Top Ten most influential: Steve Kerr

Our countdown is coming to an end, as Steve Kerr comes in at number three. Read on to see why we feel Kerr is the third most influential member of Arizona's program.

The role a player filled in advancing the Arizona program was the biggest factor in judging the most consequential UA basketball players since the beginning of the Olson era. Players who helped build the program before it became a national entity were given special consideration. Consideration was also given to a player's role in building a school legacy, memorable performances, obstacles overcome, professional success, local ties, and philanthropic efforts



3. Steve Kerr

6-foot-3, 175 pounds

Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles Calif.



Pre UA

Kerr was part of Lute Olson's inaugural recruiting class and was also one of the least heralded recruits of the Olson era, choosing UA over Cal-State Fullerton.

UA Career

1983-84: Fr. (11-17 overall record) 8th Pac-10

7.1 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51.6 Field Goal Percentage

Regular Season: Even though the team struggled, Kerr's perimeter shooting and court savvy were pleasant surprises and helped make him a crowd favorite.

On January 18, his father, Malcolm Kerr, President of American University in Beirut, was assassinated.

Instead of immediately leaving to be with his biological family, Kerr stayed in Tucson to be with his "Wildcat Family."

The largest crowd of the season showed up for the Wildcats' next game, and Kerr responded. He made his first shot, a twenty-five foot jumper, on his way to scoring 15 points in UA's 71-49 thrashing of ASU.



1984-85: Soph. (21-10 overall record) 3rd Pac-10

10 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 4 APG, 56.8 Field Goal Percentage

Regular Season: In his first year as a starter, Kerr shot a high percentage while rarely turning the ball over. His numbers would have been considerably higher had the three-point shot been implemented.

NCAA Tournament: Kerr scored 8 points and grabbed 5 rebounds in 40 minutes as No. 10 seed UA lost 50-41 in the first round to 7-seed Alabama.



1985-86: Jr. (23-9 overall record) 1st Pac-10

14.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 4.2 APG, 54 Field Goal Percentage

Regular Season: The losses of team leaders Pete Williams and Eddie Smith were offset by Kerr's improvement along with the addition of dynamic freshman forward Sean Elliott.

NCAA Tournament: Kerr was held in check as the No. 9 seed Wildcats lost 73-63 in the opening round to the 8-seed Auburn Tigers.



1986-87: Steve Kerr redshirted due to a knee injury



1987-88: Sr. (35-3 overall record) 1st Pac-10

12.6 PPG, 2 RPG, 3.9 APG, 55.9 Field Goal Percentage, 57 Three-Point Percentage (114-199)

Regular Season: Despite doctors being split on whether Kerr would ever play again, he showed few ill-effects from the knee injury he suffered the previous year.

He set an NCAA record for three-point accuracy, and averaged less than one turnover a game for a team that ranked in the top 3 for the last 13 weeks of the season.

Perhaps the most trying moment of Kerr's career came in Tempe against ASU late in the season. Kerr was shooting around 30 minutes before tip-off when, some ASU fans began chanting, "P.L.O,"- a reference to the terrorist group thought to have been responsible for the murder of his father.

Kerr responded by going 6-for-6 from three-point range as UA crushed the Sun Devils 101-73.

NCAA Tournament: The No. 1 seed Wildcats won each of their first four tournament games by at least 18 points, with Kerr knocking down three-pointers at a high rate and efficiently running the offense.

The season came to an abrupt end in the Final Four against No. 1 seed Oklahoma, as Kerr shot 2-for-12 from beyond three-point range in a game he has stated was the greatest disappointment of his basketball career.



Honors/Achievements

  • 1985-86 All-Pac-10 Team

  • 1987-88 All-Pac-10 Team

  • 1987-88 AP 2nd Team All-American

  • 1988 United States Basketball Writers Association Most Courageous Athlete

  • NCAA Three-Point percentage record- with 100 makes

  • Jersey retired by UA in 1999



    Post UA

  • 1988 NBA Draft Rd. 2 Overall 50th (Phoenix Suns)

  • Kerr skipped from team to team before finding a home with the Chicago Bulls

  • Five-Time NBA Champion

  • Made game-winning shot in closeout game 6 of 1997 NBA Finals. Shot came off an assist from Jordan

  • All-Time Leading Three-Point Percentage shooter in NBA History

  • Played for Six Teams in 14 seasons

  • Phoenix Suns General Manager 2007-10

  • NBA Commentator



    Role in Building Program

    Kerr was the only Wildcat player to witness first-hand the transformation of a program from an 11-17 team, to the 35-3 juggernaut that reached the Final Four his senior year.

    He didn't just witness the transformation of the program; he played a leading role in its development.

    While Elliott garnered most of the attention, Kerr was the steadying presence capable of lighting up a defense at any time.



    Kerr Is Number 3... because he was one of the pioneers of the Olson era program and did it facing obstacles few could imagine.


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