Philly's Big 5: The Top 25 Players in Philadelphia College Hoops History

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2011

Philly’s Big 5: The Top 25 Players in Philadelphia College Hoops History

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    The Philadelphia Big 5 represents one of the most storied traditions and unique rivalries of college basketball.

    For those "secluded" fans who do not know...The Big 5 consists of five celebrated Philadelphia universities (La Salle, Pennsylvania, Saint Joseph's, Temple and Villanova) who, since 1955, have played each other every year for a Big 5 championship.

    All Big 5 men's basketball teams play each other once per season for a total of four games per team. There is no season-ending Big 5 Tournament, so a "champion" of this unofficial athletics group is determined by a round-robin tournament.

    No other city in the nation has ever had as many major universities competing so passionately for such a coveted title as the City of Brotherly Love.

    As of 2010, at least one team from the Big 5 has made it into the NCAA Tournament for 33 consecutive years.

    The Robert V. Geasey Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding basketball player in the Philadelphia Big 5.

    Some players have won the Geasey Trophy more than once; Four players have won it three times.

    The following is a list of the Top 25 Players in Philadelphia Big 5 College Hoops History.

    The players listed here come from six decades of amazing Philadelphia collegiate basketball.

    While the players' entire bodies of work are considered, extra emphasis is given to their performance in Big 5 games.

25. Larry Cannon: La Salle 1966-69

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    Position: Guard  

    Height: 6'4" Weight: 195 lbs.

    Born: April 12, 1947 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: Lincoln in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    In his three years at La Salle, Cannon averaged 19.0 points and 8.9 rebounds per game.

    For his five-year ABA/NBA career, he finished with a 16.6 ppg average.

    Cannon was selected in the first class of the Big Five Hall of Fame in 1973.

24. Corky Calhoun: Penn 1969-72

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    Position: Forward 

    Height: 6'7"  Weight: 210 lbs. 

    Born: November 1, 1950 in Waukegan, Illinois

    High School: Waukegan in Waukegan, Illinois

    Calhoun was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1971-72 season. He averaged 12.7 points and 8.1 rebounds in his collegiate career.

    Calhoun scored 1,066 points in his three varsity years at Penn and had an eight-year NBA career.

23. Dave Wohl: Penn 1968-71

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    Position: Guard 

    Height: 6'2"  Weight: 185 lbs.

    Born: November 2, 1949 in Flushing, New York

    High School: East Brunswick in East Brunswick, New Jersey

    Wohl racked up 823 points and 345 assists during his Penn years, and was a two-time All Ivy League player.

    He helped lead the Quakers to a mark of 68-13 in three seasons and the 1971 NCAA Eastern Regional finals

    Wohl had a seven-year NBA career in which he scored 2,553 points, grabbed 558 rebounds and handed out 1,397 assists.

22. Cliff Anderson: St. Joseph's 1964-67

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    Note: Anderson is pictured here as a Cleveland Cavalier—on top row, second from the right

    Position: Guard-Forward 

    Height: 6'2"  Weight: 200 lbs.

    Born: September 7, 1944

    High School: Thomas Edison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Anderson was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1966-67 season

    He left St. Joseph's as the school's all-time top scorer (1,728) and rebounder (1,228)—the rebounding mark still stands today. Amazing for a 6'2" player in any era.

    Anderson led St. Joseph's in scoring and rebounding in each of his three seasons and his 15.5 rebound average as a sophomore is still a school record. 

    The high-scoring Hawks went 66-18 during Anderson's three-year collegiate career, scoring more than 100 points 12 times and were in the 90s on 22 other occasions. 

    His career highs were 39 points (against Rhode Island as a sophomore) and 32 rebounds (against La Salle as a senior).  The 32 boards are the most ever in a Big 5 game.

    Anderson was selected as All-American in 1967. He also had a five-year ABA/NBA career 

21. Matt Guokas: St. Joseph's 1964-66

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    Position: Guard-Forward

    Height: 6'5"  Weight: 175 lbs.

    Born: February 25, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Guokas led St. Joseph's to back-to-back Sweet Sixteens in 1965 and 1966.

