Revisiting Pete Maravich’s college career: 5 things you didn’t know about Pistol Pete’s NCAA scoring record

During Caitlin Clark’s pursuit of college basketball history, fans have been provided with perspective on just how good she is and a newfound appreciation for the legends that she is passing.

Clark’s journey to become the all-time leading scorer in women’s college basketball also served as an opportunity to acknowledge Kelsey Plum’s excellence and provide an important history lesson on the efforts of Lynette Woodard. Now, as Clark looks to become the all-time scoring leader in all of Division I, the almost unbelievable career of Pete Maravich comes into clearer focus.

Maravich, who starred at LSU from 1967 to 1970, averaged 44.2 points over 83 career games to finish his career with a whopping 3,667 points. His record nearly stood the test of time, but after 54 years, it is set to be broken.

In the spirit of acknowledging history, there are a few things that make Maravich’s record all the more impressive. Here are some of the most notable.

MORE: Tracking Caitlin Clark’s path to surpass Pete Maravich as Division I’s all-time scoring leader

5 things you didn’t know about Pete Maravich’s NCAA scoring record

Freshmen were ineligible to participate in varsity athletics

When Maravich enrolled at LSU in 1966, freshmen were ineligible to participate in varsity athletics. This rule stood in place until the 1972-73 academic school year.

Because he was ineligible to play varsity basketball, Maravich was a member of LSU’s freshman team during the 1966-67 season. Per NCAA regulations, stats accumulated on a junior varsity level do not count toward all-time records meaning Maravich’s 3,667 points came in just three seasons of play.

For what it’s worth, Maravich is said to have averaged 40 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists for an undefeated LSU freshman team.

There was no 3-point line

The NCAA did not universally adopt the 3-point line until 1986. During Maravich’s era, the 3-point line was exclusive to the ABA.

Without a 3-point line, Maravich managed to average 44.2 points per game. Given Maravich’s tendency to take — and make — long-distance shots, his scoring would have benefitted a significant boost if the 3-point line existed.

It’s one of basketball’s greatest “what ifs,” but with a 3-point line, Maravich could have averaged north of 50 points per game and cleared 4,000 career points.

MORE: Key stats to know about NCAA men’s vs. women’s basketball scoring record

Dunking was prohibited

Between 1967 and 1976, dunking was outlawed in high school and college basketball. And while Maravich is known for his shooting ability and overall wizardry, who knows if there was a level of athleticism he couldn’t show because of the rule? Apparently, Julius Erving does.

“He can shoot it consistently out of thirty-five feet, but if I’m going to go out there and defend that, then he’ll cross me up on the dribble and get a layup or a dunk,” Erving once said of one-on-one battles with Maravich.

“Pete has some great ups, and while he’s not known for getting to the rim, he throws some nice dunks down in our games, his hair flapping in the hot Georgia air. One of the things that makes Pete so great is his hang time, and no one talks about that.”

Maravich stood at 6-5 and dunking is one of the most high-percentage shots a player can take. He may not have relied on it much but the outlaw of the dunk was another way that Maravich was limited.

Pete Maravich

(Getty Images)

The shot clock had not been instituted

Maravich finished his college career more than 15 years before a shot clock was introduced to the men’s level of college basketball. Because teams could hold the ball without consequence, there are extreme examples of low-scoring games like an 11-6 Tennessee win over Temple during the 1973-74 season.

With that in mind, Maravich’s scoring exploits are more impressive because playing at a fast pace wasn’t a necessity. Teams had the option to at least try to slow the pace down to a screeching halt but, as Maravich’s numbers would suggest, they didn’t.

There was no SEC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament featured fewer than 30 teams

Maravich played a total of 83 games during his college career — 26 as a sophomore, 26 as a junior and 31 as a senior. Limited postseason opportunities prevented Maravich from playing in more games.

From 1953 to 1978, the SEC did not hold a postseason tournament. Instead, the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament went to the team’s regular-season champion.

Conference champions were a conference’s only representation in an NCAA Tournament field that featured fewer than 30 teams. Second-place teams would earn invites to the NIT. The NCAA Tournament field did not expand to 64 teams until 1985.

As a senior, Maravich led LSU to a 22-10 record and a second-place finish in the SEC. The Tigers played four additional games in the NIT, losing to Marquette in the semifinals and Army in the third-place game.

Had Maravich had an opportunity to play in the SEC Tournament, he could have led a run to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament or, at the very least, racked up more points in a few additional games. A larger NCAA Tournament field would have afforded Maravich with a similar opportunity to score more points.

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