Friday, March 07, 2008

Top College Hoops Player Ever*? Carmelo

I'm not going to quibble with Alcindor or Big O or Walton being at the top of the list of the 25 Greatest College Basketball Players ever.

MDS nails the prominent flaws in the list, like overvaluing a player's college career because he was a good pro (MJ over Sampson, using MDS' fine example).

Here's my problem: The list is lame if you're under the age of, say, 35.

*You know me: I like to frame my historical "ever" superlatives mostly/entirely as "ESPN Era" (defined loosely as sometime after the early-80s).

Basically, my thumbnail guide is that if you weren't 10 or 12 years old by the time the player played, you effectively have no applicable memory. (Using myself as an example of your typical 35-year-old, almost everything before 1984 or so is without personal memory. Maybe if your local team won -- my hometown O's won a World Series in '83, so I have hazy memories of that -- but you certainly weren't consuming sports as you did after you hit 12 or 13, through your college years and adulthood.)

Anyway, of ESPN Era players, this "all-time" Top 25 has Laettner (12), Jordan (13), Ewing (16), Sampson (18), Duncan (21) and David Robinson (24). (MJ, Patrick and Ralph are arguably pre-ESPN Era, too, at least as college players.)

So let me take some issue, pointing out 2 obvious omissions:

Danny Manning (as MDS also pointed out), which discounts the greatest one-man championship team of the last 30 years. (Remember, Larry Bird didn't win a title.)

Carmelo Anthony, who I am long on the record as arguing is the greatest college player of the last 30 years, if only for what he was able to do as a freshman.

Carmelo isn't just the best freshman of of the ESPN Era (sorry Kevin Durant), but that alone puts Melo in the argument for best college player of all time, if only for the single sample we have of him: One season, one dominant year, one title.

It is as if, because Carmelo played college basketball in the decade since Tim Duncan left college hoops (without anything close to a national title, let's not forget) and because Carmelo had the utter gall to leave college after one year, his single magnificent season doesn't count in the eyes of the cranks running the list.

On the contrary, I would pro-rate it, for the title, for his experience level and for the sheer ridiculousness of considering how much better he was (as a freshman) than everyone else in college basketball, long before Durant or Beasley made that fashionable.

Where would I rank Carmelo? Certainly as the best college basketball player of the ESPN Era (and I'm happy to hear other arguments... Sampson and Duncan lacked titles... Manning had 4 years to develop his all-around game... Jordan had Worthy and Perkins... Robinson had a size advantage... Laettner had an insanely good team around him -- and was a douchebag).

But I would drop Carmelo in the Top 5 ALL-TIME. Alcindor. Walton. Oscar. Pistol Pete. Melo.

-- D.S.


bayne_s said...

where is David Thompson on this list?

Emma Brand said...

It's gotta be Manning. Hands down. The team around him was full of serviceable role players at best.

Steve said...

Chris Jackson was the best freshman of all time. Better than Melo.

Rider said...

your arguments are great about Laettner--he only made 4 final fours and won 2 championships...keep up the good work shanoff