Caulton Tudor

Heyman made ACC history in 1963 draft

Posted June 26, 2014

If Duke’s Jabari Parker is picked first overall at the NBA draft tonight in Brooklyn, he’ll become the 11th top selection out of the ACC.

Most people remember the league’s last No. 1 overall – Duke guard Kyrie Irving by Cleveland in 2011. However, there probably aren’t many fans that can recall the first ACC overall No. 1.

Quick hint: Another Blue Devil.

Quick answer: Art Heyman by the New York Knicks in the 1963 draft.

Heyman, who died at the age of 71 on Aug. 27, 2012, in Florida, probably is more remembered for his fast temper, relentless playing style and quick, sometimes salty quips than his pro career.

A big brawl in Duke (now Cameron) Indoor Stadium that began between Heyman and UNC guard Larry Brown on Feb. 4, 1961, is still a popular YouTube hit during the weeks when the Tar Heels and Blue Devils play.

At 6-5 and 225 pounds, Heyman was maybe the best offensive rebounder for his size range in ACC history. In three years as a varsity player for the Devils, he averaged 25.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game on Vic Bubas coached teams that went 69-14 overall, 35-7 in ACC regular-season games and reached the NCAA title game in 1963 before losing to eventual champ Chicago Loyola.

Long before Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley, Heyman thoroughly hated Carolina and probably did as much to stoke the rivalry as anyone on either side. In his final crack at the Tar Heels – Feb. 23, 1963 in Durham – Heyman exploded for 40 points and 24 rebounds in a 106-93 Blue Devil win.

That performance perhaps was more responsible than any other for his No. 1 pick status during the April 30, 1963 NBA Draft.

West Virginia’s Rod Thorn went second (Baltimore Bullets), followed by Bowling Green center Nate Thurmond (San Francisco Warriors).

Although the draft lasted nine rounds in those days, only four other ACC players were selected, three in the 7th rebound – Brown to Baltimore, N.C. State guard Kenny Rohloff to the St. Louis Hawks and Wake Forest’s Bob Woolard to the Knicks. Maryland forward Jerry Greenspan was picked in the 3rd by the Syracuse Nationals.

Heyman, a landslide winner over Carolina sophomore Billy Cunningham for ACC player of the year, was predicted to be the league’s first NBA full-blown superstar.

But after averaging 15.4 points as a rookie, Heyman’s production waned dramatically.

The following season, Heyman’s playing time slipped in part because of leg and shoulder injuries. He averaged 5.7 points in 55 games and fell into a second-team Knicks rotation that included former Wake stars Len Chappell and Dave Budd.

With the start of the American Basketball Association in 1967, Heyman was able to revive his career for a while, averaging 18.5 points for the New Jersey Americans in 1967-68 and 20.1 points in ’69-’69 with the Minneapolis Pipers.

But by the end of the ’69-’70 season, Heyman’s pro career was over. He averaged 7.8 points that season for the Miami Floridians and then retired at the age of 29.

ACC coaches for years continued to rate Heyman among the best college players ever, but his game was never really suited for the NBA. He wasn’t a great perimeter shooter by any means and his ability to create points off offensive rebounds suffered against the bigger, tougher NBA forwards.

But Heyman’s impact on the ACC was lasting. And if Parker happens to go No. 1 in 2014, he can look back on the Duke player who broke through the No. 1 ceiling all those years ago.

1963: Art Heyman, Duke (N.Y. Knicks)
1975: David Thompson, NCSU (L.A. Lakers)
1976: John Lucas, Maryland (Houston Rockets)
1982: James Worthy, UNC (L.A. Lakers)
1983: Ralph Sampson, Virginia (Houston Rockets)
1986, Brad Daugherty UNC (Cleveland Cavaliers)
1995: Joe Smith, Maryland (Golden State Warriors)
1997: Tim Duncan, Wake (San Antonio Spurs)
1999: Elton Brand, Duke (Chicago Bulls)
2011: Kyrie Irving, Duke (Cleveland Cavaliers)


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  • modukev5saysbyebye Jun 26, 2014

    Just more good press for Duke. Refreshing to hear positive news from a triangle area school for a change.

  • Winchester-.308 Jun 26, 2014

    Ja what!

  • Objective Scientist Jun 26, 2014

    I was in Duke (Cameron) Indoor Stadium for the UNC game in which Heyman and Brown initiated a "brawl", witnessing it firsthand. I saw Heyman play many times during his tenure at Duke, and the description/assessment of his personality, demeanor, and basketball ability in this article are "pretty much on target". Over several decades of college basketball, Heyman falls into that category "Truly great college player... not so much at the NBA level." At that time his size, strength, and tenacity permitted him to "over-power" his opponents at the college level, but that did not work as well in the NBA where players were 'over-all" bigger and stronger... and he had significant, nagging injury issues. Parker vs Heyman? If Parker is drafted #1 they will have that in common... otherwise I see little in common. Two distinctly difference eras in college basketball and two different players. IMO - Parker has a better skill-set for success in the NBA than Heyman had.

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