    He was selected as 1965-66 NCAA AP All-America (second).

    In 1966, he became the first Hawk to be selected in the first round of an NBA Draft, when the 76ers chose him ninth overall.

    Matt and his father, the late Matt Guokas, Sr., were the first father-son duo to both win NBA championships as players.

    Guokas was the first coach of the Orlando Magic.

20. Ollie Johnson: Temple 1969-72

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    Position: Forward

    Height: 6'6"  Weight: 200 lbs.

    Born: May 11, 1949 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: Southern in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Johnson averaged a double-double during his three years at Temple, 12.8 points and 10.1 rebounds.

    Johnson's rookie season was his best season in professional basketball as he averaged 9.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists.

    He played 10 seasons in the NBA, scoring 5,341 points in total for the Blazers, Jazz, Kings, Hawks, Bulls and Sixers.

    Johnson is currently the director of athletics for the Community College of Philadelphia.


19. Mark Macon: Temple 1987-91

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    Position: Guard

    Height: 6'4" Weight: 185 lbs.

    Born: April 14, 1969 in Saginaw, Michigan

    High School: Buena Vista in Saginaw, Michigan

    Macon was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1990-91 season.

    He averaged 20.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game during his four years at Temple.

    Macon helped put the Owls on the basketball map in the late ’80s, leading the Owls to the NCAA tournament three of his four years. He was selected to the 1987-88 NCAA AP All-America (2nd) team.

    Macon was selected as the 8th overall of the 1991 NBA Draft and played six years. He was selected for the 1991-92 NBA All-Rookie (second) team.

    He is currently the head basketball coach at Binghamton University.

18. Bill Melchionni: Villanova 1963-66

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    Position: Guard  

    Height: 6'1"  Weight: 165 lbs.

    Born: October 19, 1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: Bishop in Cherry Hill, New Jersey

    Melchionni was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1965-66 season and was the Most Valuable Player in the 1966 NIT.

    Melchionni had a nine-year ABA/NBA career. He was selected for three ABA All-Star Teams (1971-73)

    He was a key reserve on what many believe to be the greatest 76ers team, NBA Champions led by Wilt Chamberlain, Luke Jackson, Hal Greer, Wali Jones and Chet Walker in 1967.

    Playing for the ABA's New York Nets, Melchionni was a key player in the 1974 ABA Championship, led by Julius Erving, Larry Kenon, John Williamson and Billy Paultz.

    He was the ABA's assists leader for three consecutive seasons (1970-71, 1971-72, 1972-73). He is still the Nets' all-time assist leader with 2,778. He averaged 10.6 points and 5.0 assists per game in his professional career.

17. Scottie Reynolds: Villanova 2006-10

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    Position: Guard

    Height: 6'2" Weight: 190 lbs.

    Born: October 10, 1987, Huntsville Alabama

    Reynolds was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 2009-10 season.

    Reynolds ended his career as the second-leading scorer in Villanova history with 2,222 points, falling only 21 points short of breaking Kerry Kittles's all-time record.

    He finished his college career with 472 assists and 203 steals.

    He was the Big East Rookie of the Year, Pre-Season All-Big East and 2010 All-Big East First Team. Reynolds was named to the 2010 AP All-American First Team.

16. Harold Pressley: Villanova 1982-86

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    Position: Forward-Guard 

    Height: 6'7"  Weight: 210 lbs.

    Born: July 14, 1963 in Bronx, New York

    High School: Saint Bernard in Uncasville, Connecticut

    Pressley was the 1985-86 Geasey Trophy winner. He was a member of Villanova's 1985 NCAA Championship team.

    Pressley averaged 11.6 points and 7.5 rebounds for his four-year collegiate career. He became the first player in Big East history to record a triple-double, with 19 points, 15 rebounds and 10 blocked shots against Providence.

    Pressley was named to the 1985 NCAA Southeast Regional All-Tournament Team, 1986 All Big East First Team, 1986 Associated Press honorable mention All American, 1986 Big East All-Tournament Team and the 1986 Big East Defensive Player of the Year.

