Season-By-Season Comparison Of History’s Greatest College Basketball Players

From Cleveland’s Kevin Love to Houston’s Trevor Ariza to Oklahoma State’s Russell Westbrook, UCLA has no shortage of alumni playing important minutes for competitive teams in the NBA this season. The NBA fans who closely follow the game, whether by watching, fantasy sports or online betting, know there’s a good chance Bruins will play roles on some of the teams making the deepest runs in this year’s playoffs.

When it comes to deep postseason runs, no Bruins, however, have ever stood as tall as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. That’s certainly the case in the NBA playoffs, as the 7’1″ Walton bagged the NBA Finals MVP en route to leading Portland to the 1977 title. And who can forget what Abdul-Jabbar did on the biggest stage? Twice the 7’2″ center won the NBA Finals MVP (in 1971 and 1985) while winning six championships overall.

As great as Walton and Abdul-Jabbar were in the pros, they were even more impressive while playing college ball for UCLA. Both won the NCAA player of the year award in each of the three seasons they were eligible for it. Walton won two of three NCAA Championships in those years, while Abdul-Jabbar won an NCAA Championship in all three seasons he played varsity (freshmen were ineligible in the 1960s-early 1970s).

In men’s NCAA basketball, few players can touch Walton and Abdul-Jabbar when it comes to a combination of titles and statistical dominance. In fact, to get appropriate comparisons, we must go to women’s basketball. Here we find players who won Player of  the Year just as many times as Abdul-Jabbar (Cheryl Miller) and a superstar who has won more NCAA Championships (Breanna Stewart).

But how do all these all-timers stack up mano-a-(wo)mano? Let’s break out the spreadsheet, folks, and see. Below are the stats for the all-timers’ first season*.

COMPARING COLLEGE BASKETBALL’s BEST OF THE BEST (OFFENSE)

Year One

Player Season PPG FG% FT% 3PT%
Lew Alcindor 1967 26.4 66.70% 65.00%
Sheryl Swooped 1992 21.6 50.30% 80.80%
Cheryl Miller 1983 20.4 55.10% 73.70%
Bill Walton 1972 20.3 64.00% 70.40%
Lisa Leslie 1991 19.4 47.80% 67.60%
Brittney Griner 2010 18.4 50.36% 68.44%
Maya Moore 2008 17.8 54.30% 74.30% 42.00%
Chamique Holdsclaw 1996 16.2 46.80% 71.30% 23.30%
Breanna Stewart 2013 13.8 50.80% 77.70% 33.30%
Diana Taurasi 2001 10.9 44.40% 87.80% 38.60%

*In all the cases above this means freshman year except for Abdul-Jabbar and Walton (where it’s sophomore) and Sheryl Swoopes (junior year since she was a junior college transfer).

Year Two

Sheryl Swoopes 1993 28.1 54.60% 86.80%
Lew Alcindor 1968 26.4 61.30% 61.60%
Brittney Griner 2011 23.03 54.32% 77.67% 50%
Cheryl Miller 1984 22 57.00% 75.20%
Chamique Holdsclaw 1997 20.6 49.80% 66.70% 34.00%
Lisa Leslie 1992 20.4 55.00% 69.70%
Bill Walton 1973 20.3 65.00% 56.90%
Breanna Stewart 2014 19.4 49.70% 77.40% 34.30%
Maya Moore 2009 19.3 52.10% 78.00% 39.80%
Diana Taurasi 2002 14.6 49.40% 82.80% 44.00%

Year Three 

Player Season PPG FG% FT% 3PT%
Cheryl Miller 1985 26.8 52.80% 69.60%
Lew Alcindor 1969 26.4 63.50% 61.20%
Chamique Holdsclaw 1998 23.5 54.60% 76.50% 22.00%
Brittney Griner 2012 23.23 60.88% 80% 50%
Bill Walton 1974 20.3 66.50% 58.00%
Maya Moore 2010 18.9 51.50% 79.00% 41.70%
Lisa Leslie 1993 18.7 55.80% 73.50%
Diana Taurasi 2003 17.9 47.60% 81.50% 35.00%
Breanna Stewart 2015 17.6 53.90% 80.50% 31.30%

Year Four 

Player Season PPG FG% FT% 3PT%
Cheryl Miller 1986 25.4 60.90% 75.30%
Brittney Griner 2013 23.83 60.68% 71.15% 0%
Maya Moore 2011 22.8 52.40% 84.30% 38.40%
Lisa Leslie 1994 21.9 55.80% 68.70%
Chamique Holdsclaw 1999 21.3 51.90% 70.70% 14.30%
Breanna Stewart 2016* 19.4 57.90% 83.60% 42.60%
Diana Taurasi 2004 16.2 45.60% 79.50% 39.00%

*Through first 37 games. 

From an offensive standpoint, players like Cheryl Miller and Abdul-Jabbar on different planets than the likes of Breanna Stewart. This  disparity is so vast I believe it destroys Stewart’s argument for G.O.A.T. despite her team’s unprecedented four-year run.

Now let’s see how these players stack up rebounding, passing and more defensive stats.

Year One

Player RPG APG BPG SPG Team’s Win % Games Played
Bill Walton 15.7 0.00 0.00 0.00 100.00% 30
Lew Alcindor 15.5 0.00 N/A 0.00 100.00% 30
Lisa Leslie 10 0.67 2.60 1.43 60.00% 30
Cheryl Miller 9.7 3.48 2.39 3.48 93.94% 33
Chamique Holdsclaw 9.1 2.08 0.58 0.94 88.89% 36
Sheryl Swoopes 8.9 4.75 1.00 3.44 84.38% 32
Brittney Griner 8.49 1 6.37 0.51 72.97% 37
Maya Moore 7.6 3.05 0.00 1.66 94.74% 38
Breanna Stewart 6.36 0.97 2.06 1.14 89.74% 36
Diana Taurasi 3.2 3.30 0.88 1.18 91.43% 33

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