Arizona Basketball: Top 25 Wildcat Players of All Time

Doug Brodess@DougbrodessCorrespondent INovember 11, 2011

Arizona Basketball: Top 25 Wildcat Players of All Time

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    The University of Arizona has one of the most highly regarded basketball programs in the country.

    From the mid-1980s until 2009, the Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament 25 consecutive seasons.

    While U of A had some success under coaches such as Fred Enke and Fred Snowden, Arizona became a dominant team year-in and year-out under Lute Olson.

    Olson's 589-188 record (75.8 winning percentage) in 24 seasons established the tradition of excellence that continues to this day under the leadership of current Cats coach, Sean Miller.

    The following is a list of the top 25 players in Arizona Wildcats basketball history.

    Individual accomplishments and statistics, obviously, are important in assembling such a listing.

    But, as you will see, there are players who are included or have been given credit for their role in the team's success.

    As always, comment about who you think should have or shouldn't have been on this list.

    Bear Down!

25. Tom Tolbert (1986-88)

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    After two less-than-memorable seasons at Cal-Irvine and Cerritos College, Tom Tolbert found his niche in Tucson.

    In his junior and senior seasons as a Wildcat, Tolbert averaged a solid 14 points and six rebounds per game.

    Though Tolbert only stood 6-foot-7, he didn't back down against any opponent in the paint.

    While other players put up better numbers, Tolbert's intangibles are what earned him his place in U of A hoops history.

    Without his gritty toughness, the 1987-88 Wildcats may not have made their run to the Final Four.

24. Reggie Geary (1992-96)

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    Reggie Geary is the classic player who could make a huge contribution to the teams that he played on without putting up eye-popping points, rebounds or assists totals.

    Over his four years in Tucson, Geary, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored 894 points (7.0 ppg), grabbed 398 boards (3.1 rpg) and handed out 560 assists (4.4 apg).

    His best statistical year was his senior season, where he scored 9.8 ppg and handed out 7.0 apg.

    But his real role, throughout his collegiate career, was as a vocal leader and a defensive stopper.

    He almost always was assigned the other team's best perimeter player. And when he guarded you, it was lights out.

23. Jordan Hill (2006-09)

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    Jordan Hill went from enigmatic basketball novice (he had played very little organized ball before coming to Tucson) to front-court warrior during his three years as a Wildcat.

    Hill was inserted into the starting lineup in the middle of his freshman season strictly on his freakish athletic ability alone. Offensively, he was raw, but, boy, could he intimidate people in the paint.

    By the time his sophomore season rolled around, Hill was a solid post player averaging 13.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

    In his third and final season at the U of A, he was a double-double force, averaging 18.3 points and pulling down 11 rebounds per game.

    Even though most of Hill's shots were from close in, his 57.8 shooting percentage was still impressive.

22. Loren Woods (1999-2001)

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    Loren Woods came to campus at just the right time.

    After playing alongside Tim Duncan at Wake Forest, Woods transferred to Arizona for his final two collegiate seasons.

    In just two seasons, Woods scored 789 points (14.3 ppg), grabbed 383 boards (7 rpg) and blocked 186 shots (3.4 bpg).

    Injuries plagued him in his senior year, but they didn't keep him from scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the 2001 NCAA Championship game loss to Duke.

21. Andre Iguodala (2002-04)

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    Andre Igoudala was one of the best open-court threats in U of A history.

    His combination of length, quickness, and hops helped him to be lethal on the break or in slashing to the basket.

    Igoudala was underrated in terms of his play-making abilities and rebounding from the wing.

    He handed out 147 assists (3.4 apg) and grabbed 253 rebounds (8.4 rpg) during his breakout sophomore season, when he also averaged 12.9 points and 1.5 steals.

20. Channing Frye (2001-2005)

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    Channing Frye is the most improved player in University of Arizona history. He came to campus as what many thought to be "a project," and left a NBA Draft lottery pick.

    Frye scored 1,789 points (13.5 ppg) and grabbed 975 rebounds (7.3 rpg) over his four-year run in Tucson.

    The 6-foot-11 PF/C never shot below 54 percent from the field in any season (shot a combined 56.2 percent for his career)

    Frye is No.2 in blocked shots in U of A history with 253.

19. Anthony Cook (1985-89)

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    Anthony Cook was the kind of player that coaches love: willing to do the dirty work and not have to be given the ball all the time to score "their" points.

    Make no mistake about it: Cook put the ball in the hole, scoring 1,590 points (12 ppg) over his four years in Tucson.

    Cook was one of the most consistent rebounders in school history, averaging over seven boards per game in his sophomore through senior seasons.

