Who’s in Your Top 10?
A group of SLAM writers and editors list their favorite college bball players.
Great Neck, NY
10. Tyson Johnson, Wyoming: I know most people reading this have never heard of Johnson. I’m a little biased here because his father was my AAU coach, but he’s nonetheless one of the best players I’ve ever seen. Johnson’s a 6-9 combo-forward who has a complete inside-outside game. He originally played at Monmouth, where he was named Northeast Conference freshman of the year and led his team to the NCAA tournament, then transferred to Wyoming. He’s playing overseas right now, and is determined on getting to the league.
9. Kevin Durant, Texas: The way Durant scored was remarkable. Texas just gave Durant the ball and let him operate.
8. Dwyane Wade, Marquette: Wade was one of the hungriest college basketball players I can remember. I still wish we could’ve seen Melo v. Wade in the Championship game.
7. Rudy Gay, UConn: I’m a UConn fan, so most of my favorite college players are former Huskies. The way he attacked the rim in college was remarkable.
6. Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati: Lance didn’t have the best college year, but he showed flashes of brilliance. Re-watch last year’s Big East tournament, and you’ll see he was the hardest player to guard.
5. Julius Hodge, NC State: It never made sense how he would score at ease with such a skinny frame. Hodge’s smooth jumper and crossover made me fall in love with his game.
4. Jeff Adrien, UConn: Adrien played basketball like it was football. He was vicious and had no remorse, and I loved it.
3. Ben Gordon, UConn: He made improbable shot after improbable shot. Gordon caught a new victim in every game of his career.
2. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse: Melo’s swag was impeccable—he had the straight cornrows and no tats yet. Carmelo had the nicest face-up 3-pointer I’ve ever seen. Also, being 19, I have tons of respect for freshmen that lead their teams. I’m writing this while Melo was out winning rings.
1. Richard Hamilton, UConn: I was born in 1991, so my first college memories come from Rip. I’ve never seen a player be so dangerous without the ball. If you left him for a second, it was over.
10. Chris Webber, Michigan: You never really knew what was going to happen when Webber-led Wolverines teams took the floor. It might be beautiful, it might be terrible, it would probably be both within the span of 40 minutes. But it was always worth watching.
9. Danny Manning, Kansas: Manning made Kansas games must-see TV, and single-handedly carried an otherwise middling team to an NCAA title. He was such a phenomenal collegiate that the media somewhat glossed over the fact that Kansas coach Larry Brown hired Manning’s dad (who’d been working as a truck driver) to be an assistant coach – two days before the younger Manning signed with Kansas.
8. Kevin Houston, Army: At 5’11”, 165 lbs., he scored nearly half his team’s points from approximately 97 feet from the basket while leading the nation in scoring.
7. Jai Lewis, George Mason: I have to admit, I had no idea who he was until his team kept winning in the 2006 NCAAs. Their upset over UConn was a classic, and Lewis was the heart of a team that won with heart.
6. Brian Cardinal, Purdue: By his own admission, Cardinal never had a lot of speed or leaping ability. But he was strong, and willing to hurtle his body into anything that stood in his way – people, the floor, the stands, it didn’t really matter. And whatever he hit usually got the worst of it. Cardinal willed his team deep into the NCAA tournament and won both Purdue’s “Courage” award and its “Mr. Hustle” four consecutive years.
5. Kevin Durant, Texas: I hate to include a one-and-done player, but Durant was so much fun to watch for one awesome season that it couldn’t be helped.
4. Michael Finley, Wisconsin: Finley was electric when he arrived at Wisconsin, announcing his presence by single-handedly taking out Michigan’s Fab Five in a huge upset. A couple years later, he led the Badgers to their first NCAA Tournament bid in 47 years. Most importantly, he was a great spokesman for our campus.
3. Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston: Two players, but they belong together on this list. The Phi Slamma Jamma was one of the most exciting shows ever in college basketball, title or not. They couldn’t hit free throws, mostly because they weren’t allowed to dunk them. But they were so spectacular nobody seemed to mind.
2. Glenn Rice, Michigan: Rice was such a great shooter, he actually made it exciting to watch someone score from the perimeter. When hot, like he was throughout the 1989 NCAA Tourney, he was devastating. He scored a Tournament record 184 points (30+ ppg) while leading Michigan to the national title.
1. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown: There was no more intimidating player in college basketball. Imagine a big man with Greg Oden’s build but better mobility and a wider mean streak… and surrounded by team laden with NBA talent for four incredible years.