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.
Buckle up. Our countdown of the top 10 starts right now.
10. Mikal Bridges | Vilanova | 2015/16-2017/18
Total Points: 48 (Individual Points: 38)
At a Glance: 2017-18 AP Third Team All-American, two Final Fours (2016, 2018), two National Championships (2016, 2018)
Josh Mullenix: There are fewer people that I found more intimidating on the defensive end than Bridges, especially in his last year at Villanova. Bridges did enough off the bench as a freshman for me to be comfortable with him getting credit for the 2016 National Championship and was one of the best players in the country as a junior. He might be a handful of spots too high, but at the end of the day he’s an all-american and a two-time national champion.
Chris Brown: Bridges’ numbers don’t immediately jump off the page like others in the top 10, but that’s not to say he’s not deserving of a high rank. He transformed himself from a nice bench piece on a championship team his freshman year to one of the best forwards in the country the next two years. The closest thing to a “five-tool” player in basketball, Bridges did a little bit of everything, from limiting an opponent’s best player to knocking down threes and grabbing boards as the Wildcats won another championship his junior year. I’d probably have placed him closer to 15 in my personal rankings.
Josh Doering: Bridges showed up on Villanova’s campus at the perfect time. He only averaged double figures once, going from 9.8 points per game as a sophomore to 17.7 as a junior. Bridges’ resume merits a spot in the top 10, but no one on the list benefited more from the success of their team. If Villanova loses in the Elite Eight when Bridges is a freshman or junior, he’s not sniffing the top 10.
9. Devonte’ Graham | Kansas | 2014/15-2017/18
Total Points: 49 (33)
At a Glance: 2017-18 AP First Team All-American, 2018 Final Four, four time Big 12 regular season champion
JM: Give me Graham and the next guy on this list against any two guards from any team in the country over the last decade. When a spot opened up in the Kansas backcourt, Graham filled the role and hit the ground running. He’s the reason they didn’t miss a beat when Mason graduated and actually has a team accolade that Mason doesn’t, a final four. He and the next guy are right at home in the top 10.
CB: A three-year starter — and double digit scorer — on a team that won four regular season titles in a row, Graham certainly makes sense here at No. 9. He continued to improve and take on a larger role for the Jayhawks each year, topping off his college career with a unanimously Big 12 Player of the Year selection.
JD: Graham absolutely deserves to be this high on the list. He was a three-year starter and won four outright Big 12 regular season titles. Graham is the reason the Jayhawks didn’t miss a beat when the next guy on this list graduated, which is really all that needs to be said.
8. Frank Mason III | Kansas | 2013/14-2016/17
Total Points: 49 (35)
At a Glance: 2016-17 Naismith Player of the Year, 2016-17 AP First Team All-American, 2016-17 Big 12 Player of the Year
JM: The brightest prediction moment of my sports media career thus far is predicting Mason to win the player of the year before the 2016-17 season began. I will never let anyone forget that. Believe or not, he’s probably a little too low and that mostly has to do with the fact that Kansas, somehow, never made it to a final four while he was in Lawrence. There’s another Frank in the top 10 who is more widely known as “Frank the Tank”, but this Frank certainly was as well.
CB: Lack of Final Four appearances aside, eighth seems somehow a little low for Mason, who was one of the winningest players in college basketball during his four years at Kansas. A strong competitor and leader for a team that just kept on winning, Mason was a guy you wanted to see get the chance to compete in the Final Four. Unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be.
JD: It’s a real shame Mason never made a Final Four or he’d be even higher. A memorable run in March Madness is the only thing missing from an extremely impressive body of work. He was the most valuable player on a team that spent multiple weeks as the No. 1 team in the country his last two seasons. Mason would be in the top five of my list.
7. Anthony Davis | Kentucky | 2011/12
Total Points: 49 (46)
At a Glance: 2011-12 Naismith Player of the Year, 2011-12 AP First Team All-American, 2012 Final Four, 2012 National Champion
JM: This, in my opinion, is the biggest win of the entire formula. Davis is the only one-and-done to sniff anywhere close to the top of this list. Why? Because he had a one-and-done season like no other and I’m very pleased that our formula left him, and only him, at the top of our list representing the one and dones. He averaged 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4.7(!) blocks, only lost two games and won a national championship. He’s the only one-and-done with that kind of season and deserves his spot high above the others at No. 7 on the list.
