Thursday, December 01, 2005

10 Best College Players Ever?

Driving to work this morning, Tony Kornheiser argued, if only briefly, that Christian Laettner is one of the 10 best college players ever. Could this be? Laettner was an amazing, dominating college player. But if you're making a list of the 10 best college players ever, you really only have 6 openings to argue about, since 4 of them--Walton, Kareem, Bird, and Magic--are locks.

So who would round out those other 6 spots? Off the top of my head, I'd say:

Patrick Ewing
Grant Hill
Steve Alford
Danny Manning

Those guys all deserve high consideration. Certainly Laettner does, too. But who else?

Update: Commenters pointing to Pistol Pete are dead-on; I don't know how I left him out. Maravich averaged--averaged!--44.2 ppg in at LSU.

Others have suggested Grandmama Johnson. I don't buy it. Johnson was a man among boys and here, I'll say it: The '91 UNLV team which lost to Duke by a bucket in the Final Four was the best college team I've ever seen play. They were defending national champs, had an ungodly record, and lost to a Duke team playing the game of its life. They replay that game 100 times, UNLV wins it 99 of them. That said, Johnson only played two years and averaged 21.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. Great, awesome numbers, but not Top 10 All-Time material.

Does anyone have stats for David Thompson?

PS: This CBS Sports link has all sorts of good NCAA tourney stats and Basketball Reference has everything else you'll need for this discussion.


Anonymous said...

umm..that's Steve Alford

Anonymous said...

Ralph Sampson over Ewing. I'd add Maravich, as commentor above, and the Big "E" Elvin Hayes, a dominant center at 6'9" who made All-American at forward so the writers could the center award to Lew.

Anonymous said...

Larry Johnson--Talk about DOMINATING!!
Lenny Bias

Dude, Grant Hill does not belong on the list. Laettner was the man on that team. Period.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who thinks Grant Hill was a better college player than Laettner doesn't know college basketball. More pro talent? Sure. But not a better college player. And I say that as a rabid Duke hater/UNC fan.

I agree with Maravich (44 PPG?!) and Elvin Hayes.

Also missing: The Big O and David Thompson.

Anonymous said...

"Anybody who thinks Grant Hill was a better college player than Laettner doesn't know college basketball."

True. Hill was a back up guy on a great team. He does not belong in the top 50.

Anonymous said...

How did Michael Jordan not get on the "lock" list?

Anonymous said...

"How did Michael Jordan not get on the 'lock' list?"

Dean Smith, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Ralph Sampson - 3 time Naismith Player of the Year (only other player to do that is Walton - and no other player even won it twice since the award begon in '69).

BTW - Grant Hill never won the Naismith award (Laettner did, in '92). Frankly, I don't think you can count as one of the top 10 of all time if you were never even the top player of any year.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big Duke hater, and as such I can pinpoint when Duke-hating even became necessary: when Laettner came along and transformed them from an annual plucky but only mildly annoying bridesmaid into unbearably smug champions. Definitely worthy of top 10 status, and every bit deserving of consideration as #1 all time, much as I hate to admit it. Some may forget that CL was so dominating at the time that HE, over Shaq, was the easy choice for the lone college addition to the orignal Dream Team.

Also, agree with Ewing, D. Thompson and Big O as cited above, and would drop Waymon Tisdale (4 time 1st team All American, I believe), James Worthy, Chris Mullin, Akeem the Dream, Derrick Coleman and my personal sentimental favorite, Mookie Blaylock into the conversation.

As for Jordan, I think the contrast of his almost shocking dominance immediately after becoming a pro tends to diminish his merely brilliant college career.

Anonymous said...

David Thompson.

Anonymous said...

I repeat: 1991 Wooden Award winner Larry Johnson. Here's what Wooden has to say:

"College Career

Johnson had a sterling college career. After averaging 26.0 points in two seasons at Odessa Junior College in Texas, he transferred to UNLV. Johnson formed part of a powerhouse UNLV squad, teaming with Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony to capture the 1990 NCAA Championship. Johnson was the cornerstone of the defending NCAA champion Rebels. He averaged 22.9 points, 11 rebounds, and shot 67% from the field.

In two seasons with the Runnin' Rebels, Johnson averaged better than 20 points and 10 rebounds each year. As a senior in 1990-91 he was The Sporting News College Player of the Year, a first team AP, Basketball Weekly, Basketball Times, and Big West Conference Player of the Year and the winner of both the Naismith and Wooden Awards.

Johnson was a leader and a man among boys for many games during his spectacular career at UNLV. A Wooden Award finalist and 1st Team All-American the year before he won the Award, Johnson was an all-star performer throughout his days playing for Coach Jerry Tarkanian.

The Charlotte Hornets won the NBA Draft Lottery in 1991 and selected Johnson with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft."

Man among boys is right!

Anonymous said...

Plus, Christian Laettner was sooooo cute.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm. . . on of your "locks"--a certain Ervin Johnson--averaged 17.1 and 7.6 in two seasons at State. LJ spent two seasons at Odessa COllege before UNLV and is the proud owner of a college degree! BTW, 21.6 and 11.2 are HUGE numbers at the college level. Your beloved Grant Hill, whose name is a pox on this list, averaged 14.9 and 6 at Duke. The college player must be looked at in broader terms than just numbers. LJ was one of the most dominating players of my 34 years, led his team to a championship, put up huge numbers, won every award under the sun, and was "a man among boys." HIs opponents feared him like few who have ever played the game at the college level. To quote Dickie V., "He was a special player."

Also, someone has to say it: Tim Duncan belongs on your "lock" list alongside LJ.

Anonymous said...

Bill Russell and Bill Bradley should be on most top ten lists

Ralph Sampson and Oscar Robinson are also locks and by reputation so is David Thompson.

How about Wilt or Jerry Lucas?

TS said...

Oscar Robinson for sure.

Anonymous said...

That's Oscar ROBERTSON. And Jerry West was abolutely dominating at West Virginia -- both Robertson and West were seniors in 1960 --Robertson averaged 33 points a game, West averaged 29 a game and led his team to the final four. But, when in comes to this discussion, there really is only one name: Alcindor, later Abdul-Jabbar. Three seasons, three player-of-the-year awards, three NCAA championships, and a grand total of 2 losses!

Anonymous said...

Big O, Ralph Sampson, Kenny Anderson in, Magic out.

Anonymous said...

Cough Cough SHAQ...

X said...

I would consider Bill Rusell, Wilt Chamberlin, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes, and Larry Bird. Baylor and Robertson averaged almost 30 points and 20 rebounds per game but they were only 6'5". 6'5"!? Also, those guys had to deal with racial discrimination such as not being able to sit in restuarants, go through front doors, no sleeping in hotels, or walk in public without getting harrassed. They probably caught hell in the dorms and alumni probably called them all sorts of names until they started winning. In spit of al that the Big O averaged a triple double. It's hard to do that on Playstation and that dude did it almost his entire career.

Anonymous said...

hmmm u frgot about u no lew alcindor( thats kareem fr you non fans) and bill walton? Come on, 3 final four mvps for alcindor. Lets get goin now

Anonymous said...

Terrible list.

Lew Alcindor
Bill Walton
Christian Laettner
Pete Maravich
Oscar Robertson

Those are probably the closest to actually being locks with variation past that. Ridiculous individual accomplishments, team accomplishments, and clutch performances.