Hank Luisetti

One of the greatest basketball players of the first half of the 20th century, Luisetti pioneered the running, one-handed shot.

Luisetti is famous for pioneering the running one-handed shot, a move he used during an era when basketball relied on the traditional, two-handed shot.

Like anything that breaks tradition, Luisetti’s move was not met with great enthusiasm at first, but his college basketball career proved the method to his madness. During his three years at Stanford, he was a three time All-American and was named the 1937 and 1938 Helms Athletic Foundation Player of the Year. The 6-foot-3, 184 pound Luisetti also excelled at dribbling and passing.

At Stanford, he averaged 16.1 points per game, and led the team to three consecutive Pacific Coast championships. In 1936, he led Stanford to a victory against LIU at Madison Square Garden, and his newfangled one-handed shot was a hit. After Stanford put and end to LIU’s 43-game winning streak, Luisetti was treated to a standing ovation from the opposing team’s fans.

Luisetti was also the first college player to score 50 points in a game when Stanford defeated Duquesne 92-27 on Jan. 1, 1938. In 1937, Hall of Fame coach John Bunn and Luisetti captured the Helms Athletic Foundation National Championship.

Luisetti played for Pacific Coast Amateur clubs until contracting spinal meningitis in 1944, and retired with a career point total of 1596. In an Associated Press poll to select the best basketball player of the first half of the 20th century, Luisetti finished second only to George Mikan.

Hank Luisetti died on December 17, 2002 in San Mateo, California. He is a member of the NCAA Hall of Fame, was inducted to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1959, and was elected to the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1979.