100 Best Players in College Basketball History
The 2011-12 college basketball season is still a ways away, which gives us plenty of time to pontificate on the more timeless points of the game and reopen those age-old discussions that expand and change ever so slightly over time.
On this occasion, we'll revisit the debate over the greatest players in the history of college basketball, extending consideration to the top 100 of all time.
Of course, bringing that many past players into the mix leaves plenty of room for debate, so please, debate/comment/criticize/laud/deride/(dis)approve to your heart's content.
Without further ado, here's my 100 best.
100. Marcus Camby, UMass
John Calipari is a powerful figure in today's college game, but he wouldn't be at Kentucky today without leaning on his success at UMass, which was propelled by the play of one Marcus Camby.
Camby was named the college player of the year in 1996 when he led the Minutemen to the Final Four, just a year after carrying his team to the Elite Eight.
UMass later had its Final Four appearance stripped when it was discovered that Camby had received more than $28,000 in improper benefits from prospective sports agents, though that didn't keep the school from inducting Camby into its athletics Hall of Fame in 2010 for his achievements on the court.
99. Sihugo Green, Duquesne
The name "Sihugo Green" may not do much for the vast, vast, VAST majority of college basketball followers, but it certainly rings true in the annals of the sport.
The 6'2" guard from New York City, known better as "Si," was a two-time NCAA First-Team All-American before joining the Rochester Royals as the first-overall pick in the 1956 NBA draft.
98. Jay Williams, Duke
Jay Williams' career in the NBA was marred by injuries stemming from a horrific motorcycle accident, but his professional flameout does little to dampen his collegiate accomplishments.
The second-overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft was the ACC Rookie of the Year and National Freshman of the Year and, in just three years at Duke, left for the NBA with a league scoring title, the 2001 NCAA Tournament Championship, just about every Player of the Year award in 2002 and a degree in sociology to boot.
97. Emeka Okafor, UConn
Emeka Okafor played on some supremely talented squads at UConn, but the Huskies would never have taken the 2004 national championships had Okafor not fought through back problems that plagued him throughout that season.
Okafor graduated from UConn in three years with honors as a finance major, all the while earning distinction as the National Defensive Player of the Year, the Big East Player of the Year and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament.
96. Rick Mount, Purdue
The state of Indiana has spawned many a great college basketball player, not the least of whom is Rick Mount.
The three-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Player of the Year was the first ever high school basketball player to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
He was pictured as such in 1966 and went on to fulfill that promise at Purdue, leading the Boilermakers to the national title game in 1968 while leaving fans with a bevy of memorable moments, including the "leaping lofter" and a 61-point outburst against Iowa in 1970.
95. Glen Rice, Michigan
Much of Glen Rice's collegiate legacy stems from his incredible performance in the 1989 NCAA tournament, when he led Michigan to the national championship following the firing of then-coach Bill Frieder.
Rice scored an NCAA-record 184 points in that year's tourney, earning Most Outstanding Player and All-American honors while finishing as the Wolverines' all-time leading scorer.
94. Butch Lee, Marquette
Before breaking through as the first Puerto Rican player to make it in the NBA, Alfred "Butch" Lee established himself as a champion on the collegiate level.
The 6' guard guided Al McGuire's Marquette Warriors to the 1977 NCAA tournament championship, earning recognition as the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
He might best be remembered for his performances at the 1976 Summer Olympics, when he scored 35 points and helped the Puerto Rican national team score a near upset over heavily favored Team USA.
93. Andrew Bogut, Utah
Andrew Bogut played only two years in college at Utah but did plenty on the court during his short stay in Salt Lake City.
The 2005 National Player of the Year was the first non-American-born player to garner either the Naismith or the Wooden Award (he won both) and of course, was named an All-American that same year, which came just after his stellar performance as a member of the Australian national team during the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
92. Hank Luisetti, Stanford
This list would not be complete without a basketball innovator of Hank Luisetti's caliber.
Beyond twice leading the nation in scoring, being the first collegiate player to ever score 50 points in a game and helping Stanford end Long Island University's 43-game win streak, the man known better to his mother as Alfredo is credited with creating and popularizing the running one-handed shot in an era when just about everyone prescribed to the two-handed set shot.
91. Antawn Jamison, North Carolina
Antawn Jamison never won a national championship for Dean Smith during his three years at North Carolina, but he proved to be a tremendous talent nonetheless.
For his career, Jamison averaged 19.0 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while earning national player of the year and All-American honors in 1998.
90. Sidney Moncrief, Arkansas
Sidney Moncrief left Arkansas with a slew of creative nicknames along with the distinction of being the only player in Razorbacks history to have his jersey number retired.
Along with Ron Brewer and Marvin Delph, Moncrief will forever be remembered as one of the young men who helped lay the foundation for a Hogs dynasty, beginning with Eddie Sutton and continuing under the guidance of Nolan Richardson, that extended well into the 1990s.
89. Paul Arizin, Villanova
Paul Arizin checks in as perhaps the unlikeliest of great college basketball players.
The Philadelphia-native didn't begin his basketball career at Villanova until his sophomore year, after Al Severance, the coach of the Wildcats team, discovered Arizin at a Catholic Youth Organization game and invited him to come to Villanova which, luck would have it, Arizin already did.
