In continuation of the New Mexico State men's basketball All-Decade series it's now time for the 70's.
During the 1970's the NCAA basketball rules changed: 1.) the dunk was allowed in 1976-77 after being outlawed in 1967-68, 2.) The NCAA Tournament field was expanded from 25 to 32 in 1975, and to 40 teams in 1979, 3.) Freshman are eligible to play in 1972-73, 4.) The single free throw on the first six common fouls was eliminated in 1972-73, 5.) Fouls away from the ball are permitted in 1973-74.
The Aggie teams of the 1970's were good, but not great like those of the late 60's. They made the NCAA tournament three times - 1970-71, 1974-75 and 1978-79, but didn't win a game in the tournament. The Aggies also transitioned into the Missouri Valley Conference after being an independent for nearly a decade after the Border Conference disintegrated. Lou Henson coached through the first half of the decade - but left to the University of Illinois. Ken Hayes, who led Tulsa to moderate success for seven seasons, was hired and lasted four seasons before returning to Oklahoma and Oral Roberts University. Weldon Drew, who was an assistant to Hayes, was hired and coached the last season of the decade. There was only one losing season in the decade (1972-73), which was a tumultuous season with John Williamson having an exceptional junior season, but was suspended by the NCAA after discovery of improper benefits paid by a local bank. He eventually came back to finish the season after winning an appeal. The Aggies were placed on NCAA probation the following year, which included banning from the NCAA tournament for 1973-74.
New Mexico State All-Decade Team - 1970's
Bill Allen (1972-76) - 6'5" F - Deming, NM (Deming HS) - Allen was a Top 100 national high school player, and highly recruited. He chose to attend nearby New Mexico State. Allen average 11.1 pts/g and 5.2 reb/g over his four year career. His senior season was he was outstanding at 17.9 pts/g and 8.1 reb/g, and was the best player on the team. He helped the Aggies to the 1975 NCAA Tournament. He is 32nd in career scoring and wore the #14 jersey.
Jim Bostic (1972-75) - 6'8" F - Yonkers, NY (Gorton HS) - Former Aggie Charlie Criss, also from Yonkers' Gorton HS, helped to sign Bostic, who held an offer from Maryland, and others. Bostic averaged 11.2 pts/g and 9.1 reb/g over his three year career. He led the Aggies to the 1975 NCAA Tournament his senior year, when he was the Aggies' best player averaging 13.8 pts/g and 10.7 reb/g. He wore the #40 jersey. He was drafted by the Kansas City Kings of the NBA, and played a few games with the Detroit Pistons. Bostic went on the become a Reverand and community center leader in his hometown of Yonkers, NY. Facebook
Roland 'Tree' Grant (1971-74) - 7'0" C - Philadelphia, PA (South Philadelphia HS) - a highly recruited player out of HS - he had several hundred college offers, was a Top 100 player, and the most highly regarded player out of Philadelphia since Wilt Chamberlin. He signed right after the Aggies' NCAA Final Four appearance in 1970. But he played on a Las Cruces AAU team run by Aggie coach Lou Henson that included John Williamson, instead of playing for the freshman team. This was done because he didn't qualify academically. Grant averaged 14.1 pts/g and 8.4 reb/g over his three year career. He was the top player in his senior season, and a key contibutor in his sophomore year. He wore the #44 jersey.
Robert Gunn (1977-79) - 6'7" F - Muskogee, OK (Muskogee HS), (Bacone JC) - Named the outstanding Oklahoma prep player and was a national all-star. Gunn originally signed with Oral Roberts but never played there, instead playing two outstanding years at Bacone JC. He was highly recruited out of JC. As an Aggie he was named the Newcomer of the Year in the MVC his first year. For his career he averaged 13.9 pts/g and 8.4 reb/g. He helped the Aggies to the 1979 NCAA Tournament. He wore the #35 jersey. Facebook
Dexter Hawkins (1973-77) - 6'2" G - Somerdale, NJ (Sterling HS) - Hawkins was a prolific scorer in high school -- his senior year average was nearly 31 pts/g and led the region. He improved steadily as an Aggie and his senior season average of 14.6 pts/g was second on the team. He averaged 10.1 pts/g over his four-year Aggie career and is 33rd in career scoring. He helped the team to the 1975 NCAA Tournament. He is a member of the All-Century Team. He wore the #22 jersey.
