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 players 30-21 on the list.
30. G Scottie Wilbekin | Florida | 2010/11-2013/14
Total Points: 37 (26)
At a Glance: 2013-14 SEC Player of the Year, 2013-14 AP Third Team All-American, 2014 Final Four
Josh Mullenix: Wilbekin really benefited from being the most important player on a Florida team that went 36-3 and undefeated in the SEC in 2013-14. The Gators went to the Final Four and Wilbekin won SEC Player of the Year and was an all-american, averaging just 13.1 points per game. He gets a lot of his points from that season. I say he really benefited because he shouldn’t have been the player of the year, in my opinion. Kentucky’s Julius Randle averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds that season, but Kentucky was average at best, going 12-6 in the SEC. With all that being said, Wilbekin without a player of the year and all-american award would be way too low on this list, so I suppose I’d rather him be here at 30th and not in the back half of the list.
Chris Brown: Wilbekin’s senior season was undoubtedly impressive, but compared to several of the players in the 10 spots behind him who shared similar team success, his overall individual track record isn’t as impressive. The offensive numbers just don’t jump off the page, and there isn’t enough in my view to elevate him to 30th despite that. I’d likely have Wilbekin around 40th in my rankings.
Josh Doering: With the exception of Mike Daum, every player from 40 to 31 experienced a similar level of team success to Wilbekin. Somehow he ended up ahead of all of them despite averaging double figures once. He won SEC Player of the Year with 13.1 points and 3.6 assists per game. As a point of comparison, Tyler Ulis did so two years later while averaging 17.3 points and seven assists. Wilbekin developed into a really good player, but not the 30th-greatest player of the decade. This is one of the rare times I feel like our formula missed the mark.
29. F Thomas Robinson | Kansas | 2009/10-2011/12
Total Points: 37 (Individual Points: 29)
At a Glance: 2011-12 AP First Team All-American, 2011-12 Big 12 Player of the Year, 2012 Final Four
JM: Robinson’s stats in 2011-12 will rival anybody’s from this entire decade. He averaged 17 points, 11.9 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. There’s two very obvious ways he goes even higher on this list. First, if he stays an extra year he’s an all-american again, probably a Big 12 Player of the Year again and adds more team accolades and he would easily be in the top 10. The other is if Anthony Davis and Kentucky didn’t exist and this Kansas team wins the national championship. I’ve got no issue with him being where he is.
CB: Robinson’s transformation from his first two seasons to his junior year was immense. He bumped up his scoring average roughly 10 points and nearly doubled his average rebound total. His junior year, Robinson led the NCAA in defensive rebound percentage and finished second in KenPom’s national player of the year rankings. I’d probably have him a few spots lower given that his one great season didn’t quite measure up to others in this area of the rankings, but around 30th seems generally appropriate.
CB: Robinson’s career looks much more impressive when you take his freshman season out of the equation like we did. He still averaged less than eight points in fewer than 15 minutes as a sophomore. His junior season was good enough for me to be satisfied with him at 30th though. He could have made a run at the top 10 if he had stayed one more year.
28. F Zion Williamson | Duke | 2018/19
Total Points: 37 (35)
At a Glance: 2018-19 Naismith Player of the Year, 2018-19 AP First Team All-American, 2018-19 ACC Player of the Year
JM: Williamson was the most dominant player of the decade and arguably the most efficient college basketball player ever. That alone puts him in the conversation of the best college basketball players but doesn’t put him in the conversation to be the greatest. His individual accolades get him to a spot that I really like. Our formula makes it really hard to get this high on the list with just one season of college basketball and no major team achievements. Williamson gets credit for his dominance, as he should, but at the same time doesn’t put him anywhere near the conversation for the top of this list which I believe is incredibly appropriate.
CB: Call it recency bias if you want, but I truly believe Williamson should at least be in the top 25. Of course, if this system was ranking the best players of the decade rather than the greatest, Williamson would surely be easily in the top 10. But even under the current system, Williamson should come in a little higher. The athleticism and shooting efficiency, the raw talent was nearly unmatched in the decade, and in my view should earn one of the decade’s most iconic and memorable figures a better position on this list.
JD: I’m extremely pleased with where Williamson came in on the list. Anything higher than 30 would be downright disrespectful. Putting him in the top 25 rubs me the wrong way considering the only thing he won was the ACC Tournament. Again, we’re talking about greatest, not best. As sensational as Williamson was, his time at Duke will be remembered for dunks and exploding shoes more than anything else.
