110 Sports created a formula to determine the 100 greatest college basketball players of the last decade spanning from the 2010-11 season through the end of 2019-20. The base requirement to be considered for the list was making an all-conference first team and 1,351 players fit that basic criteria. All 1,351 players went through the algorithm to determine the greatest 100 to play the sport over the last 10 seasons.
|Points (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 4 points (12 ppg = 3 points)|
|Assists (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 2 assists ( 6 assists = 3 points)|
|Rebounds (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 2 rebounds (6 rebounds = 3 points)|
|Steals (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 1 steal (3 steals = 3 points)|
|Blocks (average of two best seasons)||1 point per 1 block (3 blocks = 3 points)|
|Regular season title||3 points (major), 2 points (mid-major)|
|Conference tournament title||2 points (major), 1 point (mid-major)|
|NCAA Tournament appearance||2 points|
|Final Four appearance||4 points|
|National Championship||6 points|
|AP All-American||7 points (1st Team), 5 points (2nd Team), 3 points (3rd team)|
|Naismith Player of the Year||8 points|
The formula is not perfect, but it takes out as much bias as possible. And please remember, this is an examination of the greatest players of the decade, not the best.
With that being said, we continue the 100 greatest players of the decade from 90-81.
90. G Joe Jackson | Memphis | 2010/11-2013/14
Total Points: 26 (Individual Points: 19)
At a Glance: 2012-13 Conference USA Player of the Year
Josh Mullenix: There’s a soft spot in my heart for Joe Jackson as a Memphis Native. The White Station High School product is one of the last Memphis-based recruits to actually turn into the player he was supposed to be at Memphis. The Tigers haven’t gotten back to the NCAA Tournament since he left and Memphis has done just about everything but win since Jackson graduated in 2014.
Chris Brown: Jackson’s spot in the top 100 is a result of the Tigers’ four straight NCAA Tournament appearances in his college career. That’s no small matter, and Memphis hasn’t been back to the Big Dance since. Jackson averaged 12.1 points per game in his career, topping out at 14.1 his senior season, and started 115 games. His peak and individual accolades don’t quite measure up to some others, but I’m fine with him here near the end of the top 100.
Josh Doering: Jackson started at least 19 games each of his four seasons as a Tiger and made four NCAA Tournaments. Memphis has not gone dancing since. He was the last guy able to maintain the success that began under John Calipari, which makes him deserving of his ranking. After Jackson graduated, Memphis was not relevant in the national conversation until Penny Hardaway brought his first recruiting class in this past season. And even that ended in controversy and disappointment.
89. F Marcus Morris | Kansas | 2008/09-2010/11
Total Points: 26 (21)
At a Glance: 2010-11 AP Second Team All-American, 2010-11 Big 12 Player of the Year
JM: Morris is a prime example of why I’m proud of the formula we developed. He’s only being counted for one year and he’s getting recognition for his Big 12 regular season and tournament titles and his individual accolades but he still comes in towards the bottom of this list. It took a really incredible single season to land a player really high on the list and I like the value our formula puts into playing multiple seasons. Morris was very good at Kansas in 2010-11 for a stellar Kansas team, but they didn’t get the job done and he lands where he should.
CB: If you’re going to land inside the top 100 with just one college season in the 2010s, it has to be a pretty darn good one. Morris averaged 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game his junior year while shooting 62 percent inside the arc. He helped lead the Jayhawks to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but their loss to VCU in the Elite Eight keeps Morris at a fitting spot around 90th.
JD: I will never argue someone who wins the Big 12 regular season and Big 12 Tournament, is named conference player of the year and goes 35-3 while reaching the Elite Eight is undeserving of a spot on our list. His single season this decade was not transcendent in any way, so I wouldn’t want him any higher. Morris is more in the 90-95 range for me if we’re going to get specific.
88. C Karl-Anthony Towns | Kentucky | 2014/15
Total Points: 26 (21)
At a Glance: 2014-15 AP Second Team All-American, 2015 Final Four
JM: I’m assuming this will be the first ranking that people will really be offended by. But let’s be honest, KAT was good at Kentucky, but just good. There were eight other NBA players on that 2014-15 Kentucky roster that fell one game short of the perfect season. This was the year Calipari played basically two sets of starting fives so Towns only played 21.1 minutes per game averaging 10 points and six boards. I personally have no issue with him being where he is. Would he be higher up on my personal board? Yes. But a one-and-done player with less than inspiring numbers who wasn’t the best player on his team that didn’t win a national championship shouldn’t be incredibly high on this list.
