Tennessee basketball best NBA career No. 6: Tom Boerwinkle
Tennessee’s first trip to the NCAA Tournament was way back in 1967 and Tom Boerwinkle was part of the reason it happened. He was an efficient and powerful 7’0 center originally from Cleveland who arrived on campus nearly six decades ago and left a part of history.
After sitting out as a freshman and playing minimally as a sophomore, he carved out a major role as a junior, averaging 12.0 points and 10.2 rebounds a game and helping get those Volunteers to the Big Dance. Ron Widby was the big star on that team, but Boerwinkle is the one who got to play in the NBA.
After a senior season where he also averaged a double-double, Boerwinkle was off to that next level, getting selected 4th overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1968. Boerwinkle would actually spend his entire professional playing career with those Bulls, getting decent run over the next decade.
Boerwinkle was a top-level rebounder early in his career, averaging a double-double for his first three seasons in the NBA. There were injuries and inconsistencies late in his career, but he was a key piece for the Bulls throughout the 1970s.
His NBA numbers don’t scream out, but he certainly holds his own compared to other Volunteers, ranking in the Top 10 in scoring, rebounds, and assists among former Volunteers. Sadly, Boerwinkle passed away just over a decade ago after battling leukemia, though he’s fondly remembered for his contributions to the Bulls, both on and off the court.