The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by recognizing one of the most prolific basketball players in Tennessee State history.
From 1968-71, Lloyd Neal mastered the art of rebounding en route to collecting 1,667 boards in his career. In his senior season, Neal broke Dick Barnett's old record of 1,571 that stood for over a decade.
Neal was also a potent scorer, tallying 2,244 points throughout his four-year career. He is one of just five Tigers to ever score 2,000 points and he currently sits in fourth place on TSU's all-time scoring list.
Neal attended Tennessee State during legendary coach Ed Martin's first few seasons and the two found immediate success. With Martin drawing plays and Neal perfecting them, the Tigers went 59-23 including a 24-3 season during Neal's senior year.
In one memorable game on Feb. 16 1971, the TSU Tigers defeated the Oglethorpe Stormy Petrels 7-4. It is currently the lowest-scoring game in school history. The outcome was a strange occurrence because the Tigers scored over 100 points six times that season and had beaten Oglethorpe 82-43 earlier in the year.
After starring at TSU, Neal was selected in 3rd round, 31st pick overall, in the 1972 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers. Neal immediately earned the respect and admiration of teammates and fans alike for his grit, first for going head-on in game after game with players much taller than he, then for coming off the bench to play whatever front-court position the coaches needed.
Lloyd earned NBA All-Rookie Team honors and was runner-up to Bob McAdoo for Rookie of the year honors in 1972-73 when he stepped in as Portland's starting center in his very first professional season and went up against much bigger foes such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Nate Thurmond, Walt Bellamy and Bob Lanier. But in that rookie season, he averaged 13.4 points and 11.8 rebounds (the best ever by a Portland first year-player) while starting 81 of 82 games.
In the next three campaigns he was forced to the sidelines in 59 games with injuries; After playing in the first four games of 1978-79, he went to the sidelines for good and announced his retirement in mid-season because recurring knee problems. He finished his career by averaging 11.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 435 games, including 208 starts. But the hard-working Neal will most be remembered for his consistent play while backing up both Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas during the championship year and the season that followed.
Neal's number was retired on March 24, 1979, the first by the Trail Blazers organization. He was also inducted into the Tennessee State Sports Hall of Fame in 1983.
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.
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