With a dazzling recruiting class set to re-energize Arizona basketball, it’s an ideal time to look back at the ranks of the Wildcat greats the incoming freshmen are hoping to join. Arizona has accumulated quite a collection of stars (especially for a program that didn't win its first NCAA tournament game until 1976), and 41 of them have gone on to play in the NBA.
The most recent addition to that pantheon was 2011 NCAA tournament hero Derrick Williams. The versatile forward led an Elite Eight run to cap an All-America sophomore season in Tucson.
Herein, a closer look at Williams and the rest of the 50 greatest players ever to wear a Wildcat uniform.
A little-used reserve on Arizona’s first Final Four team in 1988, Jud Buechler developed into a top-notch glue guy, doing a little of everything to help Arizona win. As a senior, he averaged 14.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and four assists a game from his SF spot.
Buechler’s versatility and effort made him a valued bench player throughout his 12 pro seasons.
He put up his best numbers in Golden State, but enjoyed his greatest success as a Bull, where he was a reserve on Michael Jordan’s last three title teams.
Matt Muehlebach, who recorded the first triple-double in Arizona history in the 1990 Pac-10 tournament, had a shooting stroke few players could match.
Muehlebach’s 163 career three-pointers are the ninth-most in school history, and his .419 accuracy from long range is fifth on that list.
Muehlebach was also a fine passer, but he still failed to make much of an impression on NBA scouts. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
5’10” Nic Wise is the latest entry in Arizona’s grand tradition of undersized guards.
He may only have blocked eight shots in four seasons, but he had the shooting touch to drain 160 three-pointers (10th most in school history) and the quickness to be a devastating defender (167 steals, ninth).
Wise’s small stature made sure he wouldn’t be drafted by the NBA. He’s currently playing in Europe.
The nation’s top volleyball player as a high school senior, Chase Budinger put that athletic ability to good use on the basketball court. Budinger’s career average of 17 points a game is the 10th highest in school history.
As a pro, Budinger has been one of the Rockets’ most consistent offensive options off the bench. Over three seasons so far, he’s averaging 9.4 points per contest (along with a respectable 3.4 rebounds).
Bill Davis averaged 16.4 points a night from his power forward spot, but he was even tougher on the glass. Davis grabbed 9.1 rebounds per game in his Arizona career, the ninth-best mark in school history.
Davis was drafted by the Suns, but not until the 12th round. He never played in the NBA.
His three-point stroke didn’t develop until he got to the pros, but Chris Mills was still a tremendous scoring option at Arizona.
The Kentucky transfer ranks ninth in Wildcat history in scoring (17.2 points a game) and averaged better than seven rebounds a game as a small forward.
A rare first-round pick who wasn’t a complete bust for Cleveland, Mills gave the Cavs four strong seasons before leaving as a free agent.
Injuries wrecked the tail end of his career, but at his best, he averaged 15.1 points a game and hit as many as 39.2 percent of his three-point tries.
The gem of Lute Olson’s first class of freshmen at Arizona, Pete Williams was a blue-collar power forward at 6’7”. He averaged 9.2 rebounds a game for his Arizona career, the eighth-best mark all-time for a Wildcat.
A fourth-round pick of the Nuggets, Williams didn’t have the scoring punch to succeed under coach Doug Moe. He lasted just 58 games over two seasons in Denver, although he did average 2.5 boards in just over 10 minutes a night.
For all Derrick Williams’ skill as a rebounder (8.3 boards a game in his stellar sophomore campaign), it was his scoring that made the biggest impact at Arizona.
Williams—who led a surprise Elite Eight run in 2011 with 32 points and 13 rebounds in an upset of top-seeded Duke—finished with a career average of 17.8 points a game, tied for the seventh-best figure in Wildcat history.
Williams had the bad luck to be drafted by a Timberwolves team that doesn’t currently have a place to put him in the starting frontcourt. As a rookie, he averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds a night off the bench.
After two years of barely playing at UC Irvine, Tom Tolbert became a key inside presence for Arizona. The 6’7” PF was the second-leading scorer during Arizona’s 1988 run to the Final Four, averaging 14.1 points along with 5.8 rebounds a night.
Tolbert, now an ESPN analyst, spent seven years as an NBA journeyman. He played his best seasons on the Tim Hardaway-led Warriors, averaging as many as 8.8 points and 5.2 rebounds a game.
Jordan Hill’s length (6’10”) and leaping ability meant that he was tailor-made for blocking shots. He swatted 140 of them in three college seasons, the sixth-best mark in Arizona history.
