December 16th, 2005
Ten Best of the Last Ten Years
struggles to garner national attention the likes of which the ACC, Big East,
SEC and Big 12 have become accustomed, the history of the league more than
holds its own. Indeed, UCLA’s 10 national titles in 12 years, and 88-game
winning streak, not to mention the names Alcindor, Walton, Hazzard, Goodrich
and Wooden take a back seat to no one.
More recently, with the
possible exception of Duke, perhaps no one has enjoyed more success than
Arizona. The Wildcats have made 21 straight appearances in the NCAA
tournament—a nation best—including a national championship in 1997, four
trips to the Final Four and 11 to the Sweet Sixteen.
Bottom line, then, if you
can play in the Pac -10, you can play anywhere.
Keep in mind, however,
that this list is based on entirely upon a player’s college
performance. Therefore, success, or lack thereof, at the pro level is
immaterial. Accordingly, that’s why you won’t see Baron Davis or Gilbert
Arenas – great NBA players, whose short college careers prevented their
inclusion – and will see others that, while gems at the college level, have
not enjoyed comparable success in the pros. So, without further adieu,
Pac 10’s Best Ten Players of the Last Ten Years” :
Toby Bailey, UCLA (94-98) –
As a freshmen,
Bailey scored 26 points in the national title game against Arkansas, helping
the Bruins win their first championship since 1975. The 3-time
all-conference selection finished his career at UCLA ranked fourth on the
all-time scoring list, and is the only Bruin ever to record 1,600 points and
Mike Bibby, Arizona
(96-98) – To
be fair, he had a short college career too. Yet, in just two years he
established himself in ways that Arenas and Davis did not. He helped Arizona
win their only national title in 1997 by averaging 18 points during the
tournament, including 20 in the championship game versus Kentucky. In 1998,
he won Pac-10 Player of the Year and was also a consensus first team
All-American. Maybe the smartest player of this time, Bibby had an innate
court awareness that allowed him to see the entire floor at all times.
Ike Diogu, Arizona State
(02-05) – In
2005, Diogu was named Pac 10 Player of the Year after he became the first
player ever to lead the conference in scoring, rebounding and block shots.
In addition, he was Pac 10 Freshmen of the Year in 2003 and was named
all-conference three times. His 21.4 ppg career scoring average places him
5th all-time in conference history.
Eddie House, Arizona
State (96-00) –
Hard to believe a program
as bad as ASU had two players this good, but its true. Perhaps the
best pure scorer of the last ten years, House—a two-time all-conference
selection and 2000 Pac 10 Player of the Year—once scored 61 points in a
game, tying a record held by Lew Alcindor.
Casey Jacobsen, Stanford
Jacobsen was a deadly outside shooter who developed the ability to put the
ball on the floor and score off the dribble as well. The 46% career
three-point shooter was a second team All-American in 2002 and a three-time
all-conference selection. Before leaving for the NBA following his junior
season, he set 55 Stanford records.
Jason Kapono, UCLA
(99-03) – One
of only three players to be named All-Pac 10 four times, Kapono is fourth in
UCLA history in scoring with 2,064 career points, which is also good for 10th
in Pac 10 history. He shared Freshman of the Year honors with Jacobsen in
2000. Second in conference history with 313 three-pointers made.
Oregon (00-03) – The passing ability of John Stockton and the flash
of Pete Maravich made Ridnour one of the most entertaining Pac 10 players in
recent memory. Still, his game had more than enough substance to garner
Freshman of the Year honors in 2001 and Player of the Year honors in 2003.
Miles Simon, Arizona
Simon was neither fast nor particularly strong. He also had an awkward
looking jump shot and, for good measure, was a total bust as a pro. Yet,
three weeks during the spring of ’97 cemented his place on this list. He
was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after he averaged 22
points during the tournament and hit countless big shots against Kentucky in
one of the best final games ever.
Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
There are a number of reasons why he shouldn’t be on this list. Before his
senior year, he had a reputation for being moody, undisciplined and largely
unreliable. Still, it’s hard to think of a better shooter—ever—or, for that
matter, one who hit bigger shots, and that’s why he belongs (In fact, it’s
difficult to remember a big shot he missed). Last year, he was
all-conference and set Pac 10 records for most three-pointers in a season,
as well as a career.
Jason Terry, Arizona
(95-99) – As a
sophomore, Terry was a defensive specialist on a team that won the national
title. By the end of his senior season, he was National Player of the Year
in some circles, most notably Sports Illustrated, and was the Pac
10’s Player of the Year and a consensus first team All-American.