Nowhere has the "one and done" rule been more prevalent than in the Big XII.
We all know about the latest superstars to grace America's Midwest, only to ride off into the sunset after one season. Only five of the 13 players on this list did not leave early for NBA dreams.
It's a shame, for if these great players had stayed around, the Big XII probably would have earned more than just one national championship during this decade.
Nevertheless, short term or not, these names made an indelible mark, not just on the conference, but on the nation as a whole.
Let the debate begin!
Remember when everyone said the Trailblazers should pick Greg Oden and not Kevin Durant?
How's that working out for you?
Anyway, I digress. Durant has always been a pure scorer and his smooth stroke and athletic frame created nightmares for his foes as the Texas star became the poster boy for the infamous "one and done" rule.
Durant may only have one collegiate season on record, but in that time he was a unanimous First-Team All-American, Player of the Year, and Naismith and Robertson Award winner. Heck, he even won an ESPY!
Durant had 20 games in which he scored 30 points or more and his jersey was retired just a week into his NBA career.
Obviously, the Longhorns failed to achieve postseason glory under his watch, losing in the NCAA tournament and in the Big XII Championship game. Nevertheless, his shooting skills and his frame make Durant an all-timer.
There is little doubt that four years in college would have resulted in just about every school record and several Big XII records being rewritten.
Granted it's a hypothetical, but with Durant, it's as close to a sure thing as you could get.
Hmm...I'm starting to sense a pattern here.
Unlike Durant though, Michael Beasley took a team that was far off the radar for most college basketball fans and brought the Kansas State Wildcats to prominence.
Beasley was the Big XII Player of the Year and a First Team All-American. Although he lost out on the Wooden Award to Tyler Hansbrough, Beasley also won several national player of the year honors.
We all know that when it comes to "one and done" seasons, the gold standard is Carmelo Anthony. Although Beasley lost out on the ultimate crown, he did break Anthony's record for double doubles as a freshman. In fact, Beasley's total points and rebounds ranked second and third best for freshmen in NCAA history.
Plus, Beasley owns 30 Kansas State school records in just one season of work. When you talk about a program defining player, he is it.
The *cough* veteran in our front court would be Blake Griffin, a man who spent two whole years in college before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Griffin defines what it means to be a hard-nosed, gritty player. He made his mark on the Big XII with his hustle and strength, even when the going got tough. Let's not forget last season, when Griffin had to overcome the infamous "shot to the jewels," something no player should have to go through.
People tried to knock the giant out, but it seemed to only make him stronger.
Griffin was the Naismith and Wooden Award winner in 2009 as well as the Big XII Player of the Year. He also became a model of consistency; his 30 double doubles were one short of the NCAA record for a single season.
Griffin, along with his brother and Willie Warren, helped propel the Oklahoma Sooners back to the national stage following the departure of Kelvin Sampson.
The Sooners reached 30 wins and were ranked in the Top 10 for 14 of 17 weeks. Griffin and company came painfully close to a Final Four but were denied by eventual champions North Carolina.
Griffin's toughness and brute strength is what separates him from other college players. He had the physique to dominate and his personal achievements, along with team success, makes him a surefire pick.
While the big men dominated the headlines in this decade, let's not forget the little guys.
Kirk Hinrich ran a potent Kansas offense that came breathtakingly close to a national championship in 2003.
While Hinrich may not have racked up the accolades of his teammates, his numbers speak for themselves. The Third Team All-American and the 2003 Midwest Region Most Outstanding Player ranks fourth in assists in Kansas history. He also finished ninth in points and fourth in steals.
Hinrich's jersey was retired among some of the greatest names in college basketball history this decade, an honor befitting the humbled guard. His place on this list is as assured as his place in the Kansas record books.
Ford has everything you could ever want in a college basketball player.
The 2003 Wooden and Naismith Award winner dished out record assist numbers as a freshman and continued to build on his legacy as an All-American and Big XII Rookie of the Year.
Ford also had team success as well. The Texas Longhorns went to their first Final Four since 1947 when Ford was at the point. He was far from spectator either, he led the team in scoring, assists and steals. A year before that as a freshman he had 15 games of double-digit assists.
Although they finished just short of their championship goal, Ford cemented his legacy as an all-time great point guard and became the first ever Texas basketball player to have his number retired. I think he earned it.
You really didn't think we were done with the Jayhawks did you?
Drew Gooden was the 2002 NABC Player of the Year and helped bring Kansas to its first Final Four in nearly 10 years, as well as their first conference title in four seasons.
Gooden and his team lost to the eventual national champions Maryland in the Final Four, but he still ended his career as a winner.
Gooden's team not only brought home some postseason glory, but he was an instrumental part of it. In only three seasons, he finished fifth in school history in rebounding and 12th in scoring and blocks.
The biggest star of the Kansas trio was Nick Collison.
