Passing Fancy: College Basketball’s career assist leaders and another record that will never be broken

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.

Mr. Hurley, take a bow.  Your record is safe.

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20 Replies to “Passing Fancy: College Basketball’s career assist leaders and another record that will never be broken”

  1. Pingback: Passing Fancy: College Basketball’s career assist leaders and another record that will never be broken - BallHyped, NCAA Basketball | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. That Duke squad was certainly impressive.
    Too bad Grant Hill’s ankle gave him so many problems in his NBA prime. I remember him being one of the “next Jordan’s” before that.

    College records….
    Here’s one for ya.

    Who’s the PAC-10 all time leading scorer?

    Much like Hurley, this guy didn’t parlay college success into stellar professional success.

    Time’s up.
    It’s Don MacLean from UCLA.

    Not quite Adam Morrison in his NBA career flop but not exactly a name many rememember either.

    Considering the talent that has come out of the PAC-10 and the Bruins program in particular, Don MacLean isn’t a name that rolls off the tongue when pondering all time greats, but there he sits, squarely on top.

    It’s rare NBA quality talent stays the full four years, let alone gets enough starts to roll up those kinds of numbers. The coaches tend to bring players along slowly, making them work their way up the totem pole first. Health and longevity are huge factors too….Case in point, John Stockton’s NBA assist record. Had Magic not been so horny I don’t think Stockton wears that crown.

    And in what world is Mark Jackson better than Magic?

    Longevity and health…And the NBA assist list.

    Good topic man.

  3. That’s the whole point, Billy B. Who stays four years anymore?

    And there ya’ go. Just for you, I added a Tar Heels tag to the post.

    Here comes Tobacco Road rushing in.

  4. Bleed…

    I actually did know that about Don McLean because when he sits in on the Petros and Money show, they introduce him as such. Impressive record.

    And I don’t know that even Magic Johnson would win coaching this Golden State team.

    Oh, and FYI. Mark Jackson average assists per game career is 8.0. Magic’s is 11.2. That should make you feel a little better.

  5. I didn’t know P&M was syndicated?
    Petros’ voice fluctuations drive me nuts but the guy knows his college football. Money came from local LA alternate rock station KROQ where he was the sports guy 10 minutes a day. I had no idea he’d turn that gig into a radio show, Lakers gig and become a national columnist for FSW. Lucky bastard.

    Magic couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag, he proved that a few years back…But he was the best on-court floor general in basketball history.

    In an All Time basketball draft, he would be my #1 pick every day of the week.

    That assist stat is telling. Magic’s the all time per game average leader amongst the top 30 all time. Stockton averaged 10.5 and played in 598 more career games. He and Magic are the only ones in double digits per game among the all time top 30.

    The two most surprising players on the list?

    Reggie Theus and Scottie Pippen.
    The only two non-guards on the list. Reggie never saw a shot he didn’t like and Pip, well Pip had Mike, Paxton and Kerr to chuck the rock to so I guess that’s not really all that shocking. He was more of a point forward in that offense.

    Here’s the link to the list:

  6. Bleed…

    PMS airs nightly on our local AM radio station, as long as it’s not preempted by Lightning hockey, or Rays baseball, so that means I’ll probably get to listen to it a lot less with baseball season coming up.

    I love the show. Those two crack me up. Love Vance Finance and Lance Romance… or is it the other way around?

    I was actually surprised to see Magic’s assists per game that high. Pretty impressive. Not even Nash averages career double digits in assists per game and that guy’s been putting up double digits in assists the last eight seasons.

    And yes, seeing Reggie’s name on that list is surprising but speaking of never seeing a shot he didn’t like, here’s another stat that might surprise you. Did you know who’s in the top seven ACTIVE leaders in career assists?

    A guy by the name of Kobe Bryant.

  7. Imagine how much higher Kobe would be if he had teammates that could hit an open jumper.

    Kobe could be a much better facillitator on offense, but he doesn’t trust his teammates as much as he does himself.

    When he had Shaq, Horry, Fish, Rice, Shaw, Harper etc. during the 3peat..He trusted those guys.

    After the Shaq breakup he had Smush, Kwame and the woefully inconsistent Lamar before getting Fish back and then Pau.

