Top 10 Players of the Decade
It was a decade of change in college basketball, as the one-and-done stud became the norm and the four-year player became increasingly rare. Both categories though, the vets & the one-and-dones, made a large impact on the game, as players like Hansbrough & Williams piled up awards at the same clip as Anthony & Durant. Here's my take on the Top 10, post your list in the comments section.
1. Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina 06-09): What didn’t this guy do? Four time unanimous ACC All-Conference team, 2008 AP player of the year, 2006 ACC freshman of the year, UNC’s all time leading scorer..etc, etc. The list goes on and on. He will not turn out (most likely) to be the best pro on this list, but he’s the decade’s best collegiate player. He’s one of the toughest players of all time and I think his defining moment came during his sophomore season when he got off the floor bloodied after a Gerald Henderson elbow.
2. Jason Williams (Duke 99-02): Two-time first team AP All-American, 2001-02 AP Player of the Year, 01-02 Wooden Award. He led Duke to the 2001 National Championship while averaging 25.7 points per game in the tournament. Yes, 25.7 points per game. He dropped 17 straight points for the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16 of the 2001 tournament. Unfortunately Jay will most likely be remembered by his motorcycle accident that cut his career short, however he should be remembered as the best point guard of the decade.
3. Kevin Durant (Texas 06-07): If he wasn’t “one and done” at Texas, he could have possibly set every record ever in college basketball. First freshman to win the AP Player of the Year, NABC Division I Player of the Year, the Oscar Robertson Trophy, and the Adolph Rupp Trophy. He averaged 28.9 ppg in Big 12 play. He was the most entertaining player of the decade to watch. Although he made the right decision in leaving for the NBA after one year, I think all college hoops fans, especially Longhorns fans, wished he stuck around for a bit longer. If this video doesn’t make you love him, you’re not a human.
4. JJ Redick (Duke 02-06): Second all-time in ACC career points (Hansbrough surpassed him). In 2005-06, he won the AP Player of the Year, the Wooden Award, and the Naismith Award. He set the most consecutive free throws made in the ACC with 54. I’d also pin him as the most hated player of the decade. He got the most abuse when he walked onto opposing courts, but was loved at Cameron Indoor. I think he changed the game of heckling for fans. Regardless, he has one of the smoothest jumpers ever. Here’s proof. He beat out Halo 2 buddy Adam Morrison to make the list.
5. Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse 02-03): Like Kevin Durant, Melo only stuck around for one year; however it was a memorable one. He was named NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player in leading Syracuse to their first ever title. He scored 33 points against Texas in the Final Four to set an NCAA Tournament for most points scored in a single game by a freshman. He averaged 22.1 points and 10.0 rebounds for the year. Here are some highlights from his only year with the Orange. What was Joe Dumars thinking? Darko? Really?
6. Shane Battier (Duke 97-01): Led Duke, along with Jay Williams, to the National title in 2001. He was the 00-01 AP Player of the Year, 00-01 Wooden Award, 00-01 Naismith Player of the Year, and 00-01 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player. His #31 is retired at Duke. He is known most notably for his play on the defensive end of the floor and made taking a charge popular (or as popular as it can be). Here’s a clip of his time at Duke. It’s the exact opposite of Durant’s highlight mix
7. Juan Dixon (Maryland 98-02): The only player in NCAA history to accumulate 2,000 points, 300 steals, and 200 three-point field goals. He is Maryland’s all-time leading scorer and led the Terrapins to their first NCAA title in 2002. He also earned Most Outstanding Player honors of the Final Four in 2002. He seemed to hit every big shot for Maryland
8. Jameer Nelson (Saint Joseph’s 00-04): Unanimous National Freshman of the Year. In 2004 he won the AP Player of the Year, the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, the Rupp Trophy, and the Oscar Robertson Trophy. In 2003-04 he led the Hawks to a 27-1 record, earning them a #1 seed in the Tournament. He is the school’s all time leader in scoring, assists, and steals.
9. Blake Griffin (Oklahoma 07-09): Griffin’s sophomore season got him on the list. In 2008-09 he broke a Big 12 record with 30 double-doubles. He was one shy of the NCAA mark of 31, held by David Robinson. He won the Naismith Player of the Year in 2009. Let’s take a look at this stat line he had against Texas Tech in ’09: 40 points (8-10 FT’s, 16-22 from the field) and 23 rebounds (7 offensive, 16 defensive). He dunks hard, really hard
10. Emeka Okafor
(Connecticut 01-04): His numbers and accolades may not be as impressive
as the rest of the guys on the list, but to steal a line from Jay Bilas, he was
a “game changer” on the defensive end of the floor. He patrolled the paint
better then anyone this past decade. He is Connecticut’s all time leader in
blocks with 441. He was named the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player in
leading the Huskies to a National title in 2004. He was also named the Academic
All-American of the Year and graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
Honorable Mention: TJ Ford, Adam Morrison, Troy Bell, Michael Beasley
What do you think? Post your tops of the decades list below: