What If We Sent the Players Back to College? (Basketball Version)

March 19, 2017
Well, spring training is upon us, but with the NCAA tournament underway, it seemed like a good time to get this article in.  I’ve been dying to do this one for a while.
 
When I was a lad back in the early 70’s, I collected all kinds of sports cards.  Baseball, of course, but also pro football and pro basketball.   In my basketball card collection at that time, I had noticed that there were several players from UCLA: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Lew Alcindor at the time), Lucius Allen, Gail Goodrich, Walt Hazzard, Keith Erickson…all those familiar UCLA players from the great Wooden teams of the ‘60’s.  I got to thinking, "that would make a good team if they were all on it". So, I started compiling lists of players by college in a notebook, and I’d constantly look for additional players to add through various things I would read or hear.  Sometimes I see a reference to a player’s college in a book or a newspaper article or during a broadcast, and I’d add it to my lists.
 
UCLA would, in the next few years, add the likes of Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Bill Walton, Jamaal Wilkes, Henry Bibby, etc. to the list of impressive players that attended there. Eventually, I bought a basketball encyclopedia, and that really got me going, especially with finding out about great players of the past and which schools they attended.   Around the same time, I started doing the same thing with football players, compiling lists of players by college, trying to see the best teams I could form.
 
My plan was to someday publish a book of these compilations and call it "What if We Sent the Players Back to College?"  I was going to present comprehensive lists of players and teams, analyze them, make observations, hold tournaments, and publish all the results.  Needless to say, I never did that.   This article is the closest I’ve come, although I did publish a similar article (one of the first I wrote for this web site) regarding all-time college baseball rosters.  However, in baseball, most of the great players don’t attend college, so it’s hard to come up with really exciting rosters.  Great baseball players who didn’t attend college outnumber great baseball players who did attend college by about a 2:1 ratio.  Basketball and football don’t have that problem, as the overwhelming majority of great players in those sports over the span of history have attended college, at least for a little while. 
 
Anyway, this project spans nearly half a century now.  Every few years, I revisit it and see if there are any interesting updates.  Certainly, the internet and the presence of sites like basketball-reference.com and sports-reference.com/cbb make it much easier to sift through the ranks of pro and college players by the school they attended and to gather stats and other information.  In addition, it’s relatively easy to find other similar lists that have been compiled by others, although those tend to be presented more as one school at a time.  My interest lies not in any particular school, but to see how the different schools compare to each other, and to see which squads would be the best of the best. 
 
So, there you have it.  Maybe someday this can be a complete book with an even deeper dive, but for now, this article will have to suffice.
 
Approach
 
In compiling these lists by college, I took a different approach than others traditionally have taken.  You may or may not agree with it, but this is how I decided to attack it.  Typically, people who compile these all-time squads put the greater emphasis on how the player performed in college.  I certainly considered that, but I also put a lot of weight on what the player did post-college, whether it was NBA or ABA.
 
In essence, I’m treating this as an exercise not to just recognize what the player accomplished while at the school, but also to try and assemble the best team possible.  Think of it as an open audition of all players affiliated with the school, and we’re trying to assemble the best team. 
 
In doing so, I felt it was important to go beyond just the 1 to 4 years of college experience for each player.  After all, a player’s college career generally (though not always) happens between ages 18-22, when they’re still developing.  I think it’s at least as important to consider what they accomplished post-college, which could represent anywhere from only a year or two all the way up to potentially 20 years of pro experience.  I wanted to put a lot of weight on that latter experience, not only because it is typically a greater sample size, but it also exhibits how the players perform at a higher level of competition.   This causes many of my selections to be different from ones you might traditionally see.
 
A quick example:
 
Let’s consider Duke University.  Duke has had many fine players at both the college and pro levels, including several outstanding point guards, such as Bobby Hurley, Jay Williams, Johnny Dawkins, Kyrie Irving, Tommy Amaker, Chris Duhon, Dick Groat (who was also a pretty good shortstop), and several others that you could include. 
 
Probably the #1 consensus Duke point guard, if people focus just on college accomplishments, would be Bobby Hurley, who directed those great Duke teams of the late 80’s-early 90’s, and who is still the all-time NCAA career assists leader.  Hurley was taken with the 7th pick in the NBA draft by the Kings, but was badly injured in an auto accident in his rookie year, and was never really the same after that.  He was a great college point and floor leader, though not a great shooter.
 
On the other hand, consider, Kyrie Irving.  Irving’s "career" at Duke lasted a mere 11 games (not counting the tournament), as he suffered a significant injury during his freshman season, and then turned pro after that year, selected as the #1 player in the draft.  He’s still only 24 years old, but is already a 4-time All-Star, is averaging over 20 points per game, and is a big part of a team that has won a championship.
 
For my all-time Duke team, I went with Irving. 
 
Why?  Because I believe that, taking everything into consideration, if you were to try and assemble the best basketball team you could among players who had played at Duke and you let Hurley and Irving compete openly for the position, Irving would be the better option.  Hurley had the much more accomplished college career, but Irving has had a much better pro career.  Even if Hurley wasn’t involved in that auto accident, would he have had the pro career that Irving has displayed so far?  In my opinion I don’t believe he would have.  Looking at the total picture, I consider Irving to be the better player, and opted for him.  In fact, although the Duke faithful would probably think I’m nuts, I went with Johnny Dawkins as a reserve guard over Hurley as well, on the premise that his combined career was more impressive than Hurley’s.  Ironically, one of the other legendary Duke point guards (Jay Williams) also suffered lingering injuries due to an accident (his involved a motorcycle), and he ended up only playing one year in the pros.
 
And that’s how I went about choosing these rosters.   Generally speaking, I went with the players that exhibited success at both the college and the pro games rather than just one or the other.  Please keep that in mind when you review the selections. 
 
I also tried to be as fair as I could to consider players from all eras.  It’s quite possible that I have a bias towards players whose careers I’ve witnessed, but I tried to represent fairly from the best information possible, and also to consider others’ selections in making my own.  I tended to exclude players who are currently in college, as we’ve only seen a small slice of what they’re capable of, although I’m sure there are a few exceptions to that.
 
As you look at these, also make note of where you disagree.  That’s obviously one of the joys of this type of exercise, to see where people disagree.  Many of these rosters involved tough choices for me, and it would be interesting to see where we differ.
 
Scoring the Rosters
 
I picked 12-man rosters for each school.  I used a combination of basketball’s version of "Win Shares" (which basketball-reference.com provides) and my own subjective judgment in giving each player a score.  I weighted each player’s score by giving greater weight to the starting 5 (on the assumption that they would be playing more minutes than the reserves).  The starters received 55% of the weight, the reserves 40%, and I left 5% for the coach (based on a subjective rating).  This was designed to provide some semblance of order to the rosters to help me come up with a final ranking.  It’s not overly scientific…..just something to help me sort through the mass of information.
 