Collison is second all-time in Kansas scoring, behind the incomparable Danny Manning, and third in rebounding. Considering the talent around him, that's truly an amazing accomplishment.
Collison finished his career with Big XII and National Player of the Year honors, a First Team All-American designation, and his Kansas team reached consecutive Final Fours.
There are very few who can compete with those numbers and accomplishments.
Before his infamous run at Kentucky, Billy Gillespie was making headlines for turning around the Texas A & M Aggies. The main player who helped that transformation was the ultra clutch guard, Acie Law IV.
Some of his biggest moments include a late run to knock off Kansas at Cole Field House, a late second dagger against LSU in the NCAA tournament, a buzzer beater against Texas and the following season he hit not one but two game-tying last second shots against the Longhorns in an eventual 98-96 loss.
Unfortunately, Law's career ended on something fans rarely saw: a miss. Law missed a lay up against the Memphis Tigers in the NCAA tournament, ultimately losing the game by a single point.
Law was a two-time All-American and the first Aggie to ever be named All-Big XII first team. He not only transformed the program this decade but may have more ice water in his veins than any other player on this list.
So Tinsley barely made it into this decade, but whether by an inch or a mile, the Cyclone made an indelible mark on the Big XII landscape.
Tinsley was the 2001 Big XII Player of the Year and a Second Team All-American, averaging over 14 points and six assists per game.
Tinsley may have only lasted two years in college, but he was a central piece to the Larry Eustachy program in the beginning of the decade. As a freshman, Tinsley earned Big XII Rookie of the Year honors, and along with Marcus Fizer, reached the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Michigan State.
The next season, Tinsley led the Cyclones to a second straight regular season conference title, but his career ended abruptly with a loss to Hampton in the first round, a 15 seed knocking off a two seed.
That loss marked the beginning of the end of Eustachy's infamous run. Since that season, Iowa State has one NCAA tournament appearance to its name. Of course, they can look back and remember the heights they achieved not too long ago.
Another player whose college career was all too short from a Longhorn fan's perspective, D.J. Augustin was a leader at point guard, helping guide Texas to a 56-17 record en route to capturing the Bob Cousy Award in his sophomore season for the best point guard in the country.
Augustin was immensely talented and a freakish athlete with a basketball IQ that rose exponentially in just two seasons. Augustin's career ended in the Elite Eight, improving upon the previous season's result when the team had Kevin Durant in the burnt orange uniform.
To lead a team lacking one of the most dynamic players in program history is impressive enough, but to be able to do that while averaging 17 points and seven assists per game is even better.
The First Team All-American is worthy of this list, and then some.
Oklahoma State had several deserving nominees from its Final Four team in 2004.
Tony Allen though, is the only one of that famous trio to take home the Big XII Player of the Year and the only Cowboy to ever reach 1,000 points in just two seasons.
Allen was a versatile swingman who consistently put up good numbers from everywhere on the court. The junior college transfer helped transform the program and took the Cowboys to only their second Final Four in 16 seasons under head coach Eddie Sutton.
The sudden resignation of Sutton following a DUI incident certainly hurt the program, but the Cowboys appear to be back. After two disappointing seasons with Sean Sutton, Travis Ford has brought the Cowboys back to the NCAA tournament and has them in prime position for a good run to end the decade.
Still, Allen and company serve as a reminder of the pinnacle of Oklahoma State basketball this decade.
The Jayhawk love continues.
Simien was a two-time All-American, Big XII Player of the Year, and a finalist for the Wooden Award his final two seasons at Kansas. Simien also finished in the top 15 at Kansas for career points.
Simien went to the Final Four his freshman year alongside Collison and Hinrich, but his senior campaign is forever stained with a shocking loss in the first round to Bucknell.
Simien was a strong athlete and his credentials are certainly worthy of this list.
Rounding out our list is one more Kansas Jayhawk.
Yes, there are plenty of them, but that shows just how good Kansas has been during this time period.
Brandon Rush was the Big XII Rookie of the Year and a three-time First Team All-Big XII member. He also made the All-American honorable mention list two out of his three seasons and was a central piece to Kansas when they made their championship run.
That being said, it should be remembered that it almost did not happen. Rush, like about everyone else on this list, was going to leave very early until an injury cost him his opportunity. The extra season though paid off with the only Big XII NCAA championship of the decade.
Fate is a funny thing sometimes. Seems like it worked out just fine.
This is not the slam dunk it may appear to be.
What Rick Barnes has been able to do at Texas is pretty incredible, while Bill Self inherited an amazing program from Roy Williams and a history of success.
On the other hand, Barnes inherited a football school and made it one of the most talented teams each and every season they laced them up.
Still, Self owns the hardware that every coach so desperately covets.
Self also had three straight Big XII tournament titles to go along with five straight regular season crowns.
Self's conference record of 78-18 is almost unimaginable and that is why he is the Big XII coach of the decade.