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, here are numbers 70 through 61 on the list.
70. F Killian Tillie | Gonzaga | 2016/17-2019/20
Total Points: 29 (19)
At a Glance: 2017 Final Four, four-time WCC regular season champion
Josh Mullenix: Tillie is an interesting subject on this list. Does he have the talent and skill set to land on this list? Absolutely. But does the career resume suggest he should be on this list? Absolutely not. He is certainly benefitting from that Final Four run in 2017 and four straight WCC regular season titles, but his individual accolades just aren’t there. He’s suffered from injuries resulting in only 39 games played over the last two seasons and never completely took off the way a lot of people thought he would after his really solid sophomore campaign. As a result, he probably doesn’t belong on this list, and he certainly doesn’t belong in the top 70.
Chris Brown: Tillie averaged just 12 minutes per game during the Zags’ 2017 national runner-up season, making zero starts and averaging just over four points per game. He averaged roughly 13 points and five rebounds per game his sophomore and senior years but injuries limited him to 15 contests in 2018-19. While he had a strong college career, he might not even belong on a list of the top 10 players in the decade for Gonzaga, let alone the top 100 in college basketball. Tillie wouldn’t be anywhere near my personal top 100.
Josh Doering: I find Tillie’s skill set to be among the most interesting in college basketball, so I’m happy to see him on the list. If I’m being honest though, 70 is way too high. He played 12.2 minutes per game as a freshman and was limited to 15 games due to injuries in his junior season. I am not opposed to Tillie making the top 100, but I have an issue with him going any higher than the 80s.
69. F Deshaun Thomas | Ohio State | 2010/11-2012/13
Total Points: 29 (19)
At a Glance: 2012-13 AP Third Team All-American, 2012 Final Four
JM: Thomas was a big part of both the 2011-12 Buckeye team that went to the Final Four and the team that went to the Elite Eight the following season. Not many players averaged 20 points and six rebounds on the second best team in the Big Ten to only get third team all-american honors but that’s what happened to Thomas in 2012-13. I’ve got no issue with him finishing here at 69th, but wouldn’t have a problem with him being a handful of spots higher on the list.
CB: Thomas improved from a solid bench piece to the second-leading scorer on a Final Four team to the Big Ten’s leading scorer in his three years with the Buckeyes. His 733 points his junior season is the third-highest total in Ohio State history, and he also tallied between five and six rebounds per game his final two college seasons. Thomas was a major part of the Buckeyes’ success early in the decade, and certainly deserves a spot within the top 70-80 in the rankings in my view.
JD: Thomas was the Buckeyes’ second-leading scorer and rebounder the season they made the Final Four behind a guy who will appear on this list later. He paced the team in both categories in 2012-13 as Ohio State made the Elite Eight again. His body of work is impressive enough to earn a place in the top 60 if you ask me. The formula did choose not to consult with me, and alas, Thomas barely cracked the top 70. When I think of Ohio State basketball in the past decade, he is one of the first guys that comes to mind.
68. F Mike Muscala | Bucknell | 2009/10-2012/13
Total Points: 29 (21)
At a Glance: Two-time Patriot Player of the Year (2010-11, 2012-13), three-time Patriot regular season champion
JM: Muscala fell 0.1 points short of averaging double digits each of his four seasons at Bucknell. Not many players can say that. He started every game he played in after starting 16 games his freshman season. He’s a career 15.3 points, 8.2 rebounds guy that peaked at 18.7 points and 11.1 rebounds. When you tack on the two Patriot Player of the Year honors, that kind of guy deserves to be on the list and he deserves to be in the top 70.
CB: A two-time conference player of the year, Muscala led the Bison to three regular conference titles, two Patriot League Tournament titles, and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Bucknell’s all-time leading scorer started 102 games his final three college seasons, averaging roughly 17 points and nine rebounds per game. I would have had him closer to the 80-90 range personally, but I don’t have a huge problem with Muscala here.
JD: I would probably have Muscala slightly lower on my list, though I can’t say he doesn’t belong at 68th. He started 118 games and averaged 15.3 points in his career. As a senior, Muscala scored 18.7 points and pulled down 11.1 rebounds a game. Bucknell won at least 25 games the three seasons he played in the decade and reached the NCAA Tournament twice. He should be in the top 75.
67. F Tyler Zeller | North Carolina | 2008/09-2011/12
Total Points: 29 (23)
At a Glance: 2011-12 AP Second Team All-American, 2011-12 ACC Player of the Year
JM: Zeller is a good example of a guy who didn’t benefit from only the seasons after 2010-11 counting towards the formula. However, I’m ok with it in this instance because he doesn’t deserve the plethora of points that come with a national championship when he averaged just eight minutes a game and 3.1 points. He was one of the best big men in the country his senior season and would’ve been a first team all-american any other year — Anthony Davis, Jared Sullinger and Draymond Green were first team all-americans that season. The Tarheels lost in the Elite Eight in both years under consideration for Zeller. If he wins one of those games, he’s much higher on this list, but they lost both so he finds himself here. He probably deserves to be a little higher, but not much, in my opinion.
