|Birthplace:||La Mesa, Cali.|
|Draft:||1976 (7th Rd.)|
|Drafted By:||Boston Celtics|
Ralph Drollinger (born April 20, 1854 in La Mesa, California) was signed by the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent on June 9, 1980 and played for the team in 1980.
As a standout high school player, despite being two years his junior, Drollinger played against Bill Walton. After graduation, he accepted UCLA's offer to be Walton's backup with the Bruins.
Drollinger was a two-time Academic All-American and was the first player in NCAA history to go to the Final Four tournament four years in a row. He was a member of two National Championship teams and following his first season, won the Seymour Armond Award as UCLA's most outstanding freshman.
In what would be the finest game of his college career, Drollinger came off the bench in the 1975 National Championship game against Kentucky to score 10 points and snare 13 rebounds. The win would give the Bruins their tenth national championship and would prove to be the final game of legendary coach John Wooden's career.
After graduation, the NBA came knocking, three times actually, but Drollinger declined. Boston took the 7'2 center in the seventh round of the 1976 draft. New Jersey selected him in the eighth round in 1977 and Seattle chose Drollinger in the fifth round in 1978. Each time however, he declined the opportunity and chose instead to play for Athletes In Action, an amateur team that toured the world playing basketball and preaching the gospel at halftime of their games.
General Manager Norm Sonju successfully convinced Drollinger to give the NBA a shot and play for the expansion Dallas Mavericks. He became the club's first-ever free agent signing on June 9, 1980, joining the team before they even had a head coach. The Mavericks were his choice because Sonju had made Drollinger believe that Dallas would do things differently and he would have the opportunity to continue his studies at the highly-respected Dallas Theological Seminary.
A lingering knee injury limited Drollinger's NBA career to just six games. In that time he averaged 11.2 minutes per game along with 2.5 ppg and 2.3 rpg. On October 22, 1980, as the Mavs were recording their first-ever road victory over Seattle, Drollinger did not dress and would never wear an NBA uniform again.
After weighing his options and consulting with team owner Donald Carter, Drollinger announced his retirement on March 2, 1981.
Drollinger worked in sports ministries throughout the '80s and early-'90s. It was through these ministries that he happened to be playing in a pick-up basketball game in 1988 with "Pistol Pete" Maravich. Tragically, it was during that game that the Hall-Of-Famer Maravich collapsed and died on the court.
Today, Drollinger is President of Capitol Ministries, an organization that ministers to politicians. He lives in the Santa Clarita Valley in California and has three children, including a daughter, Susan, who was a star volleyball player at the University of Pacific.