Ranking the Best Careers of All Indiana Mr. Basketball Players in Purdue History

Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian forward Caleb Furst was named 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball on last weekend. He is the 12th Purdue player to receive the award in program history, and he will look to finish among the greats of the Boilermakers' past.
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue basketball has been home to some of the best athletes in the state of Indiana. With Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian forward Caleb Furst being named 2021 Indiana Mr. Basketball, he became the 12th player in program history to earn that distinguished honor. 

He'll have a reputation to uphold as a result of this title, but how will his career unfold for the Boilermakers when compared to others named Indiana Mr. Basketball? 

We thought it would be interesting to rank the previous 11 Mr. Basketball winners in order of their impact at Purdue. It wasn't as easy as you'd think, and it's sure to spark some interesting discussion.

And at the end of Furst's career, where will he land on this list? And remember that our list is based solely on what they did at Purdue, not elsewhere or professionally.

Here's our selection and the countdown:  

11.  Dan Palombizio, 1981

After joining Purdue as the 1981 Indiana Mr. Basketball out of Michigan City Rogers High School, Dan Palombizio struggled to find early success at the college ranks. In two seasons with the Boilermakers, he averaged just 4.6 points, three rebounds and 1.1 assists per game before transferring to Ball State. 

Palombizio revived his career in the Mid-American Conference, jumping to an average of 23.2 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game over his final two collegiate seasons. As a junior, he was the nation’s third-leading scorer and 12th-best rebounder, while setting the Ball State single-season scoring record with 762 points. 

He was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1986, and he played professionally for teams in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal and the Dominican Republic. He led Europe in scoring three times during his career. 

Palombizio was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

10. Dennis Brady, 1964

Dennis Brady was named the 1964 Indiana Mr. Basketball after his senior season at Lafayette Jeff High School. He spent two seasons at Purdue from 1965 to 1967 and had solid seasons averaging 10.3 points and 2.5 rebounds over his career. 

He was then drafted by the New York Knicks and also spent three years playing minor league baseball in the Cleveland Indians organization.

Brady was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006. 

9. Woody Austin, 1988 

Woody Austin had a slow start to his college career, playing in 18 games as a freshman and putting up just 2.2 points per game. He gradually improved his scoring numbers over a four-year career at Purdue, scoring 18.5 points per game as a senior. 

In the 1991-92 season, he was an All-Big Ten selection and was voted the team's Most Valuable Player. 

Austin, a high school star at Richmond, was especially proficient from three-point range, ranking fourth in Purdue program history with a deep-shot percentage of 43.9%. He shot higher than 42% in each of his final three seasons. 

8. Kyle Macy, 1975

Kyle Macy, the 1975 Indiana Mr. Basketball out of Peru High School, is another player that spent just one season with the Boilermakers. He appeared in 27 games at Purdue in the 1975-76 season and registered 13.8 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. 

He then spent his final three years of eligibility at Kentucky, where he earned numerous accolades. With the Wildcats, Macy was an NCAA champion in 1978. During his senior campaign in 1980, he tallied 15.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game. He was named a consensus first-team All-American and the SEC Male Athlete of the Year as a result of his performance. 

He played professionally between 1980 and 1990 with the Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers and teams in Italy. 

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2001. 

7. Wilson Eison, 1955

Emerging from Gary Roosevelt High School as the 1955 Indiana Mr. Basketball, Wilson Eison was another multi-year player for Purdue. After a lackluster first season, the 6-foot-5 center put up 14.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. 

He finished his career with the Boilermakers by bumping his numbers up to 18.7 points and 13 rebounds per game. He was eventually taken by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1959 NBA Draft but never played in the league after he was drafted by the U.S. Army. 

Eison was voted the Most Valuable Player in the fifth Army Basketball Tournament in 1960 at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo. 

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990. 

6. Joe Sexson, 1952

After being named 1952 Indiana Mr. Basketball following his senior season at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, Joe Sexson immediately made an impact for the Purdue Basketball team. He was the first Indiana Mr. Basketball player in program history. 

Sexson played three seasons for the Boilermakers and averaged 16.6 points, 5.8 rebounds during his career. He graduated as Purdue's all-time leading scorer. 

Despite being drafted by the New York Knicks, Sexson pursued a career in coaching. He spent 11 seasons at Butler University coaching basketball and added another 17 as the baseball coach at his alma mater. 

He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1986. 

5. Troy Lewis, 1984

Throughout his four seasons at Purdue, Troy Lewis played in at least 29 games for the Boilermakers every year. He was another prolific scorer who averaged double-digit points in each year on the court, including an average of 18.5 points per game during the 1986-87 season. 

Lewis was a two-time, first-team All-Big Ten selection and totaled 2,038 points during his college career, which ranks fifth in Boilermakers history. 

Against rival Indiana in the 1987-88 season, he tallied 14 assists, the third-most for a Purdue player in a single game. In the same season, he also dished out 12 assists against Minnesota, eighth-most for a Boilermaker in program history. 

