Best UCLA basketball players ever: Bruins all-time starting 5

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(Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

SF – Jamaal Wilkes

Jamaal Wilkes is a member of the golden age of UCLA basketball. He was part of the group that won 88 straight games. Hailing from Santa Barba, he opted to stay in-state for his college career. While Walton was clearly the top dog, Wilkes earned the honor of being Coach Wooden’s ideal player.

Wilkes was at UCLA for four years but only played three at the “varsity” level. In those times, freshmen usually played on the freshmen team, regardless of their skill. Alongside Walton and Greg Lee, that group went 20-0 on the freshman level together — with Wilkes serving as the team’s leading scorer (20 points per game). He was more than just a scorer, as Wooden noted above, he was also a tenacious rebounder and defender for UCLA.

Following their undefeated first year in Westwood, Wilkes and friends would go on to win back-to-back national championships on the main team as sophomores and juniors. The 6-foot-6 wing found any way he could to have an impact on winning and UCLA certainly did a lot of that during his tenure there.

Besides cutting the nets down twice, Wilkes also was selected to the All-Pac-8 first team twice (1973 and 1974), made the NCAA All-Tournament team in 1972 and was chosen as a first-team Academic All-American on three occasions (1972-74). Wilkes was placed into the Pac-10 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor in 2007 and the Bruins retired his number 52 jersey in January of 2013.

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