Thursday 13 - Top College Hoops Players

Posted: Thursday, March 20, 2008 by Travis Cody in


Earlier in the week I was jazzed for the return of Dancing with the Stars.

Today, I'm hyped for the beginning of the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

In keeping with March Madness, my 13 today is hoops related.

These are the top 13 college basketball players of all time, as rated by ESPN. The criteria is based soley on college performance. You can view video recaps of these great players here, and you can see the rest of the players that ESPN considers among the top 25 of all time.

13. Michael Jordan, North Carolina (1981-84): Jordan scored 1,788 points in Coach Dean Smith's system, which emphasized team play over star play. He averaged 17.7 points and 5.0 rebounds. He was ACC Freshman of the Year in 1981 and made the game winning shot against Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA championship game, which brought Coach Smith the first of his two NCAA titles. Jordan was the NCAA Player of the Year after his junior season in 1984 and declared for the NBA draft.

12. Christian Laettner, Duke (1988-92): Laettner scored 2,460 points in his four seasons at Duke. He averaged 16.6 points and 7.8 rebounds. He shot 81% from the free throw line and 48% from the three point line as a 6'11" center. His buzzer-beating shot in overtime of the 1992 NCAA Tournament East Regional to give Duke the 104-103 win over Kentucky is widely considered the greatest shot in the "greatest college basketball game ever played". He didn't miss a shot from the field or a free throw in the game. He is one of only four players to play in four consecutive Final Fours, and he led the Blue Devils to back to back NCAA championships in 1991 and 1992. He played in the most NCAA tournament games of any college player and holds the following NCAA Tournament records - most points (407), most free throws made (142), most free throw attempts (167), and most games played (23).

11. Jerry Lucas, Ohio State (1959-62): Lucas averaged 24.3 points and 17.2 rebounds per game. He led the nation in field goal percentage in each of his three seasons, shooting 62% from the field in his career. Lucas led OSU to a record of 78-6 in his three varsity seasons. The Buckeyes went to three straight NCAA Tournament finals, winning the championship in 1960. He was a 3-time All America selection and Big 10 conference Player of the Year. He is the only player to score 30 points and pull down 30 rebounds in a single NCAA Tournament game and was the 1961 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

10. Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas (1956-58): In his two seasons at Kansas Chamberlain scored 1,433 points, averaging 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds per game. He led Kansas to the 1957 NCAA championship. He was an All America selection and was named the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. Chamberlain left after his junior year at Kansas. One of the reasons cited is that he lost some of the fun of college basketball due to the defensive tactics used against his Kansas team. Since there was no shot clock, teams were free to stall and often protected small leads by holding the ball and never shooting. It wasn't until 1985 when the NCAA finally introduced a 45 second shot clock for the men's game, which was reduced to 35 seconds in 1993.

9. Larry Bird, Indiana State (1976-1979): Bird scored 2,850 points in his three seasons at Indiana State, averaging 30.3 points and 13.3 rebounds per game. He led the Sycamores to a 33-1 record in his senior season, in which they ultimately lost to Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA Tournament title game. Bird was named Player of the Year. He was the fifth highest scorer in NCAA history.

8. David Thompson, NC State (1972-75): Thompson led the Wolfpack to a 27-0 regular season in 1973, and then to a national championship in 1974. He is considered the greatest player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. One of the most athletic players ever to play with a reported 44" vertical leap, Thompson played in an era when the slam dunk was banned by the Alcindor rule. In his final game, he raced the length of the floor and slammed the ball home. Although the goal was disallowed and a technical foul was called against Thompson, he left the game and his college career to thunderous applaus. The dunk shot, what many consider the most exciting play in basketball, was re-instated in 1976.

7. Bill Bradley, Princeton (1962-65): Bradley was the 1965 National Player of the Year. He scored 2,503 points in his career, averaging 30.2 points per game. He was the first basketball player ever chosen as the nation's top amateur athlete. Bradley holds the single game NCAA tournament scoring record, 58 points in 1965. He led the Tigers to three Ivy League championships. Bradley was a three time All America and the National Player of the Year in 1965. Princeton placed third in the NCAA Tournament in 1965, its highest national ranking ever.

6. Jerry West, West Virginia (1957-60): West scored 2,309 points in an era when freshman were ineligible to play on varsity teams, averaging 24.8 points per game and 13.3 rebounds per game for his career. He is the career Mountaneer record holder for points scored, points per game, field goals made, free throws made, free throws attempted, most rebounds, most double-doubles, most 20 point games, most 30 point games. West led the Mountaneers to three conference titles, losing by one point to Cal in the 1959 national championship game.

5. Pete Maravich, LSU (1967-70): Maravich scored an astounding 3,667 points in an era when freshman were ineligible and there was no three point line. He averaged 44.2 points per game, adding 6.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists. He was known for his floppy hair and socks, and his flamboyant ball handling skills. He was the NCAA Player of the Year in 1969 and 1970. He was a 3 time All America selection and still holds many of the 11 NCAA and 34 SEC records he set during his LSU career.