Observations and Comments
 
For each team, I’ll present the starting 5 (using a standard C-F-F-G-G lineup, although I will take a few liberties with positions on occasion), and then 7 reserves with a combination of centers, forwards, and guards. 
 
You’ll also see various comments or observations such as:
  • Which players might have made the roster if I only considered achievement at college? (Which I'm labeling "College Glory")
  • Which players are too early in their careers to make the team, but could reasonably be on track to make the team in the future?
  • What other players were considered?
  • Other player notes
 
OK….you get the premise.  Let’s begin.  Eventually, I’m going to present full rosters for my top 25 colleges.  But first, a few other offerings:
 
Solo Artists
 
These are several colleges that really couldn’t put together competitive, full rosters of players, but still had a notable all-time great play for them.  These teams couldn’t reasonably compete with the others to follow, but if they snuck into an all-time tournament, maybe their star player could inspire an upset or two.  Here are a few of what I’m calling "solo artists", star players who attended schools that, for the most part, didn’t produce many other significant talents:
 
Player
College
Larry Bird
Indiana State University
Elgin Baylor
Seattle University
Karl Malone
Louisiana Tech University
David Robinson
United States Naval Academy
Rick Barry
University of Miami (FL)
Walt Frazier
Southern Illinois University
Robert Parish
Centenary College of Louisiana
Steve Nash
Santa Clara University
Scottie Pippen
University of Central Arkansas
Bob Lanier
St. Bonaventure University
Artis Gilmore
Jacksonville University
George Gervin
Eastern Michigan University
Nate Thurmond
Bowling Green State University
Willis Reed
Grambling State University
Kawhi Leonard
San Diego State University
Joe Dumars
McNeese State University
Hal Greer
Marshall University
Jack Sikma
Illinois Wesleyan University
Steph Curry
Davidson College
Bailey Howell
Mississippi State University
Calvin Murphy
Niagara University
Earl Monroe
Winston-Salem State University
 
Who Needs College?
 
Another interesting subgroup is the players who didn’t play for a college team at all.  There are two major segments in this group – those who were born in a foreign country and didn’t play for a United States college, and those who were born in this country but bypassed school and went straight to the NBA.  I’m focusing on the latter group here.
 
An all-time starting 5 of non-college attendees born in the U.S.  would probably look like this:
Pos
Player
C
Moses Malone
F
Kevin Garnett
F
LeBron James
G
Kobe Bryant
G
Tracy McGrady
 
Potential reserves would include Darryl Dawkins, Tyson Chandler, Jermaine O'Neal, Al Jefferson, Amar'e Stoudemire, Shawn Kemp (affiliated with Trinity Valley Community College but never played for them), Rashard Lewis, Dwight Howard, Al Jefferson, and J.R. Smith. 
 
Of course, these players were from an era where they could go straight from high school to the NBA draft.  Now, although it’s not required to go to college, you still have to wait a year after your high school class graduates before entering the draft, so most of the top players decide to attend college for at least a year.  Under these rules, it would have been fun to have seen where those players had chosen to go to school.  Evidence (mostly involving things that have been said by the players themselves over the years) indicates that some of the top ones might have made the following choices:
 
Moses Malone – Maryland
Kevin Garnett - Maryland
LeBron James – Ohio State
Kobe Bryant – North Carolina (he signed a letter of intent for Duke, but he has indicated he would have chosen North Carolina)
Dwight Howard – North Carolina
Amar'e Stoudemire – Memphis
Tracy McGrady – Kentucky
 
It would have been interesting to have seen how these decisions would have affected the results.  In particular, if Maryland had landed both Malone and Garnett, I would definitely have them in the top 10, and probably in the top 5.
 
Below the Top 25
 
If this were a book, I’d go into a more detail and review full rosters for a lot more teams, but since this is just an article, I’m only going dive deeper into just the top 25.  Before doing that, though, I thought I’d present a quick table of "mini-rosters" of other colleges who, while coming up short of my top 25, still had considerable talent worth noting.  I’ll present just the "top 5" players for each of these as an abbreviated representation of the squads that they could assemble.  They’re not quite top 25 material….but they’re the next best, finishing in the 25-50 range.
 
I did not rank this group of teams, but will present them in alphabetical order, along with each schools’ version of its "Fab Five":
 
College
1
2
3
4
5
Alabama
Latrell Sprewell
Antonio McDyess
Robert Horry
Derrick McKey
Gerald Wallace
Arizona State
James Harden
Byron Scott
Fat Lever
Alton Lister
Joe Caldwell
Arkansas
Sidney Moncrief
Joe Johnson
Alvin Robertson
Corliss Williamson
Andrew Lang
Auburn
Charles Barkley
Mike Mitchell
Chuck Person
Eddie Johnson
Wesley Person
California
Jason Kidd
Kevin Johnson
Shareef Abdur-Rahim
Ryan Anderson
Darrall Imhoff
Clemson
Horace Grant
Larry Nance
Dale Davis
Tree Rollins
Elden Campbell
Detroit
Spencer Haywood
Dave DeBusschere
Terry Tyler
John Long
Earl Cureton
Illinois
Derek Harper
Deron Williams
Eddie Johnson
Red Kerr
Nick Anderson
Kansas State
Mitch Richmond
Rolando Blackman
Bob Boozer
Michael Beasley
Ed Nealy
La Salle
Larry Foust
Tom Gola
Lionel Simmons
Michael Brooks
Joe Bryant
Maryland
Buck Williams
Len Bias
Joe Smith
Steve Francis
John Lucas
Memphis
Penny Hardaway
Derrick Rose
Larry Kenon
Keith Lee
Tyreke Evans
North Carolina State
David Thompson
Nate McMillan
Thurl Bailey
Spud Webb
Tom Gugliotta
Oklahoma
Blake Griffin
Alvan Adams
Wayman Tisdale
Mookie Blaylock
Buddy Hield
Oregon State
Gary Payton
A.C. Green
Brent Barry
Lonnie Shelton
Red Rocha
Princeton
Bill Bradley
Geoff Petrie
Brian Taylor
Armond Hill
John Hummer
Providence
Lenny Wilkens
Jimmy Walker
Marvin Barnes
Otis Thorpe
Mike Riordan
Purdue
Terry Dischinger
Glenn Robinson
Joe Barry Carroll
Rick Mount
Herm Gilliam
Southern California
Bill Sharman
Paul Westphal
Gus Williams
John Block
DeMar DeRozan
St. John's
Chris Mullin
Mark Jackson
Metta World Peace
Dick McGuire
Billy Paultz
Stanford
George Yardley
Jim Pollard
Brook Lopez
Rich Kelley
Brevin Knight
Tennessee
Dale Ellis
Bernard King
Allan Houston
Tom Boerwinkle
Ernie Grunfeld
Texas
Kevin Durant
LaMarcus Aldridge
Slater Martin
LaSalle Thompson
T.J. Ford
Utah
Tom Chambers
Andre Miller
Mike Newlin
Andrew Bogut
Keith Van Horn
Villanova
Paul Arizin
Kyle Lowry
Kerry Kittles
Ed Pinckney
Jim Washington
Washington
Detlef Schrempf
Isaiah Thomas
Brandon Roy
James Edwards
Bob Houbregs
Wichita State
Warren Jabali
Xavier McDaniel
Cliff Levingston
Antoine Carr
Dave Stallworth
 