Arizin went on to become a collegiate star from there on out, finishing his amateur career as the national player of the year and a consensus First-Team All-American in 1950 with an 85-point game and an unconfirmed 100-point performance to his name.
88. Cliff Hagan, Kentucky
Can you really deny a guy with a nickname like "Lil' Abner" from a spot on this list, despite being mixed up in a point-shaving scandal in 1952?
I couldn't either, and that's why Cliff Hagan is here, though it certainly helps that he was a two-time All-American and an integral part of Kentucky's 1952 national championship squad.
87. Cazzie Russell, Michigan
Cazzie Russell may never have won a national title for Michigan, but the fact that Crisel Arena on the school's Ann Arbor campus is often referred to as "The House That Cazzie Built" speaks volumes of his contributions to the Wolverines' basketball program.
While at Michigan, Russell led the Wolverines to three Big Ten crowns and two Final Four appearances while earning himself two occasions as an All-American and national player of the year honors in 1966.
86. Danny Ainge, Brigham Young
Danny Ainge's collegiate success shocked absolutely no one, especially after becoming the first high-schooler to earn All-American honors in football, baseball and basketball.
Aside from his incredible shot to beat Notre Dame in the 1981 NCAA Tournament, Ainge was named an All-American and the national player of the year in 1981.
85. Wallace Jones, Kentucky
Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones' legacy as a college basketball player is about as unique and remarkable as anyone who's ever played and succeeded in the sport.
Jones helped Kentucky win back-to-back national titles in 1948 and 1949 while earning All-American honors in 1949 and, for good measure, having his number retired in both basketball and football, under legendary coaches Adolph Rupp and Paul "Bear" Bryant, respectively.
84. Clyde Lovellette, Kansas
The Kansas Jayhawks basketball program would not be where it is today without the Herculean efforts of one Clyde Lovellette.
The 6'9" big man from Terre Haute, Indiana was a three-time All-American and three-time Big Seven scoring champ while playing for Hall-of-Famer Phog Allen and alongside another Hall-of-Famer, Dean Smith.
What's more, Lovellette is still the first and only player in college basketball to lead the nation in scoring and win the national championship in the same year (1952)—the very same year he was named the national player of the year and led the US national team to a gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland.
83. Dave Bing, Syracuse
Before Dave Bing ever even thought about running for mayor of Detroit, he was busy draining buckets at Syracuse.
A former roommate of current Orangemen coach Jim Boeheim, Bing averaged no less than 22 points per game during each of his three seasons on the varsity basketball squad and became the school's first All-American in 39 years when he earned the distinction in 1966.
82. Arnie Ferrin, Utah
Strange as it may seem, the University of Utah actually does have an NCAA Tournament Championship to its credit, thanks in large part to the efforts of Arnie Ferrin.
Ferrin led the Utes to the title in 1944 as a freshman and later the 1947 NIT Tournament Championship—which was more prestigious back in the day—while finishing his collegiate career as the only four-time All-American in school history.
81. Chet Walker, Bradley
Chet Walker took the Bradley Braves to two NIT titles, one in 1957 and another in 1960, before taking his act as "Chet the Jet" to the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers team that is widely regarded as one of the greatest in NBA history.
Before that, Walker finished his collegiate career as a two-time All-American and as Bradley's all-time leading scorer.
80. John Lucas II, Maryland
Before embarking on a long and winding career as a player and then as a coach in the NBA, John Lucas II established himself as a basketball star at the University of Maryland.
Lucas was a three-time All-American for the Terrapins, during which time he led Maryland to the Elite Eight when non-conference winners struggled to reach the NCAA Tournament.
79. Terry Dischinger, Purdue
Smack dab in the middle of the Purdue's basketball dynasty of the mid-20th century falls Terry Dischinger.
The 6'7" forward from Terre Haute, Indiana was a three-time All-American for the Boilermakers while thrice leading the Big Ten in scoring. He left Purdue with almost all of the school's statistical records, though many of them were overtaken by Rick Mount and Dave Schellhase within the following decade or so.
78. Bob Lanier, St. Bonaventure
Prior to his career as a philanthropist, Bob Lanier was actually a rather talented basketball player, particularly during his college days at St. Bonaventure.
Lanier was a two-time All-American at St. Bonaventure and led the Bonnies to the 1970 NCAA Final Four, though he had to sit out the team's loss to Artis Gilmore's Jacksonville State team when he succumbed to an injury late in St. Bonaventure's regional final victory.
77. Jack Givens, Kentucky
The post-Adolph Rupp era at Kentucky was a difficult one at times, though Jack Givens certainly brought some joy to Big Blue Nation during his time in Lexington.
The man referred to fondly as "Goose" helped UK to the national championship game in 1975, wherein the Wildcats lost to UCLA in John Wooden's swan song, and guided the 'Cats back to the top as a senior by virtue of a victory over Duke in the NCAA Tournament final.
76. Chris Mullin, St. John's
Chris Mullin never won a national championship during his time at St. John's, but he did more than enough to earn his keep on this all-time list.
