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Swen Nater        

Former Professional Basketball Player, Author & Motivational Speaker

At 6’4”, Swen Nater tried out for his high school basketball team but was cut. At 6’9”, he made the team at Cypress College, Orange County, California. In one year, he was All America and still holds the California Community College single game rebound record at 39. John Wooden of UCLA wanted Swen and he accepted. However, he only practiced the first year and for his junior and senior years, sat the bench behind Bill Walton. But that didn’t stop Swen from pursuing his basketball dreams.

He was drafted in the first round of the NBA (the only player to not have started a college game and be drafted in the first round), he joined the ABA where he became Rookie of the Year, a two-time All Star, and led the league in rebounds and field goal percentage. When he jumped to the NBA, he led that league in rebounds also and still holds the all time record for defensive rebounds in one half of a game, 18, and the Milwaukee Bucks single game rebound record at 33.

After playing basketball, Swen Nater became athletic director and head coach at Christian Heritage College where he led the Hawks to a national small college championship. Swen is author of five books including "You Haven’t Taught Until They Have Learned," co-authored with Ronald Gallimore and a study on John Wooden’s teaching methods; "John Wooden’s UCLA Offense," co-authored with Coach Wooden; and "Playing Big," the complete handbook on post play, co-authored with Pete Newell.

Swen has been inducted into the Orange County Hall of Fame, The San Diego Hall of Champions Hall of Fame, has been honored as Mr. Clipper, All-Time, and is one of only four players to earn entrance into the “30-30 Club,” scoring 30 points and grabbing 33 rebounds in the same NBA Game.

For the last 18 years, Swen has been a buyer for Costco Wholesale, but finds time to conduct post player clinics around the world. He is also a sought-after motivational speaker because of his ability to entertain an audience with humor and deliver life-changing truths.

Speech Topics

Keynote Topics

Rebounding In Life

Swen Nater is one of basketball’s best rebounders and has records to prove it. But he began Rebounding in Life long before he picked up a basketball.

Some see the missed shot in basketball as failure. Swen has the opposite view; he sees it as only change and an opportunity to score anyway. Through his story of an extremely abusive, controlling, and violent step-father who would not let him play basketball, Swen explains how he rebounded and was able to play basketball anyway and become a Community College All-American. Moreover, when he found himself on the UCLA bench for three years, he rebounded again and became the only player to have not started a college game to be a first-round NBA draft choice. He didn’t stop there; Swen played 12 years as a professional and became Rookie of the Year and led both the NBA and ABA in rebounding, setting records that still stand. Now that’s Rebounding! There are three steps to rebounding on the court and Swen, brilliantly, applies them to Rebounding in Life.

While with the Bruins, Swen played behind the great Bill Walton and saw limited playing time, two minutes per game. However, impressive performances at the Olympic trials and the Pizza Hut All Star Game resulted in Swen becoming the only player ever to have not started a college game and yet be drafted in the first round of the NBA.

Swen chose the ABA, became Rookie of the Year, a two-time all star, and led the league in field goal percentage and rebounding. After three seasons, the ABA merged into the NBA and he jumped to the Milwaukee Bucks where he set an all-time record (still standing) for defensive rebounds in half a game at 18. He also pulled down 33 rebounds that game, still a Milwaukee Bucks record, and scored 30 points. That put him into the NBA’s “30-30 Club,” in which there are only six members.

Through his Rebounding in Life presentation, Swen Nater changes lives.


Was there ever a more earnest disciple of Wooden's than Swen Nater, the best player never to start on two championship teams? (He played behind Walton at ...
Follow the ball through 'Wooden: A Coach's Life' biography - Los ...
UCLA coach John Wooden with players Swen Nater, left, and Bill Walton in 1972. UCLA coach John Wooden with players Swen Nater, left, and Bill Walton in ...

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