Jerry West

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Edgar Barrett, Publicity Director
February 23, 1960

Based on the record, the greatest all-around college basketball player this season is Jerry West of West Virginia. The following recitation of facts and statements by writers, coaches and opposing players from coast to coast bears us out.

West plays for one of the nation's ranking teams. No gunner - he takes only 20 shots per game - he maintains a scoring pace of 29 points per game, but that's only incidental to his overall excellence. He feeds off, or "assists," an average nine points more. At 6-2 1/2, he has garnered almost as many rebounds as the team's four other regulars combined.

Offense isn't even his better half. The difference between his scoring output and what he allows the player he's guarding certainly must be the widest of all time.

Jerry has opposed, head-to-head, two All-America candidates this season. He scored 30 points and held Hubie White of Villanova to 15. He scored 33 and held Billy Lickert of Kentucky to four.

West doesn't fatten up his average either on the home court, where West Virginia has won 42 straight games, or against outclassed opposition. His scoring average at home is 28.4; away from home, 29.3.

Though West Virginia has faced just about every outstanding big man in the country, the 6-2 1/2 West has led all rebounders in 21 of the 25 games. He jumps center and has controlled the tap 80 percent of the time.

West is best in the tough going. He broke his nose in the first half against Kentucky and scored more points in the second half than in the first. He broke his nose again against George Washington late in the first half after scoring 12 points; he added 28 more to his total.

With four personal fouls riding him, he scored 24 points in 10 1/2 minutes [in] a loss to William & Mary.

The achievements of Jerry West pile higher nearly every time he steps onto the court. He is not a "paper" ballplayer interested in breaking records or playing the entire game against hopelessly beaten teams.

A living example of sportsmanship, he does his job selflessly. He plays all over the court but doesn't have to have the ball to be effective. His physical attributes include terrific spring in his legs, a lithe and slender body that enables him to glide almost like a spirit, lightning reflexes that get the ball and wide hands that control it, a soft shooting touch that seems to make the ball "lay" on the basket, an exceptionally fast first step and straightaway speed.

It is the intangibles, however, that make West a great star. He has wonderful court composure and discipline. He plays the game instinctively, more so perhaps than a from a phenomenal amount of practice. He has "the seemingly inexhaustible ability to become greater as the occasion demands, to demonstrate again and again how the human spirit can prevail over the strongest odds." He has an unselfish sense of team responsibility and a dedication to the game.

West is the Stan Musial of college basketball, the Wizard of Ahs (Bill Evans, Fairmont Times), and has changed the state's famous battle cry to West "by Jerry" Virginia.

What they've written about Jerry West in 1959-60

BOB BRACHMAN, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER: Make no mistakes. West goes with the Luisettis, the Pollards, the Golas, the Robertsons, et al. To see him is to believe this 6-3 court magician belongs on everyone's all-time college All-American. He was the reason the Mountaineers went into the California game 2 1/2 point favorites - a 27- point averager, brilliant passer and a great rebounder, a player with terrifically quick hands.

DICK HERBERT, RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER: Certainly one of the all-time best.

HERB GOOD, PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: One of the truly great collegiate players of all time.

MILTON GROSS, NEW YORK POST; Very little can be taken away from Jerry. He plays a whole game - defense, rebounding, ball handling and from the outside is as deadly a shooter as any collegian....Of all the touted ballplayers who have come into the Garden he stood up far better than the others except Oscar....At no time did Jerry play like a player concerned only with his own reputation. This is what strikes you about the kid. He isn't bashful about shooting, but he isn't a gunner. He's the biggest thing his state ever has had in sports, yet he plays a selfless game, hammering away under the boards and passing off when the opportunity is there. Jackson challenged him on the offense and West accepted the challenge going up with Tony's jump shots and making the proper defensive moves when Jackson drove.

BUD FURILLO, LOS ANGELES HERALD & EXPRESS: They say if you live long enough you get to see the impossible..the darndest play I ever saw on a court...He went up on the boards to take a rebound away from two straining Stanford players. Almost in the same motion, Jerry whipped the ball three-quarters of the distance down the court to teammate Lee Patrone, then stumbled to the floor. Patrone dribbled twice and missed an easy layup. As the ball came off the rim, a huge tanned hand came out of nowhere to stuff it in. It was West, of course.

LARRY BOECK, LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL: Jerry West bled from the nose but it wasn't anything compared to the way he made Kentuckians bleed from the heart...

RONALD GREEN, CHARLOTTE NEWS: West, wiping blood from his face, took rebounds off the boards in bunches, fired in baskets from every angle and put up a steel defense although he had three fouls riding him. The baby-faced West Virginia wonder took a terrific physical beating but repaid it in kind with another of his tremendous performances...A lot of his baskets bordered on the unbelievable.

GEORGE KISEDA, PITTSBURGH SUN-TELEGRAPH: Offense, of course, is not even Jerry West's better half. He'd still be an All-American if he scored half the points he does.

BOB BRACHMAN, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER; The dazzling West Virginia star, brilliant at both ends of the court, simply took over what had been for 30 minutes a skin-tight ball game...(Stanford was) trailing by only 40-39 with 8:51 remaining when West put on a three-minute demonstration which bordered on the fantastic. He rebounded at the defensive end of the court and rebounded for the basket at the other. When the Indians got 2 on 1 on him, he took the ball away, hurled a court-length pass to a teammate and followed up for another two points. He passed to baskets from almost impossible positions to set up points and wiped both boards clean. When the whirlwind had died down, the Indians were buried under a 10-point outburst and it was no longer a contest. West wound up hitting 11 field goals in 15 attempts to build a 27-point total and grabbed 21 rebounds, almost three times as many as the next best on either club. The West display was most impressive because Jerry almost was broken in two in the opening minutes of play.

