Since I subscribe to various, sports-related e-mail groups, including University of Florida basketball, I recently discovered that Erving Walker, the diminutive point guard from Brooklyn, New York, became the Gators’ all-time assist leader, breaking Ronnie Montgomery’s previous record of 503.
First, congratulations to Mr. Walker for a record well-deserved, despite his 282 career turnovers and a long list of shots he should never have taken, but I digress.
Even the most ardent Florida fan had probably never even heard of Ronnie Montgomery before Walker broke his record but it got me thinking of the NCAA’s all-time career assist leaders.
Most basketball fans can probably name number one on this list. Go ahead, I’m waiting.
Of course, it’s Bobby Hurley, two-time national champion, who tallied a career total 1076 assists in his four years at Duke. That’s an average of 7.7 assists per game. And before you think it’s easy to rack up assists when you’re passing the ball to Christian Laettner and Grant Hill, Hurley could also put the biscuit in the basket. He averaged 12.4 points per game and 17 a game his senior season.
Most hardcore basketball fans can probably even name the man who is number two on this list, Chris Corchiani, from right up the road at North Carolina State. Corchiani finished his career with 1038 assists… and considerably fewer turnovers (400 to Hurley’s 534).
After that, the list gets a little hazy. We have another ACC guy on the list at number 3, Ed Cota with 1030 (do they do anything other than pass the ball in North Carolina?). Then comes Keith Jennings from East Tennessee State with 983 and current Los Angeles Laker and former Maryland Terrapin Steve Blake at number five with 960. Sherman Douglas, Tony Miller, Aaron Miles, Greg Anthony and ESPN’s own Doug Gottlieb, round out the top ten. All the players on this list have nearly double the assists total of Erving Walker.
These records are likely to stand for a while since college basketball has changed dramatically over the years. Any college player who’s worth a damn already has one foot out the door before even stepping on campus, looking to sign a lucrative NBA contract as soon as possible. Four year players are a thing of the past, yet surprisingly Hurley’s assist record is not regularly mentioned among those that will never be broken. Erving Walker recently just reminded us it’s there. A player would have to rack up over 250 assists a year, along with staying in school for the duration and um… passing the ball. Like that’ll happen.
Then I started thinking about the greatest passers in the NBA, past and present, and how they fared in college.
The top ten NBA career assist leaders are John Stockton, Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, Steve Nash, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton, Rod Strickland and Maurice Cheeks.
Their career college totals?
John Stockton had 554 assists in four years (wow, maybe Walker’s record IS that impressive). Jason Kidd finished with 494 in two years at Cal, Mark Jackson had 738 in four years at St Johns, Magic Johnson had 491 in two years at Michigan State, Oscar Robertson tallied 425 in three years at Cincinnati (not sure they measured assists in the 1957-58 season), Steve Nash had 510 in four years at Santa Clara, Isiah Thomas had 356 in two years at Indiana, Gary Payton finished with 938 in four years at Oregon State and Rod Strickland had 295 in three years at DePaul.
None of these players, other than Payton, were anywhere CLOSE to Hurley.
What about some of the current high-assist NBA guys? Chris Paul finished his two-year career at Wake Forest with 395 assists. Rajon Rondo finished two years at Kentucky with 285. John Wall and Derrick Rose each only played a year of college ball. And for all you Jeremy Lin-atics out there, the Yellow Mamba finished his career with 406 career assists in four years at Harvard.
So there you have it, sports fans. With all this talk about Cal Ripken’s 2632 consecutive games played and Joe Dimaggio’s 56 games hit streak, little Erving Walker recently reminded us of yet another sports record that won’t be touched any time soon. Bobby Hurley’s career 1076 college assists.