Spencer Haywood

The youngest member of the 1968 gold-medal winning United States Olympic team, and its leading scorer, Spencer Haywood's journey in basketball was brilliant, though hardly conventional. He enrolled at the University of Detroit after a standout season at Trinidad State Junior College, and after only two years of college basketball, he was poised to take the next step in his basketball life. Haywood left college early and in one spectacular ABA season, Haywood was named Rookie of the Year and MVP while launching an all-out assault on the ABA records books. He set single-season records for rebounds, rebounding average, and minutes played while leading the league in scoring. Haywood then jumped leagues, signing with the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA, and suddenly professional basketball was never the same. NBA rules at that time kept players from turning professional until four years removed from high school. Haywood challenged the NBA, and after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the big kid from Silver City, Mississippi, the NBA instituted the hardship rule thus paving the way for undergraduates, and even high school players, to enter the NBA.