From 1940-42, Al Budolfson graced the basketball court for Iowa State and was generally considered one of the greatest players to ever don a Cyclone uniform. His head coach at Iowa State, the legendary Louis Menze who led ISU to four conference titles, called him, “the greatest basketball player I ever coached.” In a speech given to a group of Kiwanis Club members, Menze said, “I consider him (Budolfson) the finest player ever produced in the high schools of Iowa. He was unusually fast, both with his hands and his feet. He was so well coordinated and so graceful that even when he shot off balance he looked good.”
The 6-0 forward came to Iowa State after an impressive prep career at tiny Rolfe High School. Budolfson was a two-time all-state selection for Rolfe, leading the squad to two state tournament appearances. As a senior in 1938, Budolfson’s team made the state championship game, losing to Diagonal in the all-classification final.
Menze wasn’t the only one to recognize Budolfson’s abilities and accomplishments while at Iowa State. The Big Six Conference named him first team all-conference in 1941 and 1942, making him the second of 13 Cyclone hoopsters to earn first-team all-conference honors twice in their respective careers. Twice Budolfson was named team captain for the Cyclones. Throughout his career, he ranked among ISU’s top three scorers all three seasons, leading the team in 1942. He averaged 12.3 points per game as a senior, which at the time was the second-best scoring average in school history. In 1941, Budolfson teamed with Gordon Nicholas to lead Iowa State to its second Big Six title and an overall record of 15-4. That Cyclone squad, which went 7-3 in the Big Six, was the first to appear in a postseason game. Iowa State played in the fifth-district NCAA qualifying game, falling to Creighton 57-48 in Kansas City, Mo. In his final season, Budolfson led the conference in scoring (12.3 ppg) and paced ISU to a third-place finish in the Big Six (11-6, 5-5).
Budolfson graduated from Iowa State with a degree in dairy industry and later settled in Clear Lake, Iowa working in that field.