Albert 'Slab' Jones (1976-80) - 6'7" C - Houston, TX (Worthing HS) - Jones was a Top 30 nationally ranked player out of high school and was highly recruited by many colleges. He is 2nd in career scoring, 3rd in career rebounds, 5th in career blocks, and 5th in career minutes played. He averaged 15.4 pts/g and 8.3 reb/g over his four year career. He was a 3-time First Team All-MVC selection and was the MVC Newcomer of the Year in his freshman season. He led the team to the NCAA Tournament in 1979. He was selected for the New Mexico State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1982 and is on the All-Century Team. He wore the #50 and #53 jerseys. He was drafted by the Houston Rockets of the NBA, but never played. Facebook
Richard Robinson (1973-77) - 6'3" G - Hobbs, NM (Hobbs HS) - Robinson averaged nearly 30 pts/g at Hobbs HS and was highly recruited. He was a two-time All-MVC First Team selection and was selected to the NABC All-Star game. He averaged 15.4 pts/g and 5.3 reb/g over his four year Aggie career, and is 8th in career scoring. He helped the team to the 1975 NCAA Tournament.He was inducted into the New Mexico State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1977 and selected to the All-Century Team. He wore the #44 jersey. Robinson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs, but never played.
Alex Scott (1970-72) - 6'3" G - New Haven, CT (Wilbur Cross HS), (Coffeyville JC) - Scott was a nationally ranked, national high school all-star, and originally signed with Kansas State to play. But he never played for Kansas State and played two years of junior college ball before signing with the Aggies. Scott averaged 13.9 pts/g, 4.6 ast/g, and 3.7 reb/g in his two year Aggie career in which he was a key player both years. He helped the Aggies get to the 1971 team to the NCAA Tournament. He wore the #22 jersey.
Truman Ward (1970-73) - 6'6" F - Hobbs, NM (Hobbs HS) - He averaged 13.6 pts/g and 9.5 reb/g over his three year career and is 31st in career scoring. He was a key contributer in each of his years played. He led the Aggies to the 1971 NCAA Tournament. He wore the #50 jersey.
Greg Webb (1976-80) - 6'3" G - El Paso, TX (Andress HS) - Webb was recruited by many major schools out of high school. He helped the Aggies to the NCAA Tournament in 1979. Webb averaged 10.0 pts/g and 6.1 reb/g over his four year career. He is 21st in career scoring and wore the #14 jersey.
John Williamson (1971-73) - 6'3" G - New Haven, CT (Wilbur Cross HS) - Williamson was signed right after the Final Four appearance. And certainly he was influenced by having two former teammates (Alex Scott and Clint Davis) from high school that had just signed with the Aggies. Williams played on a Las Cruces AAU team run by Aggie coach Lou Henson that included Roland 'Tree' Grant, instead of playing for the freshman team. This was done because he didn't qualify academically. It was extra benefits paid/given to Williamson that placed New Mexico State on probation in 1972. William is the leading single game scorer at 48 pts, and career leading scoring average. He is 20th in career scoring. He averaged 27.2 pts/g and 6.3 reb/g in his two year career and was they top player each season. Williamson was a First Team All American in 1972. Williamson was inducted into the Aggie Ring of Honor in 2009, the All-Century Team, and the New Mexico State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1974. He wore the #24 jersey. He was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, but ultimately signed with the New Jersey Nets of the ABA and played 8 seasons, including winning the ABA Championship. His number is retired by the Brooklyn Nets organization.
Team of the Decade: 1971-72 New Mexico State Aggies, featuring Roland 'Tree' Grant, Alex Scott, Truman Ward, and John Williamson from this list. Other key contributors were Roy Neal, Hal Robinson, Bill Ford, and Bill Moore. This team missed out on the invitation to the NCAA tournament, when only 25 teams were invited that year. But it beat many very good teams, including two ranked in the Top 15 in the country, culminating in a season-ending win over #5 Marquette at the Pan American Center.