Ranking the 10 Greatest College Basketball Stars of the 2000s

Doug BrodessCorrespondent ISeptember 26, 2013

Ranking the 10 Greatest College Basketball Stars of the 2000s

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    sportsillustrated.cnn.com
    sportsillustrated.cnn.com

    College basketball has had no shortage of prolific scorers, tenacious defenders and fierce competitors in the last several years.

    In fact, when you survey the best collegiate hoops talent since 2000, you come up with a fantastic list of players who would be some of the best in any era.

    Here is a list ranking the 10 greatest college basketball stars of the 2000s.

    This list is based on their performance as college players, not what they have done in the NBA.

    Individual and team accomplishments are both important. While a few “one-and-dones” made the list, players who stuck around get additional consideration.

    Here we go!

    Player information is provided by Sportsreference.com.

Honorable Mention

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Many great college basketball players from the 2000s did not make the cut for this list.

    Some of them led their respective teams to national championships. Others earned national player of the year recognition.

    They certainly deserve to be acknowledged for their collegiate accomplishments.

    A few of those players who would make up an honorable mention list are:

    Kemba Walker (Connecticut)

    Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse)

    Joakim Noah (Florida)

    Evan Turner (Ohio State)

    Adam Morrison (Gonzaga)

    Shelden Williams (Duke)

    David West (Xavier)

    Michael Beasley (Kansas State)

    John Wall (Kentucky)

10. Jimmer Fredette (BYU)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 18.7 PPG

    Rebounds: 2.6 RPG

    Assists: 3.7 APG

     

    Awards

    2011 AP Player of the Year, 2011 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2011 Naismith Award, 2011 Wooden Award, 2011 Rupp Trophy, 2011 Sporting News Player of the Year

    BYU’s Jimmer Fredette was one of the top scorers in the 2000s. His 2,599 points placed him as No. 8 among players since the 1997-98 season.

    His 28.9 PPG average in his senior year led the nation. His 18.7 PPG career average set the Mountain West Conference all-time scoring record.

    Fredette single-handedly carried the Cougars and their fans on a wild ride that thrust BYU into the national spotlight and national rankings.

9. Jameer Nelson (St. Joseph's)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 16.8 PPG

    Rebounds: 4.6 RPG

    Assists: 5.7 APG

     

    Awards

    Consensus 2004 First Team All-American, 2004 Wooden Award, 2004 Naismith Award, 2004 Rupp Trophy, 2004 Sporting News Player of the Year, 2004 USBWA Player of the Year and 2004 Bob Cousy Award

    Jameer Nelson was a fantastic four-year collegiate point guard.

    He was not only a prolific scorer, but he also consistently set up his teammates to score.

    He is the Atlantic 10 conference career assists leader with 713 and his school’s all-time scoring leader with 2,094 points.

8. Kevin Durant (Texas)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 25.8 PPG

    Rebounds: 11.1 RPG

    Assists: 1.3 APG

     

    Awards

    2007 Consensus All-American, 2007 USBWA Freshman of the Year, 2007 Naismith Award, 2007 Wooden Award, 2007 Sporting News Player of the Year and 2007 Adolph Rupp Trophy

    Kevin Durant’s college career may have only lasted 35 games, but he squeezed everything he could out of his one year at Texas.

    His bio on his personal website, kevindurant35.com, declares that he ”became the first freshman in NCAA history ever to win the prestigious John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith Award and the Adolph Rupp Trophy.”

    It goes on to say that his 25.8 points per game average led the Big 12 and was fourth in the nation.

    Durant was the third freshman (along with Wayman Tisdale in 1983 and Chris Jackson in 1989) to be selected as a consensus First-Team All American.

    He led the Big 12 in points (903), rebounds (390), blocks (67), free throws (256) and field goals (306).

7. Anthony Davis (Kentucky)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 14.2 PPG

    Rebounds: 10.4 RPG

    Blocks: 4.7 BPG

     

    Awards

    2012 USBWA Freshman of the Year, 2012 NABC Defensive Player of the Year, 2012 AP Player of the Year, 2012 Naismith Award, 2012 Wooden Award, 2012 Sporting News Player of the Year and 2012 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player

    Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was dominant from the moment he stepped on the court in Lexington.

    Davis was hard to pin down on the offensive end. He was able to consistently get free from defenders, shooting an insane 62.3 percent from the floor.

    He used his natural athleticism and keen defensive instincts to lead the nation in blocked shots (186) as a freshman.

    Davis was also a terror on the glass, pulling down double-figure rebounds in 23 of his 40 collegiate games.

    Even on a team of talented, young stars, Davis was the catalyst to leading the Wildcats to the 2012 NCAA national championship.

6. Emeka Okafor (Connecticut)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 13.8 PPG

    Rebounds: 10.6 RPG

    Blocks: 4.3 BPG

     

    Awards

    2003 NABC Defensive Player of the Year, 2004 NABC Defensive Player of the Year, 2004 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2004 NABC Player of the Year, 2004 Big East Player of the Year and 2004 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player

    Emeka Okafor made his name at Connecticut on the defensive end. He was a brutal rim protector and was the anchor for the Huskies defense that eventually won the 2004 NCAA championship.

