Boise State Salute to Aggie Basketball

Whether its great players, highly-successful coaches or just excellent basketball, New Mexico State has enjoyed a rich tradition. In this article, Boise State salutes the Aggies for their incredible success!

(Editor's Note:  This is part of a continuing series of tributes to WAC schools as Boise State completes its final season in the conference.  The series is meant to spread good will throughout the conference, highlight the rich heritage at member schools and to thank the WAC members for having Boise State in their conference for the last ten years.)

New Mexico State is located in Las Cruces, New Mexico at the foot of the 9,000-foot Organ Mountains and along the banks of the meandering Rio Grande River .  Las Cruces is 42 miles from El Paso , Texas .  Las Cruces features sunshine 350 days of the year.  

Las Cruces is New Mexico 's second largest city behind Albuquerque .  The fertile Mesilla Valley has ideal conditions for agriculture. Pecans, cotton and chile are vital to the area's economy.  Stahmann Farms is one of the world's largest producers of pecans.  White Sands National Monument , featuring 275 square miles of great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand (the world's largest gypsum dune field)  is one hour away. 

Sunset Magazine noted Las Cruces as one of the 20 Best Towns of the Future.  It is the 11th-fastest growing area in the nation with a current population of 85,000.  Inc. Magazine listed Las Cruces as one of America 's Top 20 Boomtowns.  Forbes awarded the city as one of three top small metro areas to do business and Money Magazine lists Las Cruces as one of Top 8 Places to Retire.  Las Cruces recently celebrated its 150th anniversary.   

New Mexico State was founded in 1888 and currently has an enrollment of 16,428. New Mexico State's College of Engineering is ranked in the top half of the nation by U.S. News & World Report's in their study of the Best Graduate Schools.  The Aggies also have the distinction of being ranked in the top third in the country in Forbes Magazine's list of America 's Best Colleges.  New Mexico State ranked 47th out of 258 schools by Washington Monthly for contribution to the public good.  The ranking is based on Aggie students' social mobility, research and service to the community.  

The first basketball game at the former New Mexico A & M was in 1904, when the Aggies lost in overtime to New Mexico 21-9.  In 1938, the school had become New Mexico State , and the Aggies were 20-4, won the Border Conference championship and advanced to the National Invitation Tournament.  In 1959-60, coach Presley Askew led New Mexico State to back-to-back Border Conference championships and NCAA Tournament appearances.  New Mexico State was 37-18 in those two seasons.  Former coach Lou Henson led NMSU to a landmark win in 1967 when they defeated defending National Champion UTEP 68-55 in El Paso .  Henson began his career in 1966 and after two stints at his alma mater; he is the all-time winningest coach at NMSU with 289 wins (vs. 152 losses).  Henson is seventh all-time in career Division I wins with 779.   

The Pan American Center opened in 1968 and the Aggies christened it with a 95-89 victory over Colorado State .  Two years later, New Mexico State experienced magic.  The Aggies went 27-3 and qualified for their third NCAA Tournament.  They then defeated Rice, Kansas State and Drake to reach the Final Four.  UCLA downed them in the semifinals, but New Mexico State came back to top St. Bonaventure in the third-place game.  

On February 6, 1979 , the Aggies defeated NBA Hall of Famer Larry Bird and Indiana State 83-82 in the Pan American Center .  Former Weber State head coach Neil McCarthy was hired as the head man in Las Cruces and went 229-114 over 12 seasons.  In 1990, Keith Hill hit a fade-away jumper off the glass for a stunning 83-82 upset of #1 UNLV, also in the Pan American Center .  In 1992, NMSU defeated DePaul and Southwestern Louisiana to earn a second trip to the Sweet Sixteen.   

New Mexico State has logged 17 trips to the NCAA Basketball Tournament (1952, 1959, 1960, 1967-1971, 1975, 1979, 1990-1994, 1999 and 2007, when they defeated Boise State. They have also played in the National Invitation Tournament in 1938, 1939, 1989, 1995 and 2000.  

We salute some of their top players:  

 

Center Bill Allen  

Allen scored 11. 9 points per game as a junior and led the Aggies with a 17.9 scoring average and a rebounding average of 8.1 in 1975-76.  Allen was named to the All-Border Conference team in 1952.  He averaged 5.2 assists per game and is ranked ninth in career rebounds with 478.   

 Allen played one season with the Anaheim Amigos of the American Basketball Association, averaging 7.9 points a game.

 

 Forward Jim Bostic  

Bostic paced the Aggies with 64 assists in 1974-75 and his rebounding average of 10.7 that season ranks ninth in school history.  He was named to the Missouri Valley Conference First Team in 1975.  Bostic is sixth all-time with a 9.1 career rebounding average.  

