It’s been awhile since we delved into the NC State history books and featured one of the Jerseys in the Rafters. In the past we have done features on Dick Dickey, Sammy Ranzinoand Bobby Speight, who all have their jerseys hanging in the rafters in the RBC Center. It is our goal to do a write-up on every player that has a jersey hanging in the rafters. Picking up where we left off, next up is Ronnie Shavlik.
Ronnie Shavlik is without a doubt, one of the most successful players to ever play basketball for NC State. The Wolfpack won ACC Championships in all three of his varsity seasons (’54, ’55, ’56). The 6’8″ Center came to Raleigh from Denver, Colorado, to play for NC State coach Everett Case.
While Shavlik was a prolific scorer, he made his reputation on the boards. He managed to rack up 1,598 rebounds in his 3 varsity seasons, which is the highest mark in NC State history for a career, and the second highest total in ACC history. To highlight the extreme nature of Shavlik’s career rebound total, Tommy Burleson ranks in second place in NC State history with 1,066. Shavlik actually holds the ACC record for the most rebounds in a single season, bringing down 581 rebounds in 1955 (19.5 rebounds per game). The standout center averaged 16.8 rebounds per game over his three year career, which of course, is another NC State record. In a game against Villanova in 1955, Shavlik notched another mark in the NC State record books when he ended the game with 35 rebounds.
Just because Shavlik was one of the best rebounders in ACC history, does not mean that he was a one dimensional player by any stretch of the imagination. David Thompson might hold the school record for the most points scored in a single game, but Shavlik produced the 2nd and 3rd highest totals in school history. In the same game that he pulled down 35 rebounds against Villanova in 1955, he also scored 49 points (3rd highest point total in a single game), which also happens to be the highest point total scored by an individual in an away game. His finest hour came in 1954, scoring 55 points against William & Mary (2nd highest point total in a single game). Shavlik scored 1,761 points in his career, which is the 7th most points scored by a player in NC State history.
Shavlik didn’t waste anytime gaining the attention of the coaches and media surrounding him. In his first season on the varsity squad, Shavlik was the MVP of the Dixie Classic and also earned 1st Team All-ACC Tournament honors as well. In his Junior season, he earned the MVP honors of the Dixie Classic for the second consecutive year. Shavlik was also named the MVP of the ACC tournament. To top things off, the Junior added 1st Team All-ACC and 2nd Team All-American to his trophy case as well. Ronnie’s senior season was the pinnacle of his collegiate career, earning 1st Team All-ACC, NCAA All-Regional Team, 1st Team All-American and ACC Player of the Year honors. Ronnie is one of only 10 players in NC State history to be a two time All-ACC selection. He went on to be the 4th overall pick in the 1956 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.
1954 – 15.5 points and 13.5 rebounds.
1955 – 22.1 points and 18.2 rebounds.
1956 – 18.2 points and 19.5 rebounds.
JERSEYS IN THE RAFTERS: Vic Molodet: #73
Everett Case set the standard for the ACC, leading NC State to the first 3 conference championships (54-56). Ronnie Shavlik was arguably the most decorated player from this dynasty, but everyone knows that a great ‘big man’ is most often accompanied by a point guard that can create and get them the ball in optimal scoring situations. Some tandems are not mentioned as individual players, rather they are always remembered as a pair. For instance, rarely do you hear the name Karl Malone mentioned without the name John Stockton followed right behind it. In the case of Ronnie Shavlik, it was hard to think of the All-American center without thinking about All-American point guard Vic Molodet.
Vic Molodet was a 5’11″ point guard from East Chicago, Indiana. Molodet was the coach on the court that led the Wolfpack to three-straight ACC Championships, beginning with the 1st ever ACC Tournament in 1954. Vic played the game with a sense of flare that electrified the crowds in the early years of Reynolds Coliseum. While Shavlik might have been the focal point of the Wolfpack offense, Molodet didn’t go unnoticed by those who voted for post-season honors. Molodet earned All-ACC honors in all three of his varsity seasons, claiming 2nd team honors 1954 and 1955 and 1st team honors in 1956. Vic would go on to play one of his best performances in the ACC championship game his senior season, when he scored 32 points, taking home the tournament MVP award.
Molodet might have had a responsibility of getting Shavlik the ball in the post, but this didn’t stop the crafty point guard from putting the ball in the hoop. His career scoring average of 14.9 ranks 12th in school history, and his 1,405 career points rank 22nd, and a high percentage of those points came from the charity stripe.
In 1956, Molodet helped lead NC State to a #2 rank nationally, though they didn’t finish the year there.
After earning 1st Team All-American honors as a senior, Molodet went on to be drafted by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the the 1956 NBA draft.
1954 – 13.8pts
1955 – 13.5pts
1956 – 18.2pts
2nd Team – 1954 and 1955
1st Team – 1956
All-ACC Tournament Team
2nd Team – 1955
1st Team – 1956 (MVP)
All-Dixie Classic Team
1954 and 1955
1st Team All-American (Converse) – 1956
Molodet’s #73 jersey was honored and lifted to the rafters on February 24th, 1999.
(Molodet’s #73 jersey is honored, but not retired. The only retired jersey is David Thompson’s #44.)
Jerseys in the Rafters: Lou Pucillo: #78
We’ve heard the story time and time again of Michael Jordan being cut from his JV team back in high school. It’s a story that is retold so often because, in hindsight, the fact seems ironic and absolutely ridiculous. While former NC State guard Lou Pucillo didn’t go on to become the greatest basketball player in the history of the game, his story is very similar to Jordan’s, and quite possibly even more absurd.