Mullin, who finished his collegiate career as the Red Storm's all-time leading scorer, was a three-time All-American, a three-time Big East Player of the Year, a member of the 1984 US Olympic Gold Medal squad and the 1985 national player of the year.
75. Don Schlundt, Indiana
Aside from his unique name, Don Schlundt stands out as one of the few collegiate athletes to compete as a freshman in the 1950s, as the NCAA allowed first-year student-athletes to participate in varsity basketball in 1952 due to the Korean War.
Schlundt took full advantage of that extra time, earning All-American honors three times and bringing a national title to Indiana while graduating as the school's all-time leading scorer, a distinction he held onto until Steve Alford surpassed him 32 years later.
74. Jim McDaniels, Western Kentucky
Jim McDaniels is the rare case of a 6'11" Kentucky native who grew up in the Blue Grass State in the mid-20th century and decided against playing for Big Blue in college.
Instead, McDaniels opted to play his college ball at Western Kentucky, where he was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and a First-Team All-American while leading the Hilltoppers to the 1971 NCAA Final Four.
73. Wes Unseld, Louisville
Speaking of big men from the state of Kentucky, Wes Unseld was among the best ever to emerge from the collegiate ranks in the Blue Grass State.
Unseld led his conference in rebounding three times and was twice an All-American during his three years on the Cardinals' varsity basketball squad.
72. Ernie DiGregorio, Providence
There are bound to be plenty of college basketball fans, particularly in the Northeast, who think #72 is too low a ranking for Ernie DiGregorio in the annals of college basketball history, and they may, in fact, be right.
A native of North Providence, Rhode Island, DiGregorio led his hometown Providence College Friars to the 1973 Final Four while capturing the hearts and minds of people all over New England while inspiring a generation of imitators.
71. Danny Ferry, Duke
To date, Danny Ferry is still the only Duke Blue Devil with an NBA Championships ring, but that's not at all what makes him a memorable name in basketball lore.
Rather, Ferry will be remembered for what he did while playing for Coach Mike Krzyzewski in Durham, twice earning All-American honors and distinction as ACC Male Athlete of the Year while three times leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four and culminating his career as the national player of the year.
70. Artis Gilmore, Jacksonville
Artis Gilmore was one of the true giants of college basketball in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though his stock didn't really take off until he arrived at Jacksonville University in 1969 as a transfer.
The 7'2" center lifted the Dolphins to the 1970 national championship game, where they succumbed to the powerhouse UCLA Bruins, though not for lack of effort by Gilmore, who averaged better than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game during his time at Jacksonville while earning All-American honors in 1971.
69. Richard Hamilton, UConn
Richard Hamilton's college exploits may be long gone behind his NBA accomplishments, but it would be a grave mistake if they were ever forgotten.
Hamilton was the leader of Jim Calhoun's first national champion at Connecticut, earning Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors in 1999 to cap off a collegiate career that also included two Big East Player of the Year awards and two elections as an All-American.
68. Lennie Rosenbluth, North Carolina
If you want to know with whom it all began for North Carolina basketball, then look no further than the one and only Lennie Rosenbluth.
Rosenbluth was a three-time All-American who, during his time in Chapel Hill, led the Tar Heels to their first undefeated season and their first national championship in 1957 by way of a triple-overtime victory over Wilt Chamberlain's Kansas Jayhawks, 54-53, thereby lending legitimacy to the upstart Atlantic Coast Conference.
And, what's more, Rosenbluth was named the national player of the year for his efforts, narrowly edging Chamberlain in that regard.
67. Glenn Robinson, Purdue
Glenn Robinson encountered some serious obstacles during his time at Purdue but still emerged as a mythical figure in the school's storied athletic history.
After sitting out his freshman year due to academic ineligibility, Robinson absolutely lit up the college basketball world, twice earning All-American honors and finishing his time in West Lafayette by leading the Boilermakers to the Big Ten Conference title and an appearance in the Elite Eight while for himself garnering national player of the year honors and setting the conference's single-season scoring record.
66. Billy Cunningham, North Carolina
The legacy of North Carolina basketball truly began to take shape in the 1960s, when Billy Cunningham set the college basketball world ablaze with his stellar play.
"The Kangaroo Kid" never won a national championship with the Tar Heels (he can thank the UCLA dynasty for that), but he did leave Chapel Hill as the ACC Player of the Year and a two-time All-American.
65. Dick Groat, Duke
For those more interested in the goings-on across Tobacco Road, Dick Groat is a good person with whom to start.
Before making a name for himself as a stellar baseball player and two-time World Series champion, Groat was tremendous on the hardwood at Duke, setting the NCAA single-season scoring record in 1952, the same year he was recognized as the national player of the year, while twice earning All-American and conference player of the year recognition.
64. Bo Lamar, Southern Louisiana
Bo Lamar isn't exactly a household name in college basketball history, perhaps in part because the university he attended—Southern Louisiana—is now recognized as Louisiana-Lafayette, but that shouldn't dissuade anyone from taking an interest in his amateur exploits.
Lamar was a three-time All-American in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and finished his collegiate career with an astonishing scoring average of 31.2 points per game, thanks in large part to his patented high-arching jump shot.
