The 12 greatest 12s in college basketball

December, 12, 2012
On last year’s repetitive number date, Nov. 11, the 11s got their due.

Now, on 12/12/12, we look at the 12 greatest players to wear No. 12 in college basketball history.

1. Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati Bearcats (1957-60)
Forget uniform numbers, the Big O is in the conversation as one of the greatest college basketball players of all time. He was the three-time UPI Player of the Year and led the nation in scoring in all three seasons. His career average of 33.8 points per game is the third-highest of all-time.

2. Steve Alford, Indiana Hoosiers (1983-87)
Alford led the Hoosiers to the 1987 national title, garnering first-team All-American honors along the way. By the time he left Bloomington, Alford was the school’s all-time leading scorer (since passed by Calbert Cheaney).

3. Phil Ford, North Carolina Tar Heels (1974-78)
Ford was North Carolina’s all-time leading scorer for 30 years before Tyler Hansbrough surpassed him in 2008. A three-time All-American, he captured the Wooden Award in 1978.

4. Ralph Beard, Kentucky Wildcats (1946-49)
Beard’s legacy was tarnished by a point-shaving scandal, but few were better in his era. He was a three-time consensus first-team All-American, and helped lead Kentucky to back-to-back titles in 1948 and 1949.

5. Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State Spartans (1996-2000)
The only three-time All-American in Spartans history, he led Michigan State to the title in 2000. Cleaves once dished out 20 assists in a game, and is still the Big Ten’s all-time assists leader.

6. Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1989-91)
Few players have had such an immediate impact. Anderson finished with the second-most assists ever for a freshman, while also averaging more than 20 points per game. He helped guide the Yellow Jackets to a Final Four. As a sophomore, Anderson was a unanimous first-team All-American.

7. Billy McGill, Utah Utes (1959-62)
McGill’s scoring average of 38.8 points per game in 1961-62 stands as the seventh-highest mark in Division I history. He led Utah to the 1961 Final Four, leading all tournament players in scoring that year.

8. Mark Macon, Temple Owls (1987-91)
As a freshman, Macon was a consensus second-team All-American and led Temple to the Elite Eight. He finished as both Temple’s and the Atlantic 10’s all-time leading scorer with 2,609 points.

9. George Kaftan, Holy Cross Crusaders (1945-49)
Kaftan was named the Most Outstanding Player in leading Holy Cross to the 1947 national title. A two-time All-American, he played center despite standing just 6-foot-3.

10. Bimbo Coles, Virginia Tech Hokies (1986-90)
Coles did a whole bunch of scoring for some not-so-great Hokies squads. By the time he graduated, his 2,484 points were not only the most at Virginia Tech, but also more than any other Division I player in the state of Virginia.

11. Phil Sellers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1972-76)
The leading scorer and rebounder in Rutgers history, it is safe to call Sellers the school’s best player. The All-American guided the Scarlet Knights to a 26-0 regular season in 1976, as Rutgers made its only Final Four appearance.

12. John Stockton, Gonzaga Bulldogs (1980-84)
If this were an NBA list, Stockton would be no lower than second. But his impact on the college game wasn’t nearly as significant. After playing scarcely as a freshman, he put together three quality seasons at Gonzaga, finishing as the Bulldogs' all-time leader in steals and assists.

Honorable Mention: Tate Armstrong (Duke), Toby Bailey (UCLA), Derek Harper (Illinois), Willie Humes (Idaho State), Fat Lever (Arizona State), Daren Queenan (Lehigh), Kyle Singler (Duke), Al Thornton (Florida State)

Jeremy Lundblad

ESPN Stats and Information



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