St. John University's Harry Boykoff was the first big-man superstar in college basketball, entering the sport one year prior to DePaul's eventual 6'10" legend, George Mikan.
The gangly 6'9" Boykoff was a consensus All-American three varsity seasons under celebrated coach Joe Lapchick. As a sophomore in 1942-43, Boykoff led the Redmen to a 21-3 record, the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) championship, and the tourney's MVP award for himself. The NIT was basketball's major postseason competition of the era––college or professional. In a game against rival St. Joseph's, he scored 45 points, setting a new Madison Square Garden record.
Soon after, Boykoff enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent the next couple of years as a WWII field artillery instructor. He returned to St. John's following the war and led the Redmen to 1946 and 1947 NITs, and registered 54 points against a 1947 opponent, setting another MSG scoring record.
In the space of a few years, Boykoff played a couple of seasons of pro ball with the Toledo Jeeps and Waterloo Hawks of the NBL (National Basketball League), who merged with the rival BAA (Basketball Association of America), which was absorbed by the new National Basketball Association (NBA). Boykoff spent the 1950-51 season splitting time with the NBA’s Boston Celtics and Tri-Cities Blackhawks franchises, before retiring.
Harry Boykoff was such a prolific shot blocker at St. Johns, his talent prompted creation of the original goal-tending rule (1944), which disallowed interference of a shot on its downward flight.