Today's TOP 10 list is brought to you by College Basketball scribe extraordinaire, Geoff Hutchinson. You can peep Geoff's regular column "the retro-spective" right here.
It’s been an awesome couple of weeks in college basketball with all the upsets and buzzer beaters and great games being played. However, we want to take a step back and travel down memory lane for a bit. While the 2000’s were a short time ago, we still enjoy reminiscing over the great college basketball that was played during that decade. With that being said, we are going to take a look at the 10 BEST players of the 2000s. Please feel free to disagree with me, as there were about 15-20 players that I considered when compiling this list. With no further ado, here are the top ten best player of that decade.
10. Emeka Okafor – C - Connecticut: Teams in the Big East often learned the hard way about entering the paint when Emeka Okafor was in the lane. In his three years at UConn, Okafor averaged over 4 blocks per game every season, and left UConn as the school’s all-time leading blocks leader. Okafor was named the Big East Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year in 2004. Okafor was the backbone of an UConn team that won the NCAA Championship in 2004, where Okafor was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
9. Blake Griffin – F - Oklahoma: This might come as a shocker to you, but Blake Griffin was really good in college. Poor Big XII teams were faced with the almost impossible task of defending the hyperathletic dunking machine, and most struggled mightily containing the talented Griffin. After a promising freshman season where Griffin averaged 14 points and 9 rebounds a game, Griffin returned to Oklahoma for his sophomore year and it was not a pretty sight for opposing teams. In 2008-2009, Griffin averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds while leading the Sooners to the Elite Eight. Griffin’s exploits were rewarded with the Naismith and Wooden Awards in 2009.
8. TJ Ford – G - Texas: In the history of NCAA, there has only been one point guard to lead the nation in assists as a freshman, and that player was Texas point guard TJ Ford. In 2002, Ford led the nation averageing a little over 8 assists per game. In his sophomore year, he was unable to duplicate the feet, but led the Longhorns in points, assists, and steals. In the 2003 season, Ford led Texas to the school’s first Final Four since 1947 and was named MVP of the South Regional. His performance earned him the Naismith and Wooden Awards in 2003, and had his jersey retired by the University of Texas.
7. Juan Dixon – G – Maryland: I’m pretty sure that Juan Dixon can go anywhere in College Park, Maryland and not have to pay for any meal because of his exploits a decade ago. Dixon led the Terrapins to their first ever national championship in 2002, where he was named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. During Dixon’s four years at Maryland, he was named to the All-ACC first team three times, and was named ACC Player of the year in 2002. Dixon left Maryland as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and the only player in NCAA history to accumulate 2,000 points, 300 steals, and 200 three-pointers in his career.
6. Jameer Nelson – G – St. Joseph’s: Nelson was the driving force behind the last team (2003-2004 St. Joseph’s Hawks) to finish the regular season undefeated. Nelson led the Hawks to the Elite Eight, and the Hawks were named the team of the decade by Sports Illustrated. Nelson started his career off with a bang as he was the unanimous choice for National Freshman of the Year in 2001. He left St. Joseph’s as the school’s leader in points, assists and steals, and had his number retired in 2004. Nelson was awarded with the Wooden and Naismith Awards for his play during his senior year in 2004.
5. JJ Redick – G - Duke: While he was not as successful as much as some of the most famous players to ever wear the Duke jersey, it is arguable that Redick might be the most accomplished player to ever don the Duke uniform. Redick dominated the ACC during his four years at Duke, capturing the ACC Player of the Year Award in both his junior and senior seasons (2005, 2006). Redick left Duke as the all-time leader in three pointers (457) and points scored in the ACC (2,769). Redick had his ACC scoring record broken by another member of this list. In Redick’s senior season (2006), he was named the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year.
4. Kevin Durant – F - Texas: The only player on our list to only spend a year in college, and what a year it was for Kevin Durant! As a freshman in 2006-2007, Durant averaged an amazing 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game for the Texas Longhorns. In Big XII play that season, he was even better, averaging a staggering 28.9 points and 12.5 rebounds, which included a 37 point and 23 rebound effort against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Durant’s extraordinary exploits earned him the distinction of the first freshman to ever win the Wooden and Naismith Player of the Year Awards in 2007.
3. Shane Battier – F – Duke: If you had to describe Shane Battier, the perfect term would be “consummate winner”. Battier is the only player on this list to have played in two Final Fours in two different decades (1999, 2001). It is arguable that Battier was the best perimeter defender to have played in the 2000s, as Battier was awarded the National Defensive Player of the Year Award three times from 1999 to 2001. As a senior in 2001, Battier led the Blue Devils to the National Championship, capturing the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award in the process. During the same season, Battier was awarded with the Wooden and Naismith Award for the best player in the nation.
2. Jason Williams – G - Duke: Williams’s freshman season at Duke was impressive on its own right, as he averaged 14.5 points and 6.5 assists and won National Freshman of the Year. However, the next two years at Duke are why Williams comes in at #2 on our list. As a sophomore, Williams broke Duke’s record for points in a season and helped lead Duke to the National Championship. How did he follow up that season? By winning the Naismith and Wooden Awards in 2002. Williams actually graduated from Duke early, and had his number retired on Duke’s Senior Day in 2002, even though Williams was only a junior at the time.
And the best player of the 2000s is…..
1. Tyler Hansbrough – F – North Carolina: To opposing fans, Hansbrough was a pest of a player, while to North Carolina fans, he was the quintessential star that played the game the right way. Where do we start with Hansbrough’s achievements from his college career? He won every award imaginable in college basketball. He has a collegiate championship that he won in his senior year. Hansbrough was the person that knocked J.J. Redick from the top of charts for the ACC scoring record. In Hansbrough’s four years in North Carolina, he was named a consensus First Team All-American three times. In Hansbrough’s best season, his junior year, he pulled a clean sweep of every major award, including the Naismith and Wooden Awards. All in all, Hansbrough has the most impressive resume for any player that suited up in the 2000s, and deserves to be atop our list.
I hope you enjoyed the list. Check out Retro College Cuts for more college basketball gear and talk! And be sure to enter the Retro College Cuts "Win a Trip to VEGAS for THE MADNESS!" contest. You could win FREE trip to LAS VEGAS for the first weekend of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The winner (and one guest of their choice) will be awarded round trip airfare & a three night stay at THE HOTEL boutique resort.
LEAVE A COMMENT