    He still holds the U of A records for career blocks (278) and single season field goal shooting (62.9 percent).

18. Chase Budinger (2006-09)

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    Chase Budinger was an excellent all-around player for the Wildcats.

    When Budinger came to Tucson, many people expected him to surpass every player in almost every statistical category. Because of this, many view his U of A career as lack-luster and disappointing (which is ridiculous).

    Budinger was an excellent shooter/scorer, averaging 17 points per game and shooting 46.9 percent from the floor.

17. Luke Walton (1999-2003)

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    Luke Walton was one of the most versatile players in U of A hoops' history, whose contribution went beyond eye-popping numbers.

    Walton scored 1,179 points in his four years on campus, but what may be more impressive is his 662 boards or 582 assists.

    As a point forward, he had a breakout season as a junior, averaging 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.

16. Richard Jefferson (1998-2001)

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    Richard Jefferson may have been one of the most off-the-charts athletes in program history.

    His overall physical gifts and out-of-the-gym vertical leap made him a constant nightmare for opponents to guard, as well as helping him guard almost any position on the floor.

    Jefferson averaged 11.3 points, 5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game over his three-year Wildcats' career.

    He was one of the key parts to the Wildcats run to the 2001 Championship game against Duke.

15. Michael Wright (1998-2001)

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    Michael Wright may have been an undersized PF for the Wildcats, but that doesn't mean he under-performed.

    At 6-foot-7, Wright's low-post magic was that much more impressive, averaging 15.1 points  and 8.4 boards per game, as he shot 57.5 percent over his three years on campus.

    He was named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and earned All-American honors in both his sophomore and junior years.

    Wright was instrumental in helping the Cats make it to the NCAA Championship game in 2001.

14. Gilbert Arenas (1999-2001)

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    Gilbert Arenas is the perfect example of a player who wasn't a five-star recruit but came to the U of A and blew up.

    Arenas played in 70 games in two years in Tuscon, scoring 1,105 points (15.8 ppg), grabbing 269 boards (3.8 rpg) and handed out 155 assists (2.2 apg).

    The 6-foot-3 guard from LA led the 2001 NCAA runner-up team in scoring in his sophomore season, averaging 16.2 ppg and earning him All American honors.

13. Salim Stoudamire (2001-2005)

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    If you looked up the word "assassin" in the dictionary, Salim Stoudamire's picture would be there for a reference.

    Stoudamire was one of the best "go-to" shooters in Wildcats' history.

    And we're not talking about lay ups. As a senior, Stoudamire hit on 50.4 percent of his shots from the field and from beyond the arc.

    He was one of the best FT shooters in school history, knocking down 388-of-446 shots from the line (87 percent).

    The 6-foot-1 guard hit 342 3-pointers in his four years at the U of A.

    In his senior season, Stoudamire led Arizona to the Elite Eight and was named as a Second-Team All-American selection.

12. Michael Dickerson (1994-98)

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    Michael Dickerson was an indispensable part to the 1997 NCAA Championship team.

    Dickerson scored 1,791 points (13.8 ppg) and grabbed 480 boards from his wing position.

    He led the Cats in scoring in both his junior and seasons, shooting 45.8 percent for his four-year collegiate career.

11. Bob Elliot (1973-77)

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    Bob Elliot was a great U of A player before U of A was a great college basketball program.

    Elliot, in Arizona's pre Pac-10 days, scored 2,131 points (18.7 ppg) and grabbed 1,083 rebounds.

    Elliot averaged a double-double (even before they were calling it that) as a freshman (16.5 ppg; 10.7 rpg) and as a junior (18 ppg; 10.3 rpg)

    He shot a combined 53.4 percent from the floor over his four-year career.

    Elliot was a two-time (1976, 1977) All American selection.

10. Khalid Reeves (1990-94)

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    Khalid Reeves was a prolific scorer, putting in 1,925 points over his four years at the U of A.

    As a senior, Reeves, a 6-foot-3 guard, had the school's best scoring season, averaging 24.2 ppg.

    He was excellent at getting to the line and making the other team pay for putting him there. As a senior, he shot 264 FTs, making 211 (79.9 percent).

    Because of his outstanding play, Reeves helped the Wildcats get to the 1994 Final Four.

9. Chris Mills (1990-93)

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    Chris Mills played three exceptional years for the Wildcats after playing his freshman season for Kentucky.

    The 6-foot-6 forward scored 1,619 points (17.2 ppg) and grabbed 682 rebounds (7.3 rpg) at Arizona.

    As a senior, Mills averaged 20.4 ppg, shooting 52 percent from the field and an amazing 48.3 percent from beyond the arc.