IRVING T. MARSH, NEW YORK HERALD-TRIBUNE; Every bit the All-American he is supposed to be...equally as capable on defense as he is on offense.

STAN HOCHMAN, PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS: Three West Virginia cheerleaders were unrolling a 100-foot rug with the sanctity heretofore reserved for the Bayeux Tapestry. Moments later Jerry West led his teammates down the carpet, cradling a gold and blue basketball in his right arm. It was an awesome introduction and was not wasted on the wide-eyed Villanova kids. When the announcer started the roll-call of the Mountaineer team with West, the Field House vibrated with a minute-long ovation. "I asked him how he felt out there," Villanova's gregarious George Raveling related afterwards. "He said, 'There are four other guys on the team.'" West shuffled restlessly through the thunder of applause, then put his splendid talents on display. As West Virginia beat Villanova, 89-81, he scored 30 points, got 14 rebounds, nine assists, and shackled Hubie White with 15 points.

BOB VETRONE, PHILADELPHIA BULLETIN: If, as the educators keep trying to tell each other, there is more to intercollegiate athletics than the mere playing of the game, they have a good argument going for them in this multi-talented Mountaineer.

IRWIN SMALLWOOD, GREENSBORO DAILY NEWS; At 6-foot-2 1/2. West jumps like the average 6-9 man. He can shoot with any and better than the majority of the major talents. He rebounds with a quickness that leaves you spellbound, and he negotiates impossible passes that are only slightly less devastating than his shooting prowess.

JOHN WOODEN, U.C.L.A. COACH: There just aren't any better basketball players than West. He's one of the greatest of this or any other era.

LOU ROSSINI, NEW YORK U. COACH: lt's hard to choose between them. On defense, Robertson takes more chances. West is better schooled In fundamentals. He's quicker but I think Oscar is stronger. In performance it's a standoff. Both have excellent shooting percentages and are equally good passers. Robertson scores better underneath, but Jerry is quicker going left and right and can go deeper to score. They're both so great I wouldn't want to choose between them.

HUBIE WHITE, VILLANOVA: He's so quick, and he has a great touch. Maybe it would have been better though if I hadn't read so much about what a great defensive player he was....I learned a lot out there, especially about defense. I just hope that I'm as good as he is when I'm a senior.

HOWIE DALLMAR, STANFORD COACH: I've never seen a player with such continuous effort. Once West grabbed a rebound off our board, threw out the ball to start the fast break, followed up a teammate's missed shot and tapped in the ball.

ADOLPH RUPP, KENTUCKY COACH: The kid has uncanny instinct. You can teach only so much, but West has a natural instinct. He seems to be standing around out there, then psst, he's got the ball and there she goes. I Just wish everybody could see that kid play basketball. It's a treat.

RED MANNING, DUQUESNE COACH: West is the most unselfish All-American I've ever seen.

JOHN BENINGTON, ST. LOUIS COACH: We are better defensively when we are playing man-to-man, but we simply couldn't handle West in an individual match-up and I didn't want to embarrass my kids in the second half. The zone cut down West's individual point-making, but it didn't stop his killing effects. He ruined us to the bitter end with his brilliant passing.

ALEX SEVEPANCE, VILLANOVA COACH: I rate Tom Gola as the best college player I've ever seen. Right behind him are Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Elgin Baylor. Robertson has more God-given talents than any player ever, but plays spasmodically. West is a dedicated player who gives it everything he has in every game and may be more valuable to his team.

HY GOTKIN, ST. JOHN'S SCOUT: West will make a better pro. That's because he can play backcourt...Robertson can't play backcourt. West has the speed. He's great leading a fast break down court after he takes a rebound.

PETE McCAFFREY, ST. LOUIS U.: He's the best I ever played against. I think West can jump higher and he is quicker than Oscar. Oscar fakes and goes past you. West is so fast he simply goes past you....He has a lot of heart besides everything else.

FRED EDELMAN, ST. JOHN'S: This guy I think is better (than Robertson). He moves better without the ball. All I'd like to be is half as good as either one. I'd be all right.

TONY JACKSON, ST. JOHN'S: When you're as good as those two (Robertson and West), what difference is it who's better?"

BOB TIMMONS, PITT COACH: If you stop him one place, he'll get his points somewhere else. He'll go in the pivot, he'll go outside, he'll get them on the boards.

CHARLEY ECKMAN, OFFICIAL: I've had this kid in a dozen games and he continues to amaze me. He can shoot, feed and rebound, but what impresses me is his defense. Jerry's got great hands. He lets you make your best move. Then he'll go up and bat the shot away.

GEORGE RAVELING, VILLANOVA CAPTAIN: I've been playing college basketball three years. I guess I've been in the South about six times. There's never been serious trouble, but sometimes I've heard remarks about my race or religion. But there was nothing like that at Morgantown. And I think it was because Jerry West made it a point, right from the start, to make us feel at ease. When we met at midcourt before the game, his handshake was a sincere one. Whenever we lined up near each other on the foul lane, he'd say something funny or make some comment about the game. When I fouled out, he came after me and shook my hand.

PETE NEWELL, CALIFORNIA COACH: Jerry West's greatness never was better exemplified than in the manner in which he played (losing to California). Never did he allow himself to lose the wonderful court composure we all admire, and start to play for himself. It is easier to see the true champion in adversity than in favorable circumstances. Jerry more than stood the test.

FRED SCHAUS, WEST VIRGINIA COACH: Of course he worries about his scoring average. He reads the papers and is only human.. The big thing, though, is when he isn't shooting well, he still passes the ball and doesn't try to get his points and forget about winning.