The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering one of the premier basketball players in Tennessee State history.
Dick "Skull" Barnett played an integral part in the three straight college basketball National Championships won by TSU from 1957-59. He was named MVP of the championship game during his last two seasons, and left the school as one of its top record holders.
Barnett came to TSU in 1955 and immediately became one of team's go-to players. If he was remotely open, his teammates would pass him the ball, and he would take the shot. He scored 3,209 points during his collegiate career- 900 more than the second place finisher on the list.
While Barnett did have the luxury of attempting over 700 shots more than any other Tigers, he made nearly 400 more baskets than anyone else.
Opposing teams resulted to fouling Barnett when he was close to the basket, and he made them pay at the free-throw line too. He connected on 585 of his 731 free throws- a shooting percentage of over 80 percent.
Barnett was also a force on defense and held the record for career rebounds until Lloyd Neal beat his mark of 1,571 in 1971.
The Tigers won three straight titles with Barnett leading the team, becoming the first team to do so.
Barnett's collegiate accolades got him noticed by professional teams, and in 1959 the Syracuse Nationals of the NBA selected him with their first pick in the draft. He played a couple of seasons in Syracuse and then three as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers before finding a home with the New York Knicks.
Barnett played with the Knicks for nine seasons including 1968 where he was selected an All-Star and in 1970 where he helped the Knicks when the NBA Title over the Lakers.
Barnett finished his NBA career with 15,358 points.
Both the Knicks and Tennessee State have retired Barnett's jersey, making his jersey the first and only one that has been retired at his alma mater.
In 2007, Barnett was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame.
The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.