College Basketball Power Rankings: The 25 Greatest Players in Big Ten History

James Evens@JamesEvensCorrespondent IJune 23, 2011

College Basketball Power Rankings: The 25 Greatest Players in Big Ten History

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    This list pays tribute to the best collegiate basketball players in Big Ten history.  Not everyone will be able to be included in this list, but it is a list that I think you will enjoy reading.

    In general, I am looking for the greatest impact on the court as well as what the player did after his time in college.

    So here is a list of the greatest 25 players in conference history. 

    James Evens serves as a National Featured Columnist for college football and basketball, as well as the FC for the Purdue Boilermakers.  Follow him on Twitter or like him on Facebook.

25. Rod Fletcher

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    Rod Fletcher was a guard who played for Illinois in the 1950s.  Fletcher was able to lead the Illini to two straight Final Four appearances in his junior and senior seasons. 

    Also as a senior, Fletcher was recognized as an All American. 

    The two-time all-Big Ten guard was a great asset for the Illini and helped grow a great program in Illinois. 

24. Joe Barry Carroll

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    Caroll was a 7'1" center who played for the Purdue Boilermakers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was selected as an All-American his senior season and remains a legend at Purdue.

    He was one of the best shot blockers in conference history and led the Boilermakers to a Final Four in 1980.

23. Don Schlundt

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    Schlundt was a basketball player for the Indiana Hoosiers in the 1950s.  He was one of the all-time great Hoosiers and set the school record for points in a career; a record that stood until broken by Steve Alford. 

    Schlundt led the Hoosiers to the 1953 national title and was named a three-time All-American. 

22. Ted Kitchel

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    Kitchel is yet another Indiana boy on this list.

    He was a two-time All-American at IU and basically dominated the game while he was a Hoosier.

    He won a national title with the Hoosiers in 1981. 

21. Rudy Tomjanovich

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    Rudy was an All-American for the University of Michigan—although he is best known for getting his face broken in the NBA.

    Rudy was a great player, though, despite his facial injuries, and he really played well for Michigan. He is still a record holder for rebounds all-time at the university and is still a legend.

20. Charles Murphy

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    Murphy was as player for the Purdue Boilermakers and was sometimes known as "Stretch." He was part of a duo, where the other half was John Wooden at Purdue.

    He was named a two-time All-American and led Purdue to a record that only included 13 losses.

19. Kent Benson

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    Benson was the star of Indiana's undefeated team. He won the national title and was the key player in this feat which was really impressive and will probably never be repeated.

    He was regarded as the best prospect in the nation and ended up going No. 1 overall in the draft. 

18. Glenn Robinson

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    The Big Dog Glenn Robinson was a center for Purdue and only played three years for the Boilermakers, but made a huge impact while there. 

    He was able to destroy his competition in the Big Ten and was named an All-American as well.

    Robinson went on to be successful in the NBA. 

17. Joe Reiff

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    Reiff is not a very well-known player and the only one from Northwestern on this list. He was a center and was selected as an All-American three times; the most at that time as the NCAA didn't allow freshmen to play.

    Reiff revolutionized the game and continues to be a legend at Northwestern. 

16. Jim Jackson

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    Jackson played for the Ohio State Buckeyes and was a a two-time All-American.

    Jackson is one of the best players in Buckeye history but is often overshadowed and forgotten about. He was named the best player in the nation in 1992 and was overall a great player.

15. Frank Lawler

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    Frank Lawler was an All-American for Minnesota in the early 1900s. Although not much is known about Lawler, he should be a legend for the Gophers but is not. 

    He is basically forgotten about with the times and is only remembered by few hardcore Gopher fans. 

14. Mateen Cleaves

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    Cleaves was a three-time All-American for the Michigan State Spartans. He is best known for putting Tom Izzo on the map and giving Izzo his only national title.

    Cleaves was a three-time captain for the team and was the epitome of Big Ten basketball. 

13. John Kotz

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    John Kotz was an All-American for the Wisconsin Badgers in the 1940s. The 1940s was a great decade for the Badgers as they won a championship during that time. 

    Kotz is still remembered by Badgers fan, and is a legend for many. 

12. Deron Williams

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    Williams has a lot of hype surrounding him right now as he is one of the best in the NBA, but Williams also had a great collegiate career with Illinois.

    At Illinois, he helped lead them to the Final Four as well as being a prolific slasher.

    Williams is definitely one of the Big Ten's greats. 

11. Magic Johnson

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    Who doesn't know who Magic Johnson is? Possibly the second most recognizable name in basketball behind Jordan.

    Johnson played for MSU and had a great career. 

    He was an All-American and had it all together which led to a great NBA career. 

10. Gary Bradds

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    Gary Bradds was a star for the Ohio State Buckeyes—he had some huge shoes to fill when he came to the Buckeyes, and lived up to it. He averaged 33 points per game and was named the best player in college basketball.

    He is also known for being a teammate of Bobby Knight. 

9. Steve Alford

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    Steve Alford was a guard for the Indiana Hoosiers that was a prolific scorer. He set the all-time scoring record for Indiana and is still a legend in many's eyes.

    Alford led the Hoosiers to their fifth national title and was named an All-American. 

    He is one of those players who is always mentioned when a list of greatest players of all time pops up, as he was ranked 35th by Sporting News. 

8. Cazzie Russell

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    Cazzie was yet another Michigan player on this list.

    Russell was a player of great caliber, was a three-time All-American and was named the player of the year his senior season.

    He led the Wolverines to back-to-back Final Fours as well. 

7. Calbert Cheaney

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    Cheaney is the all-time leading scorer in Big Ten history and was also an Indiana Hoosier.

    Cheaney was named a three-time All-American.  His one downfall was that he never led the Hoosiers to a national title, which still puts him behind Alford for many Hoosier faithful. 

6. John Wooden

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    John Wooden was a great player and continues to mesmerize many after his great run as the coach of UCLA.

    Although Wooden is best known for his time in coaching, he was also a great player, leading Purdue to a national title in 1932 being named player of the year, and a three-time All-American. 

5. Isiah Thomas

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    Although he only played two years at Indiana, Thomas is one of the greats to play in the Big Ten. The guard was able to do things many couldn't imagine even as a sophomore.

    He led the Hoosiers to a national title in 1981 and was named the most valuable player as well. 

4. Andy Phillip

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    Phillip was by far the best player to ever play at Illinois. Phillip is considered one of the greatest collegiate players of all time, as his time was in the 1940s. 

    He was an All-American and was also named the player of the year in 1943. His career was cut short by World War II. 

3. Glen Rice

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    Glen Rice is Michigan's all-time leading scorer still to this day, and led the team to a national title in 1989.  Rice was a brilliant player who could be versatile as well as being stable.

    He played either guard or forward and was like no other player in basketball at the time.

    Rice really changed the game, in a way, with his superior play. 

2. Rick Mount

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    Rick Mount played for the Purdue Boilermakers and was one of the best scorers the game has ever seen.  Mount averaged almost 40 points per game in his career without the three-point line.

    He is still known as one of the best scorers in history and is a legend at Purdue.

1. Jerry Lucas

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    Lucas was the greatest Big Ten athletes of all time for basketball. Lucas was a three-time All-American, three-time conference player of the year, as well as being named the player of the year his junior and senior season. 

    Lucas led the Buckeyes to a national title in his sophomore season as well.

    Lucas is by far the best basketball player in Big Ten history. 


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