The Top 25
 
OK…Let’s get to the top 25, starting with #25 and then moving to the top.  Full 12 man rosters, with the 5 starters listed first, then the reserves.  Each team’s MVP is highlighted in yellow:
 
#25 – Louisville Cardinals
Pos
Player
C
Wes Unseld
F
Rodney McCray
F
Junior Bridgeman
G
Darrell Griffith
G
Butch Beard
F-C
Pervis Ellison
C
Felton Spencer
C-F
Charlie Tyra
F
Jack Coleman
F
Samaki Walker
G-F
Derek Smith
G
Jim Price
Coach: Denny Crum
 
Observations:
Good team, although the roster has been pretty stagnant for a while, with no real recent players breaking through.  The roster is heavy with players active during the ‘70’s and ‘80’s.  If this were a real team, we might start Charlie Tyra or Jack Coleman at forward and move Junior Bridgeman to a 6th man role that he was so proficient at.
 
College Glory:
If based strictly on college years, I probably would have put Charlie Tyra and "Never Nervous" Pervis Ellison in the starting 5.  Ellison looked like he was developing into an All-Star type player, but went downhill quickly after his age-25 season.
 
Other Notes:
Wes Unseld was certainly a unique player.  Who is like him now?  I can’t think of anyone.  Built like your average tree trunk, he was an exceptional rebounder despite standing only 6’7" (if indeed he was even that tall) and the world’s best outlet passer.  I have him as the MVP of this team, although Darrell Griffith might give him a run for his money.
 
 
#24 – UNLV Runnin’ Rebels
Pos
Player
C
Armen Gilliam
F
Shawn Marion
F
Larry Johnson
G
Reggie Theus
G
Greg Anthony
F-C
Sidney Green
F
John Trapp
F-G
Glen Gondrezick
F-G
Stacey Augmon
G
Ricky Sobers
G
Isaiah Rider
G
Robert Smith
Coach: Jerry Tarkanian
 
Observations:
Most of the top players on this team played between the mid-‘70’s and the early ‘90’s, peaking with the ’89-’90 and ’90-’91 teams that featured one national championship and another Final Four team that achieved an undefeated regular season.  True to their name, this would be a run-and-gun team.  I have Larry Johnson as the MVP, but really it could have been either Shawn Marion or Reggie Theus as well.
 
College Glory:
Eddie Owens is the career scoring leader at UNLV, but didn’t make much of an impact in the pros, and I left him off the team.
 
#23 – San Francisco Dons
Pos
Player
C
Bill Russell
F
Bill Cartwright
F
Kevin Restani
G
Phil Smith
G
K.C. Jones
C-F
Erwin Mueller
F
Mike Farmer
F
Winford Boynes
F
Ollie Johnson
G
Quintin Dailey
F-G
Joe Ellis
G
Fred Scolari
 
Observations:
Most of this team’s glory came decades ago, highlighted by the great Bill Russell and K.C. Jones teams in the 1950’s.  The brilliance of Russell is one of the reasons that this team ranks as high as it does, even without any recent additions.  I inserted Bill Cartwright as forward to get a bit of a twin towers effect.
 
Not a great offensive team by any means, but Russell and Jones were both defensive standouts, and of course were mainstays on the great Celtics championship teams.
 
#22 – Syracuse Orange
Pos
Player
C
Rony Seikaly
F
Derrick Coleman
F
Carmelo Anthony
G
Dave Bing
G
Sherman Douglas
C-F
Danny Schayes
F-G
Billy Owens
F
Louis Orr
F
John Wallace
G
Pearl Washington
G
Dion Waiters
G
Michael Carter-Williams
Coach: Jim Boeheim
 
Observations:
Pretty decent battle for MVP between Dave Bing, Carmelo Anthony, and Derrick Coleman.  I decided to go with the former mayor of Detroit.
 
College Glory:
Roosevelt Bouie (remember the "Louie and Bouie Show" from the late 1970’s?) would likely make the team based on just his college years.  He never played in the NBA, opting for Italy instead. 
 
Lawrence Moten is the all-time leading scorer at Syracuse, but did not make this roster.
 
Other Notes:
Pearl Washington was a legend by the time he got to Syracuse, and he certainly had his moments, but he never really lived up to the hype, and flamed out in the pros.
 
#21 – Arizona Wildcats
Pos
Player
C
Channing Frye
F
Sean Elliott
F
Richard Jefferson
G
Jason Terry
G
Mike Bibby
F-C
Bison Dele
C
Sean Rooks
F
Chris Mills
G-F
Andre Iguodala
G
Gilbert Arenas
G
Steve Kerr
G
Damon Stoudamire
Coach: Lute Olson
 
Observations:
The Wildcats feature a strong and deep group of guards, so deep that even a quality player like Eric Money wasn’t able to crack the roster.  Hard to pick an MVP for this team – I went with Sean Elliott, but it could have been any one of Elliott, Jefferson, Terry, and Bibby.  Tremendous balance.
 
College Glory:
Bob Elliott (no relation to Sean) is the #2 scorer in Arizona history, but didn’t end up on the roster.
 
#20 – Cincinnati Bearcats
Pos
Player
C
Pat Cummings
F
Kenyon Martin
F
Jack Twyman
G
Oscar Robertson
G
Nick Van Exel
C-F
Rick Roberson
C-F
Connie Dierking
F
Danny Fortson
F
Derrek Dickey
F-G
Ruben Patterson
F-G
Ron Bonham
G
Lance Stephenson
Coach: Ed Jucker (Bob Huggins was there a lot longer, but Jucker’s teams won back-to-back titles in ’61 & ’62, and reached the finals in ’63, so I went with him)
 
Observations:
Oscar Robertson is the clear MVP on this team, although Jack Twyman is also a Hall of Famer and Kenyon Martin was the #1 overall pick in the 2000 draft.  The Bearcats were basketball royalty in the late ‘50’s and early ‘60’s.
 
#19 – Marquette Golden Eagles
Pos
Player
C
Jim Chones
F
Maurice Lucas
F
Jimmy Butler
G
Dwyane Wade
G
Doc Rivers
C-F
Larry McNeill
F
Don Kojis
F
Wesley Matthews
G-F
Earl Tatum
G
George Thompson
G
Dean Meminger
G
Butch Lee
Coach: Al McGuire
 
Observations:
A strong, balanced squad, led by future Hall of Famer Dwayne WadeJimmy Butler has developed into one of the emerging stars of the NBA, and Maurice Lucas was the prototypical power forward of the mid-to-late ‘70’s.  Doc Rivers runs the show at the point. 
 
