Top 20 Indiana basketball players of all-time

Former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Bob Knight . (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Former Indiana Hoosiers head coach Bob Knight . (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /
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Indiana basketball
Isaiah Thomas cuts the basketball net from the hoop after Indiana University’s victory in the NCAA Final Four. (Photo by © Wally McNamee/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) /

Indiana basketball career stats: 15.4 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.7 AST, 2.2 STL, 53.4 FG%, 63 GP

Isiah Thomas. Who else would be the best Hoosier basketball player of all time? You may think I was swayed by a 1980 Indiana University alum, but looking at statistics and impact on the floor, Thomas has no reason not to be the best Indiana basketball player of all time.

In his short two seasons under Bob Knight, Thomas earned himself a two-time selection to the First Team All-Big Ten, First Team Consensus All-American, two-time NCAA Tournament All-Region, and the 1981 NCAA Most Outstanding Player Award for his efforts with the 1981 NCAA Champions, Indiana Hoosiers. His Hoosiers won the Big Ten Championship in both of his seasons in Bloomington and led Indiana in scoring and assists.

Thomas had a short, but crazy impressive NCAA Tournament resume, averaging 19.7 points, 7.8 assists, and 1.5 steals in 36.4 minutes per game. He started out the 1981 NCAA Tournament run with 19 points and 14 assists against Maryland in the first round, then ended his college career with an NCAA Championship and recorded 23 points, five assists, and four steals against James Worth and the Tar Heels.

Thomas played just two seasons for Indiana and is still ranked in the top 10 in the following statistical categories for career and single-season numbers in IU history:

  • Minutes played per game: 34.5 (5th)
  • Assists per game: 5.7 (1st)
  • Steals: 136 (7th)
  • Steals per game: 2.2 (1st)
  • Minutes played (single season): 1,190 in 1980-81 (tied for 6th)
  • Assists (single season): 197 in 1980-81 (1st) & 159 in 1979-80 (10th)
  • Assists per game (single season): 5.8 in 1980-81 (1st) & 5.5 in 1979-80 (4th)
  • Steals (single season): 74 in 1980-81 (2nd) & 62 in 1979-80 (3rd)
  • Steals per game (single season): 2.2 in 1980-81 (1st) & 2.1 in 1979-80 (3rd)

Selected second overall in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons, Isiah Thomas became the best Indiana basketball player to ever play in the NBA and still holds that title 30+ years later. Thomas was a 12-time All-Star, selected as a five-time All-NBA player, Finals MVP, and the winner that he is, a two-time NBA Champion.

Without Isiah Thomas, Indiana basketball isn’t Indiana basketball. The history and the legacy of the Hoosiers don’t exist and thrive as it does today. Isiah Thomas is easily the best Indiana basketball player of all time.

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Next. Top 40 Indiana basketball players of all-time: #29 - #21. dark