We're down to our final two segments on this multi-part series reviewing the greatest Gators to wear each number on the hardwood and I certainly hope this has been fun and educational and just maybe a little bit annoying when I chose someone different than you would have. This group of players is very strong, but the last one, well you'll see when we get there.
# 40 ----- Eugene McDowell ----- One of only two Gators to join the 1,000 point/ 1,000 rebound club Eugene was a force from 1982 thru 85. "The Dunkin' Machine" led the Gators in rebounding three of his four seasons and averaged 13.4 for his Gator career. He never got to play in the NCAA tournament because Florida repeatedly failed to bring in enough good guards to support the front court. He died suddenly and all too young, but not before making a lasting impact as a Gator.
# 41 ----- Neal Walk ----- You can always argue about who was the "greatest" anything because it's such a subjective thing. But you can not argue that Neal Walk was the most prolific player ever to don the Orange and Blue. His career averages of 20.8 points and 15.3 rebounds are BOTH Gator records. His junior season (26.5/19.8) has to be the greatest season any Gator ever had in his senior year (24.0/17.8) wasn't far behind. He's always talked about as the guy chosen AFTER Lew Alcindor in the NBA draft, but he was a very good pro when healthy and in 1973 had his best season, averaging 20.2/12.4 for Phoenix. His # 41 was and remains retired.
# 42 ----- Al Horford ----- He finished his Gator career averaging 9.5 rebounds this past season, the highest for a Gator since 1989. For his career Horford posted solid numbers (10.3/7.9) but that tells just part of the story. He was a fine defender, excellent shot blocker and first class citizen. His best stat might be that he averaged a double-double (12.7/10.7) in Florida's two NCAA Tournament Championship runs.
# 43 ----- Randall Leath ----- Randall joined the Gators from PK Yonge School at the same time McDowell came over from Cross City. McDowell always had the better stats in their high school match ups but Leath and the Blue Wave usually won the game. Leath didn't have anywhere near the career McDowell had, coming off the bench for his first three years. He joined the starting lineup as a senior and contributed 6.0 points and 5.8 rebounds. His career might have been much better had he redshirted along the way. Still he began his career in style with 28 points against Biscayne on 110-for-10 shooting from the field and 8-for-8 from the line.
# 44 ----- Reggie Hannah ----- This was a pretty close call with Matt Walsh but the nod goes to the man from Titusville who was Florida's best player in the late seventies. Hannah led the Gators in rebounding all three years (9.2, 8.6, 8.9) he played and averaged 14.7 points as well.
# 45 ----- Andy Owens ----- In the Matt Bonner class of a great scholar-athlete, Owens was an Academic All-American and post-graduate scholarship recipient. He was also an All-SEC player who poured in 27 points a game in 1970. Of course those points would have been a whole lot more impressive if not for a guard at LSU named Maravich (44.5).
Now that was a pretty good group. Our final group of Gators wore numbers in the fifties, and would have no chance in a head-to-head contest with this group. Seeya tomorrow.
Monday's look at #30-35
Last Friday's look at #20-25
Last Wednesday's look at #10-15
Last Tuesday's look at #1-5
Last Monday's look at #0-00
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For the next two weeks, FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel breaks down the best to wear each number for Florida Gators basketball. It's an encore of Larry's series last year when he listed the best to wear each number for Gator football. In this installment, Larry tackles No. 40-45.
In the sixth part of his seven part series, Larry Vettel takes a look at numbers 40-45