Although he wasn't drafted and never played in the NBA, Lewis was inducted into the Purdue Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010. 

4. Caleb Swanigan, 2015

Caleb Swanigan joined Purdue in 2015 and was one of the Big Ten's most dominant players in his two college seasons. After being named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team, he posted 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game as a sophomore. 

Swanigan's performance in the 2016-17 season was recognized with first-team All-Big Ten and first-team All-America honors. He was also named Big Ten Player of the Year and earned the Pete Newell Big Man Award as the country's best low-post player.

He was drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers and has been in and out of the NBA and G-League ever since, where he's averaged 13.7 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists.  

3. Billy Keller, 1965

The 1965 Indiana Mr. Basketball recipient, Billy Keller immediately dominated the scoring sheets at Purdue. Over three seasons, he averaged 14.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game and shot 85.9% from the free-throw line.

He helped guide Purdue to a Big Ten title win as well as an appearance in the NCAA national championship game. Keller was the first recipient of the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s best player under 6 feet.

Keller went on to play eight seasons with the Indiana Pacers in the American Basketball Association. In the early years of the ABA, the Pacers were the most successful team in the league. Keller helped the team win three league championships during his career.

He accumulated 6,588 points, 1,349 rebounds and 1,980 assists during his professional career. Keller was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. 

2. Glenn Robinson, 1991

Glenn Robinson was one of the most dominant players in Purdue basketball history and had one of the most decorated professional careers of any Boilermaker on the court. The 1991 Indiana Mr. Basketball played for just two college seasons, but he averaged 27.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 steals per game. 

During his final season in 1993-94, he averaged just over 30 points per game. After leading the nation in scoring, he was a consensus first-team All-American, consensus first-team All-Big Ten, the Big Ten Player of the Year and the national college player of the year.  

Robinson scored 1,030 points in his final college season, which is the most by a Boilermaker in program history. He also ranks third in Purdue history with 344 rebounds in a single season. His 49 points against Illinois in 1993-94 ranks seventh by a Boilermaker in a game. 

After his prolific college career, he was selected first overall in the 1994 NBA Draft and played eight seasons for the Milwaukee Bucks before bouncing around the league. 

In 1995, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and was a two-time all-star. In his final season, he won an NBA championship with the San Antonio Spurs back in 2005. 

He ended his professional career with 14,234 points, 4,189 rebounds and 1,879 assists per game. Robinson averaged 20.7 points per game in the NBA. 

Robinson was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. 

Glenn Robinson scored 1,030 points during the 1993-94 season, the most in Purdue basketball history. (USA Today Sports)

Glenn Robinson scored 1,030 points during the 1993-94 season, the most in Purdue basketball history. (USA Today Sports)

1. Rick Mount, 1966

Rick Mount had the most prolific collegiate career in Purdue basketball history. He played three seasons with the Boilermakers, averaging an astounding 32.3 points per game. He was the clear No. 1 in our rankings.

Before arriving at Purdue, he was named the best high school player in the country and was the first high school athlete to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated. 

The 1966 Indiana Mr. Basketball became a two-time consensus All-American and scored 2,323 career points in a Boilermaker uniform, the most in program history. In 1968-69, Mount put up 932 points which ranks second in Purdue history. He also scored 709 as a senior — eighth-most for a Boilermaker in one season — in only 20 games. 

Mount also scored 61 points in a game against Iowa in 1969-70, which is the most for a Purdue player ever. He's posted scores of 53 and 45 — twice each — in a single game. Mount appears five times on the Boilermakers' list of all-time scoring performances. 

Following a prestigious college career, Mount was drafted first overall by the Indiana Pacers in the American Basketball Association. Over a five-year professional career, Mount played with four different teams but won an ABA championship in 1972 with the Pacers. 

In total, he averaged 11.8 points and 2.4 assists per game while cementing himself as one of the league's most accurate shooters. He ended his career shooting 82% from the free-throw line and 43.3% from the field. 

Mount was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 1992. He was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2017. 

Rick Mount was the most prolific scorer in Purdue basketball history. (Sports Illustrated)

Rick Mount was the most prolific scorer in Purdue basketball history. (Sports Illustrated)

  • WADDELL COMMITS TO PURDUE: Carmel High School forward Brian Waddell joins Trey Kaufmen-Renn and Caleb Furst at Purdue. CLICK HERE
  • FURST NAMED INDIANA MR. BASKETBALL: Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian Forward Caleb Furst is the 12th Indiana Mr. Basketball to play at Purdue. CLICK HERE
  • PURDUE SENIORS UNLIKELY TO RETURN NEXT SEASON: Purdue head coach Matt Painter said guards Sasha Stefanovic and Eric Hunter have not shown signs of returning to the Boilermakers after the 2021-22 season. CLICK HERE
  • BIG TEN TRANSFER UPDATE: Former Rutgers center Myles Johnson is transferring to UCLA. Forward John Harrar announced he will remain at Penn State, and former Northwestern forward Miller Kopp joins Indiana. CLICK HERE 


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