The Sun Devils men’s basketball team of Arizona State University is one of several strong programs of the Pac-10 Conference. ASU has been to the Big Dance 13 times as the school has sent 25 players to the NBA, including a pair of current head coaches. The top NBA players from Arizona State include Cavs’ coach Byron Scott, Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins, and former ABA star Freddie Lewis.
Former Lakers’ guard Byron Scott was one of the best NBA players from Arizona State University. Scott led the Sun Devils to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in the 1980s before entering the NBA as the fourth pick of the 1983 draft. Spending 11 of his 14 seasons with the Lakers, Scott racked up 15,097 points and was a leader on three NBA Champions in 1985, 1987, and 1988. He was consistently one of the game’s best shooters, notching a .370 career three-point percentage while leading the league once. Scott has been a head coach in the NBA since 2000 and he won a Coach of the Year Award in 2008.
Two-time All-Star point guard Lafayette “Fat” Lever was a top NBA player from Arizona State University. Lever teamed up with Byron Scott on the Sun Devils’ 1980 and 1981 tourney teams. He developed into a great point guard with the Nuggets as he averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game in six years with the team. The All-Defensive guard swiped 2.2 steals per game for a career total of 1,666, good for 17th in NBA history. He played 11 seasons with career averages of 13.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.2 assists per contest.
Two-league All-Star forward Joe Caldwell was one of the best NBA players from Arizona State University. After averaging a double-double for the Sun Devils, Caldwell was the highest ever draft pick out of ASU as he went second overall in the 1964 NBA Draft. He averaged 15.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game in six NBA seasons before jumping to the ABA in 1970-71. He was named to two All-Star teams in each league and one All-Defensive team in each. Caldwell played 11 years in the pros with a total of 12,619 points.
Former point guard and current Grizzlies’ head coach Lionel Hollins was an All-Star NBA player from Arizona State. The Blazers took Hollins with the sixth pick of the 1975 NBA Draft. Hollins was the Blazers’ starting point guard for five of his ten seasons as he helped them win their first NBA Championship in 1977. He earned multiple All-Defensive honors and one All-Star selection with Portland. Hollins averaged 11.6 points, 4.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in 673 NBA games. In 2010-11, he will enter his third year as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Though he spent only his first and last seasons in the NBA, Freddie Lewis was one of the ABA’s all-time greats. Lewis joined the Indiana Pacers in the inaugural year for both the team and the ABA. From 1967 to 1974, Lewis helped the Pacers win three ABA titles and was named the MVP of the 1972s playoffs. He earned four All-Star selections and added an All-Star MVP Award. After the ABA’s final year, Lewis returned to the Pacers in the NBA for the 1976-77 campaign. In a combined 11 seasons in the ABA and NBA, he averaged 16.0 points, 3,7 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He tallied 11,660 points in the ABA, good for sixth in the league’s history.
NBA & ABA Players Who Attended Arizona State University. Basketball-Reference.com