Pete "Pistol" Maravich and LSU: A Unique SEC Story

by Lamar Hull

Pistol Pete Maravich was a child prodigy at the game of basketball. Having taken an interest early in life due to the influence of his demanding father, Press as he was better known, was a former professional player who transitioned into coaching later in life. He would drill Pete on the fundamentals of the game, working on dribbling, passing, footwork and shooting at the tender age of seven. The child became obsessed, and Pete was playing varsity basketball a full year before even being old enough to attend high school. His modern homework basketball drills are a replicate of the type of workouts Pete used as a youngster to expand his knowledge and skill level of the game.

As the Maravich's moved around the country as Press changed coaching jobs, Pete, a social introvert, found immediate acceptance on the basketball court wherever he played. It was during his high school playing days that the moniker "Pistol" became Pete's to own, as he would shoot the basketball from his hip, similar to the position in which a revolver pistol would be worn by cowboys of the 19th century.

Maravich was one of the highest and most sought after basketball players in organized high school sports history. When it came time for Pete Maravich to make a commitment to a school to continue his playing career at the collegiate levels, Pete initially had decided to attend West Virginia University, and become a Mountaineer. Fate had a way of intervening, and Pete's father, Press, had recently been named the men's head basketball coach of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. After long and tenuous discussion, Pete decided to follow his father to Baton Rouge, and signed a letter of intent to accept a full ride scholarship from LSU to play for the Tigers' basketball program.

At the time, NCAA rules prohibited freshmen from playing on collegiate teams, and instead allowed incoming players to play on freshmen teams. The following season as a sophomore, Pete quickly became a national phenomenon, leading the nation in scoring with a 43.8 points per game average. This record hasn't been broken and most likely will never be broken by a fellow LSU basketball star or college basketball player period. This helped turn around an LSU squad that had finished 3-20 the previous season. One interesting point about Maravich's career at Louisiana State, was that he was able to score so many points without the luxury of having a 3-point line as part of the game. During his junior season, Maravich once again led the nation in scoring, averaging 44.2 points per game, and 44.5 points per game in his final season in Baton Rouge.

By the time Maravich's career at LSU was ending, he was a three-time first team All American selection, set numerous national and school scoring records, and became the gold standard by which every player to enter LSU after him was measured. One of the misfortunes of Maravich's collegiate career, was that he never led LSU to a conference championship or an appearance in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Maravich was a 3-time SEC Conference Player of the Year, the 1970 College Player of the Year, had his #23 retired by the school, and was inducted into LSU's Hall of Fame in 1987.

Pete Maravich's birthday is coming up soon; we should definitely recognize his greatness and uniqueness. He was definitely a player before his time.

Bio: Lamar Hull is a former NCAA college basketball player who also played on the European professional circuit. He now writes for Direct2tv. He posseses a huge interest in some of basketball's greatest players; especially the ones who helped shaped his game. Lamar is also a blogger for his youth basketball sport's blog at Inspirational Basketball.

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