A late bloomer on the basketball court, legendary center Bill Russell made up for it with a long string of championships at four different levels. A determined team player, Russell struggled to learn the game as a youth but caught on in time to win state championships in his junior and senior years at McClymonds High School in Oakland. He was then recruited to play for the University of San Francisco Dons, where he won back-to-back NCAA championships in 1955 and 1956, followed by a gold medal victory with the USA men's basketball team in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Russell then turned pro and went on to unparalleled success in the NBA, winning 11 championships during his 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics.
Take a look back at the USF Dons back-to back national championship wins, with this pair of NCAA Finals basketball programs from the 1955 and 1956 tournaments. These exciting programs are collecting delights, with the 1955 edition presenting as a solid (VG-EX+) example, while the 1956 edition is even more pleasing as a strong (EX-MT+) example. Featured throughout are photos of HOFers, with: 1955 tournament "Most Outstanding Player" Bill Russell; his USF teammate and fellow Celtics/Olympics star K.C. Jones; coaches Phil Woolpert of the Dons and his 1955 NCAA Finals counterpart from La Salle, Ken Loeffler; along with La Salle's star player Tom Gola, who led the Explorers to a national championship in 1954 as the tournament "MOP".