Welcome to the 20th category of our Tiger Rag High Five, the all-time best male athlete.
A 15-member media panel with a collective 582 years of sports journalism experience picked LSU’s five best athletes, coaches, moments, and individual game and season performances in 21 categories covering all present and past sports.
Voters on the panel were provided information of six to 10 nominees and were asked to rank one through five. The panel voters could also write-in their own candidates.
Scoring was tallied as 5 points for a first-place vote, 4 for second-place, 3 for third-place, 2 for second place and 1 for last-place. Ties were not broken.
The best male athlete and the four others in the High Five were the top five vote getters of the winners in the individual High 5 sports categories.
The winner of the best-ever LSU male athlete is. . .
Pete Maravich, basketball 74 (14)
2. David Toms, golf 71 (13)
Two-time SEC Player of the Year and two-time first-team All-American is LSU’s career leader in wins and top 10 finishes
3. Joe Burrow, football 68 (9)
2019 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback led 15-0 LSU to national championship
4. Donni Leaycraft, tennis 61 (9)
LSU record holder for career and season wins remains only Tigers’ men’s player to win an NCAA singles title (1981)
5. Todd Walker 55 (6)
Was once LSU’s all-time leader in home runs (52), RBI (246), runs (234)
Here’s Maravich’s story:
To be truthful, there was nothing amazingly athletic about former LSU all-American basketball guard Pete Maravich.
He didn’t have a mind-blowing vertical, though at 6-5 he could dunk. He wasn’t overly quick until you put a basketball in his hand as the middleman on a fast break. He wasn’t muscle bound but he could get a ball in the basket with three defenders surrounding him.
How did “Pistol Pete” become college basketball’s all-time leading scorer averaging 44.2 points per game and possibly the most creative ballhandler ever to be inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame?
He was a self-made player with an insatiable work ethic, driven since childhood with his love and his passion for the game of basketball.
For every imaginative pass he threw, every double-pump drive he banked in the basket and each stop-and-pop jumper he made, there were hours of practice he spent in his early teenage years at the local YMCA in Clemson, S.C. where his dad Press was head coach.
“Day after day, hours on end, I practiced shooting, ball handling, dribbling and passing in the old gym,” the late Maravich wrote in his 1987 autobiography “Heir To A Dream.” “During the summer months, I was almost always alone. Total dedication to basketball isolated me from most of my friends. I spent thousands of hours practicing basketball in the YMCA.”