Monday, March 9, 2009 | midnight
Few people know Armen Gilliam simply by his birth name. Instead, the UNLV faithful knew him better as “The Hammer,” a nicknamed he earned for his physical style of play.
Gilliam, who played three seasons with UNLV, was a key member at power forward for the Rebels team that lost only one regular season game and advanced to the 1987 Final Four, losing to the eventual champion Indiana Hoosiers.
During the ’87 season, the Pittsburgh native scored more points (903) in a UNLV season than anybody else in history, earning recognition as a second-team All-American. Gilliam averaged 17.3 points per game during his career and ranks sixth on the Rebels all time scoring list (1,855 ).
Despite his impressive offensive numbers, Gilliam could do more than just get to the basket. For his career, Gilliam ranks in UNLV’s top-10 for field goal percentage, rebounds, free throws made and field goals made.
Gilliam, who had a worth ethic to match his intensity on the court, is one of eight players in UNLV history to have his jersey retired.
"Armon had ability, but it was his hard work that got him where he is,” former Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian said before UNLV’s 1998 Athletic Hall of Fame Induction. “He just kept working and working at getting better."
He went on to get selected by the Phoenix Suns as the second overall pick in the NBA draft and played 13 seasons in the NBA, averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game during his career.