Top 10 College Basketball Players Who Never Played for Team USA in the Olympics
Some of the greatest college basketball players of all time never represented the United States in the Olympics.
Even though, historically, the USA Olympic team consisted of amateur/collegiate players, some of the best of the best were not included on the various rosters.
And because of an International Basketball Federation rule change in 1989, the United States has primarily utilized professional/NBA players since then.
Here is a quick look at the top 10 college basketball players who never represented the USA in the Olympics:
The Best Collegiate Players to Play in Each Olympics Since 1948
During the years that the U.S. team was created using collegiate players, the following is a list of some of the outstanding college players who have suited up for the American team:
1948: Bob Kurland; Ralph Beard
1952: Bob Kurland; Clyde Lovellette
1956: Bill Russell; K.C. Jones
1960: Oscar Robertson; Jerry West; Jerry Lucas
1964: Bill Bradley; Walt Hazzard
1968: Spencer Haywood; JoJo White; Charlie Scott
1972: Doug Collins; Bobby Jones
1976: Adrian Dantley; Phil Ford; Walter Davis; Scott May
1980: USA did not participate in the Moscow Olympics
1984: Michael Jordan; Patrick Ewing; Chris Mullin; Sam Perkins; Steve Alford; Wayman Tisdale
1988: David Robinson; Danny Manning
1992: Christian Laettner
2004: Emeka Okafor
2012: Anthony Davis
10. Rick Mount (Purdue)
Rick Mount was one of the most pure shooters in NCAA basketball history.
His range and accuracy were out of this world.
During his three varsity years at Purdue, Mount averaged 32.3 ppg and 48.3 percent from the field (many which would have been well beyond the current three-point arc.
Mount was a Two-time First Team All-American and Big Ten Player of the Year.
In spite of his fantastic scoring ability, Mount was not selected for the 1968 Mexico City Games.
9. Austin Carr (Notre Dame)
Austin Carr was a college basketball scoring machine.
Over his three-year career at Notre Dame, Carr dropped in 2,560 points (an average of 34.5 points per game).
Carr holds a truck-load of NCAA tournament scoring records, including most points in one game (61 vs. Ohio in 1970), most field goals in one game (25), and most field goals attempted in one game (44).
But the one that is just plain insane is his scoring average of 50 points per game in seven NCAA tournament games.
Because his collegiate career spanned from 1967-71, Carr was too young for the 1968 Mexico City Games and had already moved on to the Cleveland Cavs by the time that the '72 Games in Munich took place.
8. Elgin Baylor (Seattle)
Elgin Baylor was one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball history.
Freshmen were not eligible to play on the varsity team during this time.
In his two-year varsity career at Seattle University, Baylor rang up 1,686 points, averaging 29.7 points per game his sophomore season and 32.5 PPG as a junior.
Like many players on this list, the fact that Baylor never played on the U.S. Olympic basketball team is due to timing.
He was too young to be selected for the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia and had already turned pro before the 1960 Games in Rome.
7. Elvin Hayes (Houston)
Elvin Hayes was a 1960s college basketball trailblazer.
Don Chaney and Hayes were the first African American basketball players at the University of Houston.
On the hardwood, Hayes was one of the highest scorers in CBB history (he averaged 31 PPG over his three-year career, including a ridiculous 36.8 PPG in his senior season).
He was selected twice as a consensus first-team All-American.
By his own choice, Hayes decided to not try out for the Olympic team.
Houston's Herald Journal reported, on March 26, 1968:
Hayes said that he and his family are in need of money and that participation in the Olympic trials would conflict with preparations for his entry into pro basketball.
6. Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas)
Wilt Chamberlain played two incredible varsity seasons at Kansas.
Freshmen were not eligible to play on the varsity team during this time, so Chamberlain officially began his collegiate career in the 1956-57 season by averaging an insane 29.6 PPG and 18.9 RPG.
The Big Dipper followed that up with a 30.1 PPG and 17.5 RPG junior-year encore.
Chamberlain's omission from the Olympic roster came primarily, like Baylor, from being too young to be chosen for the 1956 Games in Melbourne, Australia and he had already turned pro by the time that the 1960 Games in Rome rolled around.
5. Ralph Sampson (Virginia)
Very few college basketball players have done what Ralph Sampson did.
The 7'4" Virginia Cavalier was a three-time National Player of the Year and three-time ACC Player of the Year.
Sampson averaged a double-double each of his four years.
In terms of the Olympics, Sampson had just finished his freshman season when the U.S. team boycotted the 1980 Moscow Games. And he was already lacing 'em up for the Houston Rockets by the time the 1984 Los Angeles Games rolled around.
4. David Thompson (NC State)
Thompson led the Wolfpack to the 1974 NCAA Championship where he was named as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
He was a consensus First-Team All-American selection and ACC Player of the Year all three of his years at NC State as well as being the AP Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons.
Unfortunately for Team USA, Thompson's collegiate career fit between the Munich (1972) and Montreal (1976) Games.
3. Pete Maravich (LSU)
Pete Maravich is the NCAA all-time leading scorer, having put in 3,667 points, an average of 44.2 points per game.
He was a consensus First-Team All-American selection and SEC Player of the Year in all three of his varsity years at LSU.
The 6'5" guard was named the United States Basketball Writers Association Player of the Year in both 1969 and 1970.
Strangely, after breaking a collegiate scoring record, "Pistol Pete" was not selected (and not even named as an alternate) for the 1968 USA Men's Olympic basketball team.
2. Bill Walton (UCLA)
Bill Walton was one of the greatest collegiate hoops players of all time.
In his three varsity years at UCLA, Walton won three straight College Player of the Year Awards, while leading the Bruins to two NCAA national titles, where he won two Final Four Most Outstanding Player Awards.
His combined averages for his three years were 20.3 PPG and 15.7 RPG, while shooting 65.1 percent from the field.
Though a variety of reasons have been given, Bill Walton decided to forego trying out for the 1972 Olympic team.
1. Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: UCLA)
Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) is the greatest college basketball player of all time.
In three unforgettable varsity seasons at UCLA, Alcindor (Abdul-Jabbar) was a three-time NCAA champion, three-time Final Four Most Outstanding Player and three-time national Player of the Year.
His collegiate career averages were 26.4 PPG and 15.5 RPG, shooting 63.9 percent from the field.
In terms of his playing on the USA Olympic team, Alcindor decided to not take part in the 1968 tryouts.
The Nevada Daily Mail reported on March 27, 1968:
Alcindor said he wanted to concentrate on studies but admitted the move was an implicit backing of the Negro boycott of the international competition.