Bostic was drafted in the Eighth Round of the 1977 NBA Draft by the Kansas City Kings.  He played for the Detroit Pistons for one season, averaging 6.5 points and 4.0 rebounds a game.    

 

Guard Randy Brown  

Brown's hustle, defense and playmaking ability made him a fan favorite in Las Cruces and a feared opponent. Brown averaged 13.2 and 12.1 points in his two-year career at New Mexico State .  Brown ranks #1 and #2 in season steals with 91 in 1989-90 and 71 in 1990-91 and his 187 assists as a senior rank third all-time. Brown was named All-Big West in both 1990 and 1991.  He is ranked third in career steals with 162 and eighth in assists with 296.  Brown was selected to play in the NABC and Japan Classic All-Star Games in 1991.  

Randy was drafted in the Second Round of the 1991 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings. In his rookie season, Brown set a franchise record with six steals in the third period of a game against Milwaukee.   Brown went to his hometown of Chicago, where he helped the Bulls win championships in 1996, 1997 and 1998. He led the Bulls in assists in the 1999-2000 season. He then finished his career with Boston and Phoenix .  Brown's best season was with the Bulls in 1998-99, when he averaged 8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists a contest.   

In his 12-year NBA career, Brown scored 3,148 points (4.8 avg.), averaged 1.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists and had 722 career steals.  Brown was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

Guard Eric Channing  

Channing was recognized as the 2002 Sun Belt Conference Male Athlete of the Year after averaging 16.2 points a game, leading the Aggies in both three-point percentage (46%) and free-throw percentage (89.4%).   

Channing set a school record with 1,862 points.  He also holds marks for career free throw percentage (84.9%), three-pointers (283), three-point attempts (627), most minutes played (3,783) and games played (124).  Eric was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team in 1999.  He was a three-time Verizon Academic All-American.   

Channing was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.    

 

Guard Jimmy Collins  

Collins averaged 14.5 points and 3.6 rebounds while dishing out 77 assists as a sophomore.  In 1969-70, he boosted his average to 19.3 with 4.7 rebounds and 52 assists.  In that season, Collins scored 42 points in a game twice (against Montana State and Air Force).  Only John Williamson (48 points) is ahead of him in that category.  Jimmy led New Mexico State with 24.6 points and 4.6 rebounds and handed out 91 assists as a senior.  Jimmy continues to hold the school record with 322 field goals in a season (1969-70).  He was named to three All-America teams in his final season.  Jimmy is second all-time with 725 career field goals and 10th with 283 career free throws.  Collins was also named NCAA Far West All-Region Team in 1969 and the Midwest Region Most Valuable Player and All-Final Four Team in 1970.  Collins was invited to the 1970 NABC All-Star game.  Collins was also selected to play in the U.S. Olympic Trials.  

Collins played two seasons with Chicago , averaging 3.8 points a game.  

Collins was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.    

 

Guard Steve Colter

Colter averaged 16.1 points and 4.7 assists a game his junior season in Las Cruces and 19.5 points (10th all-time) and 4.9 assists as a senior.  Steve is ninth all-time with 135 free throws in 1992-93.  He is ranked third in career free throws (337), fourth in career assists (347) and ninth in Aggies history with field goals (497).  Steve was named second-team All-Missouri Valley in 1983 and All-Big West in 1984.

Colter was drafted in the Second Round of the 1984 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers.  Colter averaged 7.1 points and 3.1 assists a game and also had 75 steals in his rookie season, helping the Trail Blazers to the NBA playoffs.  Colter averaged 8.9 points and 4.1 assists in the postseason.  The following year, he averaged 8.7 points and 3.2 assists and had 113 steals as Portland again made the playoffs.  Steve averaged 6.5 points and 5.8 assists in four playoff games.  He was traded to Chicago , then Philadelphia and Washington .  He had 8.0 points and 4.2 assists in the 1987-88 season and 6.7 points and 2.8 assists the following year with the Bullets.  Steve finished out his career with Sacramento and Cleveland .  In addition to his first two seasons, Colter also helped Philadelphia (1986-87), Washington (1987-88) and Cleveland (1994-95) made the NBA playoffs. 

In his eight NBA seasons, Colter scored 3,319 points (6.3 avg.), hit 653-of-839 free-throw attempts (77.8%), 76-of-263 three-point tries, had 1,051 rebounds (2.0 avg.), averaged 2.8 assists a game and had 463 steals and 76 blocked shots.

Colter was honored as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.

 

Guard Sam Crawford

Crawford averaged 12.9 points a game in each of his last two seasons.  He owns the top two single-season assists marks with 310 in 1992-93 and 282 as a junior.  Sam is the all-time career assists leader with 592 and is 10th all-time with 110 career steals.   

