Top 16 Most Entertaining Players in College Basketball
October 23, 2009
1 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
Lucas' last-minute heroics sunk Kansas in the Sweet 16, and he gets the nod for this list -- just barely -- over the guy who was guarding him when he sunk that Gus Johnson-immortalized leaner in the lane, Sherron Collins. The Spartans' point guard routinely dazzles with his speed and ability to shake defenders off the dribble.
2 of 16AP
Sanders has a bigger wingspan than anyone in college basketball -- 91 inches! -- and he's 6-11 with serious athleticism. He's capable of making stunning blocks, and can put up Dennis Rodman-level rebounding numbers in the CAA.
3 of 16AP
The Gamecocks' point guard is the speed demon of the SEC. Downey has a flair for the dramatic -- see his game-winner against Kentucky last season -- and is also one of the nation's most feared thieves: He averaged 2.9 steals per game last season, which ranked sixth in the nation.
4 of 16Alan Look/Icon SMI
Eldridge was an early adopter of the fro-hawk, wearing it all the way down the back of his head, with shaved-in designs on the sides. He's not on this list just for his hairstyle, though: Eldridge is also the most electric player in the Missouri Valley Conference, a skywalker who might be the best dunker you've never heard of.
5 of 16Jeremy Brevard/Icon SMI
Booker throws down the meanest dunks in the ACC, and plays like an angry beast in the post for the Tigers, who don't have much support for him up front. His follow-slam of a missed Terrence Oglesby shot against Maryland last season was a thing of beauty.
6 of 16Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Varnado is the best shot-blocker in the nation despite being just 6-9. He's willing to challenge everything from weak layups to aggressive dunk attempts -- and has a habit of halting would-be slammers in mid-air, and then yelling about it. Varnado also has a big heart: He volunteered to become a walk-on as a senior so that recruits John Riek and Renardo Sidney would both have scholarships.
7 of 16John Biever/SI
How can you not love Big Lumber? He's the Big Baby of the Northwoods, standing 6-7 and weighing 310 pounds, lighting up the Horizon League with surprising touch for his size. Not only does Eayrs provide constant entertainment -- his look and body type are completely unique in college hoops -- he gives hope to husky children everywhere, that one day, they, too, can play college hoops.
8 of 16Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Everyone's a sucker for electric, pint-sized scorers, and Thomas knows how to put on a show: Despite being listed at 5-8, he won the Huskies' Midnight Madness dunk contest by jumping over 6-9 teammate Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Few Pac-10 defenders can contain Thomas off the dribble, and he and freshman Abdul Gaddy are going to be the most exciting guard duo on the West Coast.
9 of 16AP
Plenty of college hoops fans haven't watched a single Fresno game on TV -- but they have seen George's YouTubes, which are Internet legend. His posterizing of St. Mary's guard Mickey McConnell was one of last season's top-five dunks -- as was his slam over two Sacramento State players in the previous game. Even the YouTube coverage of George's practice dunks -- of which there are a few -- are extremely entertaining.
10 of 16AP
Battle is known as Mr. Big Shot, for good reason: He's a late-game assassin who, in March of '09 alone, beat Illinois on a last-second shot, and kept the Nittany Lions alive in the NIT by drilling a last-second three to tie George Mason at the end of regulation. Michigan State fans have seen Battle's ability to take over big games, too -- in one of the Big Ten's best individual performances last season, he dropped 29 points on the Spartans in an upset at the Breslin Center.
11 of 16AP
This is a speculative pick, given that Wall has yet to play a college game and might have eligibility issues. But if you've seen him play -- in high school, AAU, All-Star games, or pickup -- you're probably aware that Wall is more explosive, athletically, than any other guard in the country. He might need a bit of time to get up to speed running John Calipari's offense, but he'll be able to produce breathtaking highlights from Day 1.
12 of 16John W. McDonough/SI
The 'Gody has a signature style -- the straw-like hairdo, the football player's build, the jab-shots from all around the lane -- and the ability to stuff a stat sheet. His 40-point game at Louisville two seasons ago, which even included a trio of three-pointers, was a brilliant performance, and one thinks he might have a few more of those in store for his final campaign with the Irish.
13 of 16AP
Wright is college hoops' King of YouTube, just ahead of Fresno State's Paul George. The Dayton forward's flight over Marquette's Maurice Acker on Nov. 29 was the best dunk of '08-09, and may still give Acker nightmares. Wright's complete highlight reel -- of both dunks and blocks -- is unmatched on the Web, and if only the Flyers' offensive attack were a bit more exciting to watch live, he might be the most entertaining player in the country.
14 of 16AP
Warren can put up points in every way imaginable -- on long threes, slashing layups, leaners, fall-aways and up-and-unders. He's easily the most complete scorer in the college game. Expect some monster offensive nights out of him this season, now that Blake Griffin is gone and Warren is the centerpiece of the Sooners' attack. He has a legitimate shot to lead the nation in scoring as a sophomore.
15 of 16Lou Capazolla/SI
Reynolds plays almost exclusively below the rim, which is fine, because he still manages to be highly entertaining. The short-range shots the 6-foot-2 (or at least he's listed at 6-2) combo guard is able to get off among the trees can be jaw-dropping; he's an expert at using his body to create slivers of space in traffic. Reynolds is also the owner of the most clutch shot in the 2009 NCAA tournament -- a driving leaner over Pitt's Gilbert Brown to send the Wildcats to the Final Four. It was a rare, exciting moment in an otherwise lackluster dance, and we thank Reynolds for providing it.
16 of 16AP
This pick will, like Vasquez himself, be controversial. But no player shows more raw emotion -- revving up his own fans, angering road crowds, even exchanging insults with his own student section -- than the Terps' Venezuelan combo guard. You don't know what you're going to get from Vasquez night-in and night-out; it could be a meltdown, like the 2-for-10, four-point game he had in a blowout loss to Duke last season, or it could be a tour de force, like the 35-point, 11-rebound, 10-assist show he put on in an upset of North Carolina. Whether you love him or hate him, you're always compelled to watch. His combination of energy, flair, unpredictability and skill is unrivaled in college hoops.
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