By: David Kay
As the first decade of the new millenium comes to an end, The Sports Bank continues our series of All-Decade Teams with a look at the top college basketball players of the 2000’s.
In an era when the game’s best players usually do not spend all four years of their eligibility in college, there are several different criteria to consider when compiling this list. I factored in the player’s individual accomplishments, team’s success, and length at the university when narrowing down my team.
F/C-Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina (2005-2009)
Though he was one of the most hated college players of the decade, Hansbrough’s resume speaks for itself. The former Tar Heel was a two-time 2nd team All-American selection and a two-time 1st teamer as well. He was named Player of the Year for the 2007-2008 season and was All-ACC during all four years with the Tar Heels. Psycho-T shattered several conference records and is UNC’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, field goals, and numerous other categories. He helped lead Carolina to a National Title in 2009 and is without question the college basketball Player of the Decade.
F/C-Blake Griffin, Oklahoma (2007-2009)
Despite spending just two seasons in Norman, Griffin was one of the most dominant players in college hoops this past decade. He was the 2009 Player of the Year after averaging 22.7 points and 14. 4 rebounds per game while posting a ridiculous 30 double-doubles. He set the Big 12 mark for most boards in a single season and was a man among boys in the college ranks.
F-Kevin Durant, Texas (2005-2006)
The consensus 2007 Player of the Year, Durant made an enormous splash in his only year with the Longhorns. He averaged 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game during the season and 28.9 points during Big 12 play. Durant was the first freshman and only Longhorn to ever earn AP Player of the Year honors and to win the Naismith Award.
SG- J.J. Redick, Duke (2002-2006)
A two-time First Team All-ACC selection, Redick was also named First Team All-American in 2005 and 2006, earning Player of the Year honors in ’06. Known for his sweet stroke and limitless range from the perimeter, Redick broke the NCAA all-time mark for three-pointers made and also became Duke’s single season scoring leader.
PG-Jason Williams, Duke (1999-2002)
The 2002 Naismith and Wooden Award winner, Williams was a two-time member of the All-American first team. He helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCAA Championship and broke the school’s all-time record for points in a single season. In just three years at Duke, Williams left as the sixth all-time leading scorer in the program’s prestigious history. If only a motorcycle accident didn’t pre-maturely end his NBA career.
C-Emeka Okafor-UConn (2001-2004)
Despite dealing with back issues during his junior season, Okafor earned First Team All-American honors, was the NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and Defensive Player of the Year while leading the Huskies to the national title. He also became the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots.
SF-Carmelo Anthony- Syracuse (2002-2003)
The most impressive aspect of ‘Melo’s lone season at ‘Cuse was how dominant he was in the NCAA Tournament when leading the Orange to their first ever national title. Anthony added the honor of the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player to his achievements of Second Team All-American, Freshman of the Year, and First Team All-Big East. He averaged 22.1 points and 10.0 boards a game.
SG-Dwyane Wade-Marquette (2001-2003)
After sitting out his first year at Marquette due to academic reasons, Wade burst onto the scene and helped the Golden Eagles regain national attention. He was a complete player averaging 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 2.3 steals per game during his career and earning First Team All-American honors during his junior year. Wade led Marquette to their first and only Conference USA Championship but was most impressive helping MU get to the Final Four for the first time since 1977. In their Elite Eight win against top-ranked Kentucky, Wade became the third player in NCAA Tournament history to record a triple-double.
SG-Stephen Curry-Davidson (2006-2009)
The fresh-faced darling of college basketball was one of the best pure shooters of the decade and single-handedly put Davidson on the college basketball map. He averaged 25.3 points per game and hit 414 career three-pointers in his three seasons with the Wildcats. Curry was Second Team All-American in his sophomore year when he almost carried Davidson to the Final Four before losing to eventual National Champion, Kansas and First Team All-American as a junior. He is college basketball’s all-time leader in single season three-pointers made with 162.
PG-Jameer Nelson- St. Joseph’s (2000-2004)
The 2004 National Player of the Year, Nelson helped lead St. Joseph’s to a 27-1 regular season and #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament before losing in the Elite Eight to Oklahoma State. He left the Hawks as the program’s all-time leader in points, assists, and steals.
HONRABLE MENTIONS: Shane Battier-Duke (1997-2001), T.J. Ford-Texas (2001-2003), Andrew Bogut-Utah (2003-2005), Adam Morrison-Gonzaga (2003-2006), Luke Harangody-Notre Dame (2006-present)
COACH OF THE DECADE:
Roy Williams, Kansas (2000-2003) and North Carolina (2003-present)
No coach made more Final Four appearances during the decade than Roy Williams; twice with Kansas, three times at UNC. He led the Tar Heels to National Championships in 2005 and 2009 while averaging almost 30 wins per season during the 2000’s. Williams’ teams won six conference championships in the last ten years and he earned Coach of the Year honors in 2006.