Editor’s note: Over the next two weeks, SDS will roll out the all-time starting 5 for every SEC team as we gear up for March Madness. We wanted to start the series with a quick look at the greatest player in league history.
There’s never a bad time to remind people how otherworldly Pete Maravich was at LSU, but March just seems right.
March is when our attention turns to college basketball, and college basketball has never seen a greater scorer than Pistol Pete. Never will, either.
Maravich holds records that not only won’t be broken but won’t even be approached.
He was the hardwood Herschel, only more dominant.
In three years (freshmen weren’t allowed to play, imagine that), Maravich scored 3,667 points. That’s still the NCAA record — by more than 400 points. And it’s nearly 900 more points than the SEC’s No. 2 scorer, Allan Houston, who poured in 2,801 in four seasons at Tennessee. Houston is the only SEC player within 1,000 points of Maravich’s total, too.
That 1,000 number is significant because Maravich remains the only SEC player in history to top 1,000 points in a season.
He did it all three years he was eligible, including a record 1,381 as a senior in 1970.
He averaged 44.2 points — for his career. Only five players in SEC history averaged more than 30 points for one season.
He scored 50 or more points in a game 28 times, including an SEC-record 69 vs. Alabama.
His flashy style was a perfect blend of awe-shucks and awe-inspiring. Maravich didn’t showboat as much as he just had fun.
His numbers were unbelievable then. And the farther we get away from them, they become more and more mythical now.
We once thought that Herschel Walker’s single-season rushing record was untouchable. Then, in 2015, Derrick Henry and Leonard Fournette zoomed past it.
There’s no chance that happens to Maravich’s marks.
Even though there are more games than ever, and a 3-point line he didn’t have, only four SEC players who started their career in 2000 or later managed to reach 2,000 points.
The best players in college basketball don’t stay long enough to amass 1,000 points in a career any more, much less make a run at history.
Not that staying would matter. Pistol Pete did in three years what nobody has done in four. Heck, he scored more points in two years than every other SEC player in history except Houston.
And if you thought he was great then, imagine him today, coming off a ball screen 25 feet from the basket, letting it fly and being rewarded an extra point for his effort.
“Pistol would be today better than he was then,” former NBA player Kevin Grevey told USA TODAY. “He’s about the only player I could say would be better in this era than he was in his own. And we know how great he was in his own era. Oh my God, he’d be phenomenal now.”
Cover photo courtesy of LSU Athletics