63. Hank Gathers, Loyola Marymount
Few stories in the history of college basketball can rival the tragedy and triumph of the one behind Hank Gathers.
The 1989 WCC Player of the Year began his career at USC before transferring to Loyola Marymount, where he became only the second player in NCAA history to lead the nation in both scoring and rebounding in the same year, albeit while playing under Paul Westhead's frenetic style.
Gathers' life was tragically cut short when, during a WCC Tournament game against Portland, he collapsed on the court after apparently going off medications that were prescribed to help him cope with a degenerative heart condition against doctors' orders.
62. Bob Pettit, LSU
Shaquille O'Neal is far from the only Hall-of-Fame-caliber big man to come out of Louisiana State.
Bob Pettit had himself quite a few years while playing for the Bayou Bengals, twice garnering All-American honors while leading LSU to two SEC championships and the school's first-ever Final Four appearance in 1953.
For his accomplishments, Pettit had his number 50 retired by the school, becoming the first athlete in school history to receive such an honor.
61. J.J. Redick, Duke
J.J. Redick didn't become the NCAA's all-time leading three-point shooter by accident—the kid was darn good at Duke.
Redick finished his career as the ACC's all-time leading scorer while twice earning conference player of the year honors and sweeping the national player of the year awards in 2006, the year after he prevented Utah's Andrew Bogut from doing so by snagging the first of his two Rupp Trophies.
60. Chris Webber, Michigan
Much has been written and documented about Chris Webber's exploits, both good and bad, as a member of Michigan's "Fab Five," but less often is it acknowledged just how tremendous the kid was during his short tenure in Ann Arbor.
Webber was easily the best player on a team that reached the NCAA Tournament Final in back-to-back years and earned All-American and player of the year honors for his on-court efforts as a sophomore, though a series of off-the-court transgressions involving a local bookmaker resulted in Webber being stripped of his honors and banned from any affiliation with the university until 2013.
59. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Like Webber at Michigan, Carmelo Anthony was a freshman sensation at Syracuse, though his exploits didn't exactly bring shame to his university, but rather a national title.
Anthony was so good during his one season with the Orangemen that he blew away his own expectations, leaving after just one year when he'd originally planned to stay for two or three, as it took him only that one year to accomplish all that he wanted out of his college experience, including winning the aforementioned first basketball title in school history along with garnering praise as an All-American and as the MOP of the NCAA Tournament, a distinction solidified by his 33-point outburst against Texas in the Final Four.
58. Adrian Dantley, Notre Dame
Adrian Dantley never had the privilege of bringing a national championship to Notre Dame, but that never stopped him from trying.
Dantley was twice an All-American and once earned the Oscar Robertson Trophy while playing for the Fighting Irish, but may most fondly be remembered (at least by Digger Phelps) for the pivotal role he played in ending UCLA's incredible 88-game winning streak as a freshman in 1973.
57. Jameer Nelson, St. Joseph's
There's only one name that should come to mind when thinking of St. Joseph's basketball, and that, of course, is Jameer Nelson.
Nelson is far and away the best player in the history of the program, having led the Hawks to a #1 seed and an appearance in the Elite Eight of the 2004 NCAA Tournament while earning national player of the year accolades after turning down a legitimate shot at the NBA following his junior year.
56. Julius Erving, UMass
Speaking of legends of the Atlantic 10, few have left a more indelible mark on the hearts and minds of basketball fans than Julius Erving.
Before his high-flying days as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, "Dr. J" averaged 32.5 points and 20.2 rebounds per game in two seasons at UMass, becoming one of five players in NCAA history to average better than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game for a career.
55. Sean Elliott, Arizona
Like so many on this list, Sean Elliott was a basketball pioneer at the University of Arizona.
A native of Tucson, Arizona, Elliott was a two-time All-American, a two-time Pac-10 Player of the Year and the recipient of the 1989 John R. Wooden Award while leading Lute Olson's Wildcats to the 1988 Final Four before graduating as the school's all-time leading scorer.
54. Shane Battier, Duke
Shane Battier may not have anywhere near the raw statistics to measure up with most of the other members of this list, but his resume as a winner stands on its own in the eyes of the powers that be in the basketball world.
A two-time All-American and the 2001 national player of the year, Battier twice led Duke to the Final Four and, in 2001, helped the Blue Devils beat Arizona for the title and earn for himself NCAA Tournament MOP honors.
53. Steve Alford, Indiana
If ever there were a true Hoosier to make his way through Bob Knight's basketball regimen at Indiana, it'd have to be Steve Alford.
Alford was voted team MVP in each of his four years in Bloomington, during which he was also a First-Team All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year, the school's all-time leading scorer and a national champion in 1987.
52. Marques Johnson, UCLA
It took a while to get to the first UCLA player on this list, but the wait certainly wasn't without good reason.
Marques Johnson checks in as the first Bruin, but certainly not the last, for playing a pivotal role on John Wooden's 10th and final national championship team in 1975 while, almost as importantly, keeping the program afloat into the Gene Bartow era, particularly as a senior when he became the first-ever recipient of the John R. Wooden Award.
51. Bobby Hurley, Duke
Years after a horrific car accident that nearly ended his life, Bobby Hurley still stands as one of the most decorated figures in the history of college basketball.
The son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. led Duke to three Final Fours and two national titles while keeping for himself distinction as an All-American in 1993, the tournament MOP in 1992 and still as the NCAA's all-time leader in assists.
50. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
Did I mean to put Tyler Hansbrough a spot ahead of Bobby Hurley just to rile up some folks on Tobacco Road? Perhaps, or perhaps not.
Either way, Hansbrough was a tremendously productive collegian during his four years at North Carolina, serving as the cornerstone of the program immediately after Roy Williams led Ray Felton and company to the national championship.
All told, Hansbrough left Chapel Hill as a four-time First-Team All-American, the ACC's all-time leading scorer and, most importantly, a national champion.
49. Sidney Wicks, UCLA
At most schools, Sidney Wicks' accomplishments would easily make him the most celebrated athlete in a given program's history. After all, the guy won three national titles, was the Tournament MOP on two occasions and also took home All-American and national player of the year honors on back-to-back occasions.
But at UCLA, those accomplishments only place Wicks in the top five, at best.
48. James Worthy, North Carolina
When it comes to North Carolina basketball, Michael Jordan is the one who gets all the publicity, but let's not forget about James Worthy.
As you may remember, it was "Big Game James" who was the MOP of the 1982 Final Four on a team that also featured Sam Perkins and Michael Jordan, the same team for play on which he was designated an All-American and shared national player of the year honors with Virginia's Ralph Sampson.
47. Mark Aguirre, DePaul
The Dallas Mavericks had plenty of reason for taking DePaul's Mark Aguirre with the first-overall pick in the 1981 NBA Draft.
The Chicago native was an absolute stud the moment he set foot on the hardwood for the Blue Demons, averaging 24.0 points per game on a Final Four-bound team as a freshman in 1979 before really taking off during his sophomore and junior seasons.
Aguirre was a first-team All-American in each of his last two collegiate seasons and swept all of the national player of the year awards before bolting for the NBA a year early.
46. Keith Lee, Memphis State
Back when Memphis was still Memphis State, Keith Lee was, well, the "bee's knees" of mid-major college basketball.
The 6'10" forward/center was a four-time All-American who lifted the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament during each of four collegiate seasons, taking his team as far as the Final Four as a senior in 1985.
45. Darrell Griffith, Louisville,
Darrell Griffith will always be remembered as "Dr. Dunkenstein," though his achievements at the University of Louisville speak for themselves.
Griffith was named the Tournament MOP when he guided Denny Crum's Cardinals to the 1980 national championship over UCLA, capping a magical season for which Griffith was also recognized as a First-Team All-American and the consensus national player of the year.
44. Rick Barry, Miami
It may seem strange to some to find a Miami Hurricane anywhere on this list, much less this high, though Rick Barry is eminently deserving.
Though not quite as decorated as some of his collegiate counterparts on this list, Barry still mustered enough recognition to be named a First-Team All-American in 1965, when he led the nation in scoring at a whopping pace of 37.4 points per game.
43. Len Bias, Maryland
Many know about the tragedy that befell Len Bias and his entire family when the phenom died of cocaine-induced cardiac arrhythmia just days after he was selected by the Boston Celtics with the No. 2 pick in the 1986 NBA Draft.
However, few remember just how incredible Bias was during his playing days at Maryland, when he was twice named the ACC Player of the Year and was often compared to an up-and-coming star for the Chicago Bulls by the name of Michael Jordan.
42. Walt Hazzard, UCLA
John Wooden's dynasty at UCLA wasn't built on the back of just one player, though Walt Hazzard certainly had a lot to do with it getting off the ground.
Hazzard was a chief catalyst behind the Bruins' first-ever Final Four appearance in 1962 and fared even better in 1964, when he earned Tournament MOP and national player of the year honors for guiding UCLA to its first national title. As an aside, Hazzard rode that success to a spot on the US Olympic basketball squad that won the gold medal in 1964 as well as a selection at the very top of the 1964 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
41. Alex Groza, Kentucky
Though his name is now disgraced for a point-shaving scandal that took place during the 1948-49 season, Alex Groza still deserves recognition as one of the goliaths of the collegiate game.
As the captain and center of Adolph Rupp's "Fabulous Five" teams at Kentucky, Groza won two national titles, two Final Four MOPs, was three times an All-American and, for good measure, was the leading scorer on the 1948 US Olympic gold-medal-winning basketball squad.
40. Sam Perkins, North Carolina
Sam Perkins may have been known to may as "Sleep Sam," but that doesn't mean that historians of the game should sleep on him as one of the all-time greats.
Perkins was an integral part of the 1982 UNC squad that won the national championship and was three times an All-American during his Tar Heel career.
39. Larry Johnson, UNLV
Larry Johnson is one of the few players on this list to have transferred to a four-year university from a junior college, and judging from what he was able to accomplish during his two years at UNLV, it's not tough to imagine that Johnson might have challenged for a spot much closer to the top had he begun collegiate career as a Runnin' Rebel.