College Glory:
Butch Lee and Bo Ellis were outstanding players in college in the mid-to-late ’70’s, but neither one saw much success at the pro level.  I do have Lee making the team, but not Ellis.
 
Other Notes:
I absolutely loved listening to Al McGuire.  The trio of McGuire, Billy Packer, and Dick Enberg was my favorite broadcasting team.  Listening to McGuire is like listening to a Joe Pesci character, both in accent and in the fact that you never quite know what he’s going to say or do.
 
#18 – DePaul Blue Demons
Pos
Player
C
George Mikan
F
Terry Cummings
F
Mark Aguirre
G
Tyrone Corbin
G
Rod Strickland
C
Dave Corzine
F
Wilson Chandler
F
Bill Robinzine
F
Dallas Comegys
G-F
Bobby Simmons
G
Kevin Edwards
G
Quentin Richardson
Coach: Rey Meyer
 
Observations:
Very strong up front, not terribly strong in the backcourt, although Rod Strickland was a pretty good point guard.  Still, the combination of Hall of Famer George Mikan, Mark Aguirre, and Terry Cummings rates very high among starting frontcourts. 
 
The bench doesn’t have a lot of names that jump out at you, but they had lots of players who played in the NBA for 10 years or more.  And, of course, Ray Meyer with his 40+ years at the helm is one of the true legends of the game.
 
College Glory:
David Booth is the #2 scorer in DePaul history, but wasn’t able to have a career beyond that.  I left him off the roster.
 
#17 – Connecticut Huskies
Pos
Player
C
Emeka Okafor
F
Clifford Robinson
F
Richard Hamilton
G
Ray Allen
G
Ben Gordon
C
Andre Drummond
F
Caron Butler
F
Donyell Marshall
F
Rudy Gay
F
Charlie Villanueva
G
Kemba Walker
G-F
Scott Burrell
Coach: Jim Calhoun
 
Observations:
Another squad that ranks well more for its depth and balance than the presence of a big star.  Ray Allen will likely make the Hall of Fame, and I have him as the MVP of this team, but they have lots of players that have had long and valuable NBA careers.  In addition, Kemba Walker is one of the league’s current bright young stars.
 
When I first started compiling these teams in the early ‘70’s, Connecticut didn’t have much to offer.  But, once Jim Calhoun came on board in the mid-‘80’s, they’ve been a real force, winning 4 national championships, and their roster has become much stronger.
 
College Glory:
Chris Smith is Connecticut’s all-time leading scorer, but there’s no room for him on this roster.
 
#16 – Minnesota Golden Gophers
Pos
Player
C
Mychal Thompson
F
Kevin McHale
F
Lou Hudson
G
Archie Clark
G
Ray Williams
C
Randy Breuer
F-C
Jim Brewer
F
Willie Burton
G-F
Dick Garmaker
G
Voshon Lenard
G
Trent Tucker
G
Bobby Jackson
Coach: Clem Haskins
 
Observations:
Minnesota probably isn’t one of the first schools that leaps to mind when you think of college basketball royalty, but they are able to assemble a pretty robust roster, with Hall of Famer Kevin McHale leading the way, ably supported by 6-time All-Star Lou Hudson, 2-time All-Star Archie Clark, and Mychal Thompson, the #1 overall pick in the 1978 draft.  Thompson also gets bonus points for being Klay Thompson’s dad.
 
College Glory:
Jim McIntyre was a 2-time All-American in the late ‘40’s, but did not play in the pros.
 
#15 – Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Pos
Player
C
John Salley
F
Chris Bosh
F
Dennis Scott
G
Stephon Marbury
G
Mark Price
C
Matt Geiger
F
Matt Harpring
F
Thaddeus Young
F
Derrick Favors
G
Kenny Anderson
G
Jarrett Jack
G
Travis Best
Coach: Bobby Cremins
 
Observations:
Exceptionally strong and deep at guard, with Stephon Marbury, Mark Price, and Kenny Anderson all enjoying stellar careers.  However, even with all the depth in the backcourt, I went with Chris Bosh as the team’s MVP.  The Yellow Jackets had their heyday in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s under Bobby Cremins.
 
#14 – Wake Forest Deamon Deacons
Pos
Player
C
Tim Duncan
F
Len Chappell
F
Josh Howard
G
Chris Paul
G
Muggsy Bogues
F-C
Dick Hemric
F
Rodney Rogers
F
Rod Griffin
G
Charlie Davis
G
Randolph Childress
G
Jeff Teague
G
Frank Johnson
Coach: Dave Odom
 
Observations:
When I think back to my earliest days of doing these rosters, the Deamon Deacons have improved the most.  The 2 major reasons are 1) Tim Duncan, perhaps the greatest power forward in the history of the game (although I have him starting at center for this roster) and 2) Chris Paul, who would probably have to be a consensus top 10 all-time point guard.  Those two all-time greats catapulted this team from so-so to #14 in my rankings.
 
The rest of the team isn’t that strong, although Len Chappell was a terrific player in college and had some brief success in the pros, and who didn’t love watching Muggsy Bogues play?
 
College Glory:
Charlie Davis and Randolph Childress didn’t do much after their college days, but they were both among the prolific scorers in Wake Forest’s history.
 
#13 – Michigan Wolverines
Pos
Player
C
Chris Webber
F
Rudy Tomjanovich
F
Cazzie Russell
G
Glen Rice
G
Jamal Crawford
C-F
Roy Tarpley
F
Juwan Howard
F
Campy Russell
F-C
Phil Hubbard
G
Rickey Green
G-F
Jalen Rose
G-F
Mike McGee
Coach: See below
 
I had a tough time deciding on Michigan’s coach.  The longest tenured coach is Johnny Orr with only 12 seasons, then John Beilein with 10 (and counting), and Bill Frieder, E.J. Mather, and Steve Fisher with 9.  Frieder and Fisher won national championships.  Fisher had the best winning percentage of the group, so I guess I’ll go with him.
 
Observations:
At this point, we’re getting into some seriously deep rosters.  Michigan is rich in scorers.  In fact, I think they might be better off with someone like Rickey Green starting at point guard, because someone needs to pass the ball.
 
You could certainly make an argument for Cazzie Russell as the team MVP.   He was a 3-time All-American and averaged over 27 points a game.  I just think that, taking everything into consideration, Chris Webber was a more valuable player.  And Rudy Tomjanovich and Glen Rice were no slouches either.  I have 3 of the 5 members of the "Fab 5" (Webber, Jalen Rose, and Juwan Howard) on the roster.
 
College Glory:
Gary Grant was among the leading scorers in Michigan history, but I don’t have him making this team.
 
