From the basketball files: Lipscomb University is home of college basketball’s all-time leading scorers

By |

In A Class By Himself • New York Times (1990): Philip Hutcheson

Pierce Hits Highest Mark Ever in College Basketball • Washington Post (1994): John Pierce

*     *     *     *

Long before the Lipscomb University men’s basketball team made school history by qualifying for its first trip to the NCAA tournament, Lipscomb was known for developing great teams and even greater players.

top scorers_2In fact, the Bison men’s basketball program has produced the top two all-time leading scorers in college basketball — John Pierce (#1) and Philip Hutcheson (#2).

Today, Hutcheson is athletic director at Lipscomb University and Pierce is head coach and teacher at Nashville’s Franklin Road Academy.

Hutcheson and Pierce set their scoring records while Lipscomb was a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA). But the scoring record is for all levels of collegiate basketball.

A 6’8” post player, Hutcheson was the heart of the Bisons offense during his tenure on the team from 1986-1990. He led his Bison basketball team to a career record of 139–16. Scoring double figures every game of his four-year collegiate career, Hutcheson  also holds the Lipscomb single season records for points scored (1,277), field goals attempted (826), field goals made (518) and free throws attempted (339).

He currently holds the Lipscomb University career records for free throws attempted (1,176), field goals attempted (2,621), most games played (155), double-figure games (155), 2nd highest point total (4,106) and rebound total (1,112).

Hutcheson broke the existing all-time scoring mark of 4,045 points set by Travis Grant of Kentucky State in the NAIA national tournament in a third round game against Pfeiffer (NC) on March 16, 1990. Hutcheson hit an eight-foot jump hook-shot in the lane with 12:01 left in the first half to officially break the record. Hutcheson would end his career with 4,106 points and accumulate virtually every possible award including All-American each of his four seasons.

Hutcheson accumulated numerous awards including College Times 1988-89 Player of the Year, College Times 1989-90 College Division Co-Player of the Year, NAIA All-American four consecutive years, NABC 1990 All-American Division II Player of the Year, Street & Smith Magazine Super 5 All-American in 1988 and 1989, NAIA’s Frank Hesselroth Leadership Award in 1989, Tennessee Sports Writers Association First All-State Basketball Team in 1990, 1990 NAIA Player of the Year and chosen in 1989 and 1990 as the CoSIDA/GTE Academic Player of the Year.

A Lipscomb Academy graduate, Hutcheson was inducted into the Lipscomb University Athletic Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1997, had his jersey number 44 retired by the school – the first in Lipscomb history. Hutcheson’s successes continued after college, including stints in professional basketball for the Music City Jammers in Nashville, and later for a team in Manchester, England.

Pierce, a teammate of Hutcheson’s, watched him do interview after interview  during his red shirt season as a freshman in 1989-90. In 1990, Pierce received the nod as the player who would eventually replace the legendary Philip Hutcheson.  

top scorers_1Pierce wasted little time at chasing his predecessor, as he netted 22 points in 21 minutes and grabbed nine rebounds in his first game in a Bison uniform. As the season rolled along and Pierce continued to pile up points, fans began to wonder if the Franklin Road Academy graduate would have a chance to break what many believed was an unbreakable record. In Pierce’s time at Lipscomb (1990-1994), the Bisons compiled an overall record of 129-19, qualifying for the NAIA national tournament all four years.

On Feb. 24, 1994, the clock read 4:54 in the second half against Cumberland University. After being held to only eight points in the first half, Pierce exploded in the second half to become Lipscomb and College Basketball's all-time scorer. After the game many of the old-timers who had seen nearly every game in Lipscomb’s McQuiddy Gym could be heard saying that never before had McQuiddy Gym erupted like the moment when Pierce laid the soft bankshot off the glass to surpass Hutcheson. Today, Hutcheson’s 4,106-career points stands as the second-highest scoring total in all of college basketball.

Scoring in double digits in every game that he played, Pierce’s 4,230 career point total still stands as the national mark for a college career. Included in the national record are Lipscomb career records for free throws made (881) and field goals made (1,627). His 54-point performance on Nov. 14, 1992 still stands as the school single game scoring mark.

Pierce also holds the Lipscomb career record for rebounds with 1,497. He was a four time NAIA All-American and a two time NAIA National Player of the Year. Along with being a member of the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame, Pierce was inducted in the NAIA Hall of Fame and was named one of the 50 Greatest College Basketball Players of All-Time by Grantland.com. Upon graduating with a BA in English, Pierce played five seasons of professional basketball overseas in France, Australia, and Japan before beginning his high school coaching career.

Both Hutcheson and Pierce have been inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.

Want to learn more about Lipscomb Athletics? Visit www.lipscombsports.com.