4. Bill Russell, San Francisco (1953-56): In 1954, Russell was one of three African American players on the Dons' squad and endured harsh racism throughout his three season. He overcame this to lead USF to 55 wins in a row and 2 NCAA championships. Due to Russell's dominance, the NCAA widened the lane to 12 feet and made offensive goal-tending (touching the ball while it is on the rim or inside the cylinder of the hoop) illegal. Russell averaged 20.7 points per game in his career and an astounding 20.3 rebounds.

3. Bill Walton, UCLA (1971-74): In the 1973 NCAA championship, Walton led the Bruins to the title with one of the finest offensive performances ever. He went 21 of 22 from the field and scored 44 points. He was part of UCLA's record 88 game winning streak and won two NCAA titles. The loss to NC State in the 1974 title game saw the end of an amazing 131-3 string, with the other two losses to Notre Dame. Walton averaged 20.3 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. His 65% career field goal percentage broke the previous mark held by Lew Alcindor.

2. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati (1957-60): Robertson was a 3-time Player of the Year, averaging 33.8 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. He scored 2,973 points in an era when freshman were not eligible to play varsity sports in college. He led the Bearcats to a 79-9 record in his three seasons while each year winning the national scoring title and setting 14 NCAA and 19 school records.

1. Lew Alcindor, UCLA (1966-69): Alcindor scored 2,325 points in an era when freshman were not eligible to play varsity sports in college. He shot 63% from the field, averaging 26.4 points per game and 15.5 rebounds. UCLA went 88-2 during Alcindor's years and won three NCAA championships. Alcindor's signature move was the sky hook, which became an even more potent weapon when the NCAA banned the dunk shot in response to complaints that it was an unfair advantage for Alcindor. After college, in May 1971, Alcindor converted to Islam and changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

The information in these paragraphs came from Basketball-reference and Wikipedia, and some of my own personal observations. I found the pictures on Google Images.

And dang! Yet again I got to some of you but not all of you. But, since I have the next few days off, I'll be catching up while I'm watching the tournament.

Later babies!


  1. hey trav, this is sports, right?

    smiles, bee

  1. the teach says:

    Trav, my brother went to school with Pete Maravich, I'm not sure if it was at the same time though. All the guys you mentioned I know (by reputation) I remember when Lew Alcindor changed his name and everybody's reaction. Dem were da days! HA! :D

  1. Akelamalu says:

    Can we go back to dancing - I do dancing? :)

  1. DrillerAA says:

    Look at the form on that Bradley hook shot! It's perfect. Of course the pic was taken during a pre-game shoot around.
    Look how much room Chamberlin has to work. Today, there would be three people hanging on to him.
    Let the games begin!

  1. Kareem seems to have a good sense of humor. I'll bet he's a nice guy in "real" life.

  1. Sanni says:

    I ♥ Basketball - and I´ll watch on TV... the German pay TV "Premiere" will broadcast. ;)

  1. TopChamp says:

    Hi Trav,

    Happy TT! I'll be back for more dancing stuff....

    I have a pupil who's a big basketball fan... he told me he was going to see The Rocks this week - they're our local team. He also told me Louis Armstrong has a band and when I said that he haD a band and it was a long time ago he asked 'before the Romans?'. He's only six.

  1. Mo says:

    Yeah, I got nothing.
    Oh - Happy Spring!

  1. Bond says:

    Great list and nicely put together my friend...

    and THANKS for adding the button

  1. Jeff B says:

    Never been a big hoops fan, (blaspheme by your standards I know), but I enjoyed reading through this info just the same.

  1. Kimmie says:

    Hey Trav...must be alot of sneaker sqeeking going on today! LOL!


  1. jennifer says:

    Michael Jordan is my all time favorite Basketball player, but hte picture of the guy, Robertson (?) doing a toe touch was fabulous! I've never heard of him but he looks pretty cool!


  1. JohnH985 says:

    I just read a biography of Pistol Pete. Very interesting reading.

  1. Travis says:

    Bee: Yup. But there's still CAKE in the sidebar.

    Teach: I think Maravich got a bum rap sometimes for being a ball hog and a show off. I've seen videos and some of the passes he made were the only ones he could do make the play.

    Akelamalu: How about a mix of dancing and sports?

    Drilleraa: You're right. There's so much contact in today's game.

    Lana: I've heard that he can be difficult with strangers, but very warm with friends and family.

    Sanni: Cool!

    TC: That's cute!

    Mo: LOL! Happy Spring to you as well.

    V: You're welcome on the button.

    Jeff: Nah...I know basketball isn't for everyone. Glad you enjoyed.

    Kimmie: There was and it was great!

    Jennifer: Well, you can see by the list that Robertson was one of the all time greats. He's also the only NBA player to ever average a triple double in a season.

    John: He was a great player.