Indiana basketball all-time Bob Knight team: Center
Indiana doesn’t finish 1976 with an unbeaten record without Kent Benson, who emerged as one of the program’s best centers with a fantastic career. Another high school star from in-state, he joined the Hoosiers way back in 1973 and was a major force down low across the next four seasons.
Twice an All-American, Benson is remembered as the Most Outstanding Player of that perfect season’s title run in 1976. He’d have even better numbers as a senior the following season, leading the Hoosiers with 19.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while several stars from the previous year moved on. Benson was a vital weapon for the Hoosiers and will forever be remembered for his role in Knight’s early success.
Steve Downing is the lone name on this list that Knight inherited, as he began his college career the year before Knight was hired. Downing would play just two seasons and wouldn’t win a national championship, but he certainly held his own as a dominant center, playing right before Benson in the early ’70s.
In Knight’s first season, Downing averaged a stunning 17.5 points and 15.1 rebounds per game. Downing would then shoulder the load as the Hoosiers made the Final Four in 1973, averaging 20.1 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He scored at least 21 points in all four of the Hoosiers NCAA Tournament games and ended his college career in style before a very brief NBA career.