    He was selected by the Sacramento Kings in the first round (17th overall pick) of the 1986 NBA Draft. He played in the NBA for four seasons.

15. Ed Pickney: Villanova 1981-85

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    Position: Forward  

    Height: 6-9  Weight: 195 lbs.

    Born: March 27, 1963 in Bronx, New York

    High School: Adlai E. Stevenson in Bronx, New York

    Pickney averaged 14.5 points and 8.6 rebounds over his four years at Villanova.

    The 6'9" forward led the eighth-seeded Wildcats to the NCAA title over the Georgetown Hoyas in 1985. Pickney was selected as the 1984-85 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

    In 1985, he was selected tenth overall by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Draft.Pickney played in the NBA for 12 seasons.

    Pickney is currently an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls.

14. Howard Porter: Villanova 1968-71

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    Position: Forward-Center ▪ 

    Height: 6-8 ▪ Weight: 220 lbs.

    Born: August 31, 1948 in Stuart, Florida

    Died: May 26, 2007

    High School: Booker in Sarasota, Florida

    Porter was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1968-69 season.

    Porter was a three time All-America selection. He took Villanova to the 1971 NCAA Championship Game, in which Villanova lost to UCLA, 68-62.

    Porter was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after scoring 25 points in the final game.

    Unfortunately, he was stripped of his award and the team's accomplishments were wiped from the record books after it was learned he had begun dealing with an agent before the season ended.

    Porter played seven seasons in the NBA.

13. Jim Lynam: St. Joseph's 1960-63

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    Position: Guard

    Height: 6'2" Weight 185 lbs.

    Born: September 15, 1941 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Lynam was a three-year starter at Saint Joseph’s University.

    He was the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1962-63 season. 

    He scored 1,012 career points and helped the Hawks make three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 1961 NCAA Final Four.

    Lynam is known as much for his coaching career as his playing days. He amassed an impressive 158-118 record in 10 college seasons at Fairfield University (1968-70), American University (1973-78) and Saint Joseph’s University (1978-81).

    Lynam is best remembered for coaching St. Joseph's to an upset victory over DePaul by a score of 49-48 in the first round of the 1981 NCAA Basketball Tournament

    He logged 10 seasons as an NBA head coach with three different teams: San Diego/ L.A. Clippers (1983-85), Philadelphia 76ers (1987-92) and Washington Bullets (1995-97). Lynam has compiled a 328-392 career record.

12. Stan Pawlak: Pennsylvania 1963-1966

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    Position: Forward

    Ht. 6'3" Weight 195 lbs.

    Pawlak was selected three times to All-Ivy First Team.

    Pawlak led Penn in scoring for three years, finished his career as Penn’s No. 2 all-time leader in scoring average (currently No. 3) and No. 4 all-time in field goals made.

    He was named honorable mention All-America as a senior, and named to 1981 Ivy League Silver Anniversary All-Star Team.

    In 1965, Pawlak scored 37 points in a 90-76 rout of LaSalle, the most points scored by a Penn player in the Big 5.

    (Note: The above picture is from a game Pawlak played at the Palestra).

11. Pepe Sanchez: Temple 1997-2000

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    Position: Guard 

    Height: 6'4"  Weight: 195 lbs.

    Born: May 8, 1977 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina

    High School: EEM No. 3 in Bahia Blanca, Argentina

    Sanchez finished his career collegiate career as the No. 2 player in the NCAA in steals.

    As a junior, the crafty point guard guided the Owls to an appearance in the Elite Eight. Despite averaging only 5.6 points per game as a senior, he was named a Third Team All-American by the Associated Press.

    Sanchez was selected for the Geasey Trophy in both the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 season.

    Sánchez was the first Argentine to play in the NBA, playing for three years.

10. Wali Jones: Villanova 1961-64

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    Position: Guard 

    Height: 6'2"  Weight: 180 lbs.

    Born: February 14, 1942 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: Overbrook in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Jones averaged 16.8 points (scoring 1,428 points) as a standout guard at Villanova, where he was a two-time All-East Regional selection.

