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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Most Dominant Players in College Basketball History

Top 10 Most Dominant Players in College Basketball History

Who was the most dominant?
Publish Date: 03/17/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

This is not the most outstanding players list; this list is for the most dominant players in College basketball history—Guys like Pete Maravich and Rick Mount, who could score at will. Guys like Larry Bird and Danny Manning could put an entire team on their backs and win.

Criteria

These are guys who rarely had a bad game, guys who won championships or got their teams deep into the NCAA Tournament, with the exception of Pete Maravich, who was the greatest scorer college basketball ever saw.

10) Magic Johnson (Michigan State Spartans)

Johnson could have been a much more high-volume scorer but decided to facilitate the Spartans offense ahead of putting points on the board himself. Because of his all-everything skill set, Johnson took Michigan State University on a two-year ride that included a freshman trip to the Elite Eight and winning the National Championship in 1979.

Video: Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson COLLEGE DUEL Highlights (1979.03.26) Indiana St vs Michigan St (EPIC!!)

Larry Bird vs Magic Johnson COLLEGE DUEL Highlights (1979.03.26) Indiana St vs Michigan St (EPIC!!)

9) Pete Maravich (LSU Tigers)

Pistol Pete scored 3,667 points in a mere 83 games. Portland State’s Freeman Williams scored 418 fewer points in 23 different games. Wow! He could hit shots from every angle and every distance imaginable. No shot was off-limits; every opening was a potential field goal attempt. Throw in that Maravich was probably the most outstanding ball-handler in history.

Video: Pete Maravich LSU Highlights

Pete Maravich LSU Highlights

8) Tyler Hansborough, North Carolina Tar Heels

Hansbrough is considered one of the greatest college basketball of all time. Hansbrough has the most points scored in North Carolina basketball history (2,872) and has pulled down more rebounds (1 219) than any other player. Hansbrough also holds the school’s record for making field goals (939), free throws (982) and double-figure scoring games (138). Hansbrough averaged 20.2 points per game and 8.6 career rebounds.

He was also the first ACC player named first-team All-Conference four times. He won the 2007-08 national player of the year award and helped the Tar Heels win their 2009 national championship.

Video: Tyler Hansbrough -- The Psycho T Mix

Tyler Hansbrough — The Psycho T Mix

7) Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati Bearcats)

Robertson’s scoring prowess was emphasized because he won the national scoring title in all three of his varsity seasons at Cincy.

The Big O was so much more than just a big-time scorer. His 15.2 rebounds per game average are extraordinary. Even his 4.8 assists per game average were unbelievable considering everything else he contributed on a game-by-game basis.

Robertson was a three-time Sporting News College Player of the Year and a three-time consensus All-American (1958-1960).

Video: Rare Footage of Oscar Robertson at University of Cincinnati

Rare Footage of Oscar Robertson at University of Cincinnati

6) Jerry Lucas, Ohio State

Lucas was a three-time All-American and three-time conference player of the year. He also won the player-of-the-year award during his junior season and senior seasons.

In his second season, Lucas also led the Buckeyes to win the national title.

Video: Jerry Lucas | Big Ten Icons

Jerry Lucas | Big Ten Icons

5) Wilt Chamberlain (Kansas Jayhawks)

The dominance began in his first varsity game at KU, where he scored 52 points and grabbed 31 rebounds. He was named a consensus All American in both his years playing varsity ball in Lawrence. Even though KU didn’t win the 1957 NCAA championship, Chamberlain was still selected as the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

Video: WiltMixTape - Wilt Chamberlain Kansas Highlights

WiltMixTape – Wilt Chamberlain Kansas Highlights

4) Bill Walton (UCLA Bruins)

The Bruins were undefeated national champions in Walton’s sophomore and junior seasons. In the 1973 NCAA championship game, he delivered one of the most dominating performances, shooting 21 of 22 from the field and scoring 44 points.

Walton is one of the most awarded college basketball players of all time. He was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player twice. He was selected as a consensus All American three times. He won the Naismith National Player of the Year three times.

Video: Bill Walton Greatest Games: 44 Points vs Memphis State (1973 NCAA FInal)

Bill Walton Greatest Games: 44 Points vs Memphis State (1973 NCAA FInal)

3) David Thompson, NC State Wolfpack

Thompson was unstoppable. He was the state’s leader to a 79-7 record overall and the national title. He averaged 27 points per game. His defense was unmatched over three seasons. If NC State had been allowed in the 73 tournament they would have ended UCLA’s dominance then.

