What you are about to read is an All-Decade team composed of the best Men’s College Basketball players over the past 10 years.
Now, remember, this is based on college basketball play and not how players have fared in the NBA. College basketball, most importantly, is all about putting your heart on the line and being a star when it matters most. So, here are the players that did all that, and did it better than everyone else.
Guard — Jalen Brunson, Villanova
There are some college basketball players that go unknown, up until they make a big play or have a break-out season. Jalen Brunson was not that player. Even before he played a regular season game, he was on the 20-man Bob Cousy Award preseason watchlist, an award that is given to the best men’s point guard in the nation. He proved the hype to be real, as he led the team to a National Championship that same season.
He didn’t look back, either. During his junior year, Villanova returned to win the National Championship, and Brunson received a whole heap of individual awards. The most prestigious awards include the Oscar Roberson trophy, the Associated Press College Basketball Player of the Year Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. He also was named college player of the decade by Sporting News.
Guard — Kemba Walker, University of Connecticut
Kemba Walker falls under the category of college athletes who can make a team great, not just play on a great team. Out of the three years Walker played at UCONN, only one falls into this decade (2010-11). That one year was enough to get him a spot on this list.
In what was his junior year, Walker led the nation in scoring with 26.7 points per game on the way to win a National Championship. Walker was the undisputed star along the way, scoring an all-time NCAA record 130 points in five games during the Big East tournament, which gave UCONN a No. 3 seed headed into the tournament. After winning the championship, Walker received the Bob Cousy Award, the Most Outstanding Player Award and finished second in voting for the Oscar Roberson trophy.
Guard/Forward — Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
I know, I know, Buddy Hield wasn’t a forward, he was a guard. That being said, he could not be left off the list, on account of his being one of the most electrifying, exciting and energizing players of the decade. During his four years at Oklahoma, Hield shocked and amazed all those who watched him, both for his play at the rim and from the 3-point line.
Hield earned just about every individual award you can earn as a men’s college basketball player. In 2016, his senior year, Hield was awarded the John R. Wooden Award, the Oscar Roberson Award, Sporting News College Player of the Year, the Jerry West Award and the Big 12 Player of the Year. The fact that he was named a consensus first-team All-American was just icing on the cake.
These awards are prestigious, but hardware is not what we remember from Buddy Hield. We remember him scoring 21 points in the second half against Texas, especially his go-ahead-3 to win. We remember him scoring 46 points in a triple-overtime heartbreaking loss to Kansas. He made 3’s that were mind-bogglingly deep, drove to the rim with remarkable tenacity, and always, always played his heart out.
Forward — Zion Williamson, Duke
If you are about to accuse me of being some sort of hype-following buffoon because there’s no way that Zion Williamson deserves this spot over Frank Kaminsky or Jimmer Fredette, I want you to go find a Zion highlight reel, and think of any other college athlete that has looked that dominant. Zion appeared to be from another planet, jumping higher and being stronger than anyone else in college basketball at the time.
Zion set the tone in his first regular season game with Duke, scoring 28 points in just 23 minutes, and shooting a blistering 85% from the field. That would be his style for the rest of the season- efficient scoring in explosive bursts. Zion would go on to average 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocks over 33 games. He shot an incredible 68% from the field for the entire season. Zion’s play was enough to earn him nearly every award in the book- All-American, the Karl Malone Award, ACC Athlete of the year, ACC Player of the Year and the consensus National Player of the Year.
If that’s not enough for you, Zion had the highest Player Efficiency Rating for a single season in the decade- a whopping 40.84, more than three points ahead of the next closest player.
Center — Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Anthony Davis is another one of those players, like Kemba, who can drag a team to greatness. What he provided was insane efficiency- he averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game, while shooting 65% from the field. Now, great box score and all (especially the blocks), but he did all of this while maintaining an 18.67 plus-minus- second highest plus-minus for a single season this decade.
Davis’ biggest contribution to the 2011-12 Wildcats was the fact that he was always the best player on the court, in spite of a plethora of NBA-level talent in the NCAA that year. The Wildcats won the National Championship, and Davis was awarded the Most Outstanding Player Award. Davis was able to adapt to play as a wing defender when Kentucky needed him too, while at the same time being one of the most dominant rim protectors of all time. Davis’ length and lateral quickness enabled Kentucky to play with dozens of new lineups, something that confounded opposing coaches and players. Anthony Davis was great because he made his team great, and he was recognized for it.
This wasn’t an easy process by any means, so here are a couple players that nearly made the list.
- Jimmer Fredette — BYU
- Doug McDermott — Creighton
- Frank Mason III — Kentucky
- Frank Kaminsky — Wisconsin
- Draymond Green — Michigan