What are the odds that a player that didn’t make his high school team until his senior season, playing minimal minutes that season, would end up earning ACC Player of the Year honors, along with All-American honors? Welcome to the crazy story of Lou Pucillo.
Lou Pucillo grew up in South Philadelphia and attended Southeast Catholic. The undersized guard didn’t make his high school team until his senior season, and even then, he barely saw the floor. It is a dream of many kids to grow up and play basketball at the next level, but at this point in Pucillo’s life, his credentials pointed toward only a dream, and not actuality. Pucillo was unwilling to quit dreaming, and went on to Temple Prep School, where he averaged roughly 25 points a game, gaining the attention of the NC State coaching staff.
When Everett Case brought Pucillo into the fold, he was the smallest player ever recruited by Case, standing 5’9″, and weighing in at 157 pounds. When a guard is undersized, it is vitally important that they have a great set of ball handling skills and speed, which Pucillo possessed. Sportswriter’s dubbed Pucillo the “Bob Cousy of the collegians.” Pucillo dribbled his way into the NC State record books, earning First Team All-ACC honors twice (1 of 10 players in school history to accomplish this), and First Team All-ACC Tournamnet twice as well.
Pucillo’s senior campaign was one that was clad with accolades. After leading the Wolfpack to their 4th ACC championship, he became one of 5 players in school history to win the ACC Player of the Year award (14.6 ppg). He also became one of only 8 players in NC State history to earn the MVP award for the ACC Tournament. As a cherry on top, Pucillo earned 2nd Team All-American honors in his senior season.
After graduating from NC State, the dream of the NBA never came to fruition, but he did play professionally for the Wichita Vickers in National Industrial League and later played for Sunbury in the Eastern Professional League. When he decided to hang up the jersey and move on, he found himself back in Raleigh, coaching the Freshman team at NC State for three seasons, before stepping out and forming his own private business in the Raleigh area.
It’s rare that the kid that grows up playing basketball on the playground because he didn’t make the school team, see’s his dreams come true. Yet every once in awhile a guy like Lou Pucillo comes along and defies all the odds.
Pucillo’s jersey was honored and lifted to the rafters on February 24th, 1999.
(Pucillo’s #78 jersey is honored, but not retired. The only retired jersey is David Thompson’s #44.)
Jerseys In The Rafters: John Richter: #24
Legendary Wolfpack coach Everett Case reeled in a legendary recruiting class in 1956 when he brought in two players from Philadelphia, who would eventually go on to earn All-American honors, win an ACC title and have their jerseys permanently honored in the rafters. Lou Pucillo and John Richter would go on to be one of the most dynamic duo’s in NC State history. There was nearly 12 inches separating Pucillo and Richter in height (Richter was 6’8″). Pucillo possessed the ball handling skills and he made a habit of feeding the ball to John Richter in the post.
Richter knew how to use his height to his advantage, not only becoming one of the best rebounders in NC State history, but in ACC history as well. He led NC State in rebounding all three varsity seasons, averaging double-digit rebounds in all three seasons (’57 – 12.7, ’58 – 10.9, ’59 – 14.2). Richter’s 936 career rebounds rank 6th all-time in NC State history. The big guy’s career average of 12.7 rebounds per game ranks 3rd in school history and 9th in ACC history.
John was also the 1st Wolfpack player to ever lead the ACC in scoring, when he posted a season average of 17.0 points per game in the 1958-59 season. His career scoring average of 15.0 points per game ranks 11th in school history. Richter not only possessed the ability to score, but he also was efficient in doing so, leading the ACC in Field Goal Percentage in 1957, connecting on 51.9% that season.
He led the team in scoring and field goal percentage twice.
Richter’s monstrous senior campaign didn’t go unnoticed. After averaging a double-double in his last season (17.0 points and 14.2 rebounds), and winning an ACC title, the voters smiled on the big man from Philly. Richter earned 1st Team All-ACC, 1st Team All-ACC Tournament, and 1st Team All-American honors in his final season. This padded his accolade resume that already contained two 2nd Team All-ACC selections (’57 and ’58) and a Dixie Classic MVP award in 1958.
John Richter, one of the best post players to ever play at NC State, went on to be a 1st round draft pick by the Boston Celtics in the 1959 NBA draft.
Richter’s jersey was honored and lifted to the rafters on February 24th, 1999.
(Richter’s #24 jersey is honored, but not retired. The only retired jersey is David Thompson’s #44.)
David Thompson is one of only 9 players in history to win Naismith Award and make Hall of Fame
Did you know that Packinsider.com has a whole section dedicated to the history of NC State athletics? If you haven’t checked it out, go ahead and do that when you get some free time we like to think it’s pretty interesting stuff.
Over the next few months, we are going to be hitting you with nuggets of NC State history that you may not know about. Here is one that we just came across…
Did you know that NC State’s David Thompson is one of only 9 Naismith Award winners to make the Basketball Hall of Fame?
Naismith Award + @Hoophall:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) October 5, 2018
That list is like the who’s who of basketball greats.
David Thompson was awarded the Naismith at the end of his 1974-75 season with NC State. He helped lead the Wolfpack to their first national championship in 1974. Thompson was known as “Skywalker” for his incredible vertical leap. Thompson was the first overall draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks in 1975 but elected to play for the Denver Nuggets in the ABA. He continued to play with the Nuggets after the ABA-NBA merger before being traded to the Seattle Supersonics. Thompson was twice named to the All-NBA team and was selected to four All-Star games. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996. (NCAA)
But just think about that. Of all the college basketball greats who won the ‘player of the year’ award, only 9 of those guys went on to make the Hall of Fame. It goes to show you that NCAA basketball and NBA basketball are really two different games, and if you’re great at one level, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be great at the other. Congrats to DT for being one of the few that was.