Top 10 Throwback College Basketball Uniforms
College basketball programs can be defined by their famous uniforms. But in too many instances, the threads are changed when they shouldn’t. That’s why we take a look at the Top 10 retro uniforms from college basketball’s past.
10. Utah: Keith Van Horn Era
Utah’s old uniforms, worn during the Keith Van Horn era, cannot go any higher on this list because we definitely could do without the shorts that look like someone dropped a bucket of red paint on them. But Van Horn - the second overall pick in the 1997 NBA draft - conjures up memories of the feather-and-drum uniforms worked into the “U” in “Utah” that made the team truly Utes. Unfortunately, we may never again see the uniforms, logo or school’s nickname ever again. How sad.
9. Loyola Marymount: Hank Gathers Era
On the surface, the combination of red jerseys and baby-blue numbering shouldn’t go together. But for some reason, the look perfectly fit the Loyola Marymount teams from the Hank Gathers era that weren’t like any other squads. They scored at an outrageous pace under Paul Westhead and made it all the way to the Elite Eight in 1990 - the same season Gathers collapsed and died during the West Coast Conference tournament. Gathers’ running mate, Bo Kimble, was a red-and-blue blur, and that’s how it should have been.
8. Pitt: Script Lettering
There’s a hard and fast fashion rule by which everyone should abide: Never wear anything that looks like it came from the 1980s. Well, there’s an exception to every rule. We would absolutely endorse anyone who would wear Pitt’s uniforms with mustard script writing. In fact, the memorable cursive “Pitt” that cascaded across the chest is timeless. Judging by the name of this blog, Panthers fan never forgot their team’s best look that was napalmed when the school changed its look in 1997 and switched from the mustard look to “Vegas gold.”
7. UMass: Marcus Camby Era
Everything was better for UMass when John Calipari was in town - NCAA trouble not withstanding. The Minutemen were relevant thanks to Calipari and, at the end of the coach’s tenure, star center Marcus Camby (pictured). But even more memorable were the school’s uniforms during the Camby days, which featured a giant, script “U” followed by a smaller “Mass.” We like them much better than the run-of-the-mill current look - and couldn’t picture Camby, Carmelo Travieso and Edgar Padilla wearing anything else on the way to the 1996 Final Four.
6. Missouri: Block “M”
Missouri basketball doesn’t have the same history as some of the other schools on this list, but it had one thing: a unique look to its uniforms. The block letter “M” on the front of the jerseys stood out from almost everything else in college basketball. The first letter was big and bolder than the rest of the pedestrian letters in the word, a look that was ditched after the 1994-95 season. Now, the Tigers - who have gotten off to a 17-1 start this season - have a capitalized “Mizzou” across their chests. It’s just not the same.
5. Syracuse: Creamsicles
You can’t take anything away from Syracuse’s undefeated start to the 2011-12 season, which it began with its 20th straight win Monday. Actually, there’s one thing we don’t like about the current ‘Cuse - it’s not orange enough. Take us back to the 1990s and the orange overload of the creamsicle jerseys. Check the photo of John Wallace, who helped lead Syracuse to the 1996 national title game. That’s what a ‘Cuse uni should look like; do away with the current grey infusion on the numbers and whatever that is on the side of the shorts.
4. Kansas: Circus Font
It’s all about tradition in Lawrence, KS, where Phog Allen and Wilt Chamberlain are just two of the legendary Jayhawks. But fans really became attached to the uniforms from the recent past that featured circus font on the jersey’s front - a look donned by Danny Manning, Paul Pierce, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. But Kansas’ switch to Trajan font in 2007 has been unpopular with Jayhawk backers even if casual basketball fans didn’t even notice the switch. It’s unfortunate that the success of a Thomas Robinson-led Kansas team won’t include the inimitable script - literally - of past Jayhawks teams.
3. Cincinnati: Air Jordans
Near the turn of the millennium, Cincinnati served as a guinea pig for MJ’s new Jordan brand. The Bearcats’ uniforms are memorable because they coincided with talented teams - including their capture of a No. 2 seed in the 2000 tournament and a top seed two years later. While UC axed the unis when Bob Huggins resigned after the 2005 season, the cut-off jersey style has replaced the tank top as a go-to look. Cincy stars like Kenyon Martin and DMX look-alike Steve Logan contributed to the street-ball reputation of Huggins’ Bearcats teams - and the sleek uniforms helped them look the part. The current Adidas threads with cat scratches on the shoulders? Not so much.
2. Georgetown: Allen Iverson Era
Fundamentally, the Hoyas still have the same uniforms as they did during the 1990s. But Nike has seriously botched the lettering on the front of the jerseys and altered the old V-neck jerseys that Allen Iverson donned and turned them into some weird formation (we’re sure The Swoosh has some state-of-the-art reason for it). Also missing from the current uniforms is the cool design that adorned the side of the grey and navy blue uniforms from back in the day. The old uniforms with huge lettering and thick outlining were just like Georgetown used to be: Bold and in your face.
1. Michigan: Fab Five Era
It will never get any better than Michigan’s Fab Five uniforms that changed college basketball forever. The maize uniforms in particular with the silky look and long, baggy shorts and giant block “M” on the side were actually introduced a year before the Fab Five but made famous by Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Ray Jackson and Jimmy King. The shorts are so legendary you can still find them selling for big bucks on eBay. Ditched for the awful block “M” on the front of the jerseys for the 1999-2000 season, Michigan has slowly worked its way back to the Fab Five look over the years. Now outfitted by Adidas, it still lacks the silky look, giant block “M” on the side and, oh yeah, the brashest players to ever don the college basketball court.