LSU men’s basketball all-time roster: Tiger Legends
March is upon us, and that means that the madness will also return to us soon.
Unfortunately, LSU (in all likelihood) won’t be participating in the festivities after a rough first season under coach Matt McMahon that featured a 14-game losing streak that lasted from late December until the end of February.
This will be the first NCAA Tournament the Tigers have missed since 2018. Although LSU basketball has, historically, been a bit of an afterthought compared to the more successful football and baseball programs, it’s had a surprising level of consistency.
Aside from several lengthy droughts — most notably in recent years from 1993-00 and 2009-19 (with the exception of 2015) — this team has regularly appeared in the postseason for much of the last several decades, though it is still searching for its first national title. Those teams have, unsurprisingly, featured quite a bit of talent over the years.
With that in mind, we’re taking a crack at piecing together an all-time two-deep LSU basketball roster including one head coach and two assistants. Let’s start things off with the coaching staff, with our first choice likely coming as no surprise.
Dale Brown: Head Coach (1972-97)
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Who else could we pick here other than the man whose name graces the court at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center? Far and away the longest-tenured head coach in LSU history, Brown served as the head man in Baton Rouge from 1972 until his retirement in 1997.
Though he never won a national title, he accomplished practically everything else short of that. He finished his LSU career with a 448-301 record, making two Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1986 while also winning four SEC regular season championships and one SEC Tournament.
Brown was also named the SEC Coach of the Year four times and was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2014.
Johnny Jones: Assistant Coach (1984-97)
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Jones is likely best remembered by fans for his head coaching tenure in Baton Rouge from 2012-17, but before that, the former LSU basketball player under Brown later served as his head coach’s long-time assistant from 1984-97, where he was a part of Brown’s second Final Four team after playing on the first.
After several assistant stops, Jones became the head coach at North Texas and later with the Tigers, with whom he recorded four winning records in five seasons but made just one NCAA Tournament appearance.
After his firing, he served as an assistant at Nevada before taking the head coaching job at Texas Southern in 2018, which he currently occupies. He’s made the tournament in each of the last two seasons with the Tigers.
Ron Abernathy: Assistant Coach (1976-89)
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Another long-time assistant under Brown, Abernathy never had significant college head coaching experience, unlike Jones. As the associate head coach and lead recruiter, he helped lead the team to 13 consecutive winning seasons and was named Recruiter of the Year or Associate Head Coach of the Year six times.
He played a major role in landing some of the top players in the Brown era, namely [autotag]Shaquille O’Neal[/autotag] (we’ll get to him later).
After leaving LSU in 1989, he served as the head coach at Tennessee State for two years. He has since bounced around and had some experience coaching at the high school level.
Pete Maravich: Starting Guard (1967-70)
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This one should come as absolutely no surprise. We started with the coach whose name is on the court, so it’s fitting the first player we talk about is the namesake for the arena that contains it (and the likeness of a statue outside of it).
Maravich, lovingly nicknamed “Pistol Pete,” had one of the most prolific careers in college basketball history. Despite playing before the advent of the shot clock or three-point line and not being permitted to play on the varsity team as a freshman, Maravich averaged an astonishing 44.2 points per game for his career and remains the all-time Division I leading scorer with 3,667 career points.
The former record is considered to be unbreakable, though the latter is in danger of being broken by Detroit Mercy’s Antoine Davis this season.
He was named the SEC Player of the Year in all three of his seasons and was the National College Player of the Year in the final two. The third overall pick in 1970, Maravich played 10 years in the NBA for the Hawks, Jazz and Celtics. He was a five-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA First-Team selection before injuries forced his retirement in 1980.
Tragically, Maravich passed away in 1988 at the age of 40 as the result of an undetected heart defect.
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf: Starting Guard (1988-90)
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Known as Chris Jackson during his LSU playing days, Abdul-Rauf was a big-time recruit and McDonald’s All-American coming out of Mississippi. He made an immediate impact at LSU as a true freshman, setting the scoring record for a freshman with 53 points against Florida, a mark he’d later top with a 55-point game against Ole Miss.
After averaging 30.2 points and scoring 965 total points on the year — both of which set NCAA freshman records — he was named both the national Freshman of the Year and SEC Player of the Year.
He would repeat as SEC POY in his second season in 1990, and he was a Consensus First Team All-American in both his seasons at LSU.
He was the third overall pick in the 1990 NBA draft, playing nine years in the NBA and becoming the league’s Most Improved Player in 1991. He had a lengthy international playing career that ended in 2011.
Ben Simmons: Starting Forward (2015-16)
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This one is sure to be a bit polarizing.
Just in terms of his accomplishments at LSU, he’s likely got the least impressive resume among the first-teamers on this list. Still, it’s important to look back at his time in Baton Rouge with a little context.
A native of Melbourne, Australia, and the No. 1 overall recruit in the 2015 class, Simmons’ commitment to LSU over one of the perennial blue-blood programs was seen as something of a recruiting coup at the time for coach Jones.