27. C Jeff Withey | Kansas | 2009/10-2012/13
Total Points: 38 (25)
At a Glance: 2012-13 AP Third Team All-American, 2012 Final Four
JM: A four year Kansas player is always going to be near the top of this list, so this doesn’t surprise me. The Jayhawks were dominating the Big 12 at this point and Withey was getting better every season, turning into one of the best defensive players in the conference this decade. 3.75 blocks per game over two seasons is preposterous, especially in the Big 12. Admittedly, the juxtaposition of Williamson and Robinson right behind him is a little funny looking and I might like to see those two guys ahead of him, but this general area is the right call.
CB: A back-to-back Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey was a truly elite shot-blocker, and also so much more. In his senior season, Withey was the Jayhawks second-leading scorer, leading rebounder and also blocked nearly four shots per game. He was also an extremely efficient 58% shooter in conference play. I’d have a few others ahead of him most likely, but around 30th seems appropriate for Withey.
JD: Anyone who blocks more than 3.5 shots per game two years in a row and wins five Big 12 titles (three regular season, two tournament) in three seasons has my attention. Withey had also bumped his scoring average up to 13.7 by the time he graduated, which led to him becoming an all-american. I understand why our formula put him ahead of Robinson, but they should be switched from my perspective.
26. F Eric Paschall | Fordham, Villanova | 2014/15-2018/19
Total Points: 38 (26)
At a Glance: Three Big East Tournament titles, 2018 Final Four, 2018 National Champion
JM: If Paschall wasn’t sitting out the season Villanova won their first title this decade, he would be in the top five. That would be a little inaccurate because it would mean way more value than his one season at Fordham, so I’m cool with him not getting credit for that. With that being said, he was one of the most important players in a Wildcat uniform for multiple seasons. In that sense, he’s in the same category as Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and the other Villanova greats of the decade.
CB: Paschall redshirted during Villanova’s first title season of the decade, but played a crucial role in the second, scoring in double figures 24 times in 2018 en route to the championship. A spot in the mid-20s seems appropriate, if not just a tad high, to me.
JD: Paschall’s career is unique in the sense that he was able to produce immediately at the college level, adjust to playing in the Big East and then spend two years as a starter. He spent as long at Villanova as Jalen Brunson did, so it’s not like he’s in a different category than the other key players on those championship teams because he transferred in. If anything, I would have him a little bit higher.
25. F Kyle Wiltjer | Kentucky, Gonzaga | 2011/12-2015/16
Total Points: 38 (29)
At a Glance: 2014-15 AP Third Team All-American, 2012 Final Four, 2012 National Champion
JM: Wiltjer played the formula to perfection without knowing it. He got credit for a national championship in 2012, was a sixth man of the year the next and then went to the best “mid-major” school of the decade, winning 63 games in two seasons at Gonzaga. He turned himself into an elite player at Gonzaga, highlighted by his 20.4 points on 43% from beyond the arc while taking 5.7 three per game as a senior. At the end of the day, I have no issue with him being here and would rather him be here on the list rather than not getting the points for a national championship and falling way farther than he should.
CB: Wiltjer averaged under 12 minutes per game for the Wildcats in their 2012 championship season and under six minutes per contest in the team’s final two games of the season. Subtract just that title and Wiltjer falls to around 50th in the rankings. I wouldn’t have him that low, but certainly outside the top 30. His senior year at Gonzaga — 20.4 points, 1.5 assists, 6.3 rebounds per game — was certainly something special.
JD: I was initially surprised to see Wiltjer this high. My mind quickly changed when I looked back at his career and realized he was a career 42.5% three-point shooter. He only played 12 minutes a game on the national championship team but was the SEC Sixth Man of the Year as a sophomore. His last year at Gonzaga, Wiltjer averaged 20.4 points and shot 43.7% from three, and that was the season after he was an all-american.
24. G Kyle Guy | Virginia | 2016/17-2018/19
Total Points: 38 (30)
At a Glance: 2017-18, 2018-19 AP Third Team All-American, 2019 Final Four, 2019 National Champion
JM: Some people say, “Virginia winning the national championship proves you can do it with Tony Bennett’s system.” Those people are dumb because the 2018-19 Cavaliers were different than any other team Bennett has coached. In 2017, Virginia was 50th in adjusted offensive efficiency at KenPom and 30th the following season. In 2019, they were second, which is a better ranking than their fifth ranked defense. The point is Guy, along with De’Andre Hunter, was the reason that Virginia could withstand an explosion from Carsen Edwards and still win a game in which their opponent scored 75 points. That wasn’t true before. Guy deserves a spot in the top 25 for that reason alone.
