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Most Accomplished Individual Years in Basketball History

As a likely member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team this summer in London, Anthony Davis has the chance to be one of the most accomplished basketball players ever in a single calendar year. Davis, already a National Champion, Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and winner of 6 National Player of the Year Awards, will likely also be the #1 pick in the draft and quite possibly an Olympic Gold Medalist all in one calendar year. Below is a list of others who have put together similar achievements in a single calendar year. Perhaps, you’ve heard of them…

Bill Russell (1956): National Champ, 2nd overall pick in NBA Draft, Olympic Gold Medalist

Jerry Lucas (1960): National Champ, MOP of Final Four, Olympic Gold Medalist

Michael Jordan (1984): Olympic Gold Medalist, 4 NPOY Awards, 3rd overall pick in NBA draft

Patrick Ewing (1984): National Champ, MOP of Final Four, 1st overall pick (edit: not in the same season), Olympic Gold Medalist

Christian Laettner (1992): National Champ, 7 NPOY Awards, 3rd overall pick, Olympic Gold Medalist

Michael Jordan (1992): NBA Champ, NBA MVP, NBA Finals MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist

Kobe Bryant (2008-09 [edit]): NBA Champ, NBA MVP, Olympic Gold Medalist

Jordan’s accomplishments in ’92 and Kobe’s in 2008 are obviously incomparable to the feats of college players, but out of Olympians who have competed before playing their first NBA game, I’d give the nod to Patrick Ewing and the guy from Duke for having the most impressive accomplishments in a single calendar year; however, Davis has a chance to out-perform both of those guys.

Ewing didn’t win any National Player of the Year Awards in 1984 (he did in 1985) and Laettner didn’t win the Final Four MOP (Bobby Hurley did). Laettner also was not the the first pick in the NBA Draft as Davis will be.

If Davis is drafted #1, makes the Olympic team, and wins a Gold Medal…is he the most accomplished player in a single calendar year in basketball history? I’d say it would be hard to argue otherwise, and he had a 3.7 GPA through it all.

Agree? Disagree? Did I leave anyone out of the conversation? Sound off in the comments section or let me know via Twitter @wilmhoffKSR.

Article written by John Wilmhoff

Former beer vendor, college mascot and ESPN editor. This spring, you can also find me blogging about the Reds on Follow me on Twitter: @JohnWilmhoff

23 Comments for Most Accomplished Individual Years in Basketball History

  1. joe
    12:04 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    3.7 gpa??? that can’t be right, these guys don’t go to class, remember?

  2. Wcooker
    12:10 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    And he would, hands down, win the award for the most humble & all around nice guy, which is hard to come by these days.

  3. Dale in Orlando
    12:13 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Gr8t post. SEC player of year and freshman player of the year. AD tops the list

  4. Jeff
    12:13 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Patrick Ewing was the #1 pick in 1985 not 1984

  5. Patrick Ewing?
    12:15 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Since Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown team lost to Villanova in the 1985 NCAA championship, I seriously doubt he was the number 1 overall pick in the 1984 draft.

  6. Brent S.
    12:22 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    I had to wiki the 1956 NBA draft, I couldn’t believe someone was picked before Bill Russell but apparently the number one pick that year was Sihugo Green. Never heard of him.

  7. Kevin G.
    12:27 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    I’d give the nod to Laettner. Four final 4’s, 2 national championships, gold medal…. Plus a certain memorable shot.

  8. John Wilmhoff
    12:27 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Definitely screwed up there on the Ewing draft pick, but that makes an even stronger case for AD.

  9. HicksPickSix
    12:40 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    …and last time I checked Kobe Bryant didn’t go to college.

  10. You're My Boy Blue...
    12:40 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Didn’t the Celtics win the NBA Championship in 2008, and not Kobe?

  11. HicksPickSix
    12:41 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    I like you, Wilmhoff, but your fact-checking abilities have you one step away from Corey Nichols status.

  12. Josh
    12:42 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    In 1948-1949, Wah Wah Jones did this:

    * Won an Olympic Gold Medal in basketball
    * Won his second NCAA title with UK basketball
    * Was drafted 8th overall in the NBA draft
    * Was a consensus 2nd team All-American in basketball
    * Was named All-SEC in football as a tight end
    * Played on a UK football team that went to the Orange Bowl
    * Pitched for UK basketball
    * Competed for UK in track and field

    In 1953 Wah Wah was elected sheriff of Fayette County.

  13. Captain America
    12:44 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    (7, this list is about 1 year, not a career. Dolt[because you singled out a Duke player]!)

    National Defensive POY and National Freshman POY puts Davis on top already, IMO. With an Olympic Gold Medal, it becomes undebateable.

    I don’t think the NBA player comparisons are quite fair, though; they are literally in a different league.

  14. Blue4ever
    1:09 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    How and why does Alex Gross always get left off these lists? What’s even worse this is a site DEDICATED to UK. In 1948 Gross was an All American, FF MOP, Gold Medalist, leading scorer on the Olympic team and in 1949 he was again an All American, FF MOP and the 2nd overall pick in the NBA. I would expect some other dunce to forget Groza but not on a site dedicated to UK sports.

  15. Blue4ever
    1:11 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    I despise “auto correct” I meant Alex Groza not [email protected]#&ing Gross.

  16. Bledsoe's Biceps
    1:14 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Other than all of the factual mistakes, this was pretty good. 🙂

    So is this post still about the greatest achievements in a calendar year or over a 12 month period? If it’s calendar year, then delete the Ewing & Kobe references. Or delete Kobe and edit Ewing’s info to drop the 1st overall pick reference.

  17. GetReal
    2:10 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    3.7 GPA from an “alleged student athlete”…Joel Pett smirks and disapproves….not consistent with his agenda

  18. John Wilmhoff
    2:32 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    14) Groza was not forgotten, or Wah Wah and the entire Fab 5. I thought about recognizing that entire team in this post, but instead I thought it was more appropriate to honor them in their own post in the future, sometime around the olympics. Those guys were different than the guys on this list because it was an entire starting 5 that entered the Olympics, not just a player or two. This post is about individual success in a given calendar year. It was also hard to judge the players in ’48 against these guys because there was no NBA Draft at that time as we know it today, and also many of the NPOY awards did not exist yet, and I based my list a lot off of Draft selection and awards.

    Bledsoe’s Biceps, you’re right. Kobe doesn’t really belong…I added him thinking that the Lakers won in 2008, according to a source I used. That source won’t be used again 😉

  19. John Ellis
    2:33 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Christian who?

  20. Stretch22
    4:27 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    All accomplished before his “sophomore year”. I’d say that vaults him above everybody else

  21. Carl
    4:28 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Yes Laettner was a member of the 1992 Olympic basketball team…otherwise known as “The Dream Team”. He was the 12th man on a 10 man rotation. I expect if Davis makes the team he will be a contributor and not waterboy for Magic Johnson.

  22. i.b.poe
    4:46 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Doesn’t him being a freshman account for anything? I mean, has anyone even came close to his accomplishments straight out of high school (if we’re talking about a single season)?

  23. i.b.poe
    4:53 pm May 15, 2012 Permalink

    Not trying to down any of the other players mentioned, but do their stats during their freshmen yearcompare?