The Greatest West Virginia-born Athletes Ever Ranked

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — There have been many great athletes that were born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, but the following twenty five  individuals stand out for their outstanding accomplishments during their career.

Although there will likely be other rankings released down the line, this is in fact the definitive list of West Virginia’s greatest native athletes ranked from #25 to the #1 most accomplished, best athletes in the state’s history.  Without further ado, here are the rankings:

#25

Kevin Pittsnogle – Martinsburg, WV

Pittsnogle played basketball at WVU from 2003-06 and became WVU’s first basketball All-American since 1972. In 2005, Pittsnogle led the Mountaineers to a 24-11 record, a Big East Tournament runner-up finish and an appearance in the NCAA Elite Eight.

#24

J.R. House – Charleston, WV 

House set national high school records for career passing yards (14,457), completions (1,103) and attempts (1,725).  He was selected in the 5th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates and played five seasons in the MLB as a catcher.  

#23

Tom Pridemore- Ansted, West Virginia

Pridemore was a safety for the West Virginia Mountaineers and was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL, where he was a starter for 8 seasons with the team.  Pridemore was inducted into the WVU Hall of Fame in 2001.  In addition, Pridemore served in the West Virginia House of Delegates while playing for the Falcons.  He is the only player to ever do this.  

#22

Jason Williams – Belle, West Virginia 

After playing college basketball at Marshall and Florida, “White Chocolate” was selected in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft.  Williams played for 12 seasons in the NBA and won an NBA Championship with the Miami Heat.  In addition, the Heat named Williams one of their top 25 players of all time.  

On not being named to VOM’s Top 10 West Virginia-born players ever, Williams said the following: “Gotta be some of the dumbest people east of the Mississippi bro.”  

#21

James Jett – Charles Town, West Virginia

Jett was a four-year starter for the West Virginia Mountaineers football program at wide receiver. In addition to playing football, Jett was an Olympic sprinter.  At WVU, he was a 7-time All-American and earned a spot on the 4 x 100 relay Olympic team, which won the gold medal in the 1992 Summer Olympics.  Jett also played professional football for the Oakland Raiders and finished his career with 256 receptions, 4,417 yards and 30 touchdowns.  

 

#20

Ron “Fritz” Williams – Weirton, West Virginia

Williams was one of West Virginia University’s first African-American players.  At WVU, he played in 84 varsity games from 1965-68, scoring 1,687 points, handing out 504 assists and shooting 44 percent from the field. After graduating from WVU, he was picked 9th in the 1968 NBA Draft and was also selected in the 14th round of the 1968 NFL Draft.  Ultimately, he chose to play in the NBA and averaged 9.3 points and 3.5 assists per game during his 8 year career.  

 

#19

Ahmad Bradshaw – Bluefield, West Virginia

Bradshaw had a remarkable career at Marshall, rushing for 4,982 yards in 3 seasons with the Thundering Herd.  He was then drafted in the 7th round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Bradshaw won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.  

#18

Lew Burdette – Nitro, WV 

Burdette was the Most Valuable Player of the 1957 Word Series and a two-time all star.  He was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame.  

#17

Ira Rodgers – Bethany, West Virginia 

Rodgers was a basketball, football, baseball and golf player.  He was an All-American football player in 1919 and later served as the Mountaineers head coach.  

 

#16

Glenn Davis – Wellsburg, West Virginia

Davis was an Olympic hurdler and sprinter in the 1956 and 1960 Olympics.  He won a total of three gold medals during his time as an Olympian and later played professional football for the Detroit Lions.  

#15

Rod Thorn – Princeton, WV

A member of the West Virginia University Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, Thorn averaged 21.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per  his career with the Mountaineers.  Thorn was the #2 overall pick in the 1963 NBA Draft and averaged 10.8 points during his almost-20 year career in the NBA.  When he retired, he had an outstanding career as an NBA Executive.  Thorn also had his #44 retired by the West Virginia Mountaineers. 

 

#14

Frank “Gunner” Gatski – Farmington, WV

Gatski, a center, was a four-time NFL Champion with the Cleveland Browns in the 1950s and a four-time first team All Pro player.  Gatski was also inducted into the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor and then the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985.  