CB: This one was certainly a bit shocking initially. In his freshman season, Towns led the Wildcats in rattling off 38 consecutive wins to begin the year before falling to Wisconsin in the Final Four. He scored 25 points in 25 minutes against Notre Dame to reach that game. But Kentucky’s depth combined with Towns’ foul troubles meant he played only 21 minutes per contest, and while he could go off offensively at any point, his mark of 10.3 points per game isn’t super eye-catching. I would have had him several spots higher, yes, but still just in the 50s or 60s in my rankings.
JD: Quite frankly, I really don’t care that Towns and his teammates failed to complete their perfect season. It obviously matters in terms of their legacy, but going undefeated in a major conference during the regular season should be worth at least as many points as a Final Four. Those extra four points would put Towns in the mid-to-low 50s and I would be completely fine with that.
87. G Nate Wolters | South Dakota State | 2009/10-2012/13
Total Points: 26 (22)
At a Glance: 2012-13 AP Third Team All-American, 2012-13 Summit Player of the Year
JM: I expected one Jackrabbit to be on this list, but I didn’t expect two to be. However, Wolters absolutely deserves to be on this list. He averaged 19.5 points or more in three of his four seasons at South Dakota State, won a Summit Player of the Year award and was a 2012-13 third team all-american. The Jackrabbits got better every year he was there, going from below .500 when he was a freshman to winning 52 games over his last two years. In my opinion, this is a success for our formula. It’s a mid-major player who didn’t have overwhelming team success but still made the list due to his personal accolades.
CB: The Jackrabbits haven’t found much success in the Big Dance, but Wolters deserves a good deal of credit for helping lead South Dakota State to its first two NCAA Tournament appearances in Division I. After an unspectacular freshman year, Wolters played in 98 games the next three seasons, averaging nearly 36 minutes per game along with roughly 21 points, six assists and five rebounds per game. His personal success was immense, and relative to the situation, his team success was in many ways as well.
JD: One of our goals in creating the formula was to make sure players like Wolters — who only won one regular season title and made the NCAA Tournament twice — wouldn’t slip through the cracks. He is here because he averaged 18.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds for his career, not because his team was always the best in its conference. We would be doing an incredible disservice if someone with the individual and team success of Wolters was left out.
86. G Nik Stauskas | Michigan | 2012/13-2013/14
Total Points: 26 (23)
At a Glance: 2013-14 AP Second Team All-American, 2013-14 Big Ten Player of the Year, 2013 Final Four
JM: It’s not just that I think Stauskas should be higher on the list, it’s that I’m not so sure how he only ended up this low. You rack up points quickly with player of the year, all-american honors and Final Fours. Stauskas did all three but he didn’t receive very many points from his stats because they were underwhelming apart from his shooting ability. 14.1 points, 2.3 assists and 2.9 rebounds doesn’t rack up nearly as many points as some of the other players on this list so I imagine that has something to do with his position. But, frankly, he should be higher.
CB: Stauskas’ spot on this list is certainly a head scratcher. How can a second team All-American, conference player of the year player who reached the Final Four be 86th? His two-year points per game average of 14.1 is good but not great, and his 2.3 assists and 2.9 boards per game in his college career also don’t net him a lot of points in our system, showing perhaps one of its weaknesses. I would have had Stauskas at least 10-20 spots higher.
JD: I am honestly surprised and perplexed that Stauskas is not in the top 75. He made a Final Four and then led the Wolverines to an outright Big 10 regular season championship. Oh, and he was a 44% 3-point shooter too. I always appreciated the way Stauskas carried himself on the court. The man oozed confidence. This is the first time I feel like our formula failed in a significant way.
85. F Kenneth Faried | Morehead State | 2007/08-2010/11
Total Points: 26 (25)
At a Glance: 2010-11 AP Second Team All-American, 2010-11 OVC Player of the Year
JM: Faried quietly had one of the best statistical seasons of the decade. In 2010-11, he averaged 17.3 points, 14.5 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.9 steals, earning second team all-american honors. Being recognized as one of the 10 best players in the country in a given year is impressive, and doing it at Morehead State is even more so. Not only did he get the Eagles to the tournament, they beat Louisville in the 4 versus 13 matchup and fell short of beating a 12 seed to go to the Sweet Sixteen. I’m all for Faried making the list.
CB: Rotowire.com ranked Faried’s 2010-11 season as the eighth-best of any DI player in the decade, and rightly so. His senior year, Faried led college basketball in rebounding, total rebound percentage, and total rebounds. His 62.4% mark shooting from the field was the third-best in the nation. Jimmer Fredette got the attention for the Golden Eagles that season, but in addition to being one of the best on the defensive end in the country, Faried was also a force to be reckoned with on offense. I may have even had him a few spots higher than this.
