Former San Diego Padres star and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn passed away today at the age of 54 after battling cancer for the past several years. He’ll be remembered as one of the best hitters in the history of Major League Baseball. That part of his sports story, you probably already know. We’re here to tell you about the other part, the one involving his basketball career and how he was drafted by an NBA team.
Gwynn attended San Diego State University to be the point guard of the school’s basketball team. In fact, that was the sport he was focused on; he didn’t actually join the baseball team until his sophomore year.
Via Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Gwynn’s college basketball stats are actually pretty amazing:
From his most recent biography detail in the San Diego State media guide, “In addition to three years of baseball, Gwynn was also a point guard for the Aztec basketball squad for four seasons and was named to the all-Western Athletic Conference team on two occasions. He remains the only athlete in WAC history to be honored as an all-conference performer in two sports.”
Gwynn is still seen as one of the best hoops players in school history. He had 18 assists in a game against UNLV on Feb. 3, 1980, an Aztecs record that still stands, and he has the three best single-game assist outputs at SDSU. His 221 assists in 1979-80 (8.2 APG) and 590 career dimes for SDSU (5.5 per game) are still school records. He’s seventh all-time in steals.
All this while building himself into a future legendary player in a separate sport. Gwynn’s final game in a basketball uniform came on March 7, 1981, when he went for 16 and 16 in points and assists against New Mexico.
In the 1981 NBA Draft, the San Diego Clippers took Gwynn in the 10th and final round. Gwynn never played a single game of professional basketball, choosing to pursue a career in baseball instead. Judging by his career numbers, he made the right choice.
We’ll never know how good of an NBA player he could have been, but we’re guessing Gwynn was pretty proud of a fellow San Diego State alum during these playoffs.
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