Former Indiana University and Indiana Pacers standout George McGinnis was named to the 2017 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame class on Saturday.
He is the seventh former Hoosier player or coach to join the Hall of Fame, joining Walt Bellamy, Everett Dean, Bob Knight, Bobby “Slick” Leonard, Branch McCracken and Isiah Thomas.
McGinnis, the 1969 Mr. Basketball in the state of Indiana after leading Indianapolis Washington to an unbeaten season and state title, played just one year at IU as a sophomore, as freshmen were ineligible. That 1970-71 season saw the 6-foot-8 forward set what is still an IU record with 29.9 points per game. McGinnis scored 20 ore more points in 21 of his 24 college games, including an Indiana record 14 games in a row. He also scored over 30 points on 12 occasions, still a Hoosier single-season record.
McGinnis also averaged 14.7 rebounds per game to become the first sophomore to lead the Big Ten in both scoring and rebounding on the way to All-Big Ten and third team All-American honors. The single-season rebound total is still the fourth-best all-time at Indiana.
“On behalf of all Hoosier Nation, I want to congratulate George McGinnis on making the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame,” IU athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement. “I remember watching him as a kid at Hinkle Fieldhouse when he played for Washington. He is one of the greatest players in IU history, a Pacers’ legend and an icon in the State of Indiana. We could not be more thrilled for ‘Big George’ to receive this most prestigious honor.”
Players could not leave for the NBA as sophomores, but there was no such barrier to the emerging ABA, and McGinnis signed with the Indiana Pacers in 1971. He played four seasons with the ABA Pacers, helping lead the team to championships in 1972 and ’73 with Leonard as head coach.
McGinnis was the co-MVP of the ABA with Julius Erving in the 1974-75 season, averaging a career-best 29.8 points to go with 14.3 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game.
He then spent the next fives seasons in the NBA with the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets, making three All-Star teams before returning to the Pacers in 1980 and retiring in 1982. McGinnis, whose No. 30 was retired by the Pacers, averaged 20.2 points (17,009), 11.0 rebounds (9,233) and 3.7 assists (3,089) for his professional career.