CB: There’s something that inherently makes me uneasy about a one-and-one ranking this high, but Davis’ 2011-12 season was the best overall individual year of any college player of the last decade. His 14.2 points per game certainly don’t tell the whole story; he was the glue that held an incredibly talented team together offensively and defensively, he led the country with 186 blocks, and Davis was an incredibly efficient scorer. He checked off just about every box one can in a single college basketball season, thus earning a spot comfortably in the top 10.
JD: The only other freshman to put up the kind of season Davis had this past decade was Zion Williamson. Davis was the most dominant player in the country and also happened to be on one of the best teams in the past 10 years. He blocked 4.7 shots per game while averaging a double-double, went 18-0 in conference play and won a national championship. That’s how you crack the top 10 as a one-and-done.
6. Frank Kaminsky | Wisconsin | 2011/12-2014/15
Total Points: 51 (46)
At a Glance: 2014-15 Naismith Player of the Year, 2014-15 AP First Team All American, 2014-15 Big Ten Player of the Year, two Final Fours (2014, 2015)
JM: Kaminsky is the opposite of Luke Maye, who finished in the top 15 on this list. Maye got a lot of his points for being a rotation piece the years that North Carolina was the best. Kaminsky gets a lot of his points as the best player on his team — and at one point, the country — taking them to the final four on multiple occasions. That’s where Kaminsky stands along among players on this list. No one, not even the top guy on this list, was the best player on two different final four teams. Kaminsky just wasn’t able to walk away with a title.
CB: It took Kaminsky some time to put it all together at the college level, but once he did there was simply no stopping him. He’ll always be remembered for his 20-point, 11-rebound performance in the Badgers’ second straight Final Four in 2015, when the team knocked off the then 38-0 Wildcats. His rise from a largely unproductive bench piece to the consensus best player in college basketball was one of the best transformations in college basketball in the 2010s.
JD: Wisconsin made the Final Four both years Kaminsky was a starter, so he earned every point he got. Sixth feels right considering he averaged 1.8 points as a freshman and 4.2 as a sophomore. By the time he graduated, though, he was the best player in the country and the face of the team that knocked off that undefeated Kentucky squad. That part of his legacy cannot be forgotten.
5. G Phil Booth | Villanova | 2014/15-2018/19
Total Points: 52 (37)
At a Glance: Two Final Fours (2016, 2018), two National Championships (2016, 2018), three time Big East regular season champion, three time Big East tournament champion
JM: Booth is the epitome of a perennial winner. With that being said, he was an important rotation piece the year Villanova won the first championship and was a starter in 2018 for the second title run. His extra year of eligibility is why he and Bridges aren’t swapped — personally, I would’ve liked to see that. Would Booth be fifth on my personal list? No. But he was a large part of two national title teams and the most dominant college basketball program of the last five years. Anybody who can say that can be in the top 10 and you won’t hear any groaning from me.
CB: Booth’s role in catapulting Villanova to two National Championships should not be underappreciated, with those two titles being the major factor in this ranking, but the individual numbers and level of dominance relative to others in this top 10 makes No. 5 a little high for Booth in my book. I’ll always remember his 20-point performance against UNC in the team’s 2016 National Championship victory.
JD: Booth made three starts and played 22 minutes a game for the best team in the country as a sophomore. Using all his eligibility gave him another regular season and conference tournament title, which is why he is in the top five rather than Bridges. He ended up a few spots too high for my liking, but that’s what happens when you’re a two-time national champion. At least the four Villanova guys near the top are in the correct order.
4. G Josh Hart | Villanova | 2013/14-2016/17
Total Points: 53 (37)
At a Glance: 2016-17 AP First Team All American, 2016-17 Big East Player of the Year, 2016 Final Four, 2016 National Champion
JM: Hart is right at home in fourth and in the correct spot among the Wildcats who dominate the top 10. He was the best player on the best team in the country that went on to win a national championship in 2016 and was even better the following season even though the Wildcats got bounced earlier in the 2017 NCAA Tournament than anyone thought they would. Relative to other Wildcats and the rest of the players considered, I’m pleased with this spot for one of the most impactful Wildcats of all time.
CB: It’s nice to see Hart getting credit for the length of his high-end production in addition to his peak. Hart was a significant contributor from his first season with the Wildcats, and took significant steps up each season through being named a First Team All American following a senior year in which he averaged roughly 19 points, six boards, and three assists per game.