#12 – Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Pos
Player
C
Bill Laimbeer
F
Orlando Woolridge
F
Adrian Dantley
G
Kelly Tripucka
G
Austin Carr
F-C
John Shumate
F
Troy Murphy
F
LaPhonso Ellis
F
Luke Harangody
G
David Rivers
G
John Paxson
G-F
Bill Hanzlik
Coach: Digger Phelps (although Mike Brey may be getting ready to pass him)
 
Observations:
With Adrian Dantley, Kelly Tripucka, and Austin Carr, there’s no shortage of scoring options.  I put Tripucka at guard instead of forward as a bit of a position cheat.  Might be a better mix if John Paxson started at guard and Tripucka went to the bench as a 6th man.
 
College Glory:
Luke Harangody was a 3-time All-American but didn’t show much in the pros.
 
Other Notes:
Ron Reed, who was a successful pitcher with the Braves and the Phillies, is #3 all-time on the Notre Dame list for career rebounds.
 
#11 – LSU Tigers
Pos
Player
C
Shaquille O'Neal
F
Bob Pettit
F
John Williams
G
Pete Maravich
G
Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
F
Stromile Swift
F
Brandon Bass
F
Glen Davis
F
Ben Simmons
F-G
Rudy Macklin
F-G
Jerry Reynolds
G
Frank Brian
Coach: Dale Brown
 
Observations:
How many basketballs can we have?  With Shaquille O’Neal, Bob Pettit, and Pete Maravich, the Tigers have 3 players who each averaged over 23 points per game in the pros.  And if there’s one thing that Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (formerly known as Chris Jackson) can do, it’s shoot, as he averaged 29 points per game in college.  I think there could be some concerns about team chemistry…..
 
College Glory:
I have Ben Simmons on the team, but it’s based on potential.  After all, he only played one year in college and hasn’t played yet in the pros due to injury, but he was the #1 overall pick last year.  If he turns out to be halfway decent as a pro, we can promote him to the first team.
 
#10 – Michigan State Spartans
Pos
Player
C
Kevin Willis
F
Zach Randolph
F
Johnny Green
G
Magic Johnson
G
Steve Smith
F-C
Jay Vincent
F
Morris Peterson
F
Draymond Green
F
Greg Kelser
G
Jason Richardson
G
Ralph Simpson
G
Scott Skiles
Coach: Tom Izzo
 
Observations:
No doubt, this team belongs to Magic Johnson, although he has plenty of support.  The rest of the starting lineup doesn’t have a lot of sizzle, but the rest of the starting lineup (Kevin Willis, Zach Randolph, Johnny Green, and Steve Smith) have each made at least one NBA All-Star team, and they have each had a season where they’ve averaged at least 18 points per game.   And you’ve got talented players like Draymond Green and Jason Richardson coming off the bench.   A very strong roster.
 
College Glory:
Mateen Cleaves was a 3-time All-American, but I didn’t put him on the roster.
 
#9 – Houston Cougars
Pos
Player
C
Hakeem Olajuwon
F
Elvin Hayes
F
Clyde Drexler
G
Otis Birdsong
G
Don Chaney
F-C
Dwight Jones
F-C
Greg Anderson
F
Dwight Davis
F
Carl Herrera
F
Bo Outlaw
G-F
Michael Young
G
Ollie Taylor
Coach: Guy Lewis
 
Observations:
To younger fans, this may seem like an unusual school to be ranked so high.  After all, the Cougars haven’t been much of a college basketball powerhouse in the last 30 years.  However, these rankings are based on the players.  And, the Cougars have an awfully impressive roster, including a Hall of Fame frontcourt of Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes, and Clyde Drexler (he was primarily a guard in the pros, but is identified as a forward for college).  That’s about as good a frontcourt as you will find, and all 3 of them averaged more than 20 points per game in the NBA.   Otis Birdsong, who was another strong player, and Don Chaney, one of the best defensive guards around, round out a strong starting 5.  The bench isn’t real strong.
 
College Glory:
Louis Dunbar averaged more than 20 points per game in each of his 3 years with the Cougars in the early ‘70’s, but never made it as a pro.
 
#8– Georgetown Hoyas
Pos
Player
C
Patrick Ewing
F
Alonzo Mourning
F
Jeff Green
G
Allen Iverson
G
Sleepy Floyd
C
Dikembe Mutombo
F-C
Greg Monroe
C
Roy Hibbert
F-C
Othella Harrington
F
Otto Porter
F-G
Reggie Williams
G-F
David Wingate
Coach: John Thompson (the father, that is.  John Thompson III, the current coach at Georgetown, would be the runner-up)
 
Observations:
You like centers?  We got centers here.  Patrick EwingAlonzo MourningDikembe Mutombo.  Just try to get off a shot near the basket….we dare you.  I cheated a little bit and put Mourning at forward in the starting lineup for a twin tower effect.
 
In fact, it doesn’t’ stop there….Greg Monroe and Roy Hibbert are pretty decent centers as well.  A fine tradition at this school.  The backcourt isn’t bad either, with Sleepy Floyd and Hall of Famer Alan Iverson.
 
Most of the players on the roster are from the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.
 
Other Notes:
Patrick Ewing, one of the great defensive centers of all time, is only the 3rd most proficient shot blocker on this team, using NBA stats.  Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo both averaged around 2.8 blocked shots per game in their NBA careers, while Ewing was at 2.4.
 
#7 – Ohio State Buckeyes
Pos
Player
C
Neil Johnston
F
Jerry Lucas
F
John Havlicek
G
Jim Jackson
G
Mike Conley
C-F
Herb Williams
F-C
Arnie Risen
F
Clark Kellogg
G
Michael Redd
G
Larry Siegfried
G
Jim Cleamons
G
Kelvin Ransey
Coach: Fred Taylor (Thad Matta, the current coach, has more wins and a higher winning percentage, but I think Taylor’s 4 Final Four appearances and 1 national title trumps that).
 
Observations:
Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas or Hall of Famer John Havlicek?  Who would be your MVP?  Lucas was a 3-time All-American, and was the better player in college, but Havlicek was a 13-time All-Star and an 8-time champion in the NBA.  Lucas was no slouch in the pros, a 7-time All-Star who averaged 17 points and nearly 16 rebounds a game in his career.  Can we have co-MVPs? 
 
Oh, and there’s also a third Hall of Famer in the starting lineup, Neil Johnston, who was a 6-time All-Star himself (and 3-time scoring champ) in the ‘50’s.  In addition, backup Arnie Risen is also in the Hall of Fame, a 4-time NBA All-Star and 2-time champion from the ‘50’s.
 
Overall, a rich, deep roster.  I had to leave off a lot of good players such as Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger, Tony Campbell, Dennis Hopson, and Gary Bradds.  D’Angelo Russell is a young talent (only 20 years old) who could have a fine NBA career ahead of him as well.
 
