We are set to enter the final weekend of the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Although 3 of the 4 1-seeds made it to the final four, this year’s field did not fail to disappoint. Despite the fact that there are only 4 teams left, there is still a lot of talent out there. This got me thinking about the best performances we have seen out of players in college basketball in the 2000’s. After figuring out the best, I had to take it a step further and determine the best of the best. When selecting players, I chose from their entire body of work. Rather than a one-and-done or a player who got hot and won the NCAA Tournament, I tried to select the 5 best players who dominated a majority of games they played. So here is what I came out with:
Redick was unreal in his 4 years at Duke. He was an AP All-American in his junior and senior seasons, and was also the National Player of the Year in 2006. In his senior season, Redick averaged 27 ppg while also chipping in 2 apg, 2 rpg, and 1.5 spg. He shot 43% from the field, 40% from 3, and 91% from the line for his career. The only thing holding Redick back from being one of the best college players of all time was his inability to get Duke over the hump in the NCAA Tournament. In his senior season, he led Duke to a 30-3 record, which was good enough for a 1 seed in the tourney. Duke failed to reach the Elite 8 after Glen “Big Baby” Davis and the LSU Tigers bounced the Blue Devils in the Sweet 16. Still, at the end of the day, Redick is Duke’s all time leading scorer and is undoubtedly one of the best players in the history of the program.
D-Wade busted onto the scene in his freshman season, but really etched his way into the history books during his sophomore year. Wade averaged 22 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 4.2 apg, 2.2 spg, and 1.3 bpg. Needless to say, Wade did it all for the Golden Eagles. D-Wade was able to take Marquette all the way to the Final Four before Nick Collison and the Kansas Jayhawks ousted his team. Now, raise your hand if you have ever heard of Robert Jackson. If your hand is up, stop lying to yourself. Jackson was the 2nd leading scorer for Marquette, and he averaged a respectable 15 ppg. Still, there is no question that Wade single handedly carried Marquette all the way to a Final Four, which is very impressive. His college career was one of the best of all time, and he proved to be worthy of the 5th overall pick after the Miami Heat selected him in the 2003 NBA Draft.
While D-Wade was shredding up the country, Carmelo Anthony was also torching defenses. Anthony was a one-and-done, but boy did he live up to the hype. In his lone season at Syracuse, Melo averaged 22 points and 10 boards, while also contributing 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block. When you look back at 2003, college basketball was full of talent (as evidenced in the NBA draft, which is widely considered to be one of the best ever). Melo’s freshman campaign was only good enough for him to be a 2nd team All American. So what did Melo do when he was snubbed of a 1st team selection? He put the Orange on his back and led them to a national championship where he was voted most outstanding player of the tournament. Carmelo may not have all of the glamorous career accolades of other players, but his impact on the game was tremendous. He was undeniably one of the best players in the country during his tenure at Syracuse, and his national championship victory propelled him into this lineup.
If Tyler Hansbrough had the opportunity to live his entire life at North Carolina, he would. Every time this kid took the floor, he gave it 100%,and it was super fun to watch. Hansbrough is the opposite of Carmelo Anthony, in the sense that he was showered with all of the glamorous awards. Hansbrough was a 4-time All-American, he won the Wooden Award, the Naismith Award, and the Rupp trophy, and to top it all off, Hansbrough’s Tar Heels won the NCAA Championship in 2009. Tyler is also the opposite of Melo because he did not have to do it all himself. His championship team included guys like Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Wayne Ellington, and Tyler Zeller. Still, Hansbrough was a force in each of his 4 seasons at Chapel Hill. Hansbrough is North Carolina’s all time leading scorer, and he also holds a plethora of other records. He could very well be the best player in the program’s history and this is a program that has produced guys like Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Vince Carter.
Whenever anyone thinks of Blake Griffin, they picture him soaring through the air and jumping over cars. Few people remember Griffin at Oklahoma, where he put together a great college career. His performance was good enough to earn himself the number 1 pick in the 2009 draft. In his sophomore season at Oklahoma, Griffin was a First Team All-American, Wooden Award winner, and led the Sooners all the way to the Elite 8. He averaged 23 points and 14 rebounds while shooting a blistering 63% from the field. There were only 5 games during his sophomore campaign in which Griffin failed to record a double double. In the process, he set Big 12 records for double doubles, total rebounds, and rebounding average in a year.
All of these players enjoyed fabulous college careers, and unfortunately, I had to leave some fantastic players off of this list. If there is someone you think I left out, drop a comment below with who you think should be on the team!