The hardest task any serious and objective basketball analyst could ever accomplish is ranking the court kings of the NCAA since its conception. I have done thorough research on looking up NCAA statistics dating as early as the tournament began getting any serious traction. I have also sampled what the fan base has always felt about particular players and the adversities these big talents had to endure to select the best of the best. Here are my ten picks in descending order:
10. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
This kid was phenomenal. His individual performance and personality solidified his team and inspired it. He scored an average of 32 points for every game he played and 13 rebounds. He epitomized solo performance as is the all-time NCAA top scorer.
9. David Thompson, North Carolina State
Popularly known as “Skywalker,” this college kid did the impossible; he singlehandedly brought the UCLA seven-year championship streak to a dramatic end. The UCLA were a superb team and sometimes beat phenomenal teams using psychological warfare. David refused to bow down to their dominance and inspired his team to put up a fight successfully. In that memorable game, he clinched 28 points after coming out of the hospital. He had been injured during the quarterfinals against Pittsburgh.
8. Danny Manning, Kansas
This guy was the 1987 overall NBA draft number one pick. His team was also referred to as “Danny and the Miracles” for a long time after it won the 1988 national championship. Kansas will never forget this guy but neither will all basketball fans. He propelled the Jayhawks to championships at the finals by scoring 31 points and making sneaky steals and aggressive blocks that frustrated Oklahoma and secured their narrow win.
7. Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
The incredible stats for this NCAA legend have earned him the number seven slot on this list. They include but are not limited to:
• Average of more than 20 points for his three years of the NCAA games
• Buckeye all-time record for rebounds
• Two-times pick as Final Four NCAA Most Outstanding Player
6. Earvin Johnson, Michigan State
Earvin was nicknamed “Magic” for a reason. He had a personality that ignited his fans and his teammates. He brought passion to the game inspiring teamwork from his colleagues through exceptional individual performance. He led his team to the 1979 national finals. The game was electrifying to an extent it stands as the most-watched NCAA game of all time. He was named the Most Outstanding Player because of creative and selfless passes.
5. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
In 1982, a freshman gave Michael Jordan a major headache during a championship game. Patrick shocked the Tar Heels by scoring 23 points despite his youth and inexperience. He led his Georgetown team to two more finals and won them. He was 1984’s most outstanding Player.
4. Bill Walton, UCLA
Bill earns the number four slot because:
• He steered the UCLA to 88 consecutive wins
• He was named Most Outstanding Player twice consecutively
• He scored 21 out of 22 total shots in the 1973 finals
3. Bill Russell, San Francisco
This guy almost made basketball unfair with his dominance. In a bid to make it impossible for a single player to stop an entire team from scoring, the NCAA had to change rules after he left college. In the 1956 title game, he grabbed 27 boards bringing his tally rebound to 50 during the final four games that year. The defender scored an odd average of 20 points per game and won the most coveted annual NCAA individual title that year.
2. Christian Laettner, Duke
He is responsible for the most memorable play of all-time at the NCAA games. He scored a total of 407 points in 23 games. The list just goes on
1. Lew Alcindor, UCLA
Lew is the best of the best of the best for two reasons:
• Earned the title Most Outstanding Player three times in a row
• He compelled the NCAA to ban the dunk for being too good at it