College Glory:
Robin Freeman was a 2-time All-American in the mid-50’s with a 28.0 ppg scoring average and was drafted by the NBA, but injured himself chopping wood and never played in the pros.   Gary Bradds and Jared Sullinger are also 2-time All-Americans who didn’t make the roster.
 
And, in the category of "what might have been", we have the case of Greg Oden, who played just his freshman year at Ohio State, averaged over 3 blocks per game, led the team to a #1 ranking and runner-up to Florida for the national championship, was the #1 pick in the NBA draft (ahead of Kevin Durant), was projected to be one of the great defensive players ever, and basically hasn’t been healthy since that moment.
 
#6 – Duke Blue Devils
Pos
Player
C
Christian Laettner
F
Elton Brand
F
Grant Hill
G
Jeff Mullins
G
Kyrie Irving
C
Mike Gminski
F-C
Carlos Boozer
F
Jack Marin
F
Art Heyman
G
Bob Verga
G
Johnny Dawkins
G
J.J. Redick
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski
 
Observations:
Another very deep roster.  Duke has had 25 different players earn All-American status, including 11 who have earned it twice. 
 
If this were based solely on college achievement, I probably would have gone with Christian Laettner as the MVP, but I think taking their full careers into account, Grant Hill was a more valuable player, even with the injuries that undermined his career. 
 
We already reviewed the point guard decision earlier, and why I went with Kyrie Irving and Johnny Dawkins over Bobby Hurley and Jay Williams as point guards.  For the rest of the backcourt, I also opted for Jeff Mullins, Bob Verga, and J.J. Redick
 
Lots of really good players had to be left off the roster.  In addition to Hurley and Williams, I had to leave off Shane Battier, Corey Maggette, Danny Ferry, Dick Groat, Mike Dunleavy, Luol Deng, Mark Alarie, and Jim Spanarkel.  Young stars like Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, Brandon Ingram, and Jabari Parker are too early in their careers for me to include them over the others, but they could make a push for consideration before too long.
 
#5 – Indiana Hoosiers
Pos
Player
C
Walt Bellamy
F
George McGinnis
F
Tom Van Arsdale
G
Dick Van Arsdale
G
Isiah Thomas
C
Kent Benson
F
Scott May
G-F
Calbert Cheaney
G-F
Mike Woodson
G-F
Jon McGlocklin
G
Quinn Buckner
G
Eric Gordon
Coach: Bobby Knight, although it’s a bit of a close call.  Some would opt for Branch McCracken, who coached at Indiana for 24 years and won 2 national titles.  Still, I think you have to go for Knight.
 
Observations:
Although the program has lost a bit of luster over the years, it’s still Indiana, and it still has a great history.  Most of the names on this roster are from the ‘60’s, 70’s, and ‘80’s.
 
I went with Isiah Thomas as the MVP, but it could have just as easily been Hall of Famer Walt Bellamy, who I think gets a bit overlooked when people talk about the greatest centers ever.  Maybe he peaked too early – in his rookie season he averaged 31 points and 19 rebounds per game, and although he had several other good seasons, he never really topped that.
 
The rest of the starting lineup is well balanced as well, with George McGinnis (a 6-time All-Star and MVP of the ABA in ’74-’75) and the Van Arsdale twins (Dick and Tom) rounding out the starting 5.
 
On the reseves, I have 3 players from the great mid-‘70’s team that wend 63-1 over a two-year stretch – Kent Benson, Scott May, and Quinn Buckner
 
College Glory:
Many would have Steve Alford on the team, and I can’t blame them, but he wasn’t built for the pro game, so I went with other options.  Also, Don Schlundt was a 3-time All-American in the ‘50’s, but he opted not to pursue a pro basketball career.  Alford and Schlundt are #2 and #3 on the Indiana all-time scoring list.
 
Final Four
 
Now we’re up to the final four, the big boys, the bluest of the blue bloods.
 
#4 – Kentucky Wildcats
Pos
Player
C
Dan Issel
F
Anthony Davis
F
Cliff Hagan
G
Louie Dampier
G
John Wall
C
Karl-Anthony Towns
F
Jamal Mashburn
F
Antoine Walker
F
Demarcus Cousins
F-G
Frank Ramsey
G-F
Kevin Grevey
G
Ralph Beard
Coach: Adolph Rupp
 
Observations:
A whopping 31 different players have earned All-American status, including 7 players who have done it at least twice.
 
One thing about this roster….it certainly spans history, from Ralph Beard in the ‘40’s to Frank Ramsey and Cliff Hagan in the ‘50’s to Dan Issel and Louie Dampier in the ‘60’s, all the way up to the great current (mostly one-and-done) players like Karl-Anthony Towns, Demarcus Cousins, John Wall and Anthony Davis.  Kentucky has been one of the great constants throughout college basketball history
 
I have Dan Issel as the most valuable Wildcat at this point, but that might not hold up.  If he stays healthy, my money’s on Anthony Davis.  Hard to believe he’s still only 23.
 
Others who could have been named to the team but weren’t include Tayshaun Prince, Rajon Rondo, Derek Anderson, Kyle Macy, Alex Groza, Nazr Mohammed, Adrian Smith, Larry Steele
Jamaal Magloire, Sam Bowie, Rex Chapman, Jodie Meeks, Keith Bogans, Tony Delk, Patrick Patterson, Kenny Walker, Rick Robey, and Eric Bledsoe.
 
College Glory:
Cotton Nash was a 3-time All-American in the early ‘60’s, averaging over 22 points per game for his college career, but wasn’t able to put together much of a pro career.
 
Jack Givens is another Kentucky legend who is well remembered for his college career but didn’t find much success in the pros.
 
In the "What might have been" category, we have Kentucky’s version of Ohio State’s Greg Oden in Sam Bowie, who always seemed to be hurt.  Much like Oden, who was selected just ahead of Kevin Durant, Bowie gained a great deal of infamy by being selected 2nd in the 1984 draft ahead of Michael Jordan.  Bowie’s stats in the NBA don’t look too bad on the surface, but he only ended up playing 500 games or about 6 full seasons’ worth, and he was never as good as he had been projected to be.
 
#3 – Kansas Jayhawks
Pos
Player
C
Wilt Chamberlain
F
Clyde Lovellette
F
Danny Manning
G
Paul Pierce
G
Jo Jo White
C-F
Dave Robisch
F-C
Raef LaFrentz
F-C
Nick Collison
F
Bill Bridges
G-F
Andrew Wiggins
G
Kirk Hinrich
G
Darnell Valentine
Coach: Phog Allen
 
Phog Allen is the clear choice for coach, but they have had 3 other coaches that most schools would have loved to have had.  Allen’s teams won 590 games, but Roy Williams coached 15 years with 418 wins and 4 Final Fours, Bill Self has coached 14 years with 414 wins, 2 Final Fours and a national championship, and Ted Owens had 19 years with 348 wins and 2 Final Fours of his own.  Not to mention Larry Brown, who in 5 years went to 2 Final Fours and won a national championship.  Oh, they also had a guy named Naismith that coached for a few years too…..
 