    To this day, and rightfully so, I think he only trusts those two to hit open J’s on a regular basis.

  8. Smush. Who names their kid Smush. What is that?

    By the way, I’m watching Bucks-Magic right now.

    It must totally suck to be a Bucks fan. I know Bogut’s hurt but aside from Jennings and maybe Delfino, there’s not a player worth a damn on that roster.

    And the league doesn’t think contraction is a good thing.

  9. BS…

    Good call on Cleaves. Four years, 816 career assists.

    I’m a Florida Gator so I never cared much for Cleaves and his Michigan State team. Led by Tom Izzo and paired with Zach Randolph and Jason Richardson, they knocked off a pretty stout Gators team stacked with Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and Matty Bonner.

    Either way, we got the last laugh years later.

    Funny how some of those games just don’t translate to the next level.

  10. Chris

    Stats like that tend to make you shudder somewhat . And then the expectations of what’s expected at the professional level for some of those players sets in and in large part many failed to live up to the expectations .

    Lin-sanity came back down to earth last night faster than a meteorite falling to earth ! That’s now 35 turnovers ( 9 last night in the game) for the “Asian sensation” in his professional career almost statuesque and Tebow like numbers don’t you think ? But then again the Knicks were ” playing” the Hornets where just about anything was bound to and did happen !

    tophatal …………..

  11. Al…

    Who’s to ever know who makes it big at the next level? Show me a scout who hasn’t missed on talent before and I’ll show you, well, I don’t know what I’ll show you, but I guess it’d be a scout who’s never missed before, of which there’s no such thing.

    Lin is still a young player, Al. He’s going to make some bad decisions with the ball. Nine turnovers is a ton, particularly if it leads to 18 the other way. He’s going to need to cut down on that number considerably if the Knicks want to go anywhere other than home for the playoffs.

  12. Chris

    We know he’ll make bad decisions but given what he’s now having to work by way of the Knicks’ coaching staff you can’t but wonder if things will improve for the kid . DAntoni couldn’t coach himself out of a wet paper bag ! He was never
    that good to begin with !

    Dropped these pieces recently . Sad news about former Mets’ player Gary Carter . And now with Tony Gwynn having undergone surgery for cancer of the mouth makes you wonder what these players actually got from chewing tobacco during the games .

    It’s Only A Game But How We At Times Mourn The Loss of A Hero ………..

    Both Owens and Moss are now said to be looking for an NFL team .

    Walk Away , Just Simply Walk Away !

    A Championship Winning Season …….Perhaps Not !

    The Magic were humbled yesterday courtesy of LBJ and the Boys .

    tophatal …………….

  13. Chris

    Coaching in the NBA at present ……. is really dire ! Only three coaches currently in the league to have won a title as a head coach . Pop’, Carlisle and Rivers . Anything else to be added this at all ?

    tophatal ……………..

  14. Al…

    I think we both can agree that Lin has just saved D’Antoni his job so he best be buying him a few steak dinners these days.

    And I’m way behind on my reading, Al. I promise to catch up soon.

  15. Al…

    We’ve discussed in the past the extremely elite cadre of coaching characters that have actually won an NBA title.

    Phil Jackson cast quite a shadow over the league for some time. And now that he, Pat Riley, Larry Brown and Rudy T are out of the coaching ranks, that leaves a lot of history before anyone else has won one.

    Now that they’re gone, maybe that’ll give someone else a chance.

    You thinking about putting Spoelstra on that list any time soon?

  16. That is pretty interesting how untouchable that record is. You could probably do that with most of the college records, because nobody is staying four years.

    Do you know what changes the new CBA had with the salary structure for rookies as in did it go down?

    That’s the only reason I could see a player from a wealthy family staying that long…

  17. Maravich’s scoring record is also pretty untouchable, Chap.

    3667 points in only THREE years played, since freshmen weren’t allowed to play back then. And there was no three-point line either. It’s just one of the reasons they named the arena after him.

    That’s one record I’d like to see someone make a run at. I mean, no one’s come close lately. As you mention, if you’re gonna be able to score at will, you’re not going to be in the college ranks for long.

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