David Thompson was selected for induction in the inaugural class of the ACC Hall of Fame with 100 percent of the media vote, the only member of the Class of 2017 to be chosen unanimously.
David O’Neil Thompson
N.C. State, 1972-75
Athletic guard who used record leaping ability to become the greatest player in ACC history. Three-time consensus All-American and consensus national player of the year in 1975. Three-time ACC Player of the Year. Led conference in scoring three times, with a 26.8 career average. Led State to an undefeated season (27-0) in 1973 and a national championship in 1974, ending UCLA’s run of seven straight titles. Also led State to two ACC championships, including a 103-100 overtime victory over Maryland in the greatest game in ACC history in 1974. No. 1 overall selection in the NBA and ABA drafts.
44 | Inches, standing vertical leap (a record certified by the Guinness Book of World Records).
March 9, 1974, N.C. State 103, Maryland 100 (OT) | Thompson scored 29 points as the Wolfpack beat the Terrapins in the ACC championship game — which is considered the greatest game in ACC history and the last time that only the conference champion advanced to the NCAA tournament.
March 16, 1974, N.C. State 100, Pittsburgh 72 | Thompson scored only eight points in the second-round NCAA tournament game, but his legend grew. In an attempt to block a shot, Thompson nearly jumped over 6-foot-9 teammate Phil Spence, but instead tripped over his shoulder and landed head-first onto the wooden floor at Reynolds Coliseum. He laid unconscious in a pool of blood and didn’t wake up until about 10 minutes later when he was being wheeled into an ambulance. Thompson, with 16 stitches and a severe concussion, returned to State’s bench by the end of the game. | boxscore
March 23, 1974, N.C. State 80, UCLA 77 (2OT) | Thompson scored 28 points, including the go-ahead basket with a minute left, as the Wolfpack beat the Bruins in the national semifinals, ending UCLA’s run of seven straight national titles. Thompson outleaped and outstretched 6-foot-11 Bill Walton on the cover of the following week’s Sports Illustrated. The headline: “End of an era.” | boxscore
March 1, 1975, N.C. State 103, UNC Charlotte 80 | Sports Illustrated’s Alexander Wolff once wrote: “David Thompson played college ball when the dunk was outlawed, so he would finish off alley-oop passes by soaring, snaring, savoring the moment and gently depositing the payload.” Not on this day. In his final home game at Reynolds Coliseum, Thompson dunked for the only time in his career, received a technical foul and left the game to thunderous applause. He wasn’t just the best player in the college game. He was the most exciting.
“In the three years that I played varsity basketball for John Wooden, he never mentioned the other team and certainly no individual opponent — preferring to focus on what we needed to do. The one exception was David Thompson.” — UCLA center Bill Walton