Philadelphia is rich in basketball history across all levels of play. CBB Review ranks the 15 best Philadelphia college basketball players of all time.
The city of Philadelphia has long been known as a holy grail of basketball talent. The Big 5 reside here, and it’s an officially unofficial tournament to crown the best college basketball program in the city each year. It should be no surprise then that many of the best college basketball players to come from the city have ended up staying put. After all, earning bragging rights in your backyard is important and Philadelphia college basketball is near the top.
This time, we’ve gone through close to 100 Philadelphia college basketball players to find the very best throughout history. It wasn’t easy, and there are certainly going to be some arguments over potential snubs. Again, this is a reminder that this is all about players who were born in Philadelphia, and not transplants. You can also check out our prior piece on Baltimore’s all-time college greats.
Philadelphia College Basketball Third Team
Rasual Butler (La Salle, Roman Catholic High School)
Rasual Butler left La Salle fourth all-time in scoring, and he was just the sixth player in school history to score over 2,000 points. Despite all of his individual success, the Explorers weren’t very good during his time there, failing to make any postseason appearances. However, Butler was twice named to the Atlantic 10’s first team and was also a member of the all-A10 Tournament team in 2002.
Butler averaged 19.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks per game for his career. He was a second-round pick by Miami in 2002 and ended up playing 14 seasons in the NBA. He also played in the Big 3 Tournament. Butler tragically passed away in a car accident in 2018.
Paul Graham (Ohio, Benjamin Franklin High School)
Paul Graham took his talents out of Philadelphia and over to Ohio, where he dominated the Mid-American Conference during his time there. That culminated in being named the league’s player of the year during his senior season. Graham was also the MAC’s Freshman of the Year in 1986 and earned first-team honors twice. However, the Bobcats only made one postseason appearance while he was there, which was the NIT during his freshman campaign.
The Philadelphia college basketball product averaged 19.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game for his career. He was undrafted and sandwiched three seasons with the Atlanta Hawks around international competition. One of his biggest post-college accomplishments was scoring 82 points in a game in the Australian professional ranks in 1990.
Bo Kimble (Loyola Marymount, Dobbins Technical High School)
Bo Kimble was one of the integral pieces of putting Loyola Marymount on the map in the late 1980s, taking Philadelphia college basketball to the west coast. He was most known for his scoring prowess, including leading the NCAA in scoring average as a senior at 35.5 points per game. That single-season scoring average ranks sixth all-time is still the school’s record. Kimble’s 26.4 points per game for his career is second in school history only to a good friend of his who will appear on this list later.
Kimble was also a 40.7 percent career three-point shooter. He was named the WCC’S Player of the Year in 1990 and was a consensus second-team All-American that year. He helped the Lions make three straight NCAA appearances from 1988-1990. Kimble remains the only player in school history to score 50 points in a game, and he did that four times. Kimble was a first-round pick of the L.A. Clippers in 1990, and he spent three seasons in the NBA before finishing his career in the Continental Basketball Association.
Lewis Lloyd (Drake, Overbrook High School)
Lewis Lloyd only played two seasons at Drake after coming from the junior college ranks. However, he didn’t waste any time in putting his stamp on the Missouri Valley Conference. He won the league’s player of the year honors in both of his seasons with the Bulldogs, in large part thanks to his offensive abilities. His offensive numbers in conference play rivaled that of league legends like Oscar Robertson and Larry Bird. The Bulldogs only made a 1981 NIT appearance while Lloyd was there.
Lloyd averaged 28.2 points and 12.4 rebounds per game during his two-year career. He also shot an efficient 54.9 percent from the field. He was a fourth-round pick of Golden State in 1981 and he played eight total seasons in the league. Lloyd passed away at the age of 60 in 2019, but will always be remembered as a fantastic product out of Philadelphia college basketball.
Aaron McKie (Temple, Simon Gratz High School)
Aaron McKie stayed home to play for Philadelphia college basketball powerhouse Temple. McKie started all 92 games that he played for the Owls. He currently sits at sixth on the school’s all-time scoring list, and his 20.6 points per game as a junior led him to be named the Atlantic 10 and Big 5’s Player of the Year. McKie was part of Temple’s rise in the 1990s, including winning 60 games and making the Elite Eight in 1993.