Crawford was recognized on the All-Big West second-team in 1992 and as All-Big West as a senior.  Sam was named the Big West Tournament MVP in 1992 and he also was placed on the All-Tournament Team in 1993.  He also made the All-District Team in 1993.  Crawford was invited to play in the NABC Coaches All-Star Game following his senior year at New Mexico State .

Crawford was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

Guard Charlie Criss

Criss led New Mexico State with 58 assists in 1968-69.  He was named to the Small College First Team by United Press International. 

Criss played in the NBA for eight seasons.  He averaged 11.4 points and 3.8 assists and had 108 steals in his rookie season with the Atlanta Hawks, helping them reach the playoffs.  He played in two postseason games and averaged 13.5 points a game.  Charlie enjoyed another fine season in 1980-81, when he averaged 9.5 points, shot 65-73 at the charity stripe (89.0%), and averaged 2.8 assists a game.  He was traded to the San Diego Clippers and averaged 12.9 points, shot 88.4% from the line (76-86) and averaged 4.0 assists. 

Criss finished out his career with Milwaukee and Atlanta .  He scored 3,534 points (8.5 avg.), pulled down 592 rebounds (1.4 per game), averaged 3.2 assists (1,335), had 366 steals and shot 885-1,065 from the free-throw line for a career average of 83.1%.  

Criss was recently recognized as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

 Center Mike Dabich

Dabich led New Mexico State in 1964-65 with a 14.2 scoring average and he again paced the Aggies by scoring 18.3 points a game the following year.  In 1965-66, Dabich set a career high of 24 rebounds against Western New Mexico .  He stands fourth all-time with a 9.6 career rebounding average and ninth in career scoring average (16.26). 

Dabich was drafted in the 7th Round of the 1966 NBA Draft by New York Knicks.  He played for Oakland for one season, scoring 20 points and grabbling 13 rebounds.

 

Slab Jones

Jones averaged 12.8 points a game in his freshman season, 14.3 points as a sophomore, 16.4 in 1978-79 and 18 points a game in his senior season.

Jones is the only Aggie to make the All-Missouri Valley Conference team in all four years of his collegiate career.  He was named Newcomer of the Year and second-team All MVC as a freshman and first-team All- MVC the following three years.  He was also named All-District in 1979.  Slab scored 1,758 career points (2nd all-time) and is sixth with an 11.0 rebounding average in 1979-80.  Jones holds the school record with 731 career field goals and is second in Aggie history with 124 career blocked shots.  He is sixth in career free throws (296), seventh in school history with a 60.0% field goal percentage (201-335) in 1979-80 and fifth in career percentage (731-1,344 for 54%).

Jones was recently named as one of the 50 Greatest Players of the All-Centennial Missouri Valley Conference basketball team.  The list was headed by players such as Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.  Jones was also recognized by New Mexico State as a member of the school's All-Century Team.  

 

Guard Reggie Jordan

Jordan led the Aggies in 1990-91 with a 14.6 scoring average.  He was named All-Big West in 1990 and 1991.  Reggie is ninth in school history with 119 career steals.

Jordan played six seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota , Portland and Washington , averaging 2.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists a game.

Jordan was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

Guard Billy Keys

Billy is ranked 10th for single-season free-throw percentage with 81.7% (103-126) in 1999-2000. 

Keys was named All-Big West in 2000.  He was also honored as the Big West Conference Tournament MVP in 1999 and he was on the All-Tournament team in 2000.  He is also sixth in career assists with 310.

Keys was honored as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

George Knighton

Knighton led the Aggies in scoring three times, scoring 21 points a game as a sophomore, 22.0 the following season, and 23.1 points per game in 1961-62.  Those marks are ranked fifth, sixth and seventh in school history.  George is fifth all-time with a 13.2 rebounding average in 1960-61 and seventh with a 10.7 average in 1959-60.  He is also fifth and seventh in free throws (149 in 1960-61) and 147 in 1959-60.  Knighton is second all-time with a 22.1 career scoring average and an 11.5 rebounding average and sixth with 601 career field goals.  He is also the school record holder with 458 career free throws and 623 attempts and finished his career with a 73.5% free-throw percentage.

Knighton was drafted in the 10th round of the 1962 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals.

Knighton was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team.  

 

 

Center Sam Lacey

Lacey was a four-year star for New Mexico State .  He averaged 19.0 points and 20.3 rebounds in his freshman season.  In 1967-68, he averaged 15.1 points (to lead the team) and 11.6 rebounds, then averaged 15.8 points and 15.0 rebounds as a junior and 17.7 points and 15.9 rebounds as a senior.  Those rebounding numbers are three of the top four in school history.

