Arizona Wildcats Basketball: All-Decade Team
As the decade of 00's comes to a close, Arizona fans will probably remember for three main things. Losing Bobbi Olson, the 2001 Championship game run, and the Lute Olson saga.
The second part of the decade, especially the past two years, were turbulent to say the least.
There were ups and downs. The streak has stretched to 25 and the Cats took two trips to the Final Four.
All of that included Arizona had 13 players drafted by NBA teams and all 13 played, some more than others.
Let's take a look back on the best players of the past ten years by position.
Point Guard: Jason Gardner
Gardner was one of the more complete point guards of the Lute Olson era.
He was never concerned about his stats, just about trying to get the win for the team. He could pass, shoot and was the leader of Arizona his last two seasons with the Cats.
Gardner helped lead Arizona to two Elite Eight's and one championship game.
He averaged 14.6 points a game but averaged 17 once the four other starters from the championship team left and he finished out his last two seasons.
His number has been retired by Arizona.
Also considered: Nic Wise
Shooting Guard: Salim Stoudamire
What can you say about Salim?
He was a hothead. He was a cancer in the locker room, but he was good.
He started as a three-point specialist his freshman season but developed into one of the more clutch players in Arizona history.
Many fans remember his game-winning shots over Oklahoma State in the tourney and the game-winner over ASU his senior season.
His point average went up every season culminating in a 18.4 point per game average and hitting 50% of his three-pointers his senior season.
His career ended in a loss to Kansas in the Elite Eight, the second of his career.
Stoudamire was drafted in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2005 NBA Draft.
Also considered: Gilbert Arenas, Jerryd Bayless
Small Forward: Richard Jefferson
Richard Jefferson was never really the star of any Wildcat team.
Everyone always marveled at his athleticism but never took him seriously as a player. That all changed once Jefferson played in the 2001 NCAA tournament.
Jefferson blew up in the tournament, being praised for his hustle and tenacious defense. When Arizona needed to someone to guard Michigan State's Jason Richardson and Duke's Jay Williams, Lute called RJ's name.
Jefferson always had the assignment of guarding the other team's best player (minus centers).
He was the Cats best all-around player of the decade. Could rebound, score, shoot and play defense.
My favorite Jefferson moment was against Stanford. Jefferson was trailing a player and in order to make the block he jumped OVER the player to knock the ball out of the air.
Jefferson was drafted 13th overall in the 2001 draft by the Houston Rockets and has played for the New Jersey Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and San Antonio Spurs.
Also considered: Chase Budinger
Power Forward: Jordan Hill
Hill was the best big man of the past decade.
Hill got his big debut pulled halfway through the season and came out with a bang against ASU.
He scored 12 points and had nine rebounds at his coming out party. He went from averaging five minutes a game to nearly 30 after that game.
Hill proved that he could be a legitimate big man for the Cats despite only having played basketball for three years and being raw.
Hill showed over the next two years that he not only was a good player but one of the better post players in the country.
Hill played out of position at center for the Cats his final season but still put up his best numbers., averaging a 18.6 points and 11 rebounds a game.
Hill battled foul trouble but a lot of this was due to him always trying to block a shot and playing as hard as he could.
He was able to make a big mark as one of the players that Lute was able to pick out as a diamond in the rough.
He was drafted 8th overall by the New York Knicks in the 2009 draft.
Also considered: Michael Wright
Center: Channing Frye
Frye was one of the most complete centers in the Arizona history.
Frye could shoot, pass and despite being rather thin; could still go and get rebounds.
Frye never really had another true power forward or center playing next to him but he was still able to average seven rebounds a game.
He, like Hill, is another one of Olson's diamond in the rough big men. He was lightly recruited out of Phoenix but was able to develop into one of the better shooting big men in the country.
The big man was always a threat with the pick and roll, especially with Stoudamire.
He helped lead Arizona to two Elite Eights, one of which Cats fans wish they could forget.
Frye was picked eighth in the 2005 draft by the New York Knicks. He currently plays for the Phoenix Suns but also has played for the Portland Trailblazers.
Also considered: Loren Woods, Ivan Radenovic
Sixth Man: Luke Walton
For his first two seasons Walton was the ultimate sixth man for the Cats. The only reason he was on the bench was because Jefferson was ahead of him.
Walton was a not a player who would overwhelm you with one aspect of his game. He was good at everything.
His first two years he was a great sixth man off the bench. He would come in and give the Cats good minutes; not demanding the ball, just doing what was necessary in order to help the team.
His last two seasons is where he was able to come and step it up and make a name for himself.
Walton was able to showcase how he could be the glue for the team while also someone that they could count on in order to get the win for the team.
His junior season he was the leading scorer for the Cats averaging 15.6 points, seven rebounds and six assists a game.
His senior season he had a nagging knee injury all season that limited him to only playing in games and not practicing with the team.
Walton was drafted by the Lakers in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft.
Also considered: Eugene Edgerson
Coach: Lute Olson
Despite how his tenure at Arizona ended, this man is Arizona basketball and will always be the Wildcats coach.
2-Time National Coach of the Year.
25 straight tournaments.
5 Final Fours.
1997 National Champions.
Thank you, Lute.