By Mike Magers
Luc Longley was born in Australia in 1969. He was recruited to play basketball at University of New Mexico by then coach Gary Colson who had seen him while on a trip to Australia to recruit another player, Andrew Vlahov who wound up playing at Stanford University. Luc played for University of New Mexico from 1987 to 1991 and worked his way to a starting position.
He appeared in one game his freshman year and in the interim between that and his sophomore year played on the 1988 Olympic team for Australia. He would go on to compete in two more Olympics for his home country. At UNM he continued to improve his sophomore and junior seasons, being named honorable mention All-America by the publication, the Sporting News. His junior season he was named first team All Western Athletic Conference and was a candidate for the John Wooden Award. Luc declined to leave UNM for the NBA after his junior year despite expectations that he might be a high pick. His senior year for the Lobos, he averaged 3 assists, 9 rebounds and 19 points per game. He would be named first team All Western Athletic Conference again his senior year.
Longley was drafted 7th in the 1991 NBA Draft by the young Minnesota Timberwolves. This was the highest pick ever for a former Lobo player. He continued to compete in the Olympics and after graduation from UNM played for the Australian team in Seoul, as the team went on to finish fourth in the games. His first game with the Timberwolves came in November of 1991. The next summer he again played in the Olympics, this time in Barcelona in 1992. Luc, the first Australian player in the NBA, was a starting center for the Timberwolves for two years before being traded to the Chicago Bulls for the next few years. While playing center for the Bulls on some of the greatest teams ever, alongside NBA greats Scottie Pippin and Michael Jordan, the Bulls would win back to back to back NBA Championships, making him the first Australian player to play on a championship team. Following this, he was traded to the Phoenix Suns and a couple of years later finished his career with the New York Knicks in 2001. Please see his UNM and NBA statistics here, courtesy of Basketball-Reverence.com. Luc would play in a total of 567 games and score 4,090 points, averaging 7 points and 5 rebounds per game.
Following his retirement from the NBA, he began coaching basketball in Australia. Luc’s honors include being inducted into the Australian Institute of Sport and the Basketball Australia’s Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and named to the University of New Mexico Hall of Honor.
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