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The 5 best players in UNT basketball history
North Carolina. UCONN. UCLA. Syracuse. These are likely some of the universities that come to mind when you think of teams that consistently churn out NBA players. Admittedly, when you think of college basketball players continuing into the NBA, the University of North Texas probably doesn't come to mind.
You may be as surprised as me to learn that there have actually been quite a few Mean Green alum drafted by the NBA/ABA. According to this website, there have been 15 former UNT - don't mind the North Texas State University name as that was the university's name up until 1988 - players drafted by NBA/ABA teams. Recent graduate Eric Tramiel worked out for the Dallas Mavericks over the summer, and is currently playing professional basketball overseas in Israel.
With two NCAA tournament appearances in the past four years, and a 2010-11 season that looks brighter than a supernova, (the Mean Green only lost 2 seniors last year, and are returning four starters), North Texas looks like a program on the rise. Hopefully, that trend will continue, and hopefully my picks for top five basketball players in UNT history won't disappoint. Keep in mind that these five are not listed in any particular order.
5. Leroy "Lee" Winfield
While 15 North Texas players have been drafted by NBA/ABA teams, only a handful have seen extended stays in the upper ranks; in that handful of players comes Lee Winfield. Lee Winfield played guard for a couple of teams (Seattle, Buffalo, Kansas City) in his 403 professional games that lasted over the course of a seven year professional career. Lee Winfield averaged just under 20 minutes per game in his professional career, and put up an average of 7.2 points/gm.
4. Joe Hamilton
Joe Hamilton was drafted in the 9th round of the 1970 NBA draft by Milwaukee, but ended up playing in the now defunct ABA. Much like Lee Winfield, the 5' 10" guard Joe Hamilton enjoyed a decently long stay in the pros. He played a total of 344 games over the course of 6 seasons with many different teams including the Texas/Dallas Chaparrals, the San Antonio Spurs, the Kentucky Colonels, and the Utah Stars. Joe Hamilton averaged 12 points/gm and 3.5 assists/gm during his profession tenure.
3. Chris Davis
Chris Davis' spot on the list is a little more debatable than Lee Winfield's or Joe Hamilton's based on the fact that Chris Davis didn't see any playing time in the American professional ranks. Much like the aforementioned Eric Tramiel though, that hasn't kept him from enjoying successful seasons overseas. Chris Davis is remembered as a player that could "do it all", and was inducted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008. Chris Davis was named an all-star in Greece during his international tenure.
2. Kenneth Lyons
When the discussion of "best UNT basketball players" comes up, Kenneth Lyons is usually mentioned somewhere on nearly everyone's list. Kenneth Lyons played under the late, great Bill Blakeley who passed away in late October 2010. Kenneth Lyons is the leading scorer in North Texas basketball history, a lofty accolade considering sharpshooters such as Tristan Thompson and Josh White will be playing their fourth season with the Mean Green this season. Kenneth Lyons is also a member of the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame as he was inducted in 1993.
1. Kenneth Williams
Strangely enough, there are two players named Kenneth on this list, perhaps an insight to North Texas' future recruiting endeavors. Kenneth Williams played under coach Bill Blakeley from 1975-1978 and during the '77-'78 season, he led the nation with an impressive 14.7 rebounds/gm. Although Kenneth Williams played before Kenneth Lyons, Williams' induction into the North Texas Hall of Fame came four years later in 1997.
Thanks to basketball-reference.com for all stats provided.
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