I’ve been doing a weekly series throughout the summer where I rank the 10 best Wildcats in each UA sport from history.
It’s certainly been a lot of fun — I know more now about the tennis and gymnastics programs than I ever thought I would — but these last two weeks now are the heavy hitters.
Today, the men’s basketball “Perfect 10” was released. I imagine many/most/all of you will hate me for some of my choices. Next week, football.
There is no right way to do these things, but some factors I considered for basketball:
- Statistics, obviously.
- Importance to their team/era
- Performance in the NCAA Tournament
- What was said about them, then and now
- Team success
- My own (stupid) opinion
I figured I’d take this space to delve a little deeper into the choices I made so you can get a better feel for my mindset. I did NOT factor things that happened before or after an Arizona career. If I had, Andre Iguodala probably would’ve appeared somewhere. Alas, he doesn’t.
First, the No. 1 spot was fairly easy….Alex Jacobson.
Sean Elliott, obviously.
No. 2 was an easy choice too, in my opinion, in Mighty Mouse — otherwise known as ‘Damon Stoudamire’. At Point Guard U, he’s the all-time best point guard, and has the stats, awards, recognition and team success to back it up. I’m not going to list everything. That’s what the article is for.
No. 3, also, was pretty locked in at Mike Bibby.
Terry had a GREAT individual season in 1999 (it just didn't amount to much in the post-season that year), and played an important role on the ’97 title team; Williams ushered in the new era of Arizona basketball with a verrrrry good sophomore season, and was a stud in the postseason; Kerr’s stats don’t match up quite as well with some others on this list, but he meant as much to the early great Lute Olson teams as anyone, and his numbers still ain’t that bad.
I went Kerr, Williams, Terry if you’re too lazy to open the article yourself.
The last two absolute locks, in my opinion, by default were going to take up the next two spots. Jason Gardner, a consummate point guard and four-year stud; and Bob Elliott, the first great big man in Arizona history, with great stats maaaaaybe inflated by the fact that there weren't many big men in the 70s.
This is where it became tough.
Two spots left, with probably five good candidates for the spot.
Khalid Reeves might’ve had the best individual seasons in school history in 1994, and is the main reason, really, that team made the Final Four. He almost averaged 30 points a game in the NCAA Tournament!
Before Williams, Al Fleming had a case for Arizona’s all-time great power forward, with the (70s inflated) numbers to back that up. (Don’t get technical with me. I know D-Will played a lot of the five. He’s not a five. Go away.)
Salim Stoudamire — he wins the award for “most likely reason Arizona fans behead the Pac-12 Pundit” — was TOO clutch, his numbers in some places are kind of unreal. Particularly in the shooting percentage department. He was known as a 3-point shooter, which usually means volume over efficiency in college, but he shot 45.8 (!) percent from long range for g range for his career, and 50.4 percent (!!!) as a senior. He also pulled a Kyle Korver as a senior going 50-40-90 (field goal, three-point, free throw) except he one-upped him and went 50-50-90. I probably regret leaving him out. Or not because…
Get it? Because Miles Simon?
I went with Simon over Stoudamire in large part because he was just stellar in the postseason. He went 11-3 in the NCAAs in his career, averaging 19.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and shot 45.6 percent from the field. In the 1997 run, he averagd 22.0 points, and twice scored 30, including against Kentucky in the national championship game. And his regular season numbers weren't too shabby, either.
I listed the names that would’ve likely made the list if it was Top-20. To rehash, it included (in no particular order): Anthony Cook, Michael Dickerson, Al Fleming, Channing Frye, T.J. McConnell (much to the chagrin of B.J. Denker, he didn't make the Top-10), Ernie McCray, Chris Mills, Coniel Norman, Salim Stoudamire, Michael Wright.
Also heavily considered but not listed anywhere: Eric Money, Loren Woods, Chase Budinger, Leon Blevins, Roger Johnson, Tom Tolbert, Brian Williams aka Bison Dele, Nick Johnson, Luke Walton, Richard Jefferson, Gilbert Arenas, Jordan Hill, Warren Rustand, Andre Iguodala, Mo Udall, and A LOT more people that I’m forgetting because Arizona has had its share of talent come through the program.
And Sidiki Johnson because the video on here still makes me laugh years later.
Feel free to yell at me in the comments for forgetting someone and for being an all-around dummy, and/or via Twitter (@ZackBlatt) and/or e-mail (email@example.com).
Side note: I apologize for my lack of football-related posts on here so far. I’ve been toying around with what sort of content I want to bring to you as it becomes football centric for a while. I don't want it to be a rehash of basketball season, since this sport is a completely different animal. I’ll start posting more frequently in the coming weeks.
Stay tuned next week for a further analysis of my football rankings.
Thanks for reading!