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Basketball teams make their final bids for national honors and show off their stars

College basketball is now heading into the home stretch with major conference teams battling for the top honors which carry a bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament, while schools outside of conferences scrabble for NCAA member-at-large consideration or bids to the National Invitation Tournament.

Chief surprise of the season has been the University of San Francisco, the nation's Number One team. Mainly responsible for this success, which has earned the Dons an NCAA berth, are a skillful revival of the defensive art by Coach Phil Woolpert and the play of Bill Russell, whose shooting is surpassed only by his ball hawking.

Less surprising has been the superiority of Kentucky, La Salle, UCLA and Utah, all probably tournament bound.

Below, SI presents another gallery (SI, Jan. 31) of players currently making the headlines of the sports pages.

Bill Russell of San Francisco is 6 feet 10 inches tall and excels on defense. He has averaged 20 rebounds per game, kept the middle closed to San Francisco opponents but drawn very few personal fouls. He has averaged 20 points a game. A natural athlete, Russell shows great promise of being a track star; in his first attempt last summer he high-jumped 6 feet 7 inches.

Art Bunte of Utah is 6 feet 3 inches, plays post for Skyline Eight leaders, set new Skyline record of 43 points in one game.

Jack Twyman of Cincinnati, which is NIT bound, is 6 feet 6 inches, is fine rebounder, has averaged 25 points a game.

George Bonsalle of Illinois is 6 feet 7 inches, plays pivot, best shot is his two-hand jump from about 10 feet out.

Darrell Floyd of Furman is 6 feet 1 inch, has averaged 35 points a game, boasts a high shooting percentage of 44.

Don Boldebuck of Houston is 7 feet, excels with right-hand hook, has snared average of about 18 rebounds a game.

Maurice Stokes of St. Francis (Loretto, Pa.) is 6 feet 6 inches, has scored over 2,000 points in four seasons of play.

Jerry Harper of Alabama is 6 feet 8 inches, is very good rebounder, has averaged 21 points a game, can hit from outside.

Dick Boushka of St. Louis is 6 feet 5 inches, has excellent one-hand jump shot, is fine defensive player, good rebounder.

Willie Naulls of UCLA is 6 feet 5 inches, leads UCLA in scoring, is key to defense and backboard control of his team.

Bob Burrow of Kentucky (southeastern conference leaders) is 6 feet 7 inches, is deadly with turn-around jump, tip-ins.

Dick Garmaker of Minnesota is 6 feet 3 inches, has averaged almost 25 points per game, is a very versatile shot.

Terry Rand of Marquette (NCAA bound) is 6 feet 8 inches, is most effective with jump-and-turn shot, is sharp on defense.