Hill hasn’t seen much playing time to this point in his NBA career, but he’s earned his keep off the bench. He split this season between Houston and L.A. (joining the Lakers in the Derek Fisher deal), averaging five points and 4.8 rebounds a game.
Herman Harris was a terrific scorer who averaged as many as 20 points a game in a Wildcat uniform, but he saved his greatest performance for the biggest stage.
In a 1976 Sweet 16 showdown with UNLV, Harris poured in 31 points—including the game-tying bucket with 14 seconds to play—to send the Wildcats to an overtime victory and their first ever Elite Eight appearance.
Harris became a second-round pick of the 76ers, but couldn’t make the roster. He never played in the NBA.
6’10” center A.J. Bramlett anchored the middle for Arizona’s 1997 national champs. He grabbed 817 rebounds (eighth all-time for a Wildcat), and his total of 104 career blocks is the seventh highest in school history.
Bramlett was drafted by the Cavaliers in the second round, but he never found a niche in the pros. The sum total of his NBA career was 61 minutes over eight games, and he didn’t block a single shot.
Like many Arizona point guards, Matt Othick was a deadeye three-point shot (191 career treys, fifth best in program history). He was just as dangerous as a passer, dishing out the seventh-most assists for a Wildcat all-time (552).
Undrafted out of school, Othick got a brief trial with the Spurs in 1992. He lasted just four games in the NBA, totaling eight points and seven assists for his career.
Lute Olson earned a reputation for developing top-flight point guards, and one of his first success stories was 6’0” Kenny Lofton.
The lightning-quick Lofton dished out 3.4 assists per game—mostly off the bench—and racked up a remarkable 200 steals, a school record at the time and still good for fifth in program history.
Lofton wasn’t drafted by the NBA, not least because the scouts knew he was planning to record his steals in another sport altogether.
He went on to a magnificent career as an MLB leadoff man, making six consecutive All-Star teams (mostly with the Indians) and swiping 622 bases in his career.
On a side note, Lofton—along with former N.C. State forward and Oriole pitcher Tim Stoddard—is one of only two players in history to appear in both a Final Four and a World Series.
Sean Rooks had a surprisingly effective shooting touch for a 6’10”, 250-lb center. Rooks averaged as many as 16.3 points and 6.9 rebounds a game in a Wildcat uniform, and his 142 blocks are the fifth-best total in program history.
Rooks spent a dozen seasons in the NBA, mostly as a big body off the bench. His best performance came in his rookie year with Dallas, when he gave the Mavs a second-round steal by averaging 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.
A 6’10” center with few offensive skills, Eddie Myers’ role was to control the boards. He did that in spades, averaging 9.5 rebounds a night to tie for sixth place in Wildcat history.
A 10th-round pick of the Baltimore Bullets (now the Wizards), Myers couldn’t earn a roster spot in a frontcourt that already featured Hall of Fame center Wes Unseld. He never played in the NBA.
Brian Williams brought equal parts brawn and finesse as a 6’9” center with a dangerous jump shot.
The Maryland transfer averaged as many as 14 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, and his .591 career field-goal percentage is the third highest in program history.
Williams, who would later change his name to Bison Dele, became a fine NBA center who averaged as many as 16.2 points and 8.9 rebounds a game in an eight-year career.
Sadly, he’s probably most remembered for his tragic disappearance in the South Pacific in 2002—he’s presumed dead, possibly at the hands of his older brother, and his body has never been found.
Michael Dickerson was (at 6’5”) the biggest member of the high-scoring backcourt that carried Arizona to the 1997 national title.
He didn’t do a whole lot outside of his shooting, but he hit 36.6 percent of his three-pointers and racked up the eighth-most points (1,791) in school history.
In the NBA, Dickerson might have been most notable for being sent to the Grizzlies in the post-draft deal that brought Steve Francis to Houston.
In three fine seasons with the Grizz before injuries derailed his career, he averaged as many as 18.2 points a game and shot as high as .433 from three-point range.
An impressive dunker at the power forward position, Michael Wright made his biggest impact on Arizona's 2001 Final Four squad as a rebounder. Wright’s 832 career boards are the sixth most in school history.
Wright was a second-round pick of the Knicks, but he couldn’t make the roster. He never played in the NBA, though he’s still playing in Europe a decade after his college career ended.
A member of the first class of college freshmen allowed to play varsity hoops, Eric Money became a leader of Arizona’s Kiddie Korps. The 6’0” combo guard averaged 18.6 points a game for his Wildcat career, the sixth-best mark in program history.
