Listen Live
KMJQ Featured Video
COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 03 Drake at Indiana State

Source: Icon Sportswire / Getty

It’s fair to say that Larry Bird put Indiana State University on the map 45 years ago. An epic NCAA championship game between Magic Johnson’s Michigan State and Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in 1979 remains the most-watched NCAA championship game of all time to this day, per Deadspin.

Michigan State was the victor, but the game set up the next big rivalry in the NBA between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics.

While he may not have a rival at the moment, Robbie Avila has at least put Indiana State back into the NCAA conversation. While Michigan State has gone on to more glory since, Indiana State never returned to championship status or even the big game. They’ve only played in the tournament three times since, losing in the first round in their last appearance in 2011.

But Avila is trying to make up for lost time. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound center leads a Sycamores team that is currently sitting on a 25-5 record and is Mountain Valley Conference champs, anchored by his stellar play. Thus, the 20-year-old Oak Park, Illinois native has been dubbed “Cream Abdul-Jabbar” by basketball fans.

Avila became a trending topic after a 35-point explosion against the University of Evansville.

His goggles, which reference Lakers icon Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in his heyday, inspired the nickname along with his game. Avila’s putting up big-time numbers – 17.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and four assists per game while shooting 54.8% and 80% from the free-throw line.

Avila is a sophomore, which means he may or may not use his newfound notoriety to declare for the NBA draft this season. College basketball desperately needs a superstar. On the women’s side, Caitlin Clark of the University of Iowa is dominating the media coverage, and for good reason. She’s now the leading scorer in Division 1 college basketball history. But college basketball this season has lacked a major star story and now, maybe there is one. Or at least, there’s a player with a nickname you’ll remember.

No word on whether Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has heard about his almost-namesake.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Avila said Monday on The Dan LeBatard Show. “I’ve gotten a couple of them [nicknames]. One was Larry Nerd, [another is] Steph Blurry so it’s been a lot of nicknames I’ve seen across social media.”

See how social media is reacting to Avila’s game below.

Indiana State’s New Basketball Star Dubbed ‘Cream’ Abdul-Jabbar  was originally published on