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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McAdoo is hardly a stranger in Carolina. He grew up and played his high school ball in Greensboro, only 48 miles down the road from Chapel Hill. When he went to Vincennes Junior College in Indiana, his chances of playing at North Carolina seemed remote since Smith had never recruited a junior college player. "But McAdoo's a good student and he's from the state," says Smith. He's also a 26-point scorer and a fine rebounder, and facts like that don't hurt a fellow's chances.

Last year, 6'10" Lee Dedmon earned his keep by passing and rebounding, leaving the brunt of the scoring to Chamberlain (14.4 points a game) and Dennis Wuycik (18.4). McAdoo will be much more of an offensive factor. Now all Smith has to do is figure out how to take full advantage of McAdoo's scoring without losing any of the cohesiveness, selflessness and aggressiveness that characterized last year's unit.

Probably the most gifted athlete on the team, Chamberlain got off to a slow start this fall because of a tonsillectomy. So did Wuycik, who was testing the right knee he injured early in the NIT. If either falters, North Carolina need look only as far as sophomore Bobby Jones. At 6'8", he is not hard to see, nor is he hard for a coach to take. Already he is being counted on to help McAdoo at center. There are no questions at guard, where 6'3" Steve Previs and 6'2" George Karl continue to amaze Smith with their all-out play, even in practice.

In December the Tar Heels will go to Madrid for a tournament, but it is Los Angeles that interests them. They would admire to be there this March.


Never underestimate the great American game of ten pins. Because of a bowling tournament that has booked the downtown arena for two months this winter, the country's most physical and raw-talented basketball team must play 13 of its 17 home games in a tiny campus gym that seats 2,300. This is a pity because Long Beach State Coach Jerry Tarkanian, the Fidel Castro of the college game, has come out of the brush again with some extraordinary guerrilla recruiting.

To begin, there is Nate Stephens, a 7-foot wanderer whose nose for geography has taken him all over the badlands, to such way stations as Weber State, Southern Idaho College, UTEP, New Mexico State and Creighton. He ended up at Long Beach State last season where he proceeded to redshirt, initiate fistic rumbles in the layup drills and set world records for sleeping. Tarkanian says he has got Stephens "under control" now. Whatever that means, the mobile Nate is impressively quick under the basket, rejects shots in spectacular fashion and has razors for elbows. Still, he is relatively tame compared to 6'8", 240-pound Leonard Gray, a transfer from Kansas who becomes eligible the first of February. Gray, says Tarkanian, is "the meanest SOB who ever lived," a ferocious-looking individual whose short fuse and penchant for right uppercuts in rebound battles make him a beautiful and all too believable villain.

Tarkanian has coached the 49ers to 23-3, 24-5 and 24-5 records in the last three years, mostly against candy-cane schedules that hardly did justice to his abilities as a recruiter and as a tongue-lashing coach of stingy zone defenses. The Long Beach zone made UCLA look silly in the finals of the Western Regional last March, but the 49ers blew an 11-point lead; their star, Ed Ratleff, fouled out with five minutes left, a bad shooter took a bad shot and they lost 57-55.

This season it is conceivable that Long Beach will not lose to anybody. Though George Trapp will be missed, Ratleff, a 6'6" junior of supreme passing and shooting skills, Chuck Terry, another solid 6'6" wingman who was the defensive star of the Pan American team, and the rest of their huge teammates will be around—people like Bob Lynn, 6'9", 255 pounds, and leaper Eric McWilliams, 6'7". The 49ers had trouble finding a backcourt leader last winter, but if 6'2" Lamont King, who averaged 34 points a game at something called Southeastern Iowa Area Community College in Keokuk, or redshirt Guard Tom Motley will give up the ball to the rest of the scorers, that problem will be solved. If everybody stays healthy and out of trouble, this could be the year of Long Beach's deliverance.


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