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Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 42 – Pete Gent

This is the ninth in a 50-day summer series, counting down the top players in Michigan State basketball history, as I see them. The criteria is impact and performance at MSU only, professional career irrelevant. Have your own opinion? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

No. 42 – Pete Gent
Center / Forward, 1961-64, Bangor, Mich.

The skinny: Mostly known for his NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and for authoring “North Dallas Forty,” Gent was a small-town Southwest Michigan kid and an example of the times — playing center for MSU at 6-foot-4. Gent led the Spartans in scoring all three of his seasons, averaging 21 points as a senior.

Pete Gent was the first player to lead MSU in scoring every season he played, including 21 points per game as a senior in 1963-64. (MSU Athletic Communications)

He finished as the program’s second high scorer, behind Julius McCoy, and averaged better than eight rebounds for his career. Gent, evidenced by his NFL career as a receiver, was a terrific athlete who old-timers say would find his way onto the floor in modern times.

Why he’s No. 42: His resume gets him in the top 50 — he was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, either second- or third team. But he played on awful teams his first two seasons, so his numbers are probably inflated. And like Al Ferrari at No. 43, Gent’s low field-goal percentage (40 percent for his career) can’t be overlooked, regardless of era. Gent is in the top 10 at MSU in field-goal attempts, despite playing in 66 games, limited by short seasons and the freshman ban. By comparison, Ken Redfield (No. 44 on this list) played in 118 games, scored 66 more career points, but took almost 200 fewer career shots.

Previously …
No. 43: Al Ferrari
No. 44: Ken Redfield
No. 45: Chris Hill
No. 46: Raymar Morgan
No. 47: Kevin Smith
No. 48: Kevin Willis
No. 49: Matt Steigenga
No. 50: Marcus Taylor

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4 Responses to Counting down MSU’s top 50 basketball players all-time: No. 42 – Pete Gent

  1. avatar Rob says:

    Field goal percentages are higher today than in Gent’s era because there are more dunks.

  2. avatar Jeffrey Fuda says:

    I was able to see Pete play and he was a terrific player. The fact that he played out of position is somewhat responsible for the low field goal accuracy but he could play. Glad to see he was recognized for being a very good player on a couple of really bad teams.

  3. avatar Jim Harkema says:

    Pete Gent was an excellent student. He was the brother of Jamie Gent, former Haslett athletic director and teammate on the Bangor state basketball team. When I reintroduced myself to him at Jenison, he asked about each person by name on our basketball team that played against him in high school.

  4. avatar Spartan 81 says:

    Thanks Graham I lived in Dallas from 81 to 94 lots of stories about Gent down there

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