The La Salle University Explorers men’s basketball program of NCAA Division I is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. La Salle’s history includes a great deal of past success, including two appearances in the Final Four and one NCAA Championship. Dozens of former Explorers have been chosen in the NBA Draft and the top NBA players from La Salle include one Hall of Famer, Tom Gola.
Hall of Fame forward Tom Gola was one of the greatest NBA players from La Salle University. Gola averaged 20.9 points and 18.7 rebounds in his college career and he led the Explorers to their 1954 NCAA Championship. The five-time NBA All-Star spent six-plus seasons with the Warriors and finished his career with the Knicks. He averaged a double-double three times with the Warriors and he helped them win the 1956 NBA Championship. He notched career averages of 12.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. La Salle’s current home court is named after Tom Gola.
An eight-time All-Star from the 1950s, center Larry Foust was one of the greatest NBA players from La Salle University. In 1950, Foust became the first player drafted out of La Salle and he went on to have a 12-year NBA career. Foust averaged double-figures in scoring and rebounding in each of his first five seasons as a member of the Pistons. He led the NBA in rebounds and field goal percentage once each and he accumulated career totals of 11,198 points and 8,041 rebounds per game. Foust retired as one of the NBA’s greatest rebounders and half a century later, he remains in the all-time top 60.
One of the best NBA players from La Salle University was Jack George, a top point guard from the early NBA. George was a multi-sport talent for the Explorers as a star of both their basketball and baseball teams. He was drafted by the Warriors in 1953 and spent eight strong seasons in the NBA. In the best season of his career, George teamed up with Tom Gola on the Warriors’ 1956 championship team; he averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game to earn selections to the All-Star and All-NBA teams. He made a second All-Star team in 1957 and ranked in the NBA’s top ten in assists five times.
Forward Lionel Simmons was one of the most recent successful NBA players from La Salle University. Simmons had one of the greatest college careers in NCAA basketball history with the Explorers. In four years, he scored 3,217 points to become the third leading scorer in Division I history. As the 1990 Naismith College Player of the Year, he was chosen seventh overall by Sacramento and spent his whole seven-year career there. Though his career was abbreviated by chronic injury troubles, Simmons had a great beginning with the Kings, averaging 18.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 4.0 assists per game as a rookie. He topped 15 points per game in each of his first four NBA seasons.
A starting forward, a coach, and the father of a current All-Star, Joe Bryant was one of the best NBA players from La Salle. With averages of 20.3 points and 11.1 rebounds for the Explorers, Bryant was a first round selection in the 1975 NBA Draft. Bryant played eight NBA seasons with his best success coming in the final three. From 1980 to 1983, he averaged 11.1 points and 4.2 rebounds per game with the Clippers and Rockets. Joe Bryant is the father of Lakers’ great Kobe Bryant.
Alumni: Hall of Athletes. La Salle University.
NBA & ABA Players Who Attended La Salle University. Basketball-Reference.com