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By Michael Dugan

mdevildugan@yahoo.com

December 16th, 2005

 

Pac-10's Ten Best of the Last Ten Years

 

Though the Pac-10 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, “The 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 400 assists.

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 truePerhaps 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 (99-02) – 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.

 

Luke Ridnour, 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 (94-98) – 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 (01-05) – 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.

 

 

 

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