The Minutemen men’s basketball team of the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a member of the NCAA’s Atlantic 10 Conference. Highlights from the history of UMass basketball include six consecutive NCAA Tournament selections in the 1990s and six players in the NBA. The top NBA players from UMass are Hall of Famer Julius Erving and active defensive great Marcus Camby.
Dr. J, Julius Erving is a Hall of Famer, an MVP, a scoring champion, and the greatest NBA player from UMass. Erving had two remarkable years with the Minutemen, averaging 26.3 points and 20.2 rebounds in his college career. He began his professional career in the ABA and spent five years dominating the league. In that time, Erving won three scoring titles and three ABA MVPs, earned five All-Star selections, and played on two championship winners with the Nets.
In 1976, when the NBA and ABA merged, Erving joined the 76ers of the NBA and was an All-Star in each of his 11 seasons with the team. He won the 1981 NBA MVP Award and led the Sixers to the 1983 NBA title. He was one of the most athletic and dominant players of his era and one of the greatest players in basketball history. Dr. J ranks among the all-time combined ABA and NBA leaders in points (30,026, fifth), rebounds (10,525, 32nd), assists (5,176, 47th), steals (2,272, seventh), and blocks (1,941, 21st).
Center Marcus Camby is the only remaining active NBA player from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. As the Player of the Year in the NCAA, Camby led the UMass Minutemen to their first ever appearance in the Final Four in 1996. The Toronto Raptors chose him with the second overall pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, beginning a fantastic career that is 14 years long and counting. Camby has been one of the top rebounders, shot-blockers, and interior defenders in the modern NBA. He led the league in blocks for the first time in 1997-98 with 3.7 per game for the Raptors.
Camby spent the next ten seasons in New York and Denver where he developed into one of the NBA’s leading rebounders. Since 2000-01, he has averaged double-digit rebounds nine times; he has career averages of 10.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. He led the NBA in blocks in each of his last three seasons with the Nuggets and he is up to 14th all-time with 2,140 career swats. Camby has earned All-Defensive honors four times and in 2007, he was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Former ABA and NBA guard Al Skinner was one of the best NBA players from UMass. As a member of the University of Massachusetts Minutemen, he averaged a double-double as a senior with 18.8 points and 11.0 boards per contest. Starting out in the ABA, Skinner teamed up with Julius Erving on the 1976 Nets as he averaged 10.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game on the ABA’s final championship team. He played four NBA seasons and averaged a career bests of 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists for the Nets in 1976-77. After his playing days, Skinner returned to the NCAA as a coach at the University of Rhode Island and Boston College.