4. LaRue Martin
College: Loyola of Chicago. Averaged 18.2 ppg, 15.9 rpg, 44.9 percent shooting, school-record 1,062 rebounds, 1970 and ’72 All-American.
NBA Draft: Portland Trail Blazers, first overall in 1972.
NBA: Played four seasons, 271 games, 5.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 41.6 percent shooting.
Plenty of NBA teams would be pleased to have a player who could average 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14 minutes a game. But they’d be less pleased if they’d used the first pick in the draft to get him. That’s what happened to the Portland Trail Blazers, who chose LaRue Martin out of Loyola of Chicago with the top selection in 1972.
Reed-thin at 6-foot-11 and 208 pounds, Martin was a collegiate rebounding machine who averaged 15.9 boards per game over three seasons, including 17.6 as a junior. He’s still the school’s all-time rebounding leader. Martin attracted a lot of attention when his Ramblers lost to UCLA 92-64 on Jan. 28, 1972. The Bruins were in the midst of their 88-game winning streak, but Martin outplayed Bill Walton that night with 19 points and 18 rebounds.
That didn’t translate to success in his four-year pro career, which he spent as a too-frail benchwarmer. The Buffalo Braves had the second pick and settled for Hall of Famer Bob McAdoo, while the Milwaukee Bucks used the 12th pick to grab Julius Erving, who turned out to be a pretty good player after a stint in the ABA.