NBA history was made when LeBron James passed Kareem Abdul Jabbar to become the league’s all-time leading scorer.
Abdul Jabbar initially set the new mark in 1984 (the same year James was born), with many believing the mark was unbreakable.
This got us thinking. Where do the HBCU greats that have played in the NBA sit on the all-time scoring list? There have been several HBCU players who have made it to the NBA, eventually going on to have a significant impact in the league.
Here are the top highest-scoring HBCU players in NBA history.
1. Earl Monroe- 17,454 points
Earl “The Pearl” Monroe leads the pack of HBCU scorers in NBA history accounting for 17,454 points in his 13-year career. Monroe sits among the top 100 scorers in NBA history, currently at 90th.
Monroe had his best stint in the first five seasons of his career with the then-Baltimore Bullets (the team that drafted him second overall in the 1967 NBA Draft).
He scored 7,775 total points with the Bullets, good for an average of 23.7 points
Monroe built his reputation as a scorer in college at Winston-Salem State University, averaging 26.7 points per game in his four years and becoming the CIAA’s all-time leading scorer.
This includes a senior season in which he posted an NCAA Division II record of 1,329 total points (41.5 point average), leading his team to the Division II national championship.
2. Bob Dandridge- 15,530 points
Norfolk State great Bob Dandridge was a model of consistency in his 13 seasons in the NBA averaging 18.5 points in his career.
From his second season in the NBA in 1970 to the 1979-1980 season, Dandridge averaged over 17 points each year, including a career-best 21.5 points in 1975-1976.
He had great success in the pros, making it to four NBA Finals and winning two championships.
Interestingly, the Spartans’ forward has a better career-scoring average in the playoffs (20.1) than in the regular season.
Dandridge entered the NBA coming off a dominant senior season with Norfolk State in which he averaged 32.7 points per game.
3. Sam Jones- 15,411 points
Playing for the Boston Celtics from 1957-1969, North Carolina Central alum Sam Jones was the personification of winning in his NBA career.
Playing alongside all-time great center Bill Russell, Jones won 10 NBA championships in his 12 seasons, making it to the NBA Finals in all but one season.
The Celtics guard was not just a tag-along player on those championship teams either. He was named to five NBA All-Star teams and three All-NBA teams.
Jones was an excellent scorer throughout his career, averaging 17.7 points in his 12 seasons in the league. His best stretch came from 1964-1968, when he averaged 23.3 points.
Like Dandridge, the former NC Central guard has a better scoring average in the playoffs (18.9) than in the regular season.
4. Dick Barnett- 15,358 points
Of all the players on this list, Dick Barnett arguably had the more dominant collegiate run. In his time with Tennessee State (then Tennessee A&I), he averaged 23.6 points leading the team to three consecutive NAIA national championships.
Moving on to the NBA, where he was the fifth overall pick in the 1959 draft, Barnett carved out a solid career, winning two NBA championships and being named an All-Star in 1968.
He averaged 15.8 points in the NBA, with his best season coming in 1965-1966, when he averaged 23.1 points.
5. Purvis Short- 14,607 points
Although Jackson State forward Purvis Short is the only player on this list never to be named an All-Star, you’d never know that when looking at his scoring numbers.
In his 12-year career, Short averaged 17.3 points, including four seasons averaging over 20 points a game. In the 1984-1985 season, he had his best year, putting up 28.0 points per game (ranked fourth in the NBA).
He scored the most points of any HBCU player in a single game, going off for 59 points in 1984. This was one of two 50-point games Short had, with the other being a 57-point effort a year prior.
6. Bob Love- 13,895 points
Before Michael Jordan took the Chicago Bulls to six NBA Finals and changed the scope of the franchise forever, it was Southern star Bob Love who was the team’s franchise player.
In his nine seasons with the team, he averaged 21.3 points accounting for 12,623 of his 13,895 career points. In addition, he was named to three All-Star teams, three All-Defensive teams, and two All-NBA teams.
His best season in the league came in 1971-1972 when he averaged 25.8 points per game
7. Charles Oakley – 12,417 points
Virginia Union alum Charles Oakley played an astonishing 19 years in the NBA, providing toughness and intimidation to any team he played for.
Although he was not exactly a great scorer, Oakley did put up a modest career scoring average of 9.7 points per game, including nine seasons with a double-digit scoring average.
His best season came in 1989-1990 when he put up 14.6 points in his second of 10 seasons with the New York Knicks.
The same could not be said about Oakley’s college career, as he scored 20.3 points in his four years at Virginia Union.
As a senior, the Panthers’ big man averaged 24.0 points per game on his way to being named Division II Player of the Year.
8. Willis Reed – 12,183 points
All-time great Grambling State center Willis Reed is easily the most accomplished HBCU player to ever step foot in the NBA, with a laundry list of individual and team awards to his name.
Playing his entire career with the New York Knicks, Reed is the only HBCU player to ever win league MVP and/or Finals MVP. In addition, he also won two NBA championships, seven All-Star selections, and five All-NBA selections.
Unfortunately, Reed’s career in the NBA was cut short due to injuries preventing him from climbing the all-time scoring list.
In his first seven years in the league, Reed had already amassed 11,066 total points (an average of 20.1 points per game).
9. Truck Robinson – 11,988 points
We end the list with a pair of Tennessee State alum beginning with 11-year NBA veteran Truck Robinson. Robinson played for an assortment of teams averaging 15.5 points for his career.
His best stretch came from 1976-1982 when he averaged 19.6 points, securing two All-Star selections in between.
Before joining the NBA, Robinson was a star for Tennessee State leading the team to Division II playoff berths in each season, including reaching the national championship game in 1973.
He averaged 20.3 points in his time with the Tigers, including a 25.2 scoring average in his final two seasons.
10. Anthony Mason – 9,656 points
Capping things off is the late great Anthony Mason, who played 13 seasons in the NBA.
In his career, the Tennessee State alum averaged 10.9 points, including six seasons averaging double-digit points.
His best stint came in his three years with the Charlotte Hornets, in which he averaged 13.4 points and was named Sixth Man of the Year in 1996-1997.
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