With the offseason having begun, it's time to once again give reverential treatment to past Mizzou basketball greats. Voting is underway for the second induction class of The Rafters. Based on your voting, we will induct five more players next week, one from each of the following tiers:
Tier 1: The Pre-Norm Era (pre-1967)
Tier II: Norm Era I (1968-84)
Tier III: Norm Era II (1984-94)
Tier IV: Norm Era III
Tier V: The 2000s
One vote is in the books, so it's on to Vote #2 today. Below, you will be asked to rank your top three selections from the selected tier. First place will be given five points, second place will be given three points, and third place will be given one point. Whoever receives the most points is the winner from that tier. Behold the incredible recruiting success Norm Stewart had in the late-1970s...
More than any other player, John Brown elevated Missouri basketball to prominence in the 1970’s. A rare blend of fire, finesse, strength and savvy, the six-foot-seven-inch, 220-pounder from Dixon, Missouri was Norm Stewart’s first marquee recruit and the prototype for so many others on this list – big, skilled, relentless and fearless. The big blond was a power forward with a soft touch, which he demonstrated as a sophomore when he averaged 14.9 points and 9.3 rebounds after missing the season’s first eight games with an ankle injury. Fully healthy as a junior, Brown dominated, leading the Tigers to their first 20-win season ever and their best winning percentage in 42 years, as he averaged 21.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game and was named first team All-Big Eight. That summer, he earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic basketball team but did not play in the fateful Munich games because of an injured foot. Healthy again as a senior, Brown earned all-conference and All-America honors as he led the Tigers to another 20-win season in their first year in the Hearnes Center. His career averages of 19.7 points and 10.0 rebounds per game rank third and fourth, respectively, in Missouri history. Quite simply, a dominant player.
Strong as a horse, smart as a whip, bigger than most, but small for his position, hard-working Al Eberhard helped power the Tigers to their first two 20-win seasons. He also combined with John Brown to give Mizzou its best frontcourt tandem in decades, maybe ever. As a sophomore, Eberhard established himself as a force, earning the first of his three MVP trophies at the Big Eight Holiday Tournament (he scored 33 to help defeat Kansas State in the final) and finishing second on the team in scoring and rebounding behind Brown. Big Al (he stood 6’5" but defended men a half-foot taller) was even better as a junior, averaging 17.0 points and 9.3 rebounds. As a senior, Eberhard stepped out of the departed Brown’s shadow. He was named first team All-Big Eight while averaging 19.7 points and 12.0 rebounds per contest. With 16.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game (third-best all-time), Eberhard is one of only four Tigers ever to average a career double-double.
Despite being one of the smallest centers in the conference, Kim Anderson played a key role for Missouri teams in his sophomore and junior seasons when he averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game, and helped the Tigers to the 1976 Big Eight championship and a run to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament. As a senior in 1976-77, however, he became Mizzou’s leader when he propelled the Tigers to a 21-8 record and was named Big Eight Player of the Year by UPI. That season, he scored a career-high 38 points in a win over Kansas, and he led the league in scoring with 22.1 points per game in conference play, while averaging 18.3 points and 7.9 rebounds overall. Anderson later became an assistant coach on Norm Stewart’s staff, and is currently the head coach at Central Missouri State.
Larry Drew was Missouri’s first great modern point guard, a leader, playmaker and scorer without peer at his position. After becoming the first freshman at Mizzou to be a regular starter in the modern era, Drew helped lead the Tigers to an improbable NCAA berth as a sophomore, earning admittance by winning the Big Eight Tournament despite a losing overall record. Steady throughout his career, Drew shone as a senior, earning all-league honors and rallying a group of underclassmen to a Big Eight title and a run to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, including an upset of ninth-ranked Notre Dame, a game in which Drew dished a then-school-record 12 assists. At his career’s conclusion, Drew was number two on Mizzou’s all-time scoring list, and he held career records for assists, steals, field goals, games played, starts and consecutive starts.
Selma, Alabama’s Curtis Berry, a 6’7” forward, emerged as a star as a sophomore in the 1978-79 season, when he averaged 13.5 points and 9.0 rebounds for a team that went just 13-15 overall, but tied for second in the Big Eight with an 8-6 record. The next year, as the Tigers added all-time greats Ricky Frazier, Steve Stipanovich and Jon Sundvold, Berry continued his tremendous play, averaging 14.4 points and 7.5 rebounds and earning all-conference honors for the Big Eight champs before a knee injury ended his season in the league tournament. But he returned in top form as a senior and helped Missouri to its second straight conference title. Berry finished his career with 1,328 points and 811 rebounds (then sixth and second, respectively, on the all-time list; now nineteenth and eighth), and his 55.6% field goal percentage still ranks fourth in Mizzou’s history.
A 6’6” forward blessed with terrific athleticism and a soft shooting touch, Ricky Frazier transferred to Mizzou after a freshman year at St. Louis University in which he won the Metro Conference’s Newcomer of the Year award. His impact on the Tigers was just as significant. As a sophomore, he started 30 of 31 games, averaged 13.8 points and 5.6 rebounds, led the team in blocked shots, shot 63.5% from the floor, and helped Missouri win the Big Eight title – a feat the Tigers would accomplish in all three of his seasons in Columbia. Then he improved. First team All-Big Eight as a junior, Frazier led the Tigers with 16.5 points per game and hit the game-winning shot against Kansas State that sealed Mizzou’s second straight league championship. Frazier closed his career in 1982 by winning the Big Eight Player of the Year award, earning third-team All-America honors, and helping Mizzou to its first-ever number one ranking the national polls. His career total of 1,448 points stood as a Missouri record for just one season, but it remained the highest total for any Tiger not to play four years until Kareem Rush surpassed it 20 years later. But the greatest honor may have come from his coach, Norm Stewart, who called Frazier “perhaps the best competitor we ever had.”
Jon Sundvold – a 6’2” guard from suburban Kansas City – became a starter midway through his freshman season of 1979-80 and started every game for the rest of his career. After Larry Drew’s graduation in 1980, Sundvold became Mizzou’s backcourt leader, racking up assists as well as points from his shooting guard position, where he had seemingly unlimited range. Forever intertwined in Mizzou fans’ memories with Steve Stipanovich, his four-year teammate, Sundvold made first team All-Big Eight his final two seasons and was a consensus second team All-American his senior year. In addition to averaging 17.1 points and 3.6 assists in his final campaign, Sundvold hit a 22-footer at the buzzer to beat Kansas State and clinch the Tigers’ fourth straight Big Eight title. Dubbed “Einstein in Sneakers” by former Southern Cal coach Stan Morrison for his genius-level play, Sundvold ranked second on Mizzou’s all-time points and assists lists at the time of his graduation. He still holds records for minutes played and free throw percentage.