He Is #1 all-time with 1,265 career rebounds and a 14.2 career rebounding average.  He was such a dominant inside presence that he had 27 rebounds against Hardin-Simmons in 1969 (another school record), 26 vs. Tennessee Tech in 1968, 25 against Idaho State in 1969, 24 in the Drake game of 1970, 23 vs. Northern Illinois in 1969, 21 against Western New Mexico in 1968 and 20 against Oklahoma Christian and Tulsa in 1969 and against Air Force and Rice in 1970.  Lacy is fifth in blocked shots (92) and is ranked #7 all-time in career points and field goals (594) at New Mexico State .  Basketball News named Lacy to its All-America team in his senior year.  Lacey was invited to the 1970 NABC All-Star game. 

Lacey was drafted in the first round of the 1970 NBA Draft (fifth player overall) by the Cincinnati Royals.  He was an immediate starter and averaged 13.5 points and 11.3 rebounds a game in his rookie season.  Lacey continued in double figures for six NBA seasons with Cincinnati (they became the Kansas City Kings).  He averaged 11.6 points and 12.0 rebounds in 1971-72, 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds the following season, 13.5 points and 11.8 rebounds in 1972-73, 14.2 points and 13.4 rebounds in 1973-74, 11.5 points, 14.2 rebounds and 5.3 assists a game in 1974-75, 12.8 points, 12.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists the following year and 10.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists in 1976-77. 

In his great 13-year career, Lacey played 31,875 minutes in 1,002 games, scored 10,303 points (10.3 avg.), shot 4,276-9,693 (44.1%) from the field, connected on 73.8% of his shots from the charity stripe, grabbed 9,687 rebounds (9.7 avg.), dished out 3,754 assists (3.7), had 999 steals and 1,160 blocked shots.   He was an NBA All-Star in 1974-75 and helped the Kings reach the NBA Playoffs four times, including a trip to the Western Conference Finals in 1981.  In 1974-75, Lacey averaged 9.5 points and 15.7 rebounds for the Kings. 

Lacey was recognized as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team. His familiar #44 was also retired by the Sacramento Kings.  

 

 

Forward Bob Priddy  

Priddy made All-Border Conference in 1952.  

Priddy played one season with Baltimore in 1952-53 and averaged 2.3 points.  

 

 

Guard John Williamson  

John played two seasons in Las Cruces , but he was superb in both, scoring 27.1 points and grabbing 6.3 rebounds a game in 1971-72, and 27.2 points and 6.4 rebounds as a senior.  Williamson set a scoring record that still stands when he poured in 48 points against California in 1972.  He still holds the record for a 27.1 career scoring average.  He led the Aggies in free-throw percentage (77.5%) by hitting 86-111in 1972-73.  Basketball News named Williamson to its All-America team in 1973.   

Williamson was drafted in the sixth round of the 1973 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks but played initially with the New York Nets of the ABA .  He was a huge star.  In his rookie year, John averaged 14.5 points and hit 150-190 (78.9%) from the free-throw line.  He also averaged 2.8 rebounds and 3.2 assists and had 86 steals and was an easy choice on the All-Rookie Team.  Williamson averaged 11.5 points in 1974-75, and then 16.2 points and 2.5 assists a game the following year.   

In 1976, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers of the NBA and scored 20.7 points a game and had 3.7 assists.  John remained above 20 points a game with the New York Nets (20.8 in 1976-77 and 29.5 in 1977-78).  He also averaged 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists and hit 85.7% from the free-throw line (197-230) in 1977-78.  

Williamson was traded back to the Nets (who were now based in New Jersey ) and averaged 22.2 points and 3.4 assists.  In 1978-79, Williamson enjoyed another great year when he averaged 22.2 points, 2.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game and hit an incredible 373-437 (85.4%) from the free-throw line.  

John finished his career with Washington in 1981.  He had scored 13,134 points (14.1 avg.), hit 5,424-11,952 (47.2%) shots from the field,   2,250-2,784 (80.8%) from the free-throw stripe, and had 1,793 rebounds (2.5 avg.), 1,982 assists (2.8 per game), 790 steals (1.1 avg.) and 180 blocked shots.   

Williamson continued to be a force when the pressure was on, leading the New York Nets in 1973-74, averaging 11.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists to help the Nets win the ABA Championship.  The Nets made the playoffs the following year and John averaged 12.0 points a game.  In 1975-76, Williamson averaged 22.2 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists as the Nets took the ABA Championship again.  By 1979, he was still with the Nets but in the NBA now.  He averaged 29.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the playoffs that season.  

Williamson was recently named as a member of the New Mexico State All-Century Team. John's jersey number 23 was also retired by the New Jersey Nets.

Congratulations, Aggies, on your great success. It has been a privilege to be conference mates with you--best of luck in the future!


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