An early-entry NBA player when those were an extreme rarity, Money left after his sophomore year and joined the Detroit Pistons.
He turned in five double-digit scoring averages in six pro seasons, posting career highs of 18.6 points and 4.7 assists a game in 1977-78.
Decades after his playing days were over, Albert Johnson gave the Tucson Citizen an apt summary of his offensive talents: “I scored, but it was all on rebounds.”
The hard-nosed PF averaged 9.9 boards a game for his Wildcat career, the fifth-best figure in program history.
Johnson went undrafted and never played in the NBA. His basketball career didn’t end with his graduation, though, as he spent two years as a Harlem Globetrotter before an eye injury forced him to retire.
For all Andre Iguodala’s phenomenal athleticism, he really didn’t put up very impressive numbers at Arizona.
In his one year as a starter, he averaged 12.9 points and 8.4 rebounds a game from his SF spot, though his 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals a night hinted at his NBA potential.
A stalwart for eight seasons thus far in Philadelphia, Iguodala just made his first All-Star appearance despite posting a comparatively disappointing 12.4 points per game.
For his career, the multi-talented swingman is averaging 15.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
The epitome of the point forward, Luke Walton was one of the greatest passers ever at a school renowned for its distributors. Walton, who also scored as many as 15.7 points a game, dished out 582 assists, fifth in school history.
Twice an NBA champion as a Lakers reserve, Walton was shipped to Cleveland this season in the Ramon Sessions deal.
He’s well on the downside of his career at this point, but in his prime in Los Angeles, he averaged as many as 11.4 points, five rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
One of the few true seven-footers in Arizona history, Ed Stokes never managed to parlay his height into much of an offensive game. On defense, though, Stokes was a top-notch weapon, blocking 167 shots to rank fourth in Wildcat history.
Stokes was drafted by the Heat in Round 2, but didn’t make the roster. He did get a cup of coffee with the Raptors a few years later, but lasted just four games in the NBA.
Bill Warner was a respectable rebounder from his small forward spot—6.7 boards a game for his career—but his bread and butter was scoring. Warner averaged 18.7 points a game at Arizona, tied for the fourth-best figure in program history.
Warner was drafted by the Buffalo Braves (now the Clippers), but not until the 11th round. He never played in the NBA.
A high-flying small forward at 6’7”, Richard Jefferson was more successful at pumping up Arizona fans than putting up impressive numbers. He averaged a workmanlike 11.2 points a game over three college seasons, along with five rebounds per contest.
Always a valuable scorer as a pro (15.8 points a game overall), Jefferson has developed a superlative three-point shot in the latter part of his career.
He finished this season as a Warrior (arriving from San Antonio in the Stephen Jackson trade), where he hit .418 from long range and scored nine points a game off the bench.
After three years trapped behind the great Damon Stoudamire, Reggie Geary got his chance to shine as a senior.
A monster final season helped the 6’2” point guard finish sixth in school history in career assists (560) and fourth in steals (208).
A second-round pick of the Cavaliers, Geary flopped at the next level. Even his brilliant defense deserted him, as he recorded just 50 steals over two seasons with Cleveland and San Antonio.
An outstanding defender who averaged 1.9 steals a game, Gilbert Arenas was a leader for Arizona’s 2001 Final Four squad. He scored a team-high 16.2 points a game that year, shooting .416 from beyond the arc.
For all the headaches Arenas has caused his own teams as a pro, he’s also been a devastating offensive weapon.
He didn’t produce much in limited action with the Grizzlies this season, but in his prime in Washington he made three straight All-Star teams and averaged as many as 29.3 points and 6.1 assists a night.
In two seasons after transferring from Wake Forest, Loren Woods dominated the Pac-10 with his defense in helping Arizona reach the 2001 Final Four.
The 7’1” center set a single-season Arizona record with 102 blocks, and his 186 career rejections are good for third among Wildcats all-time.
Woods’ skill set never quite translated to the NBA. He played parts of six seasons as a reserve, but his stats topped out at 3.9 points and 4.9 rebounds a game (as a Raptor in 2004-05).
A pure rebounder with few equals, Bill Reeves was Arizona’s first great post presence. He grabbed a then-school record 837 boards (still fifth on the program’s charts), and his average of 10.7 rebounds a game is the third best for a Wildcat all-time.
Players with gaudy rebounding stats were easier to come by in 1957, and Reeves went undrafted. He never played in the NBA.
