Who’s in Your Top 10?
A group of SLAM writers and editors list their favorite college bball players.
10. Randolph Childress, Wake Forest: Didn’t do much in the NBA, so some of you may not remember him. Childress played at Wake Forest and was an above-average scoring guard. But I’ll forever remember watching him in the 1995 ACC Tournament, where Childress went H.A.M., averaging 35.7 ppg and 7 apg and basically carried Wake to the ACC Tournament title. One of the most dominant four-game stretches I’ve ever seen from any basketball player.
9. Dwight Stewart, Arkansas: Played on the Nolan Richardson teams at Arkansas in the mid-‘90s. Stewart was a 6-9 center who wasn’t a body-builder, wasn’t overly-athletic, but he was an amazing passer for his size and loved to camp outside and toss up threes. Also made this amazing shot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcatoUpQLrU. He was just a fun guy to root for.
8. Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California: I’ve known Shareef for more than half of my life. Here’s the how and why on that. He played only one year at Cal, but it was exciting to see him get named Pac 10 Player of the Year as a freshman. Had a nice NBA career, also.
7. Shandon Anderson, Georgia: Played against him several times in high school, and then he went on to have a great collegiate career at UGA while I was in school there. And don’t forget his older brother, Willie, who also went to UGA and had a long NBA career. Shandon won a ring with the Heat in 2006.
6. James Forrest, Georgia Tech: I got to see a lot of great players come through the Georgia Tech program. And I always thought James Forrest should be remembered more fondly. As a freshman in 1992, he hit a classic shot to push GT past USC in the NCAA Tourney. The next season he won the ACC Tournament MVP, and a year later he was first-team all-ACC. He stayed all four years at Tech, though if I remember correctly, an injury his senior season kept him from getting drafted by the NBA. Played overseas, but never did play in the NBA.
5. Glenn Robinson, Purdue: Sat out his freshman year at Purdue as a Prop 48, but when he debuted as a sophomore he was unbelievable. Not only could he shoot from pretty much anywhere on the floor, but he also could go right through you.
4. JR Rider, UNLV: I loved the UNLV teams of the ‘90s, with LJ and Scurry and Hunt and Augmon and Anthony, etc. When I got to college, I’d stay up late not studying and watch West Coast games on ESPN, where I fell in love with the dangerous athleticism of Rider. On the nights where he had his jumper going, there wasn’t a player I’d rather watch.
3. Stephon Marbury, Georgia Tech: I went to his first game with Georgia Tech — it was an exhibition game against a traveling team — and seeing Steph’s combination of speed and agility and explosiveness was a revelation. I remember coming home after the game and thinking Steph was the most talented basketball player I’d ever seen in person.
2. Len Bias, Maryland: I was just falling in love with basketball when Len Bias showed up at Maryland back in 1983. Because Maryland was in the ACC and our local team, Georgia Tech, was also in the ACC, there were a good many ACC games on TV back then. (Remember, this was pre-ESPN.) I got to see Bias play for a few years, and there really wasn’t anyone like him: jumpers from the wings, powerful dunks, blocked shots, double-pump jumpers — he truly could do it all. I wanted a pair of Nike Terminators so badly only because I saw Bias wearing a pair. And I still remember my friend David calling me a few years after I first saw Bias as I was eating lunch (a grilled cheese sandwich, to be exact) and telling me that Bias was dead.
1. Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech: Played two seasons almost literally in my backyard at Georgia Tech, and I’d never seen anyone who played with the style and verve Mr. Chibbs brought. Kenny alone inspired my friends and I to attempt thousands of no-look one-hand passes off the dribble.
10. JR Rider, UNLV: Took the swagger reigns from Larry Johnson at UNLV. Unbelievable athlete, freakish dunker, great shooter, and great rebounder as a guard.
9. Chris Webber, Michigan: Fab 5 anchorman. C-Webb was efficient as a rebounder, post man, and mid-range jump shooter. For 6-9, 250 he could run the floor well and is also one of the best passing big men of all time.
8. Baron Davis, UCLA: BD was deceptively fast for a guy his size. He was great at getting to the rack, had great handles, a smooth J, great hops, and knew how to run a team.
7. Ray Allen, UConn: Sweetest jump shot in the history of basketball and his battles in the big east with the likes of AI were unforgettable.
6. Stephen Curry, Davidson: Uncanny ability to score and get his shot off whenever he wanted. I have never seen any player with that kind of range and confidence in his shot. JJ Reddick was an unbelievable shooter but Curry could pull up from half court and he knew it was going in.
5. Stephon Marbury, Georgia Tech: NYC’s finest. Like Steve Francis, but stronger and a better shooter. Steph was a man among boys in high school and then at G-Tech.
4. Vince Carter, North Carolina: Being smaller in stature, dunking was something I dreamt about as a kid but was never able to accomplish. Vince’s dunks in college were mind blowing and he had crazy swag.
3. Steve Francis, Maryland: The franchise. Built like Jay Williams with the springs of Vince Carter and the cockiness of Deion Sanders. His in-game dunks were ballsy and exciting, he was the quickest guy on the court, and his handles were up there with Iverson’s.
2. Jay Williams, Duke: Jay was probably the most dominant and powerful PG I’ve watched at the college level. He was fearless going to the basket, had a silky smooth jump shot, and who can forget that Maryland game… Very smart player. Only knock was his free throw shooting.
1. Allen Iverson, Georgetown: I was always a smaller dude who was relied on to break a press, bring the ball up the court. My handles are a strong point of my game and AI’s handles were superhuman. That ’96 Big East Championship vs Ray Allen was one of the best court battles of my lifetime.