The Jim Harrick All Star team is going to be dominated by players from that magical national championship team. That team was so good that that, 2 years later minus its two best players, four remaining players, two starters and two off the bench, were starters on an Elite 8 team without a coach. That said, the Harrick era can roughly be divided into two eras, the Don MacLean individuals and the O’Bannon team era.
The two eras are symbolized by a few key moments. To me, the MacLean era was symbolized by the 1991-92 season. That season opened with #11 UCLA destroying #2 Indiana 87-72 at a neutral site. UCLA was to spend much of the season ranked number 2 until a three-game losing streak in the middle of the season but still won the Pac-10. That season ended in the Elite 8 with the worst blowout loss in UCLA NCAA history to that same Indiana team that we beat at the start of the season. The team had the individual potential to beat almost anyone, but never quite came together as a team as well as it should have due to the personalities on the team.
The magical 1994-95 campaign was definitely a team effort. UCLA finished the season ranked number 1 and won the National Championship. Big Ed O’Bannon was unstoppable. But it was Tyus Edney not Ed that saved the day early, even though it was Ed who would not be denied when Tyus was hurt for the championship game.
Some other guys deserving mention who did not make the team. Shon Tarver was the starting off-guard for most of three seasons and an old school two guard in an era before the three-point shot took over. He led a Bruin team with Edney and O’Bannon in scoring. Darrick Martin started over 80 games for UCLA in his career and had a long NBA career but was twice beat out for point guard duties. That shows the talent that was present on those teams. Every UCLA fan of the era has a Trevor Wilson story. Despite being listed as 6’7”, Wilson was probably closer to 6’5” and he beat out Don MacLean for the UCLA rebounding lead and was known, to put it charitably, for his passion. He was a great bank shooter and good ball handler with limited range.
The Bench Player
I have tried to put the player you would want on the team in this spot. Yes, they were really good, but not necessarily the seventh best player. For the Harrick era, this is a really hard choice between two over-achievers whose stats do not tell the story. The runner up is Mitchell Butler. A 6’5” player who was an off-the-chart athlete and even jumped center. He was a guy who did everything well but was not a shooter or scorer. He is the runner up to Gerald Madkins. Madkins makes the team because he was the best defender of the Harrick era, a good enough point guard to put a guy like Darrick Martin on the bench, and a smart shooter. Madkins was the guy Bobby Knight praised after a game as someone he would love on his team. No player gave more of himself than Madkins and I always wonder how good he would have been but for a moped accident which hurt his speed and quickness.
The Just Missed
Charles O’Bannon’s stats are outstanding and he was an under-appreciated cog in a national championship team. The first two years he played under Harrick he led UCLA in blocks from the small forward position and virtually did in shooting percentage for starters (he did on the championship team) while rebounding extremely well from the small forward position. While not as “clutch” as others on the list above, Charles contributions are noteworthy.
5. The Super Freshman
Toby Bailey was on the 1995 NCAA all-tournament team and was the only change in the starting lineup from the year before on a team that lost in the first round. In the year after Ed O’Bannon and Edney left, he led UCLA in scoring and shot a career best 40% from three. He was the spark plug that helped put UCLA over the top and a key Harrick player.
4. The Shooter
Tracy Murray was, arguably, the best shooter of the Harrick era. His last two seasons, he averaged over 20 points a game and led the Elite 8 Bruins in scoring, three-point percentage (50% on almost 5 three-point attempts a game) and blocks. In an era when bigs did not shoot threes that much, Tracy, who was often forced to play center, was a great shooter who could hit from anywhere on the floor. Murray and MacLean were legends on offense and they had a party one night in 1990 against LMU when they helped set the UCLA scoring record with a 148 points by a Bruin team in a game.
3. The King of the Baseline Jumper
Don MacLean holds the UCLA and Pac-12 record for points for a career. He did this by starting every game for four years and averaging over 20 points a game. He never shot less than 50% from the field, was 86% from the line for his career, and grabbed around 8 rebounds a game. But there was a catch, the only season he did NOT lead UCLA in points was the year we went to the Elite 8 and he was named a 2nd team All-American. He was an amazing mid-range shooter, but was also a stat stuffer and always looking for his share as he and Tracy often battled it out for who would get to shoot.
2. The Greatest UCLA Player Ever (Under 6’)
Do I really need to write this? Perhaps this clip says it best.
Yup, it’s Mr. 4.8 seconds himself, Tyus Edney.
1. He who will not be denied
Ed O’Bannon was magical in 1994-95. He was the leading scorer and rebounder of UCLA’s 1995 National Championship team. He was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, won the Wooden Award, and was a consensus All-American.
Thank you Ed and Tyus for the great memories. This is the easiest list for the top four players at least. Go Bruins.
This is the fourth installment of a summer series on UCLA Basketball “All Star” teams divided by coaches. The format will be five “best” players, one near miss and one bench player. Also, no preference is given to those who stay longer or those who leave early. Instead, I will rely more on best seasons as Bruins. Pro careers are irrelevant for these posts. Obviously, these are only my opinions and please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments. This series will focus solely on the performance of the players and not on the coaches themselves.