A second-team All-American during the 1988 Final Four campaign, Steve Kerr initiated a long line of brilliant scoring point guards at Arizona.
The 6’3” Kerr averaged as many as 4.2 assists per game as a Wildcat and also set a school record with an absurd .573 percentage on 199 three-point attempts (all as a senior, the year the arc was introduced).
Passing and three-point marksmanship were also the skills that kept Kerr in the NBA for 15 productive years as a reserve.
He won three titles with Michael Jordan in Chicago and two more with Tim Duncan in San Antonio, and his career .454 three-point percentage is an NBA record.
Joseph Blair didn’t get many shots on a team featuring Damon Stoudamire and Khalid Reeves, but he made them count, setting a Wildcat record with a .613 career shooting percentage.
He also cleaned up on defense as the anchor of the 1994 Final Four squad, finishing with the eighth-most blocked shots (101) in school history.
Blair was a second-round pick of the Sonics, but never played in the NBA. He had more success in some very different leagues, playing a season with the Harlem Globetrotters and later winning Euroleague MVP honors in 2002-03.
Although he was a terrific defender whose 187 steals rank sixth in program history, Khalid Reeves will always be remembered as a scorer.
Reeves, whose offense keyed a Final Four run in his senior year, is fifth all-time among Wildcats with 1,925 career points.
Reeves never justified the lottery pick Miami spent on him, but he did bounce around the league for a few years as an instant-offense bench option. In his best season (as a rookie with the Heat), he averaged 9.2 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Forward Ernie McCray held Arizona’s career scoring record for 11 years, and his average of 17.8 points a game is tied for seventh best in program history.
He was even more impressive on the glass, grabbing 10.8 rebounds a night to rank second among Wildcats all-time.
McCray was picked by the Cincinnati Royals (now the Kings) in the 17th round, back when such a thing existed. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t make the roster and never played in the NBA.
Standing 6’4” with outstanding strength and leaping ability, Hassan Adams did everything as a shooting guard except hit three pointers (.311 for his career).
Adams’ finishing ability helped him pile up the seventh-best point total in school history (1,818), and his quickness and length made him a first-class defender who recorded 238 steals (second among Wildcats all-time) and 85 blocks (ninth).
After being picked in the second round by the Nets, Adams fizzled quickly in the NBA. He averaged just 7.5 minutes a game over one season each with New Jersey and Toronto, managing a paltry 2.5 points per contest.
Yet another tremendous scoring point guard, Mike Bibby ran the offense for the 1997 national champs as a freshman.
He went on to average 17.2 points and 5.7 assists per game as a sophomore, and his 164 steals in two seasons are the 10th most in program history.
At age 34, Bibby is still clinging to an NBA career after averaging 2.1 assists per game off the Knicks bench. In his prime with Sacramento, he earned a reputation as a deadly postseason performer and averaged as many as 21.1 points and six assists a night.
Mustafa Shakur is Exhibit A for how high the standards have been raised for an Arizona point guard, and not just because his legacy suffers from not having made a Final Four appearance.
Shakur’s 670 assists are the sixth most in the history of the Pac-10 conference, but they’re only good for a distant second place at his own school.
After two All-Star selections in the D-League, the undrafted Shakur finally made his NBA debut midway through the 2010-11 season.
He played just 7.2 minutes per game in 22 appearances with Washington before spending 2011-12 playing in Europe.
A solid all-around center who averaged as many as 17.5 points a game with the Wildcats, Anthony Cook was a peerless defender.
His 278 blocks still stand as the school record after more than two decades, and he grabbed 861 rebounds to place fourth on that list.
Cook was a first-round pick of the Suns (traded on draft night to Detroit), but injuries kept him from making much of an impact in the NBA.
He made his debut in 1990-91 with the Nuggets, posting career highs of 5.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, but was out of the league for good after four seasons.
As dangerous as Miles Simon was over his four-year career—he hit 176 three-pointers, eighth-most in school history—he did his best work in the postseason.
During Arizona’s 1997 national title run, Simon lit up the NCAA tournament field to the tune of 22 points a game in earning Most Outstanding Player honors.
Simon was drafted by the Magic in the second round, but he was given little opportunity to succeed in the NBA. He played just 19 total minutes over five games as a pro.
Arizona’s fourth-leading scorer all-time with 1,960 points, Salim Stoudamire was one of the greatest three-point shooters in Pac-10 history.
His school-record 342 career treys are second best for the conference all-time, and he ranks third on the league charts with a career percentage of .458 from long range.
