The Indiana State Sycamores’ basketball success is almost entirely centered around Larry Bird. Within a decade of the team’s the jump from Division II to Division I, Bird carried the Sycamores from obscurity all the way to the 1979 NCAA Championship game. The Hall of Fame forward is by far the best NBA player from Indiana State University.
The greatest NBA player from Indiana State University is possibly the most talented player in basketball history, Larry Bird. In only three seasons, Larry Legend became the Sycamores’ all-time leading scorer with 2,850 points for an average of more than 30 per game. He single-handedly turned Indiana State into a national title contender as he carried them to the 1979 NCAA Championship game. In the same season, Bird took home a variety of hardware including the Wooden Award, the AP Player of the Year Award, and the Naismith Player of the Year Award.
The Celtics picked Larry Bird in the 1978 draft knowing he was unlikely to leave college for another year. They were thoroughly rewarded for their wait as Bird led Boston to NBA Championships in 1981, 1984, and 1986. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1980 and the NBA MVP three straight times in 1984, 1985, and 1986. A 12-time All-Star, Bird was the face of the league along with rival Magic Johnson in the 1980s
Larry Bird was a fantastic shooter, scorer, rebounder, play-maker, ball-handler, defender, and later a successful NBA coach. He put together career averages of 24.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals per game with a .496 field goal percentage, .376 three-point percentage, and .886 free throw percentage. In his 13-year career with the Celtics, Bird poured in 21,791 points, grabbed 8,974 rebounds, dished out 5,695 assists, and swiped 1,556 steals to rank in the NBA’s all-time top 50 in each category. He also led the league in threes twice and won the league’s first three Three Point Shootouts at All-Star Weekend.
Bird’s teammate in the Sycamores’ title chase, guard Carl Nicks was one of the best NBA players from Indiana State University. As a senior in 1979-80, Nicks averaged 26.8 points to become the second and last first round pick from Indiana State. Nicks played three seasons in the NBA with the Nuggets, Jazz, and Cavaliers. He posted career averages of 6.8 points, 1.9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game.
Duane Klueh played during the early seasons of the league and remains one of the best NBA players from Indiana State University. From 1949 to 1951, Klueh was a guard for the Pistons and the first Denver Nuggets franchise. He averaged 8.2 points and 3.0 rebounds in 113 NBA games. After his playing career, Klueh returned to Indiana State as the team’s head coach, a position he held for 12 years.
NBA & ABA Players Who Attended Indiana State University. Basketball-Reference.com