    Jones also handed out 233 assists during his three-year collegiate career for the Wildcats. He was selected as the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1962-63 and 1963-64 seasons.

    Jones was chosen for the 1965 NBA All-Rookie Team.

    Jones started alongside Wilt Chamberlain, Hal Greer, Chet Walker and Billy Cunningham on the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers team that went 68-14 and won the NBA championship. 

9. Ron Haigler: Penn 1972-75

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    Position: Power Forward

    Height: 6'8" Weight: 195

    Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

    Haigler averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over his three-year collegiate career.

    Ron Haigler was the first recipient of the Ivy League Player of the Year Award as a senior in 1974-75, and was the Geasey Trophy recipient as both a junior and senior. 

    One of the most prolific offensive players in Penn history, Haigler’s 1,522 career points is the third-highest career scoring total in Pennsylvania’s history, and he is one of four players to score more than 600 points in one season (606 in 1974-75). 

    He played in the NCAA Tournament three times, on teams with a combined record of 64-20, and on teams which set a Big Five record of 12 consecutive victories. 

    Haigler holds the school record for field goals made in one season—259—during his senior year.

    Haigler won the Arthur Kiefaber Award as the team’s most valuable player as both a junior and senior, and was drafted by both the Chicago Bulls (NBA) and Memphis Sounds (ABA).

8. Rashid Bey: St. Joseph's 1994-98

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    Position: Guard

    Height: 5'11"  Weight: 185 

    Home: Philadelphia, PA

    Bey was the first player in SJU history—and now one of two—to earn the Geasey Trophy in back-to-back seasons (1997 and 1998).

    As a junior, Bey helped lead the Hawks to the 1997 Atlantic 10 Championship, earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player honor along the way. 

    Also during his junior year, Bey helped lead St. Joseph's to the NCAA Sweet 16 while Bey was named to the NCAA All-West Region team.

    During his senior season he led the Hawks in scoring, assists, steals, three-point field goals made and free throw percentage, averaging 16.9 points and 4.8 assists. Bey was named to the All-Atlantic 10 Second Team and was the MVP of the Big 5.

    Bey tallied 1,316 points and 509 assists and is just one of four Hawks to record over 1,000 points and 500 assists in a career.

    He ranks fourth on St. Joseph's all-time lists for assists, 10th in three-point field goals (169) and 24th in scoring.

7. Michael Brooks: La Salle 1976-1980

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    Position: Forward  

    Height: 6'7"  Weight: 220 lbs.

    Born: August 17, 1958 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: West Catholic in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Michael Brooks was the the Geasey Trophy winner for the 1977-78 and 1979-80 seasons. In his four years at LaSalle, scored 2,628 points and grabbed 1,372 rebounds (averaged 23.1 ppg and 12.0 rpg).

    Brooks led La Salle to NCAA Tourneys in 1978 and 1980, and was named College Player of the Year, 1980.

    He was selected for the 1979-80 NCAA AP All-America team. Brooks was chosen captain of USA 1980 Olympic team, but USA boycotted Moscow games.

    Brooks played six years in the NBA.


6. Kerry Kittles: Villanova 1992-96

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    Position: Guard 

    Height: 6'5"  Weight: 179 lbs.

    Born: June 12, 1974 in Dayton, Ohio

    High School: Saint Augustine in New Orleans, Louisiana 

    Kittles owns 15 Villanova all-time career records, including most points (2,243) and most steals (277).

    He was selected for the Geasey Trophy for the 1994-95 and 95-96 seasons.

    Kittles was selected for the 1994-95 NCAA AP All-America (2nd) team, as well as the 1995-96 NCAA AP All-America (first) team.

    In his four years at Villanova, Kittles averaged 18.4 points 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.He shot 47.8 percent from the field and 39.4 percent from beyond the arc for the Wildcats.

    Kittles followed his excellent collegiate career with a standout eight-year NBA career in which he averaged 14.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

5. John Pinone: Villanova 1979-83

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    Position: Forward 

    Height: 6'8"  Weight: 230 lbs.

