Ranking the 10 Greatest PGs in College Basketball History

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent IJune 27, 2013

Ranking the 10 Greatest PGs in College Basketball History

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    The point guard position has always played a significant role in basketball at any level.

    Having someone who can direct the team's offense and get the ball to the open man, as well as being a scoring threat, is still of utmost importance.

    Here is a list of the top 10 college point guards of all time.

    You will see that they come in all shapes and sizes. No cookie cutters here.

    Some of the players on this list were fantastic scorers. Others were more of the conventional "pass-first" floor generals.

    Regardless, each of these players carved out a significant place in college hoops history by their matchless performances on the hardwood.

    Player stats provided by Sports-reference.com 

10. Gary Payton (Oregon State)

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    Gary Payton could do it all.

    If Oregon State needed points, he could drop in shots from near and far. When one of his teammates was open, the 6’4” guard was a skilled facilitator who delivered a pass so they could score.

    If there was a rebound to grab or a steal to nab, Payton found a way to get his hands on the ball.

    His senior season (1989-90) was one of the Pac-10 conference’s best of all time. He averaged 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 3.4 steals.

    During that year, he was the Pac-10 player of the year, a consensus All-American and the Wooden Award winner.

    After his years were done at Oregon State, “The Glove” was named to the Pac-10 All-Decade team for the 1980s.  

9. Bobby Hurley (Duke)

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    Bobby Hurley is the NCAA’s all-time assists leader (1,076).

    Hurley knew how to win. Duke’s record over his four seasons was 114-26. While he was in Durham (1989-93), the Blue Devils went to the Final Four three times and won consecutive national championships in 1991 and 1992.

    Though he was never thought of as Duke’s go-to guy, Hurley was named the 1992 Final Four Most Outstanding Player and a First-Team All-American in his senior season (1993).

    In 2002, Hurley was selected for the ACC 50th Anniversary men's basketball team indicating that he is one of the best players in conference history.

8. Isiah Thomas (Indiana)

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    Indiana’s Isiah Thomas would have shined in just about any collegiate program, but he clearly stood out in Bob Knight’s motion offense during the 1979-1981 seasons.

    The 6’1” guard from Chicago had the freedom to create and, many times, dominate from his backcourt position.

    Thomas’ numbers don’t tell the whole story. He averaged 15.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.7 assists in his two years as a Hoosier. His masterful on-court leadership, however, turned a good IU team into a national championship winner in 1981.

    “Zeke” earned the 1981 Final Four Most Outstanding Player award and was also selected as a consensus First-Team All-American.

7. Phil Ford (North Carolina)

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    North Carolina’s Phil Ford was a phenomenal floor general.

    Few point guards from any era could do what he did in Dean Smith’s backcourt in 1974-78.

    Out of Smith’s four-corner offense, Ford effectively broke down off the dribble just about every Tar Heel opponent.

    During his UNC days, Ford was arguably the best player in college basketball. He was a consensus All-American during his sophomore, junior and senior seasons. As a senior, he won nearly every major national player of the year award.

    When his time in Chapel Hill was through, he was the only player in ACC history to score at least 2,000 points and hand out more than 600 assists.

    Actually, Ford scored 2,290 points, which, at the time, was No. 1 in school history (now surpassed by Tyler Hansbrough).

6. Guy Rodgers (Temple)

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    Temple’s Guy Rodgers was one of the early pioneers of college basketball. JockBio.com says that the 6’0” guard, “rivaled Bob Cousy as a ballhandler and passer.”

    Even though assists averages were not kept track of in his time, Rodgers once had a 20-assist game while playing at Temple, according to Philly hoops historians.

    PhillyHall.org states that Rodgers is “widely considered the greatest guard to come out of Philadelphia.”

    Over his three years as an Owl, he averaged 19.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG.

    With Rodgers leading the way, Temple finished in third place in the NCAA tournament in both 1956 and 1958.

5. Calvin Murphy (Niagara)

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    Niagara’s Calvin Murphy was one of the highest-scoring point guards in college basketball history.

    In 77 varsity games, the 5’9” mighty mite scored 2,548 points, averaging 33.1 PPG.  As a sophomore, Murphy put up a ridiculous 38.2 points per game.

    Murphy was one of the premiere collegiate players during his time as a Purple Eagle. He was a Second-Team All-American as a sophomore. As a junior and senior, he was a First-Team All-American, alongside such legends as Lew Alcindor and Pete Maravich.

4. Pete Maravich (LSU)

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    LSU’s Pete Maravich is the all-time leading scorer in college basketball history. Over his three years in Baton Rouge, he scored 3,667 points, averaging 44.2 PPG.

    Some college basketball fans branded Pistol Pete as a shooting guard. Others have classified him as a point guard. The fact is, Maravich spent most of the minutes of every game with the ball in his hands. Sounds like a PG to me.

    While his scoring ability is unmatched, Maravich was also a magician in terms of his ball-handling and passing. The lanky 6’5” backcourt wizard could do just about anything with a basketball.

    Not too many players can match Maravich’s personal accomplishments. He was a three-time First-Team All-American.

3. Bob Cousy (Holy Cross)

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    Bob Cousy was the first great college point guard and the best overall player in the 1940s.

    Playing for Holy Cross, Cousy was a three-time All-American.

    The “Houdini of the Hardwood” was an unbelievable ball-handler and an incredible passer. He regularly pulled off moves and zipped passes that left people amazed.

    While he was not known for his scoring, Cousy averaged nearly 18 points per game for his collegiate career.

2. Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati)

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    Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson may be one of the most versatile college basketball players of all time.

    He, like Pete Maravich, played more than just point guard. But, since he had the ball in his hands such a huge percentage of the time, how can you leave him off of this list?

    Robertson was outrageously productive, averaging 33.8 points, 15.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game over his three seasons as a Bearcat. He pulled off the trifecta, being named as an All-American and national player of the year three times.

    More than putting up empty stats, Robertson elevated the Bearcats to the Final Four in two out of three seasons.

1. Magic Johnson (Michigan State)

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    Magic Johnson was the best college point guard of all time.

    At 6’9", he redefined who could play the position.

    Johnson’s mastery of all of the dimensions of point guard play was amazing. He had no holes in his game.

    His two-year (1977-79) collegiate averages were: 17.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.9 assists per game.

    More than simply creating a nice stat line, Johnson made everyone around him better. He was the primary reason that Michigan State won the 1979 NCAA Championship.

    He was selected as a Third-Team All-American as a freshman and was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player. He was also named a First-Team All-American as a sophomore.