Arizona Basketball

Blevins, McClellan team captains who impacted Arizona Wildcats different ways


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Leon Blevins’ 462 points in the 1949-50 season stood for 10 years as the most points scored in a season for the Arizona Wildcats.

He was the first Arizona Wildcats player selected in the NBA draft in 1950 with the Indianapolis Olympians, who picked him in the seventh round, 79th overall.

A World War II veteran who served in the Navy at the time of the war, Blevins returned to his native Phoenix afterward and scored almost 1,000 points in his two-year career at Phoenix College. He transferred to play for the Fred Enke Sr. and the Arizona Wildcats, completing the last two years of his eligibility in 1950 as a 23-year-old senior.

An Associated Press report in 1950 described Blevins as “an excellent ball handler and master at feinting rivals out of position”.

In his senior season, the Arizona Wildcats went 26-5, the most victories in school history at the time. That win total was not topped until the UA’s first Final Four season of 1987-88, when the Wildcats finished 35-3.

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Since Blevins’ 462-point season in 1950, the mark has been topped 69 times. Khalid Reeves holds what is an insurmountable record of 848 points in 1993-94.

Jawann McClellan, a player who wore No. 5 for the Wildcats like Blevins, scored only 794 points in his four-year career for Arizona. Points did not define McClellan, who was a senior captain for the UA in 2007-08 similar to Blevins in 1949-50 for the Wildcats.

McClellan is featured here despite his modest career statistics because of his intangibles. Other than former teammate Nic Wise — who played through knee injuries and four different head coaches — no other Wildcat persevered through as much personal strife as McClellan.

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Arizona’s No. 5 players
Source: UA media relations
John Black, G, 1939-41
Jimmy Steele, F, 1944-45
Tim Ballantyne, C, 1945-46
Leon Blevins, F, 1948-50
Dave Schuff, F, 1950-51
Oscar Islas, F, 1951-52
Rudy Castro, G, 1952-53
Terry Coyle, G, 1954-55
Frank Nelson, G, 1956-57
Andy Liechty, F, 1958-59
Bill Mower, G, 1959-61
Buster Forbes, G, 1961-62
Ruben Douglas, G, 1998-99
Travis Hanour, G, 2000-02
Jawann McClellan, G, 2005-08
Robert Arvizu, G, 2010-12

Among his difficulties: His father Geoge passing away after he was a freshman, forcing him to decide whether to transfer closer to his Houston home. He encountered academic problems because of his personal issues and was ineligible during the fall semester of 2005 in his sophomore year.

A McDonald’s All-American out of high school, he also suffered through constant knee problems and a wrist injury.

In his senior season of 2007-08, his father figure, coach Lute Olson, took a leave of absence for health reasons and finished his career with interim coach Kevin O’Neill. Given the chance to file for medical hardship and return in 2008-09, he decided to move on instead. He is now an assistant coach with the high-profile Houston Yates High School program.

Blevins, who later coached at Phoenix College, passed away in 1987 at the age of 61 following a lengthy illness.

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report, Lindy’s College Sports and TucsonCitizen.com.

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