12 Best College Basketball Players of all Time

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We often think about LeBron, Kobe Bryant, and many other top players when talking about the basketball players.

But, do you know there are many players back in history who made it to the top (played for their clubs and represented their nation on the world stage) by starting from the bottom?

If you are not aware of it, there is no need to worry as we bring you some of the best college basketball players of all time who you would be surprised by their figures in national and clubs records.

12 Best College Basketball Players of all Time

Here is a list of the best college basketball players of all time with their respective net worth. Similarly, their achievements and the records with the nation are briefly mentioned. 

Basketball Players Net Worth
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar $22 Million
2. Larry Joe Bird $75 million
3. Bill Walton  $20 Million
4. Christian Donald Laettner $10 Million
5. Peter Press Maravich $6 Million
6. Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr. $600 Million
7. Patrick Aloysius Ewing $75 Million 
8. Oscar Palmer Robertson $200 Thousand
9. William Felton Russell  $10 Million
10. Danny Ricardo Manning $20 Million
11. Jerry Ray Lucas $1 Million–$5 Million 
12. David O’Neil Thompson $1 million

1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Talking about the best college basketball players of all time, Kareem is one of them at the top of our list.

All-time leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is a former American professional basketball player who won six National Basketball Association (NBA) with Los Angeles Lakers for over 20 years.

Kareem Abdul Jabbar
Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Source: Wikipedia.org)

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was born in New York (NYC) on the 16th of April, 1947. By the eighth grade, he stood a towering 6 ft and 8 inches and dunked the basketball.

He was much more passionate about the sports at an early age, creating the new New York City scores and rebounds.

Kareem was leading his team to 71 consecutive wins and three straight city titles. He was much more enthusiastic about basketball. He also broke records for having scored the most points, blocked the most shots, and won the most MVP titles in 1989.

When he retired in 1989, he was the NBA’s all-time leading scorer with 38,387 points. During that time, no one has become the first player to play for 20 seasons as he reached those stats and became the first player to play for 20 seasons consecutively.

2. Larry Bird

The legendary basketball player Larry Joe Bird, also known with names “the Hick from French Lick” and “Larry Legend,” grew up with six children in a poor family.

Lary faced many emotional disturbances as a child, which were caused by family issues. This led him to the sports.  

Indiana University coach Bobby Knight offered a British scholarship, but Bird was overwhelmed by the size of the University and dropped out in the first month.

When Larry went to Indiana, he had not seen the world. Then, finally, he got to Bloomington, Indiana. It may as well have been Tokyo. It was just too much for the small kid from Indiana.

Larry Bird
Larry Bird (Source: quotepark.com)

Bird chose to attend and play ball for the minor Indiana State University and led his team to the NCAA Championship by his senior year, where he faced off against future rival Earvin Magic Johnson.

Larry was a 12-time NBA All-Star, won two NBA Finals MVP awards, and received the NBA Most Valuable Player Award three consecutive times (1984–1986). He was only the player to perform such terrifying records and made himself known in the entire world.

He also holds the gold medal-winning 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team, known as “The Dream Team.”

3. Bill Walton

NBA legend, TV broadcaster, and famous Grateful Dead fan Bill Walton was born in La Mesa, California, on November 5, 1952. He started playing basketball at age 8.

Walton got introduced to basketball by his first coach Rocky, the local fireman, who coached many players in every grade, every level, and student year-round.

During his high school days, Bill Walton led his school team to two championships in high school.

After graduation, Walton went to play ball for famed coach John Wooden at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). For Walton, it was a dream come true to go to UCLA.

During his college years, Walton earned the NCAA Player of the Year award three years running, and after graduation, he was the number one overall NBA draft pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1974.

In May of 1979, Walton signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the San Diego Clippers. Unfortunately, during his time with the Clippers, Walton missed over two years of play due to injuries.

Bill Walton signed with the Boston Celtics in 1985 and helped them win the NBA championship the following year.

Read the article about The 20 Best looking NBA players in 2021.

4. Christian Donald Laettner

Born on August 17, 1969, Christian Donald Laettner is a former American basketball player. His college Duke Blue Devil is considered one of the best in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCA) history.

Back in 1991-92, he was the star player back-to-back for Duke Blue Devils. During his career, Christian scored over 2000 points where he broke the school record set by his teammate Ron Torgalski and his team won two state titles and reached the semifinal.

He attended Duke University and played basketball from 1988-1992 under coach Mike Krzyzewski in his college career. He led Blue Devils to the first two national titles in school history.

Christian played 13 years in the NBA (1992-2005), scoring 11,121 points and grabbing 5,806 rebounds.

His records are so exceptional, and he was genuinely unbeatable. His first six seasons were his best, with an average of 16.6 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Despite his achievements, Laettner played for six different teams and was traded six-time. He never spent more than one year in the same team anywhere.

Back in 2004, he was also suspended for many games for using marijuana.

5. Peter Press Maravich

Born on June 22, 1947, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, Pete Maravich (Pistol Pete) was an American professional basketball. 

Maravich was addicted to sports during his childhood age and amazed his parents with his basketball skills. Maravich spent hours practicing ball controls, passing, head fakes, and long-range shots.

