Oklahoma’s first breakout star helped win gold for the United States during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles
Wayman Tisdale played collegiate basketball from 1982 to 1985 at the University of Oklahoma. He was the first player in the long history of the Associated Press to be named First Team All-American in his freshman, sophomore, and junior years.
His college stats were eerily consistent as far as achieving points, rebounds, and minutes played.
In 104 career NCAA games, Tisdale averaged 35.1 minutes per game scoring and posting an average of around 25.6 ppg (24.5 as a freshman, 27 as a sophomore, and 25.2 as a junior). He set scoring records as a freshman and sophomore that still stand today (810 and 919 points, respectively–all accomplished without the benefit of the three-point shot).
He shot a very respectable 58 percent from the floor and 66 percent from the free-throw line, getting better each year (in fact, Tisdale improved from .640 to .703 in his final two years at OU).
He also was Big 8 Conference Player of the Year three times, but his teams were not good enough to compete with the likes of Patrick Ewing of Georgetown, Chris Mullin of St. John’s, Ed Pinckney of Villanova, and Michael Jordan and Brad Daugherty of North Carolina.
The closest his Sooners reached the Final Four was in 1985, when Oklahoma was the top seed in the Midwest. His Sooners bowed out in the Midwest Regional Final at the old Reunion Arena in Dallas, losing a squeaker 63-61 to then named Memphis State. Tisdale did finish his college career with a game high 12 rebounds on that particular Saturday afternoon.
If there was a Mount Rushmore for Oklahoma basketball, he would be the first face to be chiseled–followed by 1988 stars Stacey King and Mookie Blaylock and 2016 National Player of the Year Buddy Hield.
Sadly, I tried scouring all over YouTube to see if I could find one of his 104 regular season games that was on cable television at the time. But I came up with this instead, a brief tribute set to one of his jazz songs from the 2004 Hang Time album–with commentary from NBA greats Michael Jordan and A.C. Green, college stars from that similar era when they were stars with North Carolina and Oregon State, respectively.
He also chipped in to help the Americans win one of the final gold medals in 1984 as amateurs before NBA players dominated the game starting with Barcelona and the self-proclaimed “Dream Team” in 1992.
After spending 12 years in the NBA, he spent the final 24 years of his life playing bass for his first love being jazz music. A true champion, both on and off the court and music stage–Wayman Tisdale will be remembered not only as a great Olympian, but also as a true ambassador for the worlds of jazz and basketball.