Of the great basketball players produced by the State of Alabama, one of the least heralded was from my hometown. But none of them was more prolific than Travis Grant. Travis, a native of Clayton, played at Barbour County High. He is the all-time all-division scoring leader in NCAA basketball history. Travis’ accomplishments already have him in the Basketball Hall of Fame. He has now entered the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Travis scored 4,045 points in his career at Kentucky State, 378 more points than Pete Maravich, the all-time NCAA Division I leader.
The Los Angeles Lakers made Travis the No. 13 pick in the 1972 draft – one pick below Julius Erving. Travis spent a year in Los Angeles, then played three years in the ABA. He wound up as second-leading scorer in the league in 1974-75, averaging 25.2 points per game for San Diego. Travis had this to say in an ESPN.com interview:
You can gain a lot by going to those black institutions. It’s not just the education you receive there. It’s more than that. It’s also about learning to grow up and learning values and respect. Leaders come out of there. I don’t think that you have to go to those colleges, but they have value that is worth preserving. I had to consider basketball in my decision, and John Chaney said, sometimes you pick your college because of the man. The person that is going to be coaching you is probably the most important thing.
Travis averaged 39.5 points per game as a senior. Travis led Kentucky State to three consecutive NAIA National Championships. He still holds NAIA records for most career points in the tournament (518), highest points per-tournament game average (34.5), most points in a single tournament (213), and most points in a single tournament game (60). He shot 53.6 percent from the floor as an ABA player.
Travis was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2011. He was presented the NAIA Chuck Taylor Most Valuable Player Award twice and was the first small college player to win the Lapchick Trophy – Sporting News College Basketball Player of the Year award in 1972. I am very proud of all that Travis has accomplished and am glad to say that he is a fellow “Barbour Countian!”
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