The 15 Most Outstanding Players In NCAA Tournament History
The 15 Most Outstanding Players In NCAA Tournament History
The conference tournaments and Selection Sunday will be coming up very shortly, and with that comes the times to reminisce on the past greats who shined the brightest during the craziest event in sports: The NCAA tournament.
Plenty of great players this year will have the opportunity to make their names legendary with a great showing in the tournament. In addition, the great freshmen class composed of great players like Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon can cement their place among the top of NBA draft boards should they decide to enter the draft after the season.
The NCAA Tournament is the time for the greats of the game to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. More often than not, the NCAA Tournament is the springboard of success for most of the game's greats.
In every tournament, there's always at least one Cinderella player or team that will make even the casual fans remember where they were when they saw them perform in the tournament. While basketball is a team sport, the individual performances get remembered the most over the years.
Some of these players were standout stars even before they even stepped foot on a college court while other players didn't get on the national scene until they got to the tournament. Regardless of if they were household names before or after the tournament, these players played their best when their tournament lives were on the line.
Here's my list of the 15 best NCAA tournament players ever. There are some fairly recent players here along with some of the game's greatest ever, but not all of these selections had to win titles to make the cut.
15. Bill Bradley, Princeton
Forward Bill BradleyPrinceton sealed his legacy as the greatest Ivy League player in college basketball history in the NCAA tournament. Bradley averaged 33 points and 12 rebounds per game in the tournament. The future two-time NBA champion was the 1965 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player.
14. David Thompson, North Carolina State
Guard David Thompson from North Carolina State was the major reason why the UCLA dynasty of the 1960s and 1970s ended. Thompson and the Wolfpack stopped the streak of John Wooden's seven consecutive national titles in the Final Four with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Thompson was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1974 NCAA Tournament.
13. Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston
Despite coming up short in two consecutive championship games, Hakeem Olajuwon certainly deserves to be mentioned on this list. Olajuwon averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game in the tournament for the Houston Cougars. He was the 1983 Most Outstanding Player even though his team didn't win the title.
12. Jerry Lucas, Ohio State
Along with John Havlicek, Jerry Lucas was a major piece of dominant teams when he was with the Ohio State Buckeyes in the late 1950s to early 1960s. Lucas averaged 22 points and 16 rebounds per game in tournament play. He was a two-time NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
11. Danny Manning, Kansas
In the rich history of Kansas basketball, Danny Manning is the leading scorer and rebounder in program history -- ranking ahead of the most dominant player in the history of basketball in Wilt Chamberlain. Manning averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game in the tournament. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1988 Tournament.
10. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown
In three of his four seasons, Patrick Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas reached the championship game with one win in 1984. Ewing averaged 14 points and eight rebounds per game in the tournament. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1984 tournament.
9. Christian Laettner, Duke
In his four seasons at Duke, Christian Laettner started in four consecutive Final Fours, two of which were national championship victories. Laettner averaged 17 points and seven rebounds per game in the tournament. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1991 tournament.
8. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati
In Oscar Robertson's three seasons at Cincinnati, the guard helped the Bearcats reach two Final Fours. Robertson averaged 32 points and 13 rebounds per game in the tournament. He was a first-team All-American in each of his three college seasons.
7. Jerry West, West Virginia
Guard Jerry West from West Virginia stated his case as one of the greatest scorers in basketball history in the NCAA tournament. West averaged 30 points and 13 rebounds per game in the tournament. He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1959 tournament even when the Mountaineers lost in the 1959 championship game.
6. Bill Russell, San Francisco
Before Bill Russell became the greatest winner in NBA history, he was a great winner in college. With the San Francisco Dons, Russell won two national championships, the only two in program history. Russell was the Most Outstanding Player of the 1955 NCAA Tournament.
5. Michael Jordan, North Carolina
The greatest player in NBA history, Michael Jordan hit the game-winning shot as a freshman to help the North Carolina Tar Heels win the 1982 National Championship. Jordan averaged 16 points and four rebounds in the tournament. He was a two-time All-American as a sophomore and a junior.
4. Larry Bird, Indiana State
Although Larry Bird and the Indiana State Sycamores made the tournament only once in Bird's three seasons, Bird's 1979 tournament was the best single-season tournament appearance in NCAA history. Bird averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds per game in leading the then undefeated Sycamores to the 1979 National Championship game. He was the 1979 Naismith and Wooden award winner.
3. Magic Johnson, Michigan State
In Magic Johnson's two seasons at Michigan State, the guard led the team into the Elite Eight in both years with a national championship victory in 1979. Johnson averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game in the tournament. He was the 1979 Most Outstanding Player in the tournament.
2. Bill Walton, UCLA
In Bill Walton's three seasons at UCLA, the Bruins won two national championships. Walton averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds per game in the NCAA tournament, including a 44-point, 13 rebound performance in the 1973 championship game against Memphis State. He was a two-time Most Outstanding Player in the tournament.
1. Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), UCLA
The greatest college basketball player of all time, Lew Alcindor (now Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) cemented this status with three tremendous NCAA Tournament appearances. Alcindor averaged 25 points and 16 rebounds per game in tournament action. He was a three-time Most Outstanding Player in the tournament in each of his three seasons at UCLA.
Players Who Almost Made The Cut: