Who are the best college basketball players in history? – NBC Los Angeles

Who are the best college basketball players in history? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

There’s no better way to wrap up the month of March than a Final Four showdown between South Carolina and Iowa, and that’s exactly what fans will be treated to on Friday night.

Junior guard Caitlin Clark has absolutely electrified college basketball with her effortless scoring and swagger, while Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks are seemingly unstoppable as a unit looking to defend their national championship. But this game may come down to star power and there’s certainly no shortage on the court at American Airlines Arena.

Clark’s resume speaks for itself.

As a sophomore, he became the first person in Division I history to lead the NCAA in points (27.0) and assists (8.0). Last year she became the first player to record 900 points and 300 assists in a single season. And most recently, she completed the tournament’s first 40-point triple-double in the Iowa Elite Eight’s win over Louisville. Prior to that matchup, no men’s or women’s triple-double had eclipsed 30 points in March Madness history.

While Clark dominated the narrative throughout March Madness, earning AP Player of the Year and Naismith Player of the Year honors, the stars line up at the tournament from top to bottom, including LSU’s Angel Reese, Boston’s Aliyah South Carolina and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley, all of whom have a shot at championship glory in the Final Four this weekend.

But first, let’s take a look at some of the best women’s college basketball players to see where the current generation of stars stands.

Kelsey Plum, Washington

Plum holds the NCAA record for most career points (3,527) during his four years with the Huskies. He also led the school to its only Final Four in program history as a junior, averaging 25.9 points and 4.2 assists per game in the process.

It took a few years for her to establish herself in the WNBA, but Plum is coming off a breakout 2022 campaign with the Las Vegas Aces that saw her named to her first All-Star Game and win a WNBA championship.

Maya Moore, University of Connecticut

When Sports Illustrated declares you the biggest winner in women’s basketball history, you earn yourself an undisputed spot on this list.

Arriving at Storrs, Ct. from Georgia, Moore made an immediate impact for the Huskies. She became the second freshman to be named to the AP First Team All-American and the second sophomore to be named AP Player of the Year. She won two national championships with Geno Auriemma and finished her four years with a 150-4 record.

The most interesting part of Moore’s career, however, probably lies in what followed Sports Illustrated’s statement: “The best may be yet to come.”

Moore has won four WNBA championships in eight years, was named league MVP in 2014, and has earned virtually every honor the league has to offer. Less than two years after her fourth championship, Moore walked away from basketball to advocate for the expungement of a 50-year sentence against Jonathan Irons. Moore and Irons met through the prison ministry shortly before starting their freshman year at UConn. Irons was released in 2020 and he and Moore married shortly thereafter, welcoming a son in 2022.

Despite not playing since 2019, Moore officially retired this past January at the age of 33.

Brittney Griner, Baylor

Griner made a name for himself as a defensive wall, blocking everything that came in the paint for Kim Mulkey’s Baylor Bears, and he has a national championship to prove it.

He averaged 5.1 blocks over his career, including a staggering 6.4 as a freshman, and holds the single-season (223) and career (748) records for blocks. She continued that dominance in the WNBA, where she led the league in blocks for seven seasons and currently ranks fourth all-time.

Cheryl Miller, USC

A long time ago, USC was a power carried by 6-foot-2 forward Cheryl Miller.

Raised near Los Angeles, Miller dominated California high school basketball, setting countless records, including a memorable 105-point performance as a senior.

Behind Miller’s leadership, the Trojans captured back-to-back national championships (their second and third, respectively) and advanced to the program’s only three Final Fours. She won the Naismith Award three times, a feat repeated only by Breanna Stewart, and earned All-American honors in each of her four years with USC.

While Miller was building an illustrious career at USC, his younger brother, Reggie, was doing the same at UCLA. He remains second all-time in points scored for the Bruins behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and became a five-time NBA All-Star.

In 2012, Reggie joined Cheryl in the Naismith Hall of Fame, making them the first ever enshrined sibling duo.

Diana Taurasi, University of Connecticut

Among a list of greats, Taurasi has a case for the most shocking player in college history.

In the early 1990s, UConn began to establish itself as a strong program under Auriemma. Things took off for the Huskies later in the decade with the arrival of Rebecca Lobo, resulting in them winning the school’s first national championship, men’s or women’s, in 1995.

Auriemma won another national championship five years later behind a stacked lineup that included Sue Bird and Swin Cash, but it wasn’t until a year later that Taurasi arrived from California and made UConn the undeniable dynasty it is today.

As a point guard, she led the Huskies to three straight national championships before becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Sue Bird, University of Connecticut

Speaking of the early days of UConn’s dominance, Sue Bird is as iconic as they come.

The point guard has been at the forefront of women’s basketball for more than two decades and was instrumental in securing the Huskies’ national championships in their sophomore and senior year. Despite the hardware, one of Bird’s most memorable college moments was his junior year in a trio of matchups against up-and-coming rivals, Notre Dame.

The two sides met for the first time in a regular-season matchup in South Bend, where Notre Dame earned its first victory in a dozen tries. Bird later got his revenge in the Big East tournament championship when he drove the length of the court and hit a jumper that faded with time expiring to put the Huskies up 78-76.

Of course, Niele Ivey and the Irish had the last laugh in the Final Four when they beat the Huskies en route to the program’s first national championship, but Bird’s shot remains the picture of what many at the time dubbed as the best women’s basketball game. .

Bird visited Clark and the Hawkeyes earlier this week, so maybe that could bring them some good mojo.

candace parker tennessee

Tennessee Volunteers fans had to wait a year for the highly touted recruit to recover from a knee injury suffered over the summer before his true freshman season, but his debut lived up to the hype. .

In his first game under legendary head coach Pat Summitt, Parker posted a double-double (19 points and 10 rebounds) in 25 minutes of play. Later that season against Army, Parker became the first woman to dunk in an NCAA Tournament game…and then she did it again in the same game.

Within a season and a half of playing, Parker set a program record for fastest to 1,000 career points. She followed that up with back-to-back national championships before declaring for the WNBA draft with one year of eligibility remaining.

Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon

Sabrina Ionescu walked so Caitlin Clark could run.

The two guards similarly operated like a Swiss Army knife, doing a bit of everything to bring teams that weren’t all-time powerhouses to the highest levels of women’s basketball. All three of Oregon’s Elite Eight appearances were with Ionescu in the lead. Similarly, Clark has led the Hawkeyes back to the Final Four for the first time in three decades.

Clark’s 11 career double-triples is good for the second-most all-time, but Ionescu firmly has his number at 26. That said, nearly half of Clark’s doubles have come this season, so always there’s a chance she’ll leave as a senior and have something to pursue.

Breanna Stewart, University of Connecticut

Rounding out the list is arguably the most dominant college basketball player of the last decade.

Stewart did what none of these UConn legends before her could: win four straight national championships. She also joined the aforementioned Cheryl Miller as the only players to win three Naismith Awards.

One of the most impressive parts of Stewart’s college game was his ability to constantly reach new heights. As a senior, just when it seemed like there were no other awards or records to chase, he posted career-high points (19.4) and rebounds (8.7) while shooting an incredibly efficient 57.9% from the field.