Men's Basketball

    Indiana's Isiah Thomas Named `Big Ten Icon' No. 10

    Go Hoosiers! Isiah Thomas
    Go Hoosiers!
    Isiah Thomas
    Go Hoosiers!

    Nov. 17, 2010

    CHICAGO - Indiana's Isiah Thomas has been named Big Ten Icon No. 10. The countdown of Big Ten Icons, presented by Discover and hosted by Keith Jackson, continues at 9 PM ET on Tuesday, Nov. 23, with a profile of the Chicago-raised point guard who led the Hoosiers to the 1981 NCAA championship under coach Bob Knight.

    In the episode, Thomas recalls his recruiting process out of high school ( video link). "For some reason, my mom and Coach Knight really bonded. They bonded because they both swore a lot. They could sometimes be really, really mean. They both just had a way of looking at the world that seemed right for them, but was wrong for all of us," Thomas laughs.

    One of the most heavily recruited players that the city of Chicago had ever produced, Thomas decided to attend Indiana. But before going to Bloomington, Thomas won a gold medal on the United States' 1979 Pan American Games team.

    As a freshman at Indiana, Thomas averaged nearly 15 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, despite his 6-foot-1 frame. Thomas helped the Hoosiers to a Big Ten title, and a Sweet 16 appearance, where they lost to archrival and Final Four-bound Purdue.

    During the 1980-81 season, Thomas' sophomore season, the Hoosiers started slow, dropping five non-conference games and owning 16-9 record before turning things around in mid-February. Indiana won its final five conference games to wrap up a second-straight Big Ten title and the hot streak continued into the NCAA Tournament.

    Thomas handed out a career-high 14 assists against Maryland, and the Hoosiers dominated their five opponents by an average of nearly 23 points. In the national championship game against Dean Smith and North Carolina, Thomas scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half to lead the Hoosiers to a 63-50 victory, their second national title in six years.

    Thomas turned pro after his sophomore season, and was taken second in the 1981 draft by the Detroit Pistons.



    In an essay for (read essay) , former Chicago Tribune sports editor Dan McGrath wrote, "No one ever questioned Isiah Thomas' will. His cherubic smile concealed a killer instinct." To read the essay on Thomas and learn more about his accomplishments, visit his Big Ten Icons locker at

    Fans can visit to see a complete roster of Big Ten Icons, which also features essays, video and other key facts about each Icon's career.

    The No. 1 Big Ten Icon will be revealed in March 2011. Big Ten Icons is the network's most ambitious multi-platform initiative to date. The program is counting down the top 50 student-athletes in Big Ten history, based solely on their collegiate playing careers. All student-athletes from current Big Ten schools are eligible for the network's list. Icons 50 through 21 were revealed at

    Big Ten Network President Mark Silverman said the series engages and sparks conversation among sports fans everywhere. "What makes Big Ten Icons stand out is the depth of the storytelling," he said. "The rankings themselves are sure to generate quite a bit of discussion."

    No. 50 Tom Brands, Iowa wrestling (1989-92)
    No. 49 Megan Hodge, Penn State volleyball (2006-09)
    No. 48 Drew Brees, Purdue football (1997-2000)
    No. 47 Chris Spielman, Ohio State football (1984-87)
    No. 46 LaVar Arrington, Penn State football (1997-99)
    No. 45 Rod Woodson, Purdue football (1983-86)
    No. 44 George Halas, Illinois football (1916-18)
    No. 43 Chuck Long, Iowa football (1981-85)
    No. 42 Curt Warner, Penn State football (1979-82)
    No. 41 Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern football (1993-96)
    No. 40 Bobby Bell, Minnesota football (1960-62)
    No. 39 Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Ohio State football (1953-55)
    No. 38 Calbert Cheaney, Indiana basketball (1989-93)
    No. 37 Leroy Keyes, Purdue football (1966-68)
    No. 36 Jim Abbott, Michigan baseball (1985-88)
    No. 35 Glenn Robinson, Purdue basketball (1992-94)
    No. 34 Desmond Howard, Michigan football (1989-91)
    No. 33 Alex Karras, Iowa football (1955-57)
    No. 32 Scott May, Indiana basketball (1973-76)
    No. 31 Neal Broten, Minnesota hockey (1979-81)
    No. 30 Alan Ameche, Wisconsin football (1951-54)
    No. 29 Cazzie Russell, Michigan basketball (1964-66)
    No. 28 Quinn Buckner, Indiana basketball (1972-76)
    No. 27 Glen Rice, Michigan basketball (1986-89)
    No. 26 Bubba Smith, Michigan State football (1964-66)
    No. 25 Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch, Michigan and Wisconsin football (1942-46)
    No. 24 Anthony Carter, Michigan football (1979-82)
    No. 23 Bob Griese, Purdue football (1964-66)
    No. 22 Jack Ham, Penn State football (1968-70)
    No. 21 Bronko Nagurski, Minnesota football (1927-29)
    No. 20 Charles Woodson, Michigan football (1995-97)
    No. 19 Suzy Favor Hamilton, Wisconsin track and field (1987-91)
    No. 18 Jack Nicklaus, Ohio State golf (1959-61)
    No. 17 Steve Alford, Indiana basketball (1983-87)
    No. 16 John Cappelletti, Penn State football (1971-74)
    No. 15 Dave Winfield, Minnesota baseball/basketball (1970-73)
    No. 14 Otto Graham, Northwestern football/basketball/baseball (1940-44)
    No. 13 Ron Dayne, Wisconsin football (1996-2000)
    No. 12 John Wooden, Purdue basketball (1930-32)
    No. 11 Mark Spitz, Indiana swimming (1968-72)
    No. 10 Isiah Thomas, Indiana basketball (1979-81)

    About the Big Ten Network: A joint venture between the Big Ten Conference and Fox Networks, the Big Ten Network is the first internationally distributed network dedicated to covering one of the premier collegiate conferences in the country. With approximately 350 live sporting events, and nearly all of them in HD, the network is the ultimate destination for Big Ten fans and alumni across the country, allowing them to see their favorite teams, regardless of where they live. The network operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, showcasing a wide array of classic-to-current sports and televising more Olympic sporting events and women's sports than has ever been aired on any other network. Original programming highlights activities and accomplishments of some of the nation's finest universities. Each year, the network offers between 35 and 40 football games, 105 regular season men's basketball games; 55 women's basketball games; dozens of Big Ten Championship events; studio shows; coaches' shows; and classic games. The network is available to more than 75 million homes across the United States and Canada, and currently has agreements with more than 300 affiliates, including AT&T U-Verse, Atlantic Broadband, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox (Cleveland, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas, Omaha, Las Vegas and Northern Virginia), DirecTV, DISH Network, Insight, Mediacom, Rogers Cable (Canada), Shaw Cable and Shaw Direct (Canada), Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS. For updated information on the Big Ten Network, go to


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