CB: 73 of Zeller’s 75 collegiate starts came in the 2010s, and his numbers in his junior and senior years were certainly his best, but that doesn’t mean Zeller’s spot on this list isn’t hurt by the years he played. Had he received credit for UNC’s 2009 title — he played roughly eight minutes per game that season — Zeller would have jumped significantly up this list. Given the system at play, this spot seems about right. It just doesn’t paint the entire picture of Zeller’s college career.
JD: Zeller ended his career with two straight 14-2 seasons in ACC play in which he contributed more than 15 points and seven rebounds per contest. North Carolina lost in the Elite Eight both years, which is one of the reasons he isn’t higher. The other is that half his career took place before the decade began. A spot in the low 60s doesn’t do justice to Zeller’s career, but it’s where he should be based on the rules we’re operating with.
66. G Carsen Edwards | Purdue | 2016/17-2018/19
Total Points: 29 (23)
At a Glance: 2017-18 AP Third Team All-American, 2018-19 AP Second Team All-American
JM: Our formula got this one wrong. Edwards is definitely one of the 50 greatest college basketball players of the decade. He was a two-time all-american and turned in the greatest individual NCAA tournament of at least the last 10 years, if not more. But here’s the thing, Purdue never made it to a Final Four or won a national championship and those things are important. Are there players on this list ahead of Edwards that shouldn’t be? Yes. But he left after three seasons and doesn’t have the postseason accolades that a lot of the guys ahead of him on this list do. Should he be 66th? No. But in the conversation of greatest he shouldn’t be any higher than 40th, in my opinion.
CB: So this ranking is just way too low. Edwards will always be remembered for his incredible run in the 2019 NCAA Tournament, in which he averaged nearly 35 points per game. But his track record of high-level production exceeds not just that postseason, or even that year. Edwards made an immediate impact his freshman year, averaging just over 10 points per game, and he upped his scoring average to 18.5 and then 24.3 his junior year. The 2018 Jerry West Award winner would certainly be inside by top 50, perhaps even top 40.
JD: Excuse me? Edwards was either an all-american or Big Ten regular season champion all three years at Purdue. In 2018-19, he was both. He averaged 34.8 points in the 2019 NCAA Tournament and rendered Tony Bennett’s defense helpless. Leaving for the NBA a year early keeps him out of the top 25. The fact he landed outside the top 60 is preposterous. Edwards is unequivocally one of the 50 greatest college basketball players of the last decade.
65. F Jameel Warney | Stony Brook | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 29 (24)
At a Glance: Three-time America East Player of the Year (2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16)
JM: The outrage of the other Josh makes me laugh. When comparing Warney and Edwards, Warney has more points, rebounds, blocks, games and has 60 less turnovers despite one more season. He was a three-time AEC Player of the Year — Edwards didn’t win such an award — and won the same number of regular season titles and won one more conference tournament than Edwards did. I’m not sure what he was expecting the formula to do, but it did exactly what I expected it to do. Do I really think Warney deserves to be ahead of Edwards? Of course not, but it makes perfect sense that he did.
CB: Warney won a conference regular season and tournament title and appeared in the NCAA Tournament with the Seawolves in 2016, his senior year. Combine that with three conference player of the year awards and 12+ points in each of his four seasons with Stony Brook and it’s not difficult to see how his points add up to a 65th ranking. Warney was undoubtedly one of the top mid-major players of the last decade, but among all players I think he should drop at least 20-30 spots. This did open my eyes to just how good Warney was, though, and I’m glad to see him getting the recognition.
JD: Warney ahead of Edwards? Come on. That’s no disrespect to Stony Brook’s career leader in points, rebounds, blocks and games played though. He is indisputably the best player in program history and led the Seawolves to their only NCAA Tournament appearance in program history. The man contributed 12.4 points as a freshman and averaged a double-double in his junior and senior seasons. Warney’s jersey was retired less than a year after he graduated. That’s really all you need to know.
64. G Jarrett Culver | Texas Tech | 2017/18-2018/19
Total Points: 29 (26)
At a Glance: 2018-19 AP Second Team All-American, 2018-19 Big 12 Player of the Year, 2019 Final Four
JM: Culver is right where he should be. He was a fine player his freshman year, then exploded onto the national stage his sophomore season earning Big 12 Player of the Year and second team all-american honors. He gets the added boost of going to the Final Four. It’s still just one really good season which makes me content with where he landed on our list.