Expected to be a one-and-done player, Simmons impressed in his lone season with the Tigers, averaging 19.2 points and 11.8 rebounds. However, that didn’t lead to team-wide success as LSU went just 18-13 and failed to secure a tournament bid with Simmons, who went on to be the first pick in the NBA draft for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Still, his one season was indisputably very good, as he was named both the national and SEC Freshman of the Year and was a Consensus First Team All-American.
After missing his entire rookie season with a foot injury, he won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2018 and has made three All-Star appearances in his career. He’s now playing in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets.
Bob Pettit: Starting Forward (1951-54)
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We’re throwing it way back with this one. Before there was Maravich, there was Pettit, who played at LSU in the early 1950s.
A native son of Baton Rouge, Pettit was — like Maravich — not allowed to play on the varsity team as a freshman. Still, he had a very nice career in three years at LSU. He earned consensus Second Team All-American honors in 1953 as a junior and made the First Team as a senior the following year.
He set SEC records for points in a game and scoring average, both of which Maravich would later break, and his No. 50 jersey is retired by LSU.
Pettit went second overall in the 1954 NBA draft and played an 11-year career, all of which was spent with the Milwaukee/St. Louis Hawks. He became the league’s first Most Valuable Player recipient in 1959.
Shaquille O'Neal: Starting Post (1989-92)
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While O’Neal’s career at LSU was special in its own right, he’s best remembered for what he did after he left Baton Rouge.
Shaq has a pretty strong case as the greatest professional athlete the school has ever produced, winning four NBA championships, three finals MVPs and a league MVP with 15 All-Star appearances in a career that spanned nearly two decades. He’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame and is regarded as one of the greatest NBA players of all time — as well as perhaps its greatest center in history.
That’s not to minimize his accomplishments in three seasons with the Tigers, though. He was a two-time First Team All-American and was the National Player of the Year per several publications in 1991. He was twice named the SEC Player of the Year, and he led the NCAA in rebounding in 1991 and blocks in 1992.
That resulted in him being the first overall pick in 1992, making him and Simmons the only LSU products to go with the top pick in the NBA draft.
Garrett Temple: Reserve Guard (2005-09)
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Another Baton Rouge native, Temple redshirted his first season with the Tigers in 2004-05, but he emerged onto the scene as a star defender as a redshirt freshman on LSU’s Final Four team the following season, on which he started 35 of 36 games.
Temple would go on to start four seasons at LSU, earning a reputation as a reliable defender and facilitator. As a senior in 2009, he became LSU’s all-time leader in minutes played with 4,432, and he was a Second Team All-SEC selection that season while also being named to the SEC All-Defensive Team.
He went undrafted in 2009, but he has since carved out a solid career as an NBA journeyman, playing for 11 teams. He is currently a member of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Marcus Thornton: Reserve Guard (2007-09)
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Yet another Baton Rouge native, Thornton began his career at the JUCO ranks playing for Kilgore College in Texas. After his sophomore season, he transferred to LSU and immediately became one of the SEC’s best players.
He finished second in the SEC in scoring as a junior. After averaging 21.1 points as a senior in 2008-09. he was subsequently named the SEC’s Player of the Year. Despite playing just two seasons with the Tigers, he finished his career eighth in program history with 168 three-pointers. He also finished sixth in scoring average at 20.4 points.
A second-round pick in 2009, Thornton played eight years in the NBA and most recently played for the Motor City Cruise of the NBA G League in 2022.
Rudy Macklin: Reserve Forward (1976-81)
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Macklin had an accomplished LSU career that spanned five seasons. He set the tone early in his career, totaling 32 rebounds in his first career game.
Though he would miss most of his second season with an injury in 1978-79, he would return to record back-to-back First Team All-America selections and was named the SEC Player of the Year as a senior in 1981. At the time of his graduation, he ranked first all-time in program history in rebounds with 1,276 and was second in scoring behind Maravich with 2,080 points.
A third-round pick in 1981, Macklin had a brief NBA career that lasted just two seasons, which he spent with the Hawks and Knicks before retiring due to injury concerns.
He’s one of just four LSU players to have their jersey retired, joining Maravich, O’Neal and Pettit.
Brandon Bass: Reserve Forward (2003-05)
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A local recruit for LSU, Bass was rated as a top-15 prospect nationally when he committed to the hometown Tigers. He made a major impact as a true freshman, starting all 29 games as he was named the SEC’s Freshman of the Year in addition to being selected for the All-Freshman Team.
He would surpass that in his second and final season with the Tigers, winning SEC Player of the Year in 2005. Despite that, he fell to the second round of the draft after he declared following his sophomore year.
Bass played in the NBA from 2005-17, and he most recently played in the Chinese Basketball Association in 2020.
Glen Davis: Reserve Post (2004-07)
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A college teammate of Bass and Temple, “Big Baby” Davis was a former five-star recruit and later became the heart and soul behind the Tigers’ Final Four run in 2006, which was its first since 1986. He was named the SEC Player of the Year in that campaign after winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award the prior season.
Davis declared for the draft after his junior season in 2007 and was taken in the second round by the Seattle Supersonics. He played in the NBA for eight years, winning an NBA Championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008.
He last appeared in 2018-19 for the now-defunct St. John’s Edge, a Canadian professional team.
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