Video: David Thompson Highlights

David Thompson Highlights

2) Bill Russell (San Francisco Dons)

Let’s start with the fact that he averaged 20 points and 20 rebounds per game for his career.  Russell led the University of San Francisco to back-to-back NCAA Championships (1955 and 1956).

Video: Bill Russell 26pts 27reb 20blks 3stl 1a Double-Triple-Double his final NCAA Championship

Bill Russell 26pts 27reb 20blks 3stl 1a Double-Triple-Double his final NCAA Championship

1) Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Formerly Lew Alcindor; UCLA Bruins)

This, to me, is a no-doubter; Abdul-Jabbar made a clean sweep of just about every possible award or accolade. He led the Bruins to three NCAA championships (1967, 1968 and 1969). In those three championships, he averaged 30.3 points and was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

He was a three-time first-team All-American, and won the National Player of the Year twice (1967 and 1968) and was the first Naismith award winner.

Video: Lew Alcindor at UCLA

Lew Alcindor at UCLA

Honorable Mentions

Austin Carr (Notre Dame Fighting Irish)

Carr is still Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer with 2,560 points. Carr also holds NCAA Tournament records for most points in one game (61 vs Ohio in 1970), most field goals in one game (25), and most field goals attempted in one game (44). His record-scoring average of 50 points per game in seven NCAA playoff games may never be broken.

Video: Austin Carr Scores 61 Points vs. Ohio - 1970 NCAA Championship

Austin Carr Scores 61 Points vs. Ohio – 1970 NCAA Championship

Isiah Thomas, Indiana Hoosiers

Thomas was only a Hoosier for two years, but those two years were special as Thomas led the Hoosiers to back-to-back big ten championships and the 1981 National Championship. Thomas was a great leader with an innate ability to take a game over.

Video: Hoosier Hysteria - Isiah Thomas Speech

Hoosier Hysteria – Isiah Thomas Speech

Rick Mount, Purdue Boilermakers

Mount was maybe the greatest shooter in College Basketball history. He averaged more than 30 points per game for the three seasons he played, and that was without a three-point shot. He shot over 50 per cent from the field while sharpshooters like Pete Maravich were shooting in the mid-40s. Mount helped lead the Boilermakers to the National Championship game.

Video: Rick Mount | Big Ten Icons

Rick Mount | Big Ten Icons

Jerry West (West Virginia Mountaineers)

West was known for his prolific scoring (2,309 points in three varsity seasons), but equally impressive was that he pulled down 1,240 boards as a 6’2” wing. He was a two-time All-American selection (1959 and 1960). He was also named the Southern Conference’s Player of the Year in those same years.

Video: HD Rare Footage of Jerry West at West Virginia

HD Rare Footage of Jerry West at West Virginia

Danny Manning (Kansas Jayhawks)

The multi-talented 6’10” forward carried the Jayhawks to 1986 Final Four and led KU to the 1988 National Championship, where he was selected as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Many players have scored more points and pulled down more rebounds, but few have had the success that Manning achieved.

Video: Danny Manning's dominant 1988 NCAA title game

Danny Manning’s dominant 1988 NCAA title game

Elvin Hayes (Houston Cougars)

On January 20, 1968, the Big E and the Houston Cougars faced Lew and the UCLA Bruins in the first-ever nationally televised regular-season college basketball game. In front of a record 52,693 fans at the Houston Astrodome, Hayes scored 39 points and had 15 rebounds while limiting Alcindor to just 15 points as Houston beat UCLA 71–69 to snap the Bruins’ 47-game winning streak in what has been called the “Game of the Century”. Hayes averaged over 30 points and 17 rebounds during his college career.

Video: 1968 Game of the Century

1968 Game of the Century

Larry Bird (Indiana State Sycamores)

Bird was selected as a consensus All-American in both 1978 and 1979. He won virtually every national player of the year award in 1979 and was named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in 1978 and 1979. “Larry Legend” single-handedly lifted Indiana State to the peak of the college basketball world. He led ISU to the 1979 national championship game, only to fall to the Michigan State Spartans.

Video: Larry Bird 35 Pts Vs DePaul 79 NCAA Final Four

Larry Bird 35 Pts Vs DePaul 79 NCAA Final Four

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