While playing under the auspices of Jerry "Tark the Shark" Tarkanian, Johnson was a two-time First-Team All-American and the national player of the year in 1991 while twice leading the Rebels' charge to the Final Four, the first of which ended in a record-setting beat-down of the Duke Blue Devils in the 1990 national championship game.
38. Isiah Thomas, Indiana
Isiah Thomas' stay in Bloomington was rather short, but boy, was it sweet for Hoosier fans.
Zeke bounced from Bobby Knight's program after just two seasons, but not before bringing another national championship to IU as the capstone of a tremendous effort for which he was recognized as the Most Outstanding Player of the 1981 NCAA Tournament.
37. Bob Cousy, Holy Cross
Interestingly enough, Bob Cousy helped Holy Cross to a national championship, the first ever for a school from New England, when he was just a freshman, but didn't receive much notoriety until the last three years of his collegiate career.
It was during those years that Cousy led the Crusaders to 26 consecutive victories and a second-place finish in the NIT while earning for himself a spot on three consecutive All-American teams.
36. John Wooden, Purdue
It's difficult to suggest that John Wooden the Coach came out of nowhere, given how good John Wooden the Player was at Purdue.
Nicknamed the "Indiana Rubber Man" for his hustling and diving style on the court, Wooden the first-ever three-time consensus All-American and was designated as the college basketball player of the year in 1932, when his Boilermakers won the national championship back before the advent of the NCAA Tournament, when the best team in the land was still determined by a panel vote.
35. Scott May, Indiana
The March of Hoosiers across this list continues with Indiana's Scott May, who is one of few men in the history of college basketball who can proudly say that both he and his son are national championships (his son Sean won the title with North Carolina in 2005).
Scott won his championship with the Hoosiers in 1976 to finish off an incredible undefeated season during which he was named the national player of the year.
That performance, of course, came on the heels of a 1975 season during which IU went undefeated before May broke his arm, after which point the Hoosiers lost to Kentucky in the Elite Eight.
34. Shaquille O'Neal
Say what you want about Shaquille O'Neal's lack of collegiate hardware, he was still an absolutely monstrous force on the court when he was at LSU.
In just two years in the Bayou, Shaq was a two-time All-American and SEC Player of the Year while snatching the 1991 Adolph Rupp Trophy before jumping into the NBA Draft as the No. 1 overall pick of the Orlando Magic.
33. Wayman Tisdale, Oklahoma
Like Shaq at LSU, Wayman Tisdale made a name for himself at Oklahoma by throwing his weight around in the post to tremendous effect.
Long before his life and his music career were cut tragically short by cancer, Tisdale was a three-time Big Eight Player of the Year for the Sooners and was the first player ever to earn First-Team All-America honors during his freshman, sophomore and junior campaigns.
32. Phil Ford, North Carolina
Long before Tyler Hansbrough came along and inserted his name atop the Tar Heels' all-time leader board, Phil Ford was the man that every big-time scorer at UNC looked up to.
Ford left Chapel Hill as the school's all-time leading scorer, though that singular accomplishment was bested by Ford's three All-America selections and his sweep of the national player of the year awards in 1978.
31. Danny Manning, Kansas
Few names draw more admiration in Lawrence, Kansas than that of Danny Manning, and for good reason.
The son of former NBA player Ed Manning led the Jayhawks team referred to fondly as "Danny and the Miracles" to the 1988 national title under head coach Larry Brown while earning distinction as national player of the year that very same year.
That remarkable run came two years after Manning and KU reached the Final Four in 1986 and brought to a close a tremendous collegiate career during which Manning was twice an All-American and after which he stood as the school's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.
30. Grant Hill, Duke
Grant Hill may not have finished his college career with quite as many accolades as teammates Bobby Hurley and Christian Laettner, but he was arguably the most talented player of that bunch and had a chance to prove such as a senior.
After playing a strong supporting role on Duke's back-to-back national championship teams in 1991 and 1992, Hill carried the Blue Devils all the way to the national championship game in 1994, where they unfortunately succumbed to Nolan Richardson's Arkansas Razorbacks amidst "40 Minutes of Hell."
29. George Mikan, DePaul
George Mikan might never have revolutionized the game of basketball the way he did had he never met coach Ray Meyer while at DePaul.
It was Meyer who adapted Mikan's immense 6'10", 245-pound frame to the game of basketball and turned a once-clumsy kid into a three-time All-American and two-time Helms NCAA College Player of the Year during the mid-1940s.
28. Bob Kurland, Oklahoma State
Once George Mikan was off to the pros, Bob Kurland took over as the biggest and most dominant player in college basketball.
Playing for the legendary Henry Iba at what was then known as Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State), Kurland led the Aggies (now Cowboys) to back-to-back NCAA titles in 1945 and 1946 while, at seven feet in height, becoming the first person to regularly dunk during basketball games.
27. Austin Carr, Notre Dame
Long before LeBron James went from being a saint to a sinner in the eyes and hearts of Clevelanders, Austin Carr was the man known around the basketball world as "Mr. Cavalier."
A two-time All-American and the 1971 national player of the year, Carr averaged 34.5 points per game during his collegiate career at Notre Dame, including an astounding 50 points per game across seven total NCAA tournament contests.
