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The National Collegiate Athletic Association, better known as the NCAA, is one of the most beloved tournaments in the history of sports. This basketball event is a thrilling mashup of hard-working teams where up-and-coming players get the chance to show off their skills and ingrain themselves into your memory. Naturally, the NCAA is considered one of the biggest stepping stones into the NBA. Many of the enthusiastic fresh faces competing in this tournament end up in the NBA not too long down the line, where they can leave their mark in the basketball hall of fame.
It’s no secret that players’ ages in the NCAA are one of the biggest factors for its success. If a player’s career takes off well in college, they have a much better starting point for bigger things in the future! Of course, this youthful ambition isn’t attractive just to recruiters, but to sports betting fans as well! The NCAA is becoming a trending topic in the punting world, allowing loyal basketball fans to make predictions on their favorite up-and-comers. Paired with the exciting magic of Free Bets and other online sportsbook bonuses, rooting for the newbies has never been more fun!
The growing popularity of the NCAA tournaments has brought forth several fun trends that basketball fans can jump on, but one everyone can get behind is ranking the top performers. Whether you’re looking at current lineups or taking a trip to NCAA past, many players got their start in this tournament and turned into incredible basketball stars with impressive feats under their belts. In this text, we’ll take a trip down basketball history to list some of the best college basketball players of all time!
Earvin “Magic” Johnson is one of the best examples of a college athlete’s career taking off and reaching new heights no one could have imagined. Sporting only two seasons of NCAA on his track record, the basketball icon started competing professionally and easily proved himself a most valuable member of any team. Magic’s quick progression through the basketball hierarchy still serves as an inspiration for any player that enters the world of college basketball.
During his time in the NCAA, Magic Johnson played with Michigan State. He went through two excellent seasons with his team, the Spartans, with the second one yielding incredible plays that skyrocketed him to fame. What impressed most people was Magic’s ability to carry his team through sheer talent and dedication. He led what could be described as a lackluster team to a glorious victory over the Sycamores in the 1979 national championship game.
Famously referred to as the “Hick from French Lick”, Larry Bird is one of the few NCAA basketball stars that managed to draw attention since his junior season. Thanks to his addition to the team, the Indiana State Sycamores managed to climb the ranks and get the honor of participating in the NCAA championship game. Unfortunately, the team lost the top spot to Michigan State’s Spartans, which put up one hell of a fight. Of course, it didn’t help that Larry’s had a distinctly different play style than his head coach at the time – Bobby Knight.
Despite the team’s ultimate loss in the NCAA championship game, Larry Bird racked up an impressive track record anyone would be proud of. He managed to average 30 points, three steals, and 13 rebounds per game, drawing the attention of the right people, at the right time. Interestingly enough, the rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird has a big impact on the future of NCAA basketball culture, adding a personal touch to what many viewed as an impersonal sport.
Oscar Robertson, also known as Big O, is known for consistently delivering peak performance at his college games. His top-tier stats include 15 rebounds, seven assists, and a staggering number of about 34 points per game. In his three active seasons, he consecutively won the “Consensus Player of the Year” titles, cementing his spot as one of the greats of college football.
Oscar Robertson is also known for ranking third on the list of players to score the most points at a match. His score of 56 points is enviable, especially when you compare it to the scores of some of the recent NBA “Players of the Week”, who only tend to average around 20. Sure, the competition might be stiffer, but that’s still a massive jump that proves how powerful Oscar’s throw was.
Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
Revered as the hero of UCLA, Lew Alcindor has done a stellar job of leading his NCAA team into the basketball hall of fame. While playing for the Bruins, he won three championships. What’s even more impressive, he did so while retaining the “Player of The Year” title the entire time! Alcindor proceeded to impress by snagging three consensus All-American selections, which puts him in the running for the top college basketball player of all time.
Naturally, Lew Alcindor’s impressive track record extends far beyond the NCAA. After he joined the NBA, this star player managed to make the Lakers’ name proud by giving the team the recognition it deserved. Still, you might be a bit confused, as the name Lew Alcindor is rarely mentioned nowadays. The reason for this is a name change later in life. Today, this basketball legend is better known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Pete Maravich is one of the most revered college basketball players of all time. Rightfully nicknamed “Pistol”, Pere averaged 44.2 points per game during his stint with college basketball. His throws were impeccable, reaching incredibly high speeds and laser-point accuracy the likes of Steph Curry! Interestingly enough, Maravich only started to appear during the senior season. If he had been allowed to join varsity during his freshman season, we’re sure his score would have run up. Despite this, the LSU star still managed to be a top pick for three leading American teams!