Observations:
It begins with 3 Hall of Famers in the starting 5: Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Lovellette, and Jo Jo White.  Lovellette was always listed as a center, but I think he would make a good power forward.
 
Beyond that, though, Kansas also has Paul Pierce, who will likely make it 4 Hall of Famers once he’s eligible.  And the 5th starter is none other than Danny Manning, who might be the most beloved Kansas player ever in leading the Jayhawks to a championship in 1988.
 
There is strength among the reserves as well, notably Bill Bridges, who was a rugged defender and an outstanding rebounder, and Andrew Wiggins, who is already establishing himself as one of the most exciting young stars in the NBA today, averaging nearly 23 points per game at the tender age of 21.
 
Others who could have made the team but didn’t Drew Gooden, Walt Wesley, Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers, Bud Stallworth, Jacque Vaughn, Greg Ostertag, Scot Pollard, Wayne Hightower, Paul Mokeski, and the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus.
 
One name to potentially look for in the future on this roster is Joel Embiid.  I didn’t include him on the team because, so far, we’ve only seen one season of college and only 31 games in the NBA.  He’s missed 2 full seasons already, and even when he plays, it’s only about half-time.  But, when he’s in there, he’s awfully good.  I just hope we get to see more of him.
 
College Glory:
Sherron Collins and Jacque Vaughn were both 2-time All-Americans who I didn’t include on the roster.
 
#2 – North Carolina Tar Heels
Pos
Player
C
Bob McAdoo
F
James Worthy
F
Billy Cunningham
G
Michael Jordan
G
Phil Ford
C
Brad Daugherty
F-C
Sam Perkins
F
Bobby Jones
F
Antawn Jamison
G-F
Vince Carter
G-F
Walter Davis
G
Charlie Scott
Coach: Dean Smith
 
Same as with Kansas, Roy Williams is prominent at North Carolina as well, having won 2 national championships, but once again he is behind a legend – Phog Allen at Kansas, and Dean Smith at North Carolina.
 
Observations:
An absolute powerhouse, deep at every position.  They boast perhaps the greatest player ever in Michael Jordan, and they also have an all-Hall of Fame frontcourt in Bob McAdoo, James Worthy, and Billy Cunningham.  If you were to nit-pick, they don’t really have a great defensive presence at center, as McAdoo was more of an offensive threat, as was Brad Daugherty.
 
There are lots of weapons on the bench too.  Bobby Jones may have been the greatest defensive forward ever, while Walter Davis, Charlie Scott, and Vince Carter supply a lot of firepower.
 
I went with Phil Ford as the point guard.  He didn’t have a ton of success at the pro level, but he did have some before his career went south, and he was one of the greatest college point guards I’ve ever seen.
 
Others that could have made the team but didn’t include Kenny Smith, Mitch Kupchak, J.R. Reid, Mike O'Koren, Rasheed Wallace, Harrison Barnes, Rick Fox, Jerry Stackhouse, Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Larry Miller, Lennie Rosenbluth, and Larry Brown.
 
College Glory:
North Carolina has had 27 different players named as All-Americans, including 9 players with 2 or more such honors, led by Tyler Hansbrough with 4.  A lot of people would put Hansbrough on their all-time team, and if we were going strictly on college, I probably would too.  But, I felt that the other frontcourt players were better options.
 
It’s also a shame that I didn’t have room for Lenny Rosenbluth, who is one of the real legendary figures in Tar Heel history.
 
#1 – UCLA Bruins
Pos
Player
C
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
F
Sidney Wicks
F
Marques Johnson
G
Reggie Miller
G
Gail Goodrich
C
Bill Walton
F
Kevin Love
F
Kiki Vandeweghe
F
Jamaal Wilkes
G
Baron Davis
G
Russell Westbrook
G
Lucius Allen
Coach: John Wooden, unless you have a better option.
 
Observations:
Anything you want, you got it,
Anything you need, you got it,
Anything at all, you got it,
Baby
-Roy Orbison "You Got it"
 
UCLA definitely has got it all.
 
Georgetown has 3 tremendous centers on their roster with Ewing, Mourning, and Mutombo, but no team can touch the tandem of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton for UCLA.  It also says something about your depth when Russell Westbrook, who’s in the running for NBA MVP this year, is a reserve.  Add it all up, and you have 5 Hall of Famers on the roster (Abdul-Jabbar, Walton, Reggie Miller, Gail Goodrich, and Jamaal Wilkes). 
 
Others who could have made the team include Swen Nater, Mark Eaton, Dave Meyers, Willie Naulls, Curtis Rowe, Don Barksdale, Curtis Rowe, Ed O'Bannon, Don MacLean, Mahdi Abdul-Rahman (formerly Walt Hazzard), Pooh Richardson, Keith Erickson, and Henry Bibby.
 
College Glory:
David Greenwood was a 2-time All-American at UCLA, but there were too many other better options.  Don MacLean is the Bruins’ all-time leading scorer, but, again, just too many other better options here.
 
Thanks for reading. 
 
 

COMMENTS (17 Comments, most recent shown first)

evanecurb
I finally got around to reading this article. Two comments:

1. A Billy Paultz sighting! When he played for the Nets, he was known as "The Whopper;" I guess because he was big. Also, we Virginia Squires (RIP) fans hated the Nets (especially Rick Barry, but Paultz was second most hated). I have fond memories of a Nets-Squires game in Roanoke in the early seventies that went into overtime. If I recall correctly, Charlie Scott scored 47, and Rick Barry and Dr. J had around 35 each.

2. I am reminded of the pros that I saw play against Roanoke College when I had season tickets in 1971, 72, and 73. The big rival was Old Dominion; ODU's best player was future Trailblazer Dave Twardzik. (ODU was national champs in '71; Roanoke in '72). I also saw Kermit Washington (American U.) and Kevin Porter (St. Francis). Roanoke also played against George Gervin when he was at Eastern Michigan but that was a tournament game so I didn't attend.
10:31 AM Mar 24th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. to Wilbur: Here's a more direct answer to "if you were picking up sides would you take him over Magic? Bird? Kareem? Jordan? Ruth? Gehrig?:

No, I absolutely wouldn't.
But what I'm saying is, I'm not sure it wouldn't be wrong not to.
(Pardon the triple negative.) :-)​
9:26 PM Mar 23rd
 
MarisFan61
Explanation for my 'sort of' including Stockton and Cousy:

First of all, it depends on believing there to be a greater importance of the point guard position than is usually felt. I don't mean that anybody thinks it's unimportant, just that this requires believing it's even more important than most think.
What I think: Like with many or most questions about things that I'm not an expert on, and even most things that I am :-) ......I don't know.
I think it's possible that the point guard position is even more important than most of us think.
If it is, then I say you've got to consider the greatest point guards to be in the running for "greatest player ever."

