John R. Wooden
Although a successful college basketball coach, John Wooden was first and foremost a fabulous player. After an All-State career at Martinsville High School, Wooden moved on to Purdue University where he was called the “India Rubber Man” for his suicidal dives on the court and ability to bounce back after a physical play. Wooden, who always cited Hall of Fame coach Ward Lambert as his greatest coaching influence, began a successful professional career by leading the National BasketballLeague in scoring in 1932-33 with the Indianapolis Kautskys. An excellent playmaker and aggressive defender, Wooden led the Whiting All-Americans into the National Basketball League playoffs in 1938, where he recorded the highest scoring average of any player that season. Although he was also coaching high school while he was playing pro ball, Wooden retired as a player in 1939 to turn his complete attention to coaching.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR