Note: Picture of Sean Elliott above is from a Fleer trading card
No. 32 facts about Arizona’s hoops program as we are now 32 days from tip-off:
— No other uniform number in Arizona history is as storied as No. 32.
Three of the greatest to wear the number — including the greatest, Sean Elliott — each have their place in Wildcat lore.
Larry Demic, the UA’s first player to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft in 1979, was an imposing force around the basket as a power forward.
Although Lute Olson recruited many players after signing Pete Williams as part of his first recruiting class in 1983, he has mentioned that Williams is the best rebounder he coached at Arizona.
And Elliott, the Cholla High School product who broke Lew Alcindor’s Pac-10 scoring record, had unparalleled success as a Wildcat. He tops the UA in career points (2,555), field goals made (892) and free throws made (623). He also ranks No. 9 in career rebounding (808).
Arizona has retired No. 32 in Elliott’s honor, but Williams and Demic can look at the number hanging from McKale’s rafter and also see their names.
Williams is not among the UA’s top 10 career rebounders only because he played just two years (1883-84 and 1984-85) after transferring from Mount San Antonio Junior College in California. He finished with 543 rebounds. Over a four-year span, that equates to 1,086 rebounds. Al Fleming holds the UA career record with 1,190 and Bob Elliott is next at 1,083.
Contacted Sunday, Williams said he at first wanted to be No. 24, his number at Mount San Antonio, but Donald Haskins wore the number upon his arrival in 1983.
“I settled for 32, and eventually grew to love that number,” Williams commented to me in a message. “The fact that Sean, easily the greatest player we’ve ever had, wore the same number, made it even more special!
“When I think of 32 as far as basketball is concerned, Magic Johnson & Sean Elliott, two of my all-time favorites, come to mind!”
Demic, one of a few recruits from Gary, Ind., who left Big Ten country to play for Fred Snowden, was an All-Pac-10 selection in 1979. He played three years for the Knicks, who chose him as the No 9 pick overall in the 1979 NBA draft.
Demic scored a career-high 36 points to lead the UA over Washington in 1979, but his most impressive performance his senior season came against No. 4 UCLA. Demic had 20 points in the 70-69 upset win at McKale Center. The UA beat USC two days later in one of the most memorable sweeps of the L.A. schools in Wildcat history.
Elliott’s jersey number 32 is also retired by the San Antonio Spurs and Cholla has named its gymnasium after him.
As a senior at Arizona in 1989, Elliott was named player of the Year by Associated Press, CBS-TV, Basketball Weekly, Basketball Times, Kodak, Hoop Scoop, All-Star Sports Report and more. He was the Wooden Award winner and a consensus All-American. He led the UA to three Pac-10 titles and was a significant reason why Arizona achieved its first Final Four appearance in 1987-88.
Countdown to Tip-off Blogs:
— No. 33 in Arizona Wildcats history symbolic of hard work ethic, ideal role players
— Simon says: No. 34 special with two of Arizona Wildcats’ greatest wearing jersey number
— If Arizona Wildcats center Kaleb Tarczewski has field-goal percentage like Jud Buechler, UA will be fine
— Arizona Wildcats legend Sean Elliott scored career-high 36 points opposing Sean Miller
— Nick Johnson looks to improve perimeter shooting, limit turnovers
— Jordin Mayes hoping to return to shooting form earlier in Arizona Wildcats career
— 39 days and counting toward Arizona Wildcats’ season
— Joe Skaisgir best Arizona Wildcats basketball player you’ve never heard of
— Nick Johnson looks to improve FG percentage while Arizona Wildcats limit opponents
— Chris Mills, A.J. Bramlett reached Arizona Wildcats stardom via different paths, roles
— Jordan Hill climbed hill for notoriety while Ed Nymeyer lived up to hype with Arizona Wildcats
— Fantastic Four who wore No. 44: Jersey special for Arizona Wildcats program
— Two of Arizona Wildcats’ best centers — Sean Rooks and Channing Frye — donned No. 45
— Arizona Wildcats great Ernie McCray reminisces about his record-setting 46-point performance
— Arizona Wildcats star recruit should not be compared to Blake Griffin
— Arizona Wildcats coach Sean Miller on fast track to Pac-12 success
— Things you may not know about Arizona Wildcats point guard T.J. McConnell
— Arizona Wildcats will benefit from presence of Joseph Blair in practice
— Arizona Wildcats preparing for what could be memorable 2013-14 season