KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Wayman Tisdale and Danny Manning, whose
careers overlapped by one season during the Big Eight's greatest
era, are unanimous selections to The Associated Press all-time Big
Eight basketball team.
Oklahoma's Tisdale, known for his impish grin and his deft,
nearly unstoppable jump shot, was named the AP's all-time Big Eight
player by a 7-5 vote over Kansas' Manning.
The selections by a panel of athletic administrators and media
were announced Friday.
Tisdale is the only Division I player named AP All-American as a
freshman, sophomore and junior before skipping his senior season in
1986 to turn pro. Many credit the 6-foot-9 Tulsa native with
bringing Big Eight basketball out of the shadow of football.
Manning, graceful at 6-10, could play every position from pivot
to point guard. During Kansas' 83-79 victory over Oklahoma in the
1988 NCAA championship game, he had 33 points and 18 rebounds, the
finest player at the Big Eight's finest hour.
Only Tisdale and Manning were named on every first-team ballot
by a 12-member panel that sifted through 37 seasons of players,
facts and figures as the Big Eight was ending its final season.
Norm Stewart, who won eight regular-season and six postseason
tournament titles in 29 years at Missouri, collected all but two
votes for the Big Eight's all-time coach. As a player, assistant
and head coach, Stewart has been involved in more than half of
Missouri's games as a Big Eight member.
Lon Kruger, a two-time Big Eight player-of-the-year as a
play-making point guard for Kansas State in the early 1970s, was
voted the Mr. Hustle award.
Voters were asked to review only the period from 1958-59 to
present, when the league contained all eight schools. That omitted
such earlier greats as Wilt Chamberlain and Bob Kurland, but left
voters with a multitude of frustrating decisions.
They were asked to choose two guards and three front court
players for first-, second- and third-team honors, considering
intangibles as well as numbers.
Joining Tisdale and Manning on the first-team front court is
Cliff Meely of Colorado. The acrobatic 6-9 Meely, whose career was
nearly derailed by a high school injury, led the Big Eight in
scoring in 1969 and 1971 and almost single-handedly elevated the
Buffs from last place to first.
Rolando Blackman, a versatile 6-6 operative for Jack Hartman's
Kansas State teams of 1978-81, and Jo Jo White, a 6-3 smoothie who
played for Kansas during 1966-69 and starred on the United States'
gold-winning 1968 Olympic team, are the first-team guards.
Blackman, named the Big Eight's top defensive player three
straight years, ranks second on K-State's all-time scoring chart
even though his coach practically had to beg him to shoot. White, a
two-time all-American, took the Jayhawks to two NCAA and two NIT
appearances and later became one of the greatest players in the
storied history of the NBA's Boston Celtics, who retired his jersey
Thirty-six players drew support in all. Seventeen received at
least one first-team vote. The three teams contain players from
every decade of the Big Eight, which next season adds Texas,
Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas Tech to become the Big 12. No players
from 1995-96 rosters were chosen.
"I enjoyed doing it, but this was one of the toughest
assignments you could have given us," said voter Gary Thompson, a
veteran broadcaster of Big Eight games and an all-star guard for
Iowa State when the league was the Big Seven.
The destinies of Tisdale and Manning, ironically, have become
intertwined in the NBA. Both now play for the Phoenix Suns.
Tisdale, in just three seasons, set 17 Oklahoma and nine Big
Eight records and became the 18th all-time scorer in NCAA history
with 2,661 points. He was the first freshman ever named first-team
all-America by The Associated Press.
"Wayman Tisdale brought the TV market to the Big Eight. And
bringing in the national television market is what made the Big
Eight what it is today," said Billy Tubbs, who coached him at
Oklahoma. "Wayman had the personality, that great smile, and the TV
people loved him."
Manning's freshman year at Kansas coincided with Tisdale's last
year at Oklahoma. After Tisdale was Big Eight player of the year
for three straight seasons beginning in 1983, Manning grabbed the
honor the next three seasons until 1988, when his Jayhawks captured
the Big Eight's only NCAA championship.
"Wayman got it started, and then Danny jumped aboard as the
league went even higher," said Tubbs, now coach at Texas Christian.
"That was fun. What a great era it was."
Top vote-getters on the second team were Bob Boozer, 6-8, a
two-time all-America who averaged 25 points while Kansas State went
14-0 to win the first Big Eight championship in 1958-59, and Bryant
"Big Country" Reeves, who averaged almost 18 points and nine
rebounds for Oklahoma State during 1992-95 and was the league's
leading rebounder for three straight seasons.
Others on the second team were Alvan Adams, 6-9, who averaged
more than 23 points and 12 rebounds for Oklahoma during the
mid-70s, and guards Mike Evans of Kansas State and KU's Darnell
Valentine, who holds the Big Eight career record with 334 steals.
Steve Stipanovich, a dominant 6-11 center who helped bring
Stewart's Missouri teams four straight Big Eight titles from
1980-83, heads the third team. Joining him are Byron Houston,
Oklahoma State; Don Smith, Iowa State; Jeff Grayer, Iowa State, and
Kruger, who succeeded Hartman as Kansas State head coach in 1986
and is now head coach at Florida.