    Okafor led the nation in rebounding in his junior season and led the Big East his sophomore season.

    He is the Big East’s career shot blocks leader (441, No. 8 in NCAA history). He led the nation in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

    Even though Okafor was not known for his offensive output, he led the nation in field goals (261) in his junior season and he shot 59 percent from the floor over his collegiate career.

5. Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 18.8 PPG

    Rebounds: 11.8 RPG

    Assists: 2.1 APG

     

    Awards

    2009 AP Player of the Year, 2009 Consensus All-American, 2009 Wooden Award Winner and 2009 Naismith Award Winner 

    Blake Griffin was one of the most explosive college basketball players in the 2000s.

    If given just the slightest opening, Griffin was a constant threat to throw down a thunderous dunk.

    He led the nation in rebounding (14.4 RPG) and double-doubles (30) during his sophomore season.

    Griffin’s OU bio details that he shot 61.8 percent in his two years in Norman (a Big 12 career record) and 77.8 percent in six NCAA tournament games (a school record).

    Who knows what would have happened for the Sooners if Griffin would have played another two years at OU.

4. Jay Williams (Duke)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 19.3 PPG

    Rebounds: 3.7 RPG

    Assists: 6.0 APG

     

    Awards

    2000 Sporting News Freshman of the Year, 2001 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2001 NABC Player of the Year, 2002 AP Player of the Year, 2002 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2002 NABC Player of the Year, 2002 Naismith Award, 2002 Rupp Troophy, 2002 Sporting News Player of the Year, 2002 USBWA Player of the Year and 2002 Wooden Award

    Duke’s Jay Willliams was a dynamic scoring point guard.

    He was a relentless penetrator, a dead-eye shooter and a skillful distributor.

    Williams led the ACC in scoring in both his sophomore (21.6 PPG) and junior (21.3 PPG) seasons.

    Averaging 25.7 points per game in the 2001 NCAA tournament, he was a major reason that Duke won it all that year.

3. J.J. Redick (Duke)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 19.9 PPG

    Rebounds: 2.7 RPG

    Assists: 2.2 APG

     

    Awards

    2005 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2005 Rupp Trophy, 2006 AP Player of the Year, 2006 Consensus All-America (First Team), 2006 NABC Player of the Year, 2006 Naismith Award, 2006 Wooden, 2006 Sporting News Player of the Year

    No one shot from beyond the arc better than Duke’s J.J. Redick.

    When he finished his four years in Durham, Redick was the NCAA’s top three-point shooter of all time, knocking down 457 three’s.

    His 2,769 points puts him third among all players since the 1997-98 season.

    Redick shot 91.2 percent from the free-throw line and he led the ACC in scoring in both his junior (21.8 PPG) and senior (26.8 PPG) seasons.

2. Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 20.2 PPG

    Rebounds: 8.6 RPG

    Assists: 1.1 APG

     

    Awards 

    Consensus All-American (2006—Second Team; 2007—First Team; 2008—First Team; 2009—First Team), 2008 Wooden Award, 2008 Naismith Award, 2008 Rupp Trophy, 2008 AP Player of the Year, 2008 Sporting News Player of the Year and 2006 USBWA Freshman of the Year

    North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough had an amazing college basketball career.

    It is rare for a player who performs at the level that he did to stick around to use up all of his eligibility. Hardly anyone wins all of the individual awards that he did as a junior and comes back for another year.

    In doing so, Hansbrough helped the Tar Heels win it all in 2009 as a senior.

    Hansbrough was a super-aggressive competitor who only knew one style of play: relentless.

    The fact that he holds the NCAA career record for free throw attempts (1,241) and made free throws (982) shows that he was always taking the ball to the hole.

    Hansbrough is the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.

    He also led the Tar Heels in scoring and rebounding in each of his four years in Chapel Hill.

    The fact that his collegiate career has not translated into an incredible NBA career should not diminish his accomplishments at UNC.

1. Shane Battier (Duke)

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    Career Averages

    Points: 13.6 PPG

    Rebounds: 6.1 RPG

    Assists: 1.6 APG

     

    Awards

    2001 AP Player of the Year, 2001 Wooden Award, 2001 NABC Defensive Player of the Year, 2001 Sporting News Player of the Year, 2001 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player; Consensus All-American (2000-Second Team; 2001-First Team)

    Shane Battier had a brilliant four-year career at Duke.

    While other players might have more glitzy stat lines, few players in the 2000s have made the overall impact on their team’s success that he did.

    The fact that Battier was selected as the NABC Defensive Player of the Year three times is unreal. Only two other players (Wake Forest’s Tim Duncan and UNLV’s Stacy Augmon) in the history of the award have been selected three times.

    His 111 career charges taken is without comparison.

    Battier knew how to help his team win. During his four year’s at Duke, the Blue Devils went 133-15 (an insane 89.8 winning percentage) and won it all in 2001.

    They were also NCAA runners-up in 1999, and made it to the Elite Eight in 1998 and to the Sweet 16 in 2000.