Ranking the 10 Cockiest Players in College Basketball

Jake Curtis@jakecurtis53Featured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2013

Ranking the 10 Cockiest Players in College Basketball

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    Cockiness gets a bad rap. 

    Unless a player is belittling an opponent or is downright rude, being cocky is a good trait that usually benefits the player and the team, especially in tight situations.

    Coaches praise players who are humble, but they want guys with an edge. It's no coincidence that players considered cocky are often the ones who hit game-winning shots.

    "Cocky" is really just another word for "swagger," a buzzword for one of the ingredients for success.

    Sometimes cockiness is more perception than reality, and sometimes it is bestowed based on a single comment or act. In any case, it should be seen as an honor to be on our list of the 10 cockiest players.

10. Amath M’Baye (Oklahoma)

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    Amath M'Baye is on the list for a single act in the heat of a game.

    After M'Baye, a transfer from Wyoming, threw down a dunk with less than eight minutes left in the game to give Oklahoma a 22-point lead at Texas, he paused to face the Longhorns fans and flashed them the denigrating "Horns Down" sign with both hands.

    Sooners senior Romero Osby knew that act of bravado was a bad idea on many levels, and it came back to bite the Sooners. It incited Texas and its fans, initiating a furious rally that ended with Texas winning the game in overtime.

9. Shabazz Muhammad (UCLA)

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    Sometimes perception is more persuasive than reality. Although UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad has said or done little to suggest he's cocky, a few moments have created that impression.

    A video showing Larry Drew II's game-winning shot against Washington also showed Muhammad stamping his feet demanding the ball, then showed Muhammad walking past the celebratory mob scene around Drew, suggesting Muhammad was disappointed he didn't get the ball rather than being pleased about the win.

    The publicity he received for carrying a Gucci bag to a postgame interview on another occasion created a perception of aloofness. 

    A player who shoots nearly every time he gets the ball is prone to that kind of characterization, whether it's accurate or not. 

8. Jamaal Franklin (San Diego State)

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    To improve as much as Jamaal Franklin did between his freshman and sophomore seasons requires a little cockiness.

    He went from averaging 2.9 points and 1.9 rebounds in 2011 to 17.4 points and 7.9 rebounds last season when he was Mountain West Conference player of the year. His numbers are just as good this season.

    Franklin doesn't always agree with officials, and he might say the next foul he commits will be his first.

    You also need considerable self-assurance to pull off the long-sleeved look as well as Franklin does.

    Anyone who would attempt a pass to himself off the backboard on a fast break has to be confident. To seamlessly complete that solo alley-oop play with a dunk in a game against Fresno State requires something a little more. 

7. Matthew Dellavedova (St. Mary's)

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    By no means is Matthew Dellavedova a braggart, but he exudes the confidence and swagger that St. Mary's absolutely needs.

    He is demonstrative in team huddles and on the bench and is particularly animated when he hits a big shot. Fans at BYU probably weren't too pleased with his fist-pumping celebration after his game-winning half-court heave at the buzzer beat the Cougars last month. But that's him.

    He makes himself the center of attention by his actions, though perhaps not intentionally,

    No player is tougher than Dellavedova, and that bulky mouthpiece he wears puts some people off but symbolizes the scrappiness and the physical nature of his play.  

    Miami guard Shane Larkin probably falls into the same category as a guy who plays with an edge that his team needs at the point guard spot.

6. Pierre Jackson (Baylor)

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    Like many of the players on this list, Pierre Jackson is a small player who needs swagger to survive among the giants.

    The 5'10" Jackson can get on rolls in which he carries his team. He also can get in slumps that take his team out of games. In every case, he thinks his offense can save the team based on the supreme confidence he has in his abilities.

    He gives the Bears the bravado needed to end Kentucky's 55-game home winning streak, but he also is part of the reason Baylor has been up and down this season.

    It's hard to be critical of someone averaging 19.1 points.

5. Peyton Siva (Louisville)

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    Peyton Siva is cocky almost by necessity.

    Just 6'0", Siva needs to play with an edge to compete with the behemoths in the physical Big East.

    More to the point, he needs to have unfailing self-confidence to deal with the pressure of playing point guard in Louisville's system and the constant demands placed on him by coach Rick Pitino.

    If he doesn't have a swagger, he can't play point guard for Louisville, and Louisville can't be a national title contender.

    It's no coincidence Siva tends to play his best in the postseason, when cocky players often shine.



4. Trey Burke (Michigan)

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    Trey Burke is on the list for a very different kind of swagger.

    He does or says very little that suggests cockiness, and opposing players claim he does almost no trash talking.

    Burke is an example of the good kind of cockiness—the kind coaches love and teams need.

    He demonstrated that self-assurance when he had the guts to sign with Michigan, Ohio State's archrival, despite going to high school in Columbus, Ohio, and being named Ohio Mr. Basketball.

    Burke now demonstrates that swagger every game as the person who controls everything on the floor for the Wolverines. You have to be cocky to dominate games as a scorer and playmaker simultaneously.

3. Michael Snaer (Florida State)

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    The talkative Michael Snaer admits he's cocky:

    “(Off the court) I’m goofy, silly, I play around. I don’t think I’m better than nobody walking around on this earth," Snaer said in an interview during ACC media day before the season. "But when I step between those lines, that’s when a different person comes out. It’s a cocky person, and I fought it. For three years, I did not want to be that guy. I had to stop fighting it and become who I was supposed to be. That’s what I’m finally doing. Last year, I was confident between those lines. Now, I’m cocky between those lines.” (h/t Sporting News)

    Snaer raised eyebrows when he predicted in the middle of the 2011-12 season that Florida State would win the ACC title. Then the Seminoles went out and did it.

    This year, he told ESPN that he can't be guarded.

    That cockiness has made him the best clutch shooter in the country in many people's minds. He's made four game-winning shots over the past two seasons.

2. Lamont "MoMo" Jones (Iona)

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    MoMo Jones was cocky when he was at Arizona, often annoying opposing teams and fans while he was hitting clutch shots.

    He hasn't lost any of his overt confidence since transferring to Iona, where he has become a more integral part of the offense. He is second in the nation in scoring at 23.0 points per game, although the Gaels have slipped out of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference race by losing six of its last seven games.

    Jones had to develop confidence in a hurry as a freshman starter for Rice High School in New York, a team that then featured Edgar Sosa (Louisville), Kemba Walker (Connecticut), Curtis Kelly (Kansas State) and Durand Scott (Miami).

1. Marshall Henderson (Mississippi)

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    Marshall Henderson cemented his unquestioned claim to the top spot when he went face to face with the Auburn crowd, taunting the annoyed home fans at close range after he hit two free throws to beat the Tigers.

    Henderson also said Mississippi would beat Tennessee "10 times out of 10" after getting past the Vols, according to AL.com. Then, after scoring 25 points in an overtime victory over Georgia, he told reporters afterward, according to ESPN.com, "If it's all the same, it's Saturday night. I'm out." And he left.

    His extreme form of swagger, as well as his 19.6 points a game, helped make Mississippi an NCAA tournament contender, although the Rebels have slipped since their 17-2 start.

    This is not a new act for Henderson, who started his college career at Utah, transferred to Texas Tech and then went to South Plains College before winding up at Mississippi.