CB: Guy will always be remembered for his heroics in 2019, both in the final seconds of the national semifinal against Auburn and in the championship game, but there was certainly much more to his college career than just that. He never reached quite a top-tier elite level as a scorer, but Guy was a force to be reckoned with for opponents in his final two years with the Cavaliers. I’d likely have him a few spots lower, but this ranking seems pretty solid.
JD: The difference between 2017-18 Virginia and 2018-19 Virginia was the ability of Guy and De’Andre Hunter to get points outside the offense. That combined with the national title and success in the ACC warrants a spot in the top 25. He just never reached a level that would make me seriously consider putting him more than a spot or two higher.
23. F Perry Ellis | Kansas | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 39 (23)
At a Glance: 2015-16 AP Second Team All-American, four Big 12 Regular Season Titles
JM: I swear, Perry Ellis played college basketball for seven years and you can’t convince me otherwise. According to Basketball Reference, he only played four and was a model of consistency, averaging at least 13.5 points and 5.8 rebounds three straight seasons. He was an All-Big 12 selection three times, an all-american his senior season and lost just 15 Big 12 games over four years. A true college basketball player who deserves this spot on the list.
CB: Kansas’ lack of deep NCAA Tournament runs or conference tournament titles during Ellis’ time there would likely have limited him to outside the top 25 in my rankings, but I can’t argue much against his spot here. Ellis led the Jayhawks in scoring in both his junior and senior seasons and averaged 29 minutes and 14.8 points per game over his final three college seasons, playing in over 100 games. That consistent high-level production should certainly be rewarded.
JD: Ellis is at the very top of the list of guys who you feel like were in college for eight years. He scored 15 points and pulled down six rebounds a game as Kansas won Big 12 title after Big 12 title. The 109 starts and three seasons averaging at least 13.5 points minimize the significance of never winning a Big 12 Player of the Year. I am a firm believer in the value of regular season success, so I am comfortable with where Ellis wound up.
22. G Ryan Arcidiacono | Villanova | 2012/13-2015/16
Total Points: 39 (28)
At a Glance: 2014-15 Big East Player of the Year, 2016 Final Four, 2016 National Champion
JM: The guy who made the easiest, but best pass of the decade comes in at No. 22. He played four seasons, started 142 of the 144 games he played, won a Big East Player of the Year and capped his career off with a national championship. Villanova is Guards U. Kyle Lowry, Jalen Brunson, Randy Foye, Scottie Reynolds. The list of elite Villanova guards is ridiculous and Arcidiacono is right there with all of them and, in my opinion, would be high on that list if you ranked the players I just named.
CB: He wasn’t the scorer as others high on this list, but Arcidiacono’s role as an outstanding distributor who helped turn the Wildcats into a powerhouse should not go underappreciated. And who can forget his game-winning assist to Kris Jenkins in Villanova’s buzzer-beater for the title in 2016. The Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player wasn’t thought of as the best player in the Big East most of his college career, but few came up bigger when it mattered most. That being said, I likely would have had him closer to 30 than 20.
JD: Much like the next guy on the list, Arcidiacono is synonymous with Villanova’s emergence as a premier program for me. He allowed the players around him to shine, which is the definition of a true point guard. I would have him in the low 20s as well for the simple reason that I never felt like he was definitively the best player in the Big East. His individual accolades were partly as a result of the talent he was playing with.
21. G Malcolm Brogdon | Virginia | 2011/12-2015/16
Total Points: 39 (31)
At a Glance: 2015-16 ACC Player of the Year, 2015-16 AP First Team All American, 2014-15 AP Second Team All-American
JM: In 2015-16, Brogdon was the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. That’s the summary of who he was at Virginia. Elite everywhere on the floor. There’s a reason Virginia’s season got significantly better when he got to Charlottesville. He was the perfect player for Bennett’s system and Virginia has been riding that momentum since.
CB: An ideal fit for Tony Bennett’s system, Brogdon was an outstanding all-around player and one of the best stoppers in the game. Even in Virginia’s slow-paced offense, the 2015-16 ACC Player of the Year averaged 18.2 points and 3.1 assists per contest as a senior. His impact on the Cavaliers program in the years following his college career is also highly underrated.
JD: Brogdon’s numbers don’t get nearly the attention they deserve, especially in Tony Bennett’s system. He was as responsible as anyone for turning Virginia into an ACC power, which is why he is in my top 20. The journey to that national championship did not start with the loss to UMBC. It began with Brogdon. His defense made him an ideal fit for the way Bennett wants to play, but it’s interesting to consider what he could have done with more offensive freedom.