He averaged 17.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.1 steals per game for his Owl career. He was also close to a 37 percent career deep ball shooter. McKie was a first-round pick by Portland in 1994, and he spent 13 seasons in the NBA, including eight with the hometown 76ers. His time in basketball has come full circle, as he is the current head coach for Temple as they compete in the American Athletic Conference.
Philadelphia College Basketball Second Team
Michael Anderson (Drexel, George Washington Carver High School)
Michael Anderson ended his time at Drexel with 45 school records. That includes being first in career points, assists, and steals. His 23.9 points per game as a senior is also a school record. He was named the East Coast Conference’s Player of the Year in 1986 and 1988 and was also a three-time first-team selection. Anderson was a big reason why Drexel made their first-ever NCAA appearance in 1986.
Anderson averaged 19.2 points, six rebounds, 6.3 assists, and three steals per game during his time with the Dragons. He still sits just outside the top 10 in NCAA history in career steals and is second all-time in career triple-doubles. Anderson was a third-round pick by Indiana in 1988 but played a majority of his professional career overseas.
Danny Fortson (Cincinnati, Shaler Area High School)
Danny Fortson was a beast for the Bearcats, scoring close to 1,900 career points to finish second in school history. His shooting ability was top-notch, and it helped Cincinnati capture Conference USA titles in 1996 and 1997. It also helped Fortson win C-USA’s Player of the Year awards for those years as well. Furthermore, he was named a consensus second-team All-American in 1996 and a consensus first-team All-American in 1997.
Fortson averaged 18.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game for his career, while also shooting 56.5 percent from the field. He is considered one of the best to ever put on a Cincinnati uniform. Fortson was drafted in the first round by Milwaukee and spent 10 years in the NBA in total, repping the Philadelphia college basketball landscape.
Barry Parkhill (Virginia, State College High School)
Barry Parkhill is considered one of the best guards in ACC history. His career culminated in winning the league’s player of the year honors in 1972 after leading the ACC in scoring. He was also a consensus second-team All-American that season. Furthermore, it was also good enough to lead the Cavaliers to just their second postseason appearance ever in the 1972 NIT. Parkhill was the second player in Virginia history to have his jersey number retired.
He averaged 18.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game for his career. Parkhill was a first-round pick of Portland in 1972, but he chose to play in the ABA, spending three seasons in the league. He also coached at William & Mary in the mid-1980s, and currently serves as an associate athletic director back at Virginia.
Malik Rose (Drexel, Overbrook High School)
Malik Rose just eclipsed the 2,000 career point mark to place third in school history while at Drexel. However, he did leave the Dragons as their all-time leading rebounder and is the NCAA’s third-best career rebounder in the modern era. Rose was the North Atlantic Conference’s Tournament Most Valuable Player three times and Player of the Year twice. He led Drexel to three NCAA Tournaments, including the school’s first-ever win, upsetting Memphis in 1996. He scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the victory, showing out for Philadelphia college basketball.
Rose averaged 16.9 points and 12.6 rebounds per game for his career. He also had his number retired by Drexel. Rose was a second-round pick by Charlotte in 1996, and he spent 13 solid seasons in the NBA. He currently serves as the NBA’s vice president of basketball operations.
Hakim Warrick (Syracuse, Friends Central High School)
Hakim Warrick finished his career at Syracuse fourth on the school’s all-time scoring and rebounding lists. He scored in double-figures for the final 61 games of his career and was a finalist for many major national player of the year awards as a senior. Warrick’s senior year also saw him capture the Big East’s Player of the Year and Tournament Most Valuable Player honors as well as being named a consensus first-team All-American. Arguably his most memorable career play came when he blocked Kansas’ Michael Lee‘s shot to secure the Orange’s first national title in 2003.
Warrick averaged 15.4 points and 7.6 rebounds per game for his career while helping Syracuse make three NCAA Tournaments. He was a first-round pick of Memphis in 2005 and played eight seasons in the NBA before continuing his career overseas. He most recently played in the G-League in 2019.
