The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s basketball program has produced a number of great players from decades past. Basketball Reference reports that 39 former Golden Gophers have played NBA basketball including five who scored more than 10,000 points and one who reached the Hall of Fame. The all-time best NBA players from the University of Minnesota are led by that Hall of Famer, legendary power forward Kevin McHale.
Three-time NBA Champion, seven-time All-Star, and Hall of Famer Kevin McHale was the greatest NBA player from the University of Minnesota. In the 1980s, McHale teamed up with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson to form one of the most successful teams ever assembled. He was one of the greatest post scorers to ever play and one of the top defenders of his era. Spending his entire 13-year career with the Boston Celtics, McHale totaled 17,335 points, 7,122 rebounds, and 1,690 blocks. He earned All-Defensive honors six times and ranks in the NBA’s top 25 in blocked shots. His career .554 field goal percentage is good for 12th all-time.
Former Hawks’ standout “Sweet” Lou Hudson was one of the elite NBA players from the University of Minnesota. After averaging more than 20 points per game in his time with the Golden Gophers, Hudson was selected by the Hawks with the fourth pick of the 1966 NBA Draft. Hudson was a terrific shooter, a skill which carried him to seven straight seasons of 21-plus points per game in Atlanta. A six-time All-Star, Sweet Lou shot better than 50 percent from the floor four times. Though they weren’t tabulated until late in his career, Hudson swiped 2.5 steals per game in the 1973-74 season as one of the league’s first elites in the category.
Two-time All-Star point guard played ten seasons as one of the best NBA players from the University of Minnesota. From 1966 to 1976, Clark played for the Lakers, Sixers, Bullets, Sonics, and Pistons organizations. He became an All-Star with the Lakers and the Bullets, posting his best season with the latter team. In 1971-72, he averaged career highs of 25.2 points and 8.0 assists to take home All-NBA honors as well. For his career as a whole, Clark tallied 16.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per contest.
Ray Williams was great all-around guard who played ten seasons as one of the best NBA players from Minnesota. Williams bounced around the league, spending two stints each with the Knicks and Nets, single seasons with the Kings and Celtics, and partial seasons with the Hawks and Spurs. From 1978 to 1983, he was one of the best guards in the NBA with cumulative averages of 18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 2.0 steals per outing. He retired as one of the NBA’s historic steals leaders, nabbing a total of 1,198 for an average of 1.8 per game.
A great guard from the league’s early years, Dick Garmaker was one of the best NBA players from the University of Minnesota. After earning All-America status with the Golden Gophers, Garmaker went on to be named to four straight NBA All-Star teams from 1957 to 1960. With the Minneapolis Lakers, Garmaker ranked among the league leaders in scoring. He averaged 16 points and five rebounds per game in his first two All-Star campaigns with the team in 1957 and 1958. In 1959, he was a leader on a Lakers team that reached the NBA Finals before finishing his career with the Knicks.
NBA & ABA Players Who Attended University of Minnesota. Basketball-Reference.com