CB: Culver’s freshman year was good, but not great, and we’ve already seen that with just one truly high-level season a player’s ceiling in these rankings is somewhat limited. But combine Culver’s stat line — 18.5 points, 3.7 assists and 6.4 boards per game — in 2018-19 with his individual recognitions and team success (in reaching the Final Four) and it does make sense, and seem appropriate, that Culver ranks this high.
JD: Culver made 20 starts and averaged double figures his first season at Texas Tech, so it’s not like he appeared out of nowhere in 2018-19. I thought he would be farther down the list since he only had one great season and the numbers don’t blow you away. That being said, the conference player of the year and Final Four certainly help. He gets bonus points in my book for being part of a team that broke Kansas’s stranglehold on the Big 12. I deem his ranking satisfactory.
63. G Wesley Saunders | Harvard | 2010/11-2014/15
Total Points: 30 (22)
At a Glance: 2013-14 Ivy League Player of the Year, four-time Ivy League regular season champion
JM: This is the only player on the list who gets properly awarded for his team’s regular season dominance because only the Ivy League values regular season champions like the entire country should. Earlier this decade, the Ivy operated under the rules that the conference regular season champ got the automatic bid — which is the way it should be. Saunders went dancing all four seasons, averaged at least 14.2 points in three seasons and was the 2013-14 Ivy League Player of the Year. I’ve got no beef with this one.
CB: Saunders led the Crimson to four Ivy League titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances — and Harvard hasn’t been back to the Big Dance since. The team never made it far in the tournament, but a player who clearly had such a major role in what was an extremely successful stretch in school history while averaging roughly 16 points and five boards per game his final three seasons is certainly worthy of strong recognition in my book. Like other mid-major players with similar profiles, I’d likely have Saunders about 20 or so spots lower in my rankings.
JD: If only other conferences had adopted the Ivy League’s NCAA Tournament qualification model instead of the other way around. Saunders played on the top team in his conference all four seasons and went dancing four times as a result. Prior to Saunders’ arrival, Harvard had not participated in March Madness since 1946. It’s fair to assume he’d be at least a solid 10 to 20 spots lower if he had to play in a conference tournament. You won’t hear any complaining from me though.
62. G Ron Baker | Wichita State | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 30 (23)
At a Glance: 2013 Final Four, three-time Missouri Valley regular season champion
JM: Baker is part of that perennial winners club. He has no major individual accolades but won three Missouri Valley regular season championships and went to a Final Four. He was undoubtedly very good for very good Wichita State teams. I refuse to have an issue with a guy like this. He might be a few spots higher than I would’ve put him or expected him to be but we are talking about the difference of six to 10 spots on the list.
CB: Unlike most of the players in this group of 10, Baker doesn’t have any major individual awards on his resumé. One of the better two-way guards in college basketball during his college career, Baker’s averages of 14.4 points, roughly five rebounds and three assists per contest in his junior and senior years are solid, if not spectacular, as the numbers alone don’t tell the full story. But the reason he ranks this high is the combination of three regular season titles and a Final Four. He played a big role in that Final Four run in 2013, but started just 15 games that season due to injuries. I’d be fine with Baker in the 70s or 80s, but the low 60s just feels too high.
JD: I will be consistent in my belief that undefeated regular seasons carry a great deal of significance, even if it’s in the Missouri Valley. That, along with the Final Four and Baker’s 121 starts, is enough to sell me on a spot in the 60s. However, he’d be behind guys like Edwards, Culver and Thomas for me. Somewhere in the high 60s or low 70s would be more fitting.
61. F Nigel Hayes | Wisconsin | 2013/14-2016/17
Total Points: 30 (Individual Points: 25)
At a Glance: Two Final Fours (2014, 2015)
JM: Hayes is right where he needs to be, Josh and Chris sum it up perfectly. He did a lot really well, was simply a winner at the college level and got rewarded for it. Low 60s is perfect, in my opinion.
CB: So much of Hayes’ place in these rankings comes from his two Final Four appearances, which happened to correspond with his first two — and, unsurprisingly — worst two seasons statistically. Just the second player in Big 10 history with at least 1,800 points, 700 rebounds and 300 assists in his career, Hayes did a lot really well, but no one thing exceptionally well, which is perhaps a big reason he doesn’t have all-american honors on his resumé. I’m happy to see Hayes in the top 100, but would likely have him at least 10 spots lower.
JD: Hayes is one of the most underappreciated Big Ten players of the 2010s for me. He reached the Sweet 16 four times, reached the Final Four twice and won conference games. Following the back-to-back Final Fours, Hayes led the Badgers in scoring his junior season. I have no issue with putting him at 61 and there is no way he would make it into the 50s on my list.
Photo by: Alexander Jonesi / Wikimedia Commons