College Greats: Allen Iverson – Best dunks, crossovers, stories & games from HS & Georgetown
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Champs Sports is giving away $15k in college cash for college, a trip for two to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando and $1,500 in Champs sports gift cards. In honor of those heading to college, Ballislife looks back at some of our favorite college players and today we are looking at arguably the most electrifying guard in NCAA history that arrived and left campus with controversy but left as one of the greatest.
At Bethel high, the school wasn’t sure if they had a future NFL quarterback or future NBA point guard in Allen Iverson. As the star QB and defensive back, he led the football team to a state championship his junior year and accumulated 21 touchdowns (14 passing), 2,204 yards of offense and 13 interceptions. On the basketball court he was good for 30 when it didn’t matter and however many points were needed to win the game.
Just 3 months after winning a football state championship he would lead Bethel to a state basketball championship but there wasn’t much time to celebrate for Iverson. A month before the state championship Iverson was involved in the “Valentines brawl” at a bowling alley and 5 months after the championship the champion would receive a 15 year prison sentence. He only served 4 months until he was granted conditional clemency by the Virginia Governor.
AI had to serve his senior year at a high school for “at-risk students” where he was not allowed to play basketball. Despite interest from schools like Arkansas, Kentucky and Duke during his junior year, for most players, not being able to play a senior year of basketball because of criminal activity would eliminate any chance of a scholarship but while Iverson was serving time, his mother visited Georgetown coach John Thompson and pleaded with him to help her son. Thompson would later say she was the reason why he “helped her child.”
Thompson visited Iverson during his senior year and offered him a scholarship. Although the Hoyas were known for their big men such as Ewing, Zo, Mutombo and Othella Harrington, the greatest scorer in Georgetown history was 6’3 guard Eric “Sleepy” Floyd. Floyd was part of the “Heart Attack Hoyas” and ended his career with 4 straight scoring titles and even became the first and last guard to ever lead the team in blocks for a season. Georgetown alumni that remembered Floyd were hoping Iverson would be a similar player and on August 4th 1994, at the Kenner Summer League, a packed house with a turned down line outside, witnessed something more than what they were hoping for – Iverson dropped 40 points in his first organized basketball game in over a year.
A few months later, Iverson played in his first exhibition game for the Hoyas and produced 36 points, five assists and 3 steals in just 23 minutes. A writer for the Washington Times claimed he “was better than most of the point guards in the NBA right now” and another writer for the Post compared his first impression of Iverson to his first impression of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.
When the season started, Iverson was a frequent feature on ESPN’s Plays of the week and was putting up 30+ games just like he was back in high school. The only game where he scored less than 10 points in was a game against Villanova where he only played 10 minutes and Coach Thompson threatened to forfeit because of a group of rowdy students that were comparing Iverson to OJ while wearing prison costumes. Iverson got his revenge later that season against Villanove with 26 points. There weren’t any prison costume wearing student around this time but there was a future impeached president in attendance.
The season ended for the team in the Sweet 16 against Vince Carter’s UNC team but Iverson collected numerous awards and honors including Big East Rookie of the Year and All Rookie Tournament First Team. He was also selected Big East Player of the week 9 times during his freshman season.
His sophomore season was even more sensational. Multiple 40 point explosions, 8 steals in another, dunks and alley oops not expected from 6’0 guards and another revenge game against Villanova with 37 points 8 rebounds in 23 minutes for a 38 point victory.
Despite being one of the most consistent players in the country, his worst game couldn’t of came at a worst time. Hitting only 4 of 15 shots, Iverson and the Hoyas lost their first game in the Big East Finals which lowered their seed to #2 behind Marcus Camby and Umass. The two teams faced off in the regional finals where Umass would come out victorious showing why they deserved the #1 ranking.
Just the way Iverson’s high school career ended in controversey to only be welcomed with opened arms to the the next level, Iverson became the first underclassman to leave John Thompson early so he could enter the NBA draft where he was selected with the #1 pick by the 76ers.
Iverson had one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history, averaging 39 points a game for his final 9 games of the season. When he was awarded the NBA Rookie of the year Award he gave it to his mom and said “this is your award.” So true, if it wasn’t for his mother taking that trip to see John Thompson we would all be asking the question “whatever happened to Allen Iverson?” but she did so we luckily have the Answer.
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