Stoudamire couldn’t match the NBA success of his cousin Damon. Salim played three years as an Atlanta reserve, shooting an enviable .366 from three-point range but scoring no more than 9.7 points per game for a season.
Coniel “Popcorn” Norman was the best of Arizona’s Kiddie Korps scoring stars of the early ‘70s. The 6’3” SG poured in 23.9 points a game for his career, the highest average (by four points) of any Wildcat ever.
A third-round pick of the 76ers after his sophomore season, Norman never found his footing as a pro. Even in his best year—also his final season, with the Clippers—he averaged just 7.3 points a game.
Although he didn’t emerge as a big-time scorer until his senior year, Jason Terry still had plenty to contribute in the Arizona backcourt.
A standout freshman for the 1997 national champs, Terry ranks fourth in program history in three-pointers made (193) and eighth in assists (493), and he holds the school record with 245 steals in just three seasons.
Terry shows few signs of slowing down at age 34, having just averaged more than 15 points a game for the seventh straight season. He’s thrived as a bench player for Dallas, earning Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2008-09.
A 6’7” power forward wasn’t all that big even in the mid-'70s, but Al Fleming still managed to become one of Arizona’s most overpowering low-post players ever.
His 1,765 points are the 10th most in program history, and he still holds the school record with 1,190 career rebounds.
Drafted in the second round by Phoenix, Fleming didn’t make it into a game until Seattle signed him as a free agent the following season. He played 20 games with the Sonics, scoring a grand total of 40 points in the process.
A mobile 6’11” center, Channing Frye had all the skills you look for in a top-drawer big man. He finished his career in Arizona’s all-time top 10 in scoring (1,789 points, ninth), rebounding (975 boards, third) and blocks (258, second).
Frye has come into his own as a pro since joining forward-poor Phoenix. He’s coming off his third straight season of 10-plus points and five-plus rebounds per game.
Later point guards had more wins or more NBA success, but no Wildcat in history has controlled games with his passing skills like Russell Brown. Brown’s 810 career assists are an Arizona record and the third most in Pac-10 history.
Brown had no real ability to create his own shots—5.1 points per game as a senior—and went undrafted out of Arizona. He never played in the NBA.
A junior-college star before transferring to Arizona, Joe Skaisgir exceeded all expectations for his Division I performance.
The smooth-shooting swingman averaged 19.9 points a game for his career (second best in school history), and he holds the Wildcat record with an average of 11.2 boards a night.
Skaisgir’s collegiate dominance wasn’t enough to impress NBA scouts. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
Despite playing most of his career alongside super scorer Khalid Reeves, point guard Damon Stoudamire managed to rack up 1,849 points (the sixth-best total in school history).
Mighty Mouse did his best work as a distributor, where his 663 assists are third best for the program, but he also grabbed 174 steals (eighth) and helped lead the Wildcats to the 1994 Final Four.
The first ever draft pick of the expansion Raptors, Stoudamire gave Toronto two-and-a-half seasons of 20-point, nine-assist averages before being traded to Portland. For his 13-year career, he averaged 13.4 points and 6.1 assists a night.
The greatest interior player in Wildcat history, the 6’9” Bob Elliott led the Wildcats to their first ever Elite Eight berth (and first two NCAA tournament victories) in 1976.
Elliott is second in school history in both points (2,125, which stood as a record for over a decade) and rebounds (1,083).
For all his college productivity, Elliott couldn’t make the grade in the NBA. Over three seasons as a Net, he posted mediocre averages of seven points and 3.6 rebounds a night.
Of all Arizona’s brilliant guards, none managed to dominate in every facet of the game like Jason Gardner.
The floor leader of the Wildcats’ 2001 Final Four run ranks third in school history in scoring (1,984 points), second in three-pointers made (318), fourth in assists (622) and third in steals (225).
Thanks primarily to his 5’10” height, even Gardner’s extraordinary college performance couldn’t get him into the NBA. He went undrafted and never played in the league.
Although Sean Elliott won the Wooden Award (the only Wildcat so honored) in 1989, it was his 1988 performance that earns him the top spot on this list.
The high-scoring forward—Arizona’s career leader by leaps and bounds with 2,555 points—announced his program’s arrival as a national contender by leading the Wildcats to their first-ever Final Four.
A two-time All-Star as a pro, Elliott spent his entire career with the Spurs, who had made him the third overall pick.
He was an outstanding three-point shooter (.375 career) who averaged as many as 20 points a game and helped space the floor for David Robinson’s 1999 NBA champs.