The 7 Greatest Diaper Dandies in College Basketball History

Bobby KittredgeContributor IIINovember 1, 2012

The 7 Greatest Diaper Dandies in College Basketball History

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    Ever since ESPN personality Dick Vitale began his broadcasting career in 1979, the college basketball world has been treated to an inventive vocabulary that spices up each and every season.

    Perhaps the best of Dickie V's terminology is "Diaper Dandy," used to reference the outstanding freshmen that captivate college basketball fans in their very first seasons playing at the NCAA level.

    The Diaper Dandy crop has become increasingly abundant in recent years after the NBA's 2005 collective bargaining agreement imposed the stipulation that, starting with the 2006 draft, all players must be at least one year removed from high school. 

    Here is a look at the seven best Diaper Dandies to play the game since the 1979-80 season, when Dickie V began a career that has enriched college basketball for us to this day. These impossibly exclusive rankings are based on a combination of the players' individual performances and accolades during their freshmen seasons and, even more importantly, the success that their teams achieved during that year. 

7. Michael Jordan, University of North Carolina

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    Because he played second fiddle to the likes of James Worthy during his freshman year before going on to more impressive seasons of his own at UNC, Michael Jordan isn't often included in conversations about the greatest Diaper Dandies. 

    The young MJ averaged 13.4 points per game and earned ACC Freshman of the Year honors during the 1981-82 season, however, and was vital to the Tarheels' success as soon as he got to college.

    Most important were the 16 points that he scored during the 1982 National Championship Game, including the famous game-winning jump shot that he hit to beat Georgetown.

    The culmination of that season is what puts Jordan on this list and was a prelude to the first team All-American selections, Naismith Player of the Year Honors, and third overall selection in the 1984 NBA Draft that would follow.

6. Chris Webber, University of Michigan

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    Before John Calipari's teams of extraordinary freshmen at Kentucky, there was Michigan's Fab Five.

    Chris Webber was the leader of the all-freshman group that took the 1991-92 college basketball season by storm, becoming fan favorites and bringing swagger to the game. 

    Webber's double-double average of 15.5 points and 10 rebounds was fantastic in itself, but was nothing compared to the inexperienced team's collective run to the 1992 NCAA Championship Game. Though the team was beaten badly by Duke in that contest, it remains one of the most recognized squads in college basketball history.

    Webber would go on to take Michigan to the championship game again in 1993, losing once again in infamous fashion to UNC before becoming the first overall pick of the 1993 NBA Draft.

5. Wayman Tisdale, University of Oklahoma

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    A year after Jordan's freshman campaign at UNC, Wayman Tisdale did things that no other first-year player had ever done before during the 1982-83 season at the University of Oklahoma.

    Tisdale averaged a double-double of epic proportions in his freshman season for the Sooners, amassing 24.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. 

    Those numbers were good enough to make Tisdale the first ever freshman to be named to the first-team AP All-American squad. Tisdale's name will forever be connected to college basketball's Diaper Dandies as the Basketball Writers Association's National Freshman of the Year Award is now named after him. 

    The team success wasn't there for this particular Diaper Dandy, however, as Tisdale and his Oklahoma squad lost to Indiana in the second round of of the 1983 NCAA Tournament. 

    Tisdale would go on to be the second overall pick of the 1985 NBA Draft.

4. Pervis Ellison, Louisville University

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    Despite his lack of experience, as a Diaper Dandy, Pervis Ellison was able to serve as the piece that brought Louisville a national championship in 1986. 

    Ellison averaged 13.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks during his 1985-86 freshman season. He took his game to another level when the Cardinals needed him most, however, earning NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors en route to defeating Duke in the title game.

    Ellison went on to be the first overall pick in the 1989 NBA Draft.

3. Kevin Durant, University of Texas

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    In the first season that was affected by the 2005 NBA collective bargaining agreement's new draft eligibility rules, Kevin Durant played out his one-and-done career at the University of Texas.

    His 2006-07 dominance and season statistics instantly catapulted him into the top echelon of Diaper Dandies as he averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Longhorns. 

    The thing that really set Durant's lone collegiate season apart, however, was the fact that he was awarded Naismith College Player of the Year honors. The award, which had its inaugural year in 1969, had never once been awarded to a freshman in its nearly 40 years of existence. 

    It would be hard to dispel an argument for Durant as the greatest Diaper Dandy of all time, except that he and his Longhorn teammates faltered in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. Texas lost in just the second round, falling to USC and another Diaper Dandy by the name of O.J. Mayo.

    Following that season, Durant was chosen second overall in the 2007 NBA Draft.

2. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse University

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    It's tough to identify a single player who meant more to his team than Carmelo Anthony did to Syracuse during his one-and-done 2002-03 freshman year. 

    Anthony threw up 22.2 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Orange that season, which was good enough to earn the Diaper Dandy second-team All-American honors.

    What brought Anthony's season to the next level, however, was his play during the 2003 NCAA Tournament. He dropped 33 points on that year's Naismith Award winner T.J. Ford and Texas in the semifinals to put Syracuse in the championship game, then followed it up with a 20-point, 10-rebound performance that beat Kansas, brought his school its first-ever national championship and earned him the tournament's Most Outstanding Player honors. 

    Anthony totally dominated college basketball in his freshman season, one that will always be remembered among the best of any Diaper Dandy. In the 2003 NBA Draft, he was selected third overall.

1. Anthony Davis, University of Kentucky

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    Though he may benefit a bit from recency bias as his incredible freshman season ended just over half a year ago, Anthony Davis did things in his one and only season of college basketball that we may never see again.

    His 14.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game were fantastic for a player who was more of a defender than a scorer, and his 4.7 blocks per game were simply out of this world. Entire teams did not amass as many blocks as Davis did by himself, and he started soaring past long-standing records about halfway through the 2011-12 season. The 186 blocks that he ended up with at the end of the season were the most ever by a freshman. 

    Davis's individual dominance was recognized by his receipt of the Naismith College Player of the Year Award, making him the only freshman other than Durant to win it. 

    What made Davis's freshman campaign the best of any Diaper Dandy in history, however, was the combination of individual success with the 2012 National Championship. Davis was the centerpiece (both literally and figuratively) of Calipari's youthful and inexperienced Kentucky squad, which beat Kansas to win the title. Davis was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, capping the best ever season for a freshman player in college basketball.

    Time will tell how Davis fairs at the professional level as he was taken first overall in this year's NBA Draft.

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