26. Calvin Murphy, Niagara
At 5'9", Calvin Murphy was always rather small for a basketball player, even going back to his college days at Niagara, though a lack of height never kept Murphy from excelling on the court.
A three-time All-American, Murphy averaged 33.1 points per game during his collegiate career and, along with LSU's Pete Maravich and Purdue's Rick Mount, comprised one leg of the famed "Three M's" that captivated the imaginations of basketball fans everywhere.
25. David Robinson, Navy
Nobody in the history of college athletics combined sport with service quite like David Robinson.
Robinson grew considerably over the course of his time at the U.S. Naval Academy, both physically and as a basketball player, shooting up from 6'7" as a freshman to a full seven feet by the time he was a first classman (i.e. a senior), by which point he had twice been named an All-American and was given the Naismith and Wooden Awards as the best player in college basketball.
24. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
Hakeem Olajuwon is undoubtedly one of the greatest college basketball players to never win a national championship.
After a rather unremarkable start to his college career at the University of Houston, Olajuwon transformed himself into a veritable force on the hardwood by way of workouts with NBA MVP Moses Malone, from which point he led the Cougars to back-to-back appearances in the national championship game, becoming the last player to earn NCAA Tournament Player of the Year honors as a member of the losing team.
23. Ralph Beard, Kentucky
At No. 23, we have yet another member of Kentucky's famed "Fabulous Five" team of the late 1940s—Ralph Beard.
Beard was a three-time All-American for Adolph Rupp and a key cog on a squad that was the last team standing in the NCAA Tournament in 1948 and 1949.
22. Tom Gola, La Salle
Tom Gola will always and forever be remembered as perhaps the most decorated and important figure in the long and storied history of basketball in Philadelphia.
Gola took up the mantle from Villanova's Paul Arizin and carried it, and the entirety of the Explorers' basketball team, all the way to the 1954 NCAA championship, thrice earning All-American and twice player of the year honors along the way.
21. Tim Duncan, Wake Forest
Few players in the history of basketball have ever accomplished as much with as much discretion and with such anonymity as Tim Duncan.
During his four years at Wake Forest, Duncan was three times the NABC Defensive Player of the Year, twice an All-American and once the national player of the year, as a senior, while leading the Demon Deacons to two ACC Championships.
20. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
Right or wrong, Patrick Ewing, as a college player, is best remembered for being the centerpiece on two Georgetown teams that lost in the final of the NCAA Tournament, a notion that conveniently leaves out that he and the Hoyas won a national championship in 1984.
Ewing earned tournament MOP honors that year and later earned distinction as an All-American and as the national player of the year.
19. Elgin Baylor, Seattle
Elgin Baylor's college basketball career was rather short and stunted, but the brevity of it does little to diminish just how great he really was even before he established himself as one of the finest players to ever wear a Lakers uniform.
In three years, between the College of Idaho and Seattle, with whom he played in the 1958 national championship game, Baylor was a two-time All-American, an NCAA Tournament MOP and the national player of the year in 1958 while averaging 31.3 points per game.
18. Dan Issel, Kentucky
Dan Issel is widely considered the greatest basketball player in the history of the University of Kentucky, yet he is one of the few Wildcat icons to never bring a national title to Lexington.
Under Adolph Rupp and during the John Wooden years at UCLA, Issel still mustered two All-American nominations while averaging 25.7 points per game in three collegiate seasons.
17. Gail Goodrich, UCLA
All sports dynasties begin with at least one player, and the one UCLA enjoyed during the 1960s and 1970s began with Gail Goodrich.
The Los Angeles native led John Wooden's Bruins to back-to-back national championships in 1964 and 1965 while earning All-American honors and splitting the 1965 Helms Foundation College Player of the Year award with Princeton's Bill Bradley.
16. Ralph Sampson, Virginia
Ralph Sampson wasn't just one of the tallest people to ever play college basketball; he was also one of the most able.
Sampson has often been criticized for not helping the Virginia Cavaliers achieve more during his time with the team, though it's hard to fault a guy who won two Wooden Awards, three Naismith Awards and three Rupp Trophies while appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated a whopping six times in three years.
15. Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
Jerry Lucas still stands as one of the greatest and smartest players in college basketball history.
Choosing to enroll at Ohio State on an academic rather than an athletic scholarship, Lucas teamed with Mel Nowell, Larry Siegfried, Bob Knight and John Havlicek on the Buckeyes team that won the 1960 NCAA championship, while earning for himself three First-Team All-America selections, two Final Four MOPs and back-to-back AP Player of the Year awards.
14. Christian Laettner, Duke
Christian Laettner is arguably the most successful player in the modern college basketball era.
Laettner is still the only person to ever start in four Final Fours, which he did while guiding Duke to back-to-back national championships in the early 1990s, though he'll forever be remembered most for hitting the game-winning shot against Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA Tournament in a game often referred to as the greatest college basketball game ever played.
13. Michael Jordan, North Carolina
It's nearly impossible to completely separate Michael Jordan's incredible NBA legacy from his considerable collegiate accomplishments, which may, at least in part, be reason for him being so high on this list.