    Born: February 19, 1961 in Hartford, Connecticut

    High School: South Catholic in Hartford, Connecticut

    Over his four-year career at Villanova, Pinone averaged 16.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He was named a third-team All-American as a senior.

    Pinone earned first-team All-Big East honors three times, and was a first-team All-Philadelphia Big 5 selection four times. He was the only freshman in Villanova history to lead the team in scoring.

    A third-round draftee in 1983, Pinone played seven games in the NBA for the Atlanta Hawks in 1983-84.

    After spending the rest of the season with the CBA, he joined CB Estudiantes in the Spanish Liga ACB in 1984-85, playing there until 1992-93.

4. Ken Durrett: La Salle 1968-71

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    Position: Forward 

    Height: 6'7"  Weight: 190 lbs.

    Born: December 8, 1948 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    High School: Schenley in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

     Durrett played for the Explorers from 1968–71 and was a three-time recipient of the Geasey Trophy—one of only four players to accomplish this feat.

    He became the fastest Explorer to score 1,000 points, reaching that mark in his 46th game.

    Durrett finished his collegiate career with 1,679 points (23.6 per game) and led the Big 5 in scoring each of his three years.

    The 6'7" forward led La Salle to a berth in the 1971 National Invitation Tournament and was a Consensus second-team All-American in 1971

    Durrett was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft, and he played four years in the league.

3. Jameer Nelson: St. Joseph's

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    Position: Guard  

    Height: 6'0"  Weight: 190 lbs.

    Born: February 9, 1982 in Chester, Pennsylvania

    High School: Chester in Chester, Pennsylvania

    Nelson was selected as the Geasey Trophy winner for the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons.

    Nelson had a breakout freshman season in which he was named unanimous National Freshman of the Year.

    During his junior season in 2002-2003, he averaged 19.7 points per game, 5.1 rebounds per game and 4.7 assists per game.

    For his senior year (the 2003-04 season), Nelson was selected as NCAA AP Player of the Year, the John R. Wooden Award winner and the Naismith Men's College Player of the Year.

    For his four seasons, Nelson averaged 16.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.7 assists.

    Nelson is in his seventh NBA season, and is helping to lead the Orlando Magic to the top of the NBA Eastern Conference.

2. Guy Rodgers: Temple 1955-58

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    Position: Guard 

    Height: 6'0"  Weight: 185 lbs.

    Born: September 1, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Died: February 19, 2001

    High School: Northeast in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Rodgers was selected as the Geasey Trophy winner the first three years of the Big 5 play (1955-58). He was named to the 1956-57 and 1957-58 NCAA AP All-America teams.

    Rodgers was the school's leading career scorer with 1,767 points (now the third leading scorer in Temple's history). He led the Owls to third-place finishes in the N.C.A.A. tournament in 1956 and 1958.

    In a 12-season N.B.A. career, Rodgers averaged 11.7 points and 7.8 assists. He is 10th on the NBA career assists list with 6,917.

    He was the school's first inductee into Philadelphia's Big 5 Hall of Fame.

1. Lionel Simmons: La Salle 1986-90

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    Position: Forward  

    Height: 6'7"  Weight: 210 lbs.

    Born: November 14, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    High School: South Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    Simmons was a four-time First Team All Big 5 selection and won the Robert V. Geasey Trophy as Big 5 MVP three times.

    He won the Naismith College Player of the Year and John R. Wooden Award as a senior.

    Simmons is third in all-time NCAA career points with 3,217 (24.6 ppg over four years) and trails only Pete Maravich and Freeman Williams. He became the only player in NCAA history to score more than 3,000 points and pull down more than 1,100 rebounds.

    He holds the NCAA Basketball record for most consecutive games scoring in double figures with 115.

    He led the Explorers to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances (1988–90). Simmons was Player of the Year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for three years.

    Simmons was selected by the Sacramento Kings with the seventh pick of the 1990 NBA Draft.

    He played seven seasons for the Kings, scoring 5,833 career points until prematurely retiring in 1997 due to chronic injuries.