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.
Jesus Christ having finally made superstar, it is about time that a school conducted by the Society of Jesus should shape up. The heart of Marquette University has been remodeled and now presents several blocks of sidewalks, benches, trees and a whole lot of other honest-to-goodness college stuff. What is paradise for the romantic is paradox to the rogue, however, and Jack (Chico) Rusnov, a young graduate, has put the look in perspective. "Awful," he says. "The place looks like a campus."
Fortunately for Rusnov and all the rest of Marquette's edge-of-delirium basketball fans, the Warriors once again look like a team most campuses would be happy to own. Since the end of last season when Marquette floated on the verge of fantasy toward its 39-game winning streak, Coach Al McGuire has been itching to try it again. "I'm more excited than ever," he said the week practice started. "It looks like the top of the mountain again."
From such peaks McGuire conducts the Marquette program. Because of his myriad outside interests and a wise unwillingness to become involved with the lesser pressures of the job, McGuire spends less time coaching than any man in the business and leaves most of the work to Hank Raymonds, his excellent assistant. It works.
Though the Warriors lost two versatile players in Dean (The Dream) Meminger and Gary Brell, there is better depth overall as well as vast, untapped scoring potential. Successor to the inimitable Brell (recently reported to be "playing kazoo in a freak band downtown") is Larry (Youngblood Hawke) McNeill, a 6'9" rail of a sophomore who shoots like a machine and is, says McGuire, "my next All-America." With Jim Chones and the new team captain, fearsome Bob (Black Swan) Lackey, 6'6", up front, the Warriors have a forward line only a Marquette mother could love. In fine counterpoint the angelic-looking Spider Mills, a 6'9" center last year, will play a lot more, enabling Chones to move to forward at times.
Guard Allie McGuire grew to almost 6'5" over the summer, but if he cannot shake a mysterious illness that limits his oxygen intake, the Warriors may have backcourt trouble. Though speedy Sugar Frazier had a head start in occupying Meminger's position, sophomore Marcus Washington, who moves and thinks like The Dream, looks like the leader the deliberate Warriors must have. Gary Grzesk returns to provide steadiness while rookie Randy (The Gizmo from Omro) Wade can fill the basket from outside. The kazoos in Milwaukee should be deafening.
With four starters back from the NIT champions, North Carolina has reason to look forward to the J new season. Yet not one of the returnees—who include Forward Bill Chamberlain, the NIT's Most Valuable Player—has aroused as much interest and enthusiasm as a tall newcomer from the junior college ranks. The talk in Chapel Hill is all about 6'9" Robert McAdoo. Will he fit smoothly into Coach Dean Smith's disciplined game? Will he be able to hold his own against the likes of Maryland's Tom McMillen? Is he good enough to finally lead the Tar Heels to the championship—the big championship, the NCAA—they have been so close to winning these recent years?
"He has tremendous ability," says Smith cautiously, while Chamberlain adds, "He's so mobile for his size that we might be even better than we were last year." Nobody knows what McAdoo says; Smith has ruled out all formal interviews until after Carolina's first game. "It just wouldn't be fair to the other four kids for him to get all the attention," says Smith.