Philadelphia College Basketball First Team
Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas, Overbrook High School)
Wilt Chamberlain is considered one of the best basketball players of all time, both in the college and professional ranks. He still owns Kansas’ single-game records in points, rebounds, made field goals, and made free throws. Chamberlain’s success forced opponents to alter their game plan, including tactics like freezing the ball and triple-teaming him. He was a two-time consensus All-American and the 1957 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player despite the Jayhawks not winning the title.
Chamberlain averaged 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds per game during his time at Kansas. He left college early to turn pro, and his professional career is very well known. He was a territorial draft pick by Philadelphia and had a 15-year pro career. He also played with the Harlem Globetrotters for a time. Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame and has his jersey hanging in the rafters at Phog Allen. He passed away from heart problems in 1999. Philadelphia basketball wouldn’t be the same without Chamberlain.
Hank Gathers (Loyola Marymount, Dobbins Technical High School)
Hank Gathers’ story is very well-known by now. The star of Loyola Marymount’s runs in the late 1980’s tragically died after collapsing in a conference tournament semifinal game on March 4, 1990. However, Gathers’ story is much more than tragedy. He was one of the best to ever play from Philadelphia. He remains the Lions’ all-time leading scorer, and his 28 points per game for his career is also the best in school history. Gathers averaged 32.7 points and 13.7 rebounds per game as a junior, becoming just the second player in NCAA history to lead both categories in a single season.
Gathers was a three-time WCC first-team selection, a two-time conference tournament most valuable player, and the league’s player of the year in 1989. He was also named a consensus second-team All-American posthumously in 1990. Loyola Marymount decided to participate in the 1990 NCAA Tournament in his honor, and made a run to the Elite Eight as an 11-seed. Close friend and teammate Bo Kimble shot the first free-throw of every game in the tournament left-handed in his honor.
Tom Gola (La Salle, La Salle College High School)
Tom Gola is considered one of the greatest players in college basketball history. He was an early version of an all-around player that we are used to seeing with so many top-level recruits today. He remains the NCAA’s all-time leading rebounder, grabbing 2,201 for his career. Gola was a big reason why the Explorers won both an NIT and NCAA title during his time there. He was a three-time consensus first-team All-American and was both the NIT and NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. He was also named the NCAA’s player of the year in 1955.
Gola averaged 20.8 points and 18.6 rebounds for his career. He was a territorial draft pick of Philadelphia in 1955 and played 11 solid seasons in the NBA. He came back to coach at La Salle for two seasons, and the Explorers’ home gym was named in his honor in 1998, and still bears it today.
Guy Rodgers (Temple, Northeast High School)
Guy Rodgers is considered by some to be the best guard to ever come out of the city of Philadelphia. He left Temple as the school’s all-time leading scorer and also held the school records for most assists in a game and in a season at one point in time. His one year stint playing alongside fellow Owl legend Hal Lear is considered the greatest backcourt duo in Big 5 basketball history. They led Temple to their first-ever Final Four in 1956. Rodgers led them back on his own in 1958.
Rodgers averaged 19.6 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game for his career. He was a three-time Big 5 Player of the Year and a two-time consensus All-American, once on the second-team and once on the first-team. Rodgers was a territorial draft pick of Philadelphia in 1958 and had 12 great professional seasons. He passed away from a heart attack in 2001.
Lionel Simmons (La Salle, South Philadelphia High School)
Lionel Simmons, or “The L Train,” dominated the MAAC and the nation during his college career. He finished with 3,127 career points, which was third all-time before Campbell’s Chris Clemons surpassed him in 2019. Still, he is just the 10th player in NCAA history to score at least 3,000 points. Simmons is also second in Explorer history in career rebounds, sitting only behind fellow La Salle great Tom Gola. However, he does hold the school’s career record for single-season blocks.
For his career, Simmons averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.9 blocks per game. He was the MAAC’s Player of the Year three times, a two-time consensus All-American, including the first-team in 1990. He was also recognized as the national player of the year by many organizations in 1990, including the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy. He holds the NCAA record for most consecutive games scoring in double-figures at 115. Simmons was a first round selection of Sacramento in 1990 and played seven seasons in the NBA, all with the Kings.
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