WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton noted the death of basketball great Wilt Chamberlain on Thursday as he heaped praise on the national champion Connecticut men's and Purdue women's basketball teams.

``On Monday, we lost one of the greatest basketball players of all time,'' Clinton said at a White House ceremony honoring the 1999 NCAA champions.

``Wilt Chamberlain once said, in a rather wry and funny way, `They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds,''' Clinton said.

``One thing is clear. With practice and talent, UConn and Purdue got pretty close to perfect,'' added Clinton, who received basketball jerseys from the two teams. The UConn team also gave the president a championship ring.

Clinton has made an annual ritual out of honoring the national college basketball champions.

``It's kind of a joke around the White House that I'm a basketball fanatic,'' he said.

UConn beat the Duke Blue Devils, 77-74, on March 29. The Huskies finished the season 33-2.

The Purdue Boilermakers, who finished 34-1, won their first national title with a come-from-behind 62-45 victory over Duke.

Among those at the ceremony were the parents of Tiffany Young, a member of the Purdue team killed in August when her car was hit by a drunken driver. Young would have been a senior for the Boilermakers this season.