That's not to say that the "Jumpman" wasn't tremendous in his three years at North Carolina, during which he was twice an All-American and once a national champion and the college player of the year.
12. Magic Johnson, Michigan State
It was clear from the moment he set foot on campus at Michigan State that Magic Johnson would revolutionize the game of basketball, first in the collegiate ranks under the guidance of Jud Heathcote.
Johnson, a native of Lansing, Michigan, led the Spartans to the brink of an upset over eventual-champion Kentucky in the Elite Eight in 1978 before breaking through with a victory in the 1979 national championship game over Larry Bird and Indiana State, a game that still stands as the most-watched in the history of the sport.
11. Elvin Hayes, Houston
It'd a bit ironic to call the 6'9" Elvin Hayes a "Giant Killer" for lifting the Houston Cougars to a victory over Lew Alcindor and UCLA in the "Game of the Century," thereby snapping the Bruins' 47-game winning streak.
Nonetheless, Hayes was still a tremendous talent on the collegiate level, breaking the color barrier at Houston while twice earning All-American honors and closing out his collegiate career as the national player of the year in 1968.
10. Bill Bradley, Princeton
Bill Bradley is easily the greatest college basketball player to ever spend significant time in high public office, serving three terms in the U.S. Senate before mounting an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2000.
Long before that, however, Bradley was a force to be reckoned with at Princeton, where he was a two-time All-American and the national player of the year in 1965 while carrying the Tigers to the Final Four and earning MOP honors along the way.
9. Wilt Chamberlain, Kansas
As phenomenal a player as Wilt Chamberlain was at Kansas, his time in Lawrence still left much to be desired.
Chamberlain was twice an All-American and the 1957 Final Four MOP, though he failed to lead the Jayhawks to a national title, despite being the most dominant player of his day while averaging 29.9 points and 18.3 points per game in two varsity seasons.
8. Larry Bird, Indiana State
Interestingly enough, Larry Bird was nearly the greatest player in the history of Indiana University, though the overwhelming size of the campus and its population, along with poor treatment from Hoosiers star Kent Benson, steered Bird back to his home town of French Lick before he decided to start back up at Indiana State.
Bird led the Sycamores, who'd never reached the NCAA Tournament before his arrival, to the national championship game, where they succumbed to Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans, though that didn't deter Bird from sweeping the college player of the year awards in 1979 as a senior.
7. Jerry West, West Virginia
As great as Jerry West was in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers, he could just as easily have ended up as "The Logo" for the NCAA.
West was a three-time All-American at West Virginia, where he guided the Mountaineers to the 1959 national championship game against Cal while earning Final Four MOP honors to add to his two Southern Conference Player of the Year awards.
6. Pete Maravich, LSU
Pete Maravich is easily the highest ranked player on this list to never have reached the NCAA Tournament while in college, and for good reason.
Maravich was a three-time All-American, a three-time SEC Player of the Year and the consensus national player of the year in 1970, though "Pistol Pete" will forever be remembered as the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, with a career average of 44.2 points per game before the advent of the three-point shot.
In fact, his coach at LSU, Dale Brown, tracked all of Maravich's shots in college and estimates that, had the three-point shot existed at the time, his scoring average would have been bumped up to 57 points per game by virtue of 13 made three-point baskets per game.
5. Bill Russell, San Francisco
It's funny to think that Bill Russell's basketball career might never have existed had University of San Francisco assistant coach Hal DeJulio never offered him a scholarship, particularly given the fact that DeJulio described Russell in high school as having "atrocious fundamentals."
DeJulio's gamble paid off handsomely, as Russell led the Dons to consecutive titles in 1955 and 1956, earning All-American and Final Four MOP honors while averaging better than 20 points and 20 rebounds per game along the way.
4. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
Three times a First-Team All-American, three times the national player of the year, once the NCAA's all-time leading scorer, never a national champion.
That, in a nut shell, sums up the collegiate career of Oscar Robertson, who twice led Cincinnati to the Final Four while setting 14 different NCAA records.
3. Bill Walton, UCLA
If it weren't for fellow Bruin Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton may well have gone down as the greatest college basketball player of all time.
Walton was a three-time All-AMerican and a three-time college player of the year while leading UCLA to two national titles and a record 88-game winning streak.
2. David Thompson, North Carolina State
Clearly, David Thompson was more than just "pretty good" at basketball, given that Michael Jordan credits the former North Carolina State star as his inspiration for playing the game.
Thompson was a three-time All-American while playing for the Wolfpack, whom he led to the 1974 national championship amidst a season in which he earned college player of the year honors.
Perhaps most impressively, Thompson, along with NC State teammate Monte Towe, is credited with "inventing" the alley-oop, despite playing during a time in college basketball history when dunking was illegal.
1. Lew Alcindor, UCLA
No one player has come close to the collegiate accomplishments of Lew Alcindor, now known better as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and it's likely that no one ever will.
The 7'2" center from New York City won three national championships, three Helms Foundation Player of the Year awards, the first Naismith College Payer of the Year award and three Final Four MOPs while thrice being named a First-Team All-American, all the while playing without the luxury of the dunk, which was disallowed by the NCAA on account of Alcindor's dominance.