JD: Faried’s senior season is the only time the Eagles have reached the 25-win mark since 1983-84. He was a second team all-american for a reason and led his team to an NCAA Tournament victory. Faried should be well ahead of the two guys immediately in front of him but behind Jackson, Morris, Towns, Wolters and Stauskas. He is generally in the right spot. It’s the people around him who need to be rearranged.
84. F Julian Boyd | LIU Brooklyn | 2008/09-2012/13
Total Points: 27 (20)
At a Glance: 2011-12 Northeastern Conference Player of the Year, three NCAA Tournament appearances (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13)
JM: Boyd and Olasewere have literally the exact same resumé. Three Northeastern Conference Tournament titles, two regular season titles and a player of the year honor. Even their stats are quite similar. I’m indifferent about them being on this list, but they wouldn’t have been on mine.
CB: As Josh noted, these next two players have essentially identical resumés, and I too would have likely left both out of my top 100. Boyd played only eight games his senior season after tearing his ACL, and the credit Boyd gets for three NCAA Tournament appearances where the Blackbirds were one of the worst teams in the field simply elevates him too much.
JD: I’m not fundamentally opposed to Boyd cracking the top 100 though there’s a strong case for his exclusion. For example, his 2012/13 campaign ended after eight games due to a torn ACL. My larger problem is with him being in front of 15 players. His two regular season titles and three conference tournament titles resulted in a 15 seed and two 16 seeds. Not all mid-major teams who reached March Madness are created equal.
83. F Jamal Olasewere | LIU Brooklyn | 2008/09-2012/13
Total Points: 27 (20)
At a Glance: 2012-13 Northeastern Conference Player of the Year, three NCAA Tournament appearances (2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13)
JM: Olasewere just so happened to be put ahead of Boyd, but the resumés are basically the same.
CB: While his rate stats and achievements were nearly identical to Boyd, Olasewere did start 51 more games in his four years, so he should definitely be the highest ranked of the pair. I still almost certainly wouldn’t include him in my top 100, though.
JD: Most of my comments about Boyd apply here too. However, I give Olasewere the edge because he played three full seasons in the decade. I would be fine with him in the mid 90s or not on the list at all.
82. G Marcus Paige | North Carolina | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 27 (22)
At a Glance: 2016 Final Four, 2015-16 ACC regular season and tournament champion
JM: Kansas’ Tyshawn Taylor came in at No. 91 on this list because he came one game short of a national championship. Well, Paige came one shot short of a national championship that would’ve catapulted him up this list. He hit the second-biggest shot of the last minute of the 2016 National Championship game only to watch Kris Jenkins hit the biggest and steal the title from UNC. The Tar Heels didn’t have much success in March his first three seasons and without that natty, he’s right where he belongs.
CB: Paige will always be remembered for one of the biggest what-if shots in NCAA Tournament history, but UNC’s all-time leader in made 3-pointers also helped define an era for the Tar Heels. A four-year starter, Paige averaged 13.1 points per game in his college career, including 17.5 per contest his sophomore year. I’m pleased with him here in the low 80s.
JD: I will always remember Paige as the point guard who made the defining play in a national championship game only to have Kris Jenkins all but erase it from history. As a four-year starter at North Carolina, he has to be on this list. The knock on Paige is that he didn’t win anything or make it past the Sweet 16 until his senior year. He is right where he belongs in my view.
81. G Nigel Williams-Goss | Washington, Gonzaga | 2013/14-2016/17
Total Points: 27 (24)
At a Glance: 2016-17 AP Second Team All-American, 2016-17 WCC Player of the Year, 2017 Final Four
JM: Williams-Goss should be higher on this list. That’s undisputable, but it’s understandable why he is this low. He was really solid at Washington, but he was really solid for average at best Washington teams who earned him no team points. His senior season he was one of the best players on the second-best team of the 2016-17 season, averaging 16.8 points, 4.7 assists and six rebounds. If he plays his entire career at Gonzaga, I would put money on him being in the top 15. But he spent two years in Washington and only one year in a Zags uniform so he ends up here. The formula didn’t really get it wrong, but it does shine a light on “what could have been.”
CB: Williams-Goss started his college career with two strong years at Washington, but the vast majority of his points are coming from his 2016-17 season with the Zags. Averaging roughly 17 points, five assists, and six rebounds per game, Williams-Goss was an all-around contributor as well as a leader for one of the best teams in the country that year. I would have also had Williams-Goss several spots higher, but like Josh said, you can’t really fault the formula for this one.
JD: Williams-Goss basically got here on the strength of one season even though he started 100 games in his college career and I am not upset about it in the slightest. Swap his second season at Washington for another at Gonzaga or give him victory over North Carolina in the title game and he’s easily in the top 50. His ranking doesn’t do justice to the player he was, but that’s not the formula’s fault.