Best NBA players from the Missouri Valley Conference

These are the best players in NBA history who played for a current Missouri Valley Conference team. Players are ranked by their career scoring averages in the NBA. All players who averaged at least 10.0 points per game are listed.

Magic Johnson and Larry Bird
Wikimedia Commons

This is an impressive list of players, as two of these players are already in the Basketball Hall of Fame. Both players were huge stars in their day, and both are still very well known today. Another player on the list is destined for the hall of fame, but as a coach.

One of the Missouri Valley Conference players on the list played for my favorite NBA team, the New Jersey Nets, during our inaugural season in 1977. We played that season at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). I was a kid back then and we used to go to a lot of the Nets home games, as a local school sponsored bus trips down to the RAC for the games. A couple of other players on the list also played for the Nets.

Best NBA Players from the Missouri Valley Conference

1. Larry Bird - 24.3 Indiana State

Larry Bird averaged 30.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game at Indiana State University from 1977 to 1979. He led the Sycamores to the 1979 NCAA Championship game, which they lost to Magic Johnson and the Michigan State Spartans. Bird was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the sixth overall pick in 1978. He played one more of year college though before joining the Celtics in 1979.

Larry Bird played 13 years in the NBA, and averaged 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game. What I always admired Bird for was the way he played the game with such confidence. Something he had in common with Magic Johnson.

Bird was a three time MVP in the NBA, he won three championships, was twice NBA Finals MVP, was a 12 time all-star, and was MVP of the all-star game in 1982, and he was Rookie of the Year in 1980. Larry Bird was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998. He is presently the President of the Indiana Pacers.

2. Walt Frazier - 18.9 Southern Illinois

Walt Clyde Frazier averaged 17.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game at the University of Southern Illinois over two seasons in 1965 and 1967. Clyde was academically ineligible in 1966. In the 1967 NBA Draft, Frazier was taken by the New York Knicks with the fifth overall pick. Clyde played 13 years in the NBA, and averaged 18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.

Clyde won two NBA Championships with the Knicks in 1970 and 1973, was a seven time all-star, and all-star game MVP in 1975. In the Seventh Game of the 1970 NBA Finals, Frazier scored 36 points and had 19 assists to lead the Knicks to their first title.

Walt Frazier was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987. He now works as an analyst for the MST Network covering Knicks games, where he slices and dices and dissects the action.

3. Chet Walker - 18.2 Bradley

Chet Walker averaged 24.4 points and 12.8 rebounds per game at Bradley University from 1960 to 1962. The Syracuse Nationals drafted him with the fifth overall pick in the 1962 draft. Chet Walker played 13 years in the NBA, and averaged 18.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game. Walker was a seven time all-star, and won a championship in 1967 with Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers.

4. Doug Collins - 17.9 Illinois State

Doug Collins averaged 29.1 points per game at Illinois State University from 1971 to 1973. The Philadelphia 76ers took Collins with the first overall pick in the 1973 NBA Draft. He played eight years in the NBA, and averaged 17.9 points per game. Collins is currently head coach of the 76ers. His NBA coaching record stands at 373-328 (.532).

5. Xavier McDaniel - 15.6 Wichita State

Xavier McDaniel averaged 18.4 points (27.2 as a senior) and 11.6 rebounds per game at Wichita State University from 1982 to 1985. He was taken with the fourth overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. McDaniel played 12 years in the NBA, and averaged 15.6 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. McDaniel finished up his career playing for my New Jersey Nets in 1997 and 1998.

6. Hersey Hawkins - 14.7 Bradley

Hersey Hawkins averaged 24.1 points (36.3 as a senior) at Bradley University from 1985 to 1988. e was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Hawkins played 13 years in the NBA, and averaged 14.7 points per game.

7. Jerry Sloan - 14.0 Evansville

Jerry Sloan averaged 15.5 points and 12.4 rebounds per game at the University of Evansville from 1963 to 1965. He was then taken with the fourth overall pick in the 1965 NBA Draft by the Baltimore Bullets. Sloan played 11 years in the NBA, and averaged 14.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. After his playing days, Sloan coached in the NBA for 26 years and compiled a 1,221-803 (.603) record.

He mainly coached the Utah Jazz, and was a big beneficiary of having John Stockton and Karl Malone on the team for many years. Sloan resigned as coach of the Jazz in February of 2011, supposedly after trouble with star guard Deron Williams(notes), who was soon traded to my Nets. Sloan will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame for his coaching record.

8. Lewis Lloyd - 13.2 Drake

Lewis Lloyd averaged 28.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game at Drake University over two seasons in 1980 and 1981. He was taken with the 76th overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. Lloyd played seven years in the NBA, and averaged 13.2 points per game.

9. Robert Hawkins - 12.7 Illinois State

After averaging 18.6 points per game at Illinois State University in 1975, Robert Hawkins was drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 51st overall pick in the 1975 draft. Hawkins played four years in the NBA for four different teams, and averaged 12.7 points per game. He played the 1977-78 season with my New Jersey Nets.

10. Benoit Benjamin - 11.4 Creighton

Benoit Benjamin averaged 17.7 points and 11.3 rebounds per game at Creighton University from 1983 to 1985. He was then the third overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. Benjamin played 15 years in the NBA, and averaged 11.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He played two season for my Nets in 1994 and 1995, and averaged 10.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for us.

11. Dick Garrett - 10.3 Southern Illinois

Dick Garrett averaged 18.1 points per game at Southern Illinois from 1967 to 1969. He was then the 27th overall pick in the 1969 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. Garrett played five years in the NBA, and averaged 10.3 points per game.

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Updated Friday, Sep 16, 2011