There are two names that will always be mentioned when Hoosiers discuss the topic of the greatest Indiana high school basketball player ever.
One of them is Oscar Robertson. The other is George McGinnis.
In high school, McGinnis led Indianapolis Washington to an undefeated state championship season and averaged 32 points per game in 1969. He also was named the 1969 Indiana Mr. Basketball.
Those who saw him play say the 6-foot-8, 230-pound high-schooler was an amazing athlete and dominated every game he played in his junior and senior years.
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In the 1969 Indiana-Kentucky All-Star game in Louisville, Kentucky, McGinnis dominated like no one ever had before or since in the series, scoring 53 points with 31 rebounds in a 114-73 win. Young George was on top of the world, but just a few months later, his life changed forever.
That summer before he headed off to Indiana University, his father, Burnie, a construction worker, was tragically killed when he fell off of a scaffold. Big George fell into deep depression and understandably considered sitting out a year before attending IU.
After long talks and support with those close to him, George headed off to college.
During his sophomore year, in the 1970-71 season at Indiana University, Big George had an incredible season, which was his first varsity season because freshmen weren’t eligible for varsity back then. McGinnis led the Hoosiers in scoring at 29.9 points per game and in rebounding at 14.7 rebounds per game. No Hoosier has matched his scoring average in the history of the program.
At the end of the 1971 season, George knew he could earn a lot of money playing basketball, which would allow him to take care of his mother.
So he entered the ABA Draft and was selected by the Indiana Pacers, where he would become a professional basketball superstar.
He played on two Pacers ABA championship teams and in 1975 was co-most valuable player of the ABA with Julius Erving.
McGinnis is one of four players to have his jersey retired by the Pacers. The others are Roger Brown, Reggie Miller and Mel Daniels.