The 12 greatest 12s in college basketball

December, 12, 2012
12/12/12
12:12
PM ET
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

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