in Williams Arena, where the Gophers play basketball and where Bill Musselman is about to end all that losing business. Musselman is the guy who brought excitement into the lives of the citizens of Ashland, Ohio—he won 129 college division games there in six years—and now at 31 he is Minnesota's fifth basketball coach in five years.

Musselman most likely will begin the big change by starting five blacks, four over 6'8" and all from out of state. Two of them, Ron Behagen and Clyde Turner, were among the four best junior-college players in the country last year. A third, Center Jim Brewer, is the core of the team and supreme around the basket, particularly on defense. He shot only .402 last year, primarily because he had to come outside to get the ball away from his guards. In the process he missed precious tip-ins and offensive rebounds and Minnesota staggered to an 11-13 year. Brewer almost left school in midseason or at least he let it be known he was disappointed enough in the coaching staff to consider leaving. The whole thing was really just a tactical move to shake up the status quo, he says now.

A fanatic on defense and fundamentals, Musselman firmly believes his one-guard offense will work with sophomore Keith Young or possibly Bob Nix at the point. Corky Taylor is his fourth big man, now that his knee injury seems healed. In addition he wants to see how opposing coaches will like Behagen, a 6'9" mad stork, flapping all over their biggest guard. Behagen is light enough on his feet to cover most guards in the country.

At practice Musselman appears brutal, constantly blowing his whistle like a drill sergeant and barking like one too. He swears he is not asking his men to do anything he would not do, and one day proved his point by ripping the knees of his $35 flares diving for a loose ball. But off court he treats his players like younger brothers, dressing alongside them in their locker room where his last name is stenciled on his locker as it is on anyone else's. He even buys some of the rock 45s the team plays during the kind of ball-handling drills he made famous at Ashland. One of Behagen's favorites, by Sly and the Family Stone, is I Want To Take You Higher. That has got to be Mussel-man's theme for the year.

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