JD: Fourth feels just about perfect for Hart. He averaged double figures his last three seasons and was the best player on the best team in the country as a junior. I’ll take one national championship and another first team all-american season over someone like Booth who was a role player during the first title run. Hart was the better player by a significant margin.
3. G Russ Smith | Louisville | 2010/11-2013/14
Total Points: 53 (43)
At a Glance: 2013-14 AP First Team All American, 2012-13 AP Second Team All American, two Final Fours (2012, 2013), 2013 National Champion
JM: I don’t know about you, but when I think 2013 Louisville Cardinals I think Peyton Siva before Russ Smith and I’m not sure why. Smith was the best player on that team and the second leading scorer on the 2012 team even though he came off the bench more most of that season. He wouldn’t have been a player to initially come to mind if I was putting my own list together but he certainly has the resumé worthy of being third on this list. As the other Josh said, easily the most underrated player of the last decade.
CB: My initial reaction was that third was way too high for Smith, but a closer look at his resume reveals otherwise. It’s true, he didn’t capture some of the top awards these next two players did, but Smith’s individual accolades, 18+ point averages both his junior and senior years, and critical role on two Final Four teams reveals a very well-rounded resume deserving of such recognition.
JD: Smith is the most underrated player of the last decade, so it’s nice to see him get the recognition he deserves. He is a two-time all-american who won Big East and AAC regular season and tournament titles in addition to his two Final Four appearances and national championship. Though his resume is not at the same level as the two guys ahead of him, he combined individual and team success as well as anyone, including the top player on our list.
2. F Doug McDermott | Creighton | 2010/11-2013/14
Total Points: 57 (53)
At a Glance: 2013-14 Naismith National Player of the Year, three time AP First Team All-American (2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14), two time Missouri Valley Player of the Year (2011-12, 2012-13), 2013-14 Big East Player of the Year
JM: The most decorated player of the last decade comes in second on this list. Perfect, in my opinion. McDermott’s individual accolades overwhelm everyone else’s, even the top guy on our list, but the top guy on our list was a big part of two national title teams and McDermott’s Creighton teams never made all that much noise in March. That’s the difference between McDermott and Brunson and I’m glad the formula recognized that. Dougie McBuckets is on another level than any other college player this decade in more ways than one, just not championships or final fours, which is ultimately why he finishes second.
CB: If the Bluejays had found really any NCAA Tournament success during McDermott’s college career, I’d be all for him grabbing the top spot, but without that second seems appropriate. He scored 22+ points each of his final three seasons, including a career-high 26.7 his senior year in a seamless transition to the Big East. Naismith National Player of the Year, three-time conference player of the year, three-time all-american. McDermott’s individual recognitions say it all.
JD: The idea of someone being a three-time first team all-american is almost laughable now. McDermott’s seamless transition to the Big East should remove any doubt about whether his ridiculous numbers are legitimate. Had Creighton won more than one NCAA Tournament game in a season at any point in McDermott’s career, I would be open to a conversation about him taking the top spot. The most accomplished player of the past decade is right where he belongs.
1. G Jalen Brunson | Villanova | 2015/16-2017/18
Total Points: 62 (52)
At a Glance: 2017-18 Naismith Player of the Year, 2017-18 Big East Player of the Year, 2017-18 AP First Team All-American, two Final Fours (2016, 2018), two National Championships (2016, 2018)
JM: Personally, I wanted to be proud of this list. I wanted it to make sense, be different and recognize players and careers that I feel like should get more credit than they do. The formula, for the most part, did that and it also put the greatest college basketball player of the decade in the No. 1 position. Brunson’s combination of national championships, Big East dominance and individual accolades can’t be matched by anyone and we are talking about THREE seasons, not four. The choice would’ve been even more obvious if he stayed one more season. But one thing is for sure: the formula got this one right. Frankly, I’m pretty proud of that.
CB: It’d probably be more entertaining to object to our metric’s No. 1 ranking than simply agree it makes the most sense, but in this case I do believe the latter to be true. One of just four players in NCAA history with two national titles and a player of the year award, Brunson accomplished just about everyone a player could in three years at Villanova, leading the Wildcats into an era of dominance rarely seen at the college level. Villanova’s record during Brunson’s three years on campus: 103-13.
JD: I have absolutely no issue with Brunson being No. 1 on the list. He started on two national championship teams, won his conference every year and was the best player in the country by the time he graduated. Villanova became the premier program in the country during Brunson’s time there thanks in large part to him. The fact he did all this in three years makes it even more remarkable.