8. Derrick Williams (2009-11)

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    Derrick Williams had a fantastic two years in Tucson.

    Because of hard work and dedication, Williams developed into one of the top players in the country.

    Williams led the Wildcats in scoring in both of his years at U of A: 15.7 ppg as a freshman; 19.5 ppg as a sophomore.

    He was selected as the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year and a Sporting News First Team Freshmen All-American.

    As a sophomore, Williams was named the Pac 10 Player of the Year, a Wooden Award finalist, and a 2011 First Team All-American by Sports Illustrated.

    Williams led the Wildcats to an exceptional 30-8 record, winning the Pac 10 regular season championship and to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.

7. Jason Terry (1995-99)

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    Jason Terry was a great player who patiently paid his dues over the first three years of his collegiate career.

    The 6-foot-2 guard from Seattle was an essential part of the Wildcats' 1996-97 NCAA Championship team, mostly as a defensive stopper off the bench.

    Terry was generally thought as one of, if not, the best sixth man in the country his junior year.

    Terry was not a regular starter until his senior season. But, as a senior, he led the nation in scoring (21.9 ppg), assists (5.5 apg) and steals (80/2.8 spg).

    Terry was not only named Pac 10 Player of the Year but also a First Team All-American and the 1999 Sports Illustrated Player of the Year.

6. Miles Simon (1994-98)

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    Miles Simon was a super-productive, high-scoring SG.

    For his four-year career, Simon scored 1,664 points (14.6 ppg) and handed out 455 assists (4.0 apg).

    As a junior, he was selected as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player on Arizona's 1997 NCAA Championship team.

    Simon tallied 30 points in the title game, connecting on 14 of 17 free throws.

    As a senior, Simon was selected as a First Team All American.

5. Steve Kerr Arizona (1983-88)

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    Steve Kerr was not only a fan-favorite—he was one of the greatest players in U of A history.

    Kerr was a lights-out shooter, hitting on 54.8 percent from the field.

    He averaged 11.2 ppg and 3.4 apg.

    As a senior, Kerr set the NCAA record for 3-point field goal percentage for a single season, hitting 57.4 percent from beyond the arc.

    Kerr's gutsy performance and stalwart leadership helped the Cats make it to the 1988 Final Four.

4. Jason Gardner (1999-2003)

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    If you were constructing a college basketball team, you'd start by selecting a point guard like Jason Gardner—the consummate floor general who looked to make everyone else on the court better, while still producing at an extremely high level.

    Gardner was an iron-man holding the Wildcats' records in games played (136), games started (135), and minutes played (4,825).

    The 5-foot-10 PG averaged 14.6 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.7 steals for his fantastic four-year career.

    Gardner was named the United States Basketball Writers Association Freshman of the Year in 2000 and was a consensus All American in 2003.

    As a sophomore, he ran the show in helping the Cats play Duke in the 2001 NCAA Championship game.

3. Damon Stoudamire (1991-95)

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    Damon Stoudamire was an amazing scoring point guard for the Wildcats, dropping in 1,849 points and handing out 663 assists over his fantastic four-year career.

    As a junior, Stoudamire, along with Khalid Reeves, led U of A to the 1994 Final Four.

    Stoudamire's senior season was one to remember. The 5-foot-10 lefty averaged 22.8 ppg., 4.3 rpg. and 7.3 apg.

    He was named Co-Pac 10 Player of the Year and was a consensus All-American.

2. Mike Bibby (1996-98)

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    Though Mike Bibby only played two years in Tucson, he was one of the most productive players in school history. 

    Bibby started at the point from the first game of his freshman season.

    In just 69 games, he scored 1,061 points (15.4 ppg), handed out 375 assists (5.4 apg) and pinched 160 steals (2.3 spg). 

    As a freshman, Bibby helped the Wildcats win the 1997 NCAA Championship, scoring 20 points in the championship game against Kentucky.

    In his second and final season as a Wildcat, Bibby was the Pac 10 Player of the Year and a First Team All-American.

1. Sean Elliot (1985-89)

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    Sean Elliot was the best player in University of Arizona basketball history.

    After an illustrious high school career in Tucson, Elliot stayed home to carry out his brilliant college career.

    Elliott is still the U of A's all-time leading scorer with 2,555 points (career average: 19.2 ppg).

    He was selected twice as the Pac 10 Player of the Year and was a consensus all-American during his junior and senior years.

    Elliot led the Wildcats to their first Final Four (during his junior year) and won the John Wooden Award (National Player of the Year) following his senior season.

    To this day, even though Arizona is known as "Point Guard U," Elliot remains Arizona's top player and face of the program.

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