You might say, well, we've already got Magic Johnson in there. But I'd counter that he wasn't a pure point guard in the way that Stockton and Cousy were.

About Cousy, a couple of things:
-- I'd say he was a better shooter, for his time, than you're saying.
-- The main reason I have him in there together with Stockton is that he was an originator, a pioneer. I don't mean he was necessarily the first to do whatever -- I'm sure he wasn't -- but he was the first great one. I'm giving him 'credit' for historical importance. BTW for that reason I almost also included George Mikan as one of the "maybe's" who also have some argument. I didn't because I'm not that overboard with this kind of reasoning.
12:25 PM Mar 23rd
 
wilbur
Maris61, respectfully, you're going to have to do some serious convincing to get me to even entertain the notion of either Stockton or Cousy as the greatest player ever.

I've only seen film on Cousy, but while he was damn flashy - and more importantly, a winner - he wasn't an effective shooter even in his own era. I can think of a lot of point guards I'd take over him. I can't speak about him defensively but he wasn't known for that.

Stockton? Great player, very good defensively for his size, but if you were picking up sides would you take him over Magic? Bird? Kareem? Jordan? Ruth? Gehrig?
6:47 PM Mar 22nd
 
wilbur
I was never the biggest booster of Oscar. I used to watch him on Sunday NBA with the Royals and, while he was a great talent and physically overmatched about everybody he faced, I never got the impression he made his teammates better.

He would dominate the ball, pound it, pound it, often backing in his opponent, but that wasn't a successful recipe for 48 minute, 82 game basketball.

When he went to the Bucks, he sublimated his game to Kareem and other teammates, much to his credit.

I don't expect to see a greater player than Jordan in my lifetime. Or a player who made his teammates better than Magic.
4:41 PM Mar 22nd
 
DMBBHF
MarisFan,

Well, it's mostly about how good the players were and re-assigning them to their college teams, rather than just how good they were only in college. I'm trying to look at the whole player.

I think you pretty much nailed the consensus of who the top players would be when you listed Jordan, Magic, LeBron, Bird, Wilt, Russell, and Kareem. Seems like you used to hear Robertson and West included more often with the others, but it seems like they've lost a bit of status in recent years, and they don't get mentioned as much.

I do see Duncan listed among the top 10 pretty often, but usually in the lower half. He's seems to be in the running for best power forward ever.....typically between Duncan and Malone.

The only other one I hear consistently in the top 10 is Kobe.

Thanks,
Dan
10:08 PM Mar 21st
 
MarisFan61
P.S. I know that this article is mainly just how they did in college, so the thing about "greatest player ever" is tangential.
5:35 PM Mar 21st
 
MarisFan61
Yes, Stockton -- because I'd say he has an argument for Greatest Player Ever, depending on how important we think Point Guard is.

I think that of all the major sports, basketball has by far the greatest number of plausible answers for greatest player ever. In baseball, it's pretty much just 3 or so, right? And many would say it's just 1.

But basketball, I would say it's at least these:
Jordan
Magic
Lebron
Bird
Wilt
Bill Russell
Kareem
......and I'd add Stockton and Cousy.
I think there's also arguments for Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
5:33 PM Mar 21st
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all the comments.

Terry-I believe the smart-ass answer to "where is Gonzaga?" would be "Spokane" :)

The serious answer is that Gonzaga just doesn't stack up to these other schools when it comes to producing a talented roster. Outside of John Stockton, they haven't produced comparable talent. Mostly, it's been players like Adam Morrison, Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Wiltjer, and Domantas Sabonis, who have had their moments, but don't have the résumés that others do. I should have mentioned Stockton in the Solo Artist section, though.

Thanks,

Dan
3:57 PM Mar 21st
 
ventboys
Where is Gonzaga, Dan?
11:22 AM Mar 21st
 
wilbur
Verrry interesting. (I've been watching reruns of Laugh-In.)

I read in Dick Groat's SABR bio that he is the only player to ever lead the NCAA in both scoring and assists in a single season, making him the answer to a great trivia question. Especially if you couple it with this "hint": In his pro career, his team won two world championships; he won one seasonal MVP, and finished second another year.
4:58 AM Mar 21st
 
MarisFan61
Lots of great memories for me, too -- not even so much the colleges per se, but, just seeing the names of some of the players from my kidhood.

Here are some names from the '50's and '60's that we don't see too often:

Darrall Imhoff
John Hummer (saw him play in college)
Geoff Petrie (ditto)
Bob Houbregs
Slater Martin (who for some reason was nicknamed Dugie)
Paul Arizin
Larry Foust
George Yardley
Charlie Tyra
Jack Coleman
Mike Farmer
Connie Dierking (whose hair seemed to be white; don't know if it really was)
Dick Garmaker
"Jumping" Johnny Green
Neil Johnston
Arnie Risen
Art Heyman
The Van Arsdales
Louis Dampier (who I always thought of together with Darel Carrier)
Cotton Nash (who also played M.L. baseball)
Clyde Lovellette
Len Rosenbluth
.....and even Bailey Howell. I remember the hoopla when he came to the NBA. It wasn't like when Chamberlain came in (just about exactly the same time), but it was......hoopla. :)
3:17 AM Mar 21st
 
OwenH
Fun article! Thanks for all the work and time it surely took to compile this, Dan.
5:40 PM Mar 20th
 
Davidg32
Enjoyed this, Daniel...thanks for doing it. Brought back a lot of memories.

One of the key players on Georgia Tech's best team (1985) was Yvon Joseph, who was very underrated. He played center, which freed up John Salley to play strong forward. Joseph played the hard defense, and rebounded...letting Salley stay outside and use his quickness. And having two almost 7-footers let Tech use Bruce Dalrymple at small forward, and he was inch-for-inch the best rebounder in college basketball. A lot of great teams have a guy like Yvon Joseph, who hustles and does a lot of the unsung things that help a team win.

And in addition to Kareem and Walton, UCLA had...in Swen Nater...yet another one of the best centers ever. Poor guy had a strange career. He's the only first-round draft pick (other than the "straight to the pros out of high school" guys) who never started a college game. And he's the only player who ever led both the NBA and the ABA in rebounding. Bill Walton always claimed that the reason he (Walton) became a good player was because of all the hard games he had against Nater in UCLA practices.
1:46 PM Mar 20th
 
cderosa
Your Temple Owls

1 Guy Rodgers
2 Aaron McKie
3 Eddie Jones (mvp)
4 Tim Perry
5 Duane Causewell

6 Marc Jackson

coach John Chaney
7:19 AM Mar 20th
 
NutanaVin
This brought back a lot of memories. Thanks!
6:45 AM Mar 20th
 
cderosa
Thanks for this piece. It was especially fun because you look in the middle of the list and think, "there are X teams better than *this* one?" and then there are.

Chris DeRosa
5:49 AM Mar 20th
 
 
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