 

#13

Curt Warner – Wyoming County, West Virginia

Warner led Penn State in rushing for three years in the early 80s and helped them win a national championship in 1983.  When his college career ended, he owned 42 Penn State records and finished his career with 18 100 rushing yard games, which is still a Penn State record.  Warner was drafted 3rd overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and went on to become a three-time Pro Bowler and was later inducted into the Seattle Seahawks Ring of Honor.  

#12 

Vicky Bullett – Martinsburg, West Virginia

Bullett averaged 16.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game during her college career at Maryland, where her #23 was retired.  She set records for the Terrapins in points, field goals made and rebounds during here time in College Park from 1985-1989.  She also led Maryland to three ACC titles and one Final Four.  She was then drafted to the WNBA and played for the Charlotte Sting and the Washington Mystics.  She represented her country on the United States Olympic team in 1988 and 1992.  Bullett is now the current head women’s basketball coach at West Virginia Wesleyan College.  

#11

Gino Marchetti – Smithers, WV

Marchetti, one of the best defensive linemen of his time, was a two-time NFL Champion with the Baltimore Colts, an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, a member of the NFL’s 1950 All Decade Team, is an NFL 50th/75th/100th Anniversary All-time team member and has his number 89 retired by the Baltimore Colts.

#10 

John Kruk – Charleston, WV

3-time Major League Baseball All Star, finishing his career with a .300 batting average during a 10 year career. Kruk played in the World Series in 1993. 

 

#9 

“Hot Rod” Hundley – Charleston, West Virginia

Following his outstanding career at West Virginia University, Hundley was the #1 overall pick in the 1957 NBA Draft by the Cincinnati Royals. He was 2-time All-American for the Mountaineers and a 2-time NBA All Star. 

#8

Randy Barnes – Charleston, West Virginia

Barnes is a former shot putter who holds the current outdoor world record for the event. He won silver at the 1988 Olympics and gold at the 1996 Olympics.  His indoor record was broken just this year by Ryan Crouser, but his outdoor record still stands today.

#7

Chuck Howley – Wheeling, West Virginia

Howley played college football at West Virginia University, then 15 years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears and the Dallas Cowboys.  Howley was a 6 time Pro Bowl Selection, a Super Bowl Champion and a Super Bowl MVP. He remains one of the best football players to have not been selected to the Hall of Fame. 

#6

Hal Greer – Huntington, West Virginia

The first African-American to play college basketball at a West Virginia college, Greer finished his career at Marshall averaging 19.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. Greer went on to be an NBA Champion in 1967, ending his career as a 10-time All Star.  His #15 was retired by the Philadelphia 76ers. 

#5

Sam Huff – Edna, West Virginia

Four-year letterman at WVU, earned All-American honors in 1955.  Huff was drafted by the New York Giants 1956. He was a Super Bowl Champion and a 5-time Pro Bowl selection in the National Football League. 

#4

George Brett – Glen Dale, WV

Inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, Brett had 3,154 career hits, which is the most in major league history by a 3rd baseman and 16th all-time. In addition, Brett is one of only four players to finish his career with 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average.

 

#3

Mary Lou Retton – Fairmont, West Virginia

Retton is considered one of the most outstanding gymnasts in Olympics history, winning a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals in the 1984 Olympics. 

#2 

Randy Moss – Rand, West Virginia

During his incredible collegiate career with the Marshall Thundering Herd, Moss set Division I-AA records with most games with a touchdown reception (11), most consecutive games with a touchdown reception (11) and most receiving yards gained by a freshman in a season (1073).  

During his Hall of Fame NFL career, Moss finished with records for most touchdown receptions in a season (23), most touchdown receptions by a rookie in a season (17), most seasons with 17 or more touchdown receptions (3).

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss (84) during an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers on December 24, 2004 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (AP Photo/David Stluka)

#1

Jerry West – Chelyan, West Virginia

During his career with the West Virginia Mountaineers, West was the school’s all-time leading scorer and was twice named an All-American. West was drafted by the Lakers with the 2nd overall pick by the Lakers in the 1960 NBA Draft. 

While in the NBA, West was a 14 time All Star, a 10 time All NBA First Team, an NBA champion and a NBA Finals MVP. West is considered one of the top players in basketball history and also one of the best executives in the game’s history.