Pete Maravich at his young age
Pete Maravich (Source: Wikimedia.org)

Maravich is the all-time leading NCAA Division I scorer with 3667 points and has an average of 44.2 points per match. He was the youngest player introduced to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Peter played for three different teams, Atalanta Hawks (1970-1974), New Orleans (1974-1980), and Boston Celtics (1980).

Maravich was five times NBA All-Star (1973-1974-1977-1979), two times All-NBA First Team (1976,1977), two times All-NBA Second Team (1973, 1978), NBA scoring champion (1977).

6. Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.

The life of Earvin Magic Johnson began on August 14, 1959, in Lansing, Michigan. One of ten kids, he grew up in a working-class African-American neighborhood on Lansing’s Westside.

Earvin’s mother, Christine, was a school custodian, and similarly, his father, Earvin’s senior, worked at GM on the assembly line.

When Earvin was about five, his parents bought him a basketball. It was love at first touch. After that, he took his basketball wherever his mom wanted him to go.

The Los Angeles Lakers made nineteen-year-old Magic Johnson the NBA’s number one draft pick in 1979. Magic signed a five-year contract with a package worth about $500,000 a year.

Teaming up with superstar center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic helped lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals against Philadelphia in his first year. The Lakers were up to three games to two, but Kareem rolled an ankle on the flight to Philly, and the team was demoralized.

However, Magic was phenomenal, scoring 42 points, hauling down 15 rebounds, dishing out seven assists, and leading the Lakers to the championship.

Click the following link for more information: The Top 5 Richest NBA Players in the World Right Now.

7. Patrick Aloysius Ewing

Patrick is a Jamaican-American basketball coach and a former basketball player who is currently a head coach of the Georgetown University men’s team. 

At an early age, he was much more talented in cricket and soccer. He completed his high school from Cambridge Rindge and Latin and high school from Georgetown (1981-1985).

Patrick played for Georgetown for four years in a center position where his team reached three times in NCAA Championship.

Moreover, he has won the gold medal as a member of the 1984 and 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball teams. In addition, Ewing was selected as the 50th most outstanding player in NBA history in 1996.

Achievements of Patrick Aloysius Ewing:

  • 11 times NBA All-star (1986, 1988-1997)
  • Six times All-NBA Second Team (1988, 1989, 1991-1993, 1997)
  • Three times NBA All-Defensive Second Team (1988, 1989, 1992)
  • NBA Rookie of the Year (1986)
  • NBA All-Rookie Team (1986) 

Currently, he is coaching the team in Big East Conference League.

8. Oscar Palmer Robertson

Born on November 24, 1938, with the nickname “the Big O,” Oscar Palmer Robertson played for the Cincinnati Royals and Milwaukee Bucks in National Basketball Association (NBA).

He was one of the top-ranked basketball players in his time. Robertson was a 12-time all-star, 11-time member of the All NBA Team, and he has won the one-time winner of the MVP award in 14 seasons.

Oscar Robertson at 1960
Oscar Robertson, one of the best college basketball players. (Source: Wikipedia.org)

During the season 1970-71, he was one of the best players on the team to brought the Bucks their first NBA title.

A lot of criticism surrounded Robertson’s college career. It was plagued by racism as Kentucky, Duke, and North Carolina didn’t introduce black athletes in his college life.

Nevertheless, he presented his team to national prominence during his time there. In his NBA debut, he recorded 21 points, 12 rebounds, and ten assists in a 140-123 win over the Lakers.

9. William Felton Russell

With 11 NBA championships in 13 years, Russell is widely recognized as the most incredible winner in all professional sports.

Born on February 12, 1934, former American professional basketball player who played as a center position for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1956 to 1969. Similarly, William was one of the masterpieces for the Boston Celtics.

From 1959 to 1969, Russell and the Celtics won every NBA championship except in 1967 when Wilt Chamberlain finally made to get over the Boston hump.

Russell won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player five times in a span, and he did so in the seasons where Wilt averaged 50 points per game, and Oscar Robertson was averaging his standard triple-double.

He was either the best rebounder in the league or second-best behind Wilt and was widely regarded as the NBA’s best offensive player.

Click here to see the biography and the achievements of Nate Thurmond: Early Life, NBA, Retirement & Death.

10. Danny Ricardo Manning

Daniel Ricardo Manning, born on May 17, 1966, is a former professional American basketball player who is currently an assistant coach for the Maryland Terrapins.

Daniel is the son of Ed Manning, who was also an NBA and ABA player for a long time and a college coach. Danny averaged 18.7 points and nine rebounds per game during high school, and he led his team to a 26-0 record and the state title. 

During his high school, he played for Kansas, where he became an all-time high scorer in Kansas basketball history. Manning also won the national championship with Jayhawks in 1988 as a player. He retired from his professional career in 2003.

Before then, he played for seven different teams like Los Angeles Clippers, Atalanta Hawks, Phoenix Suns, Milwaukee Bucks, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons.

He was two times NBA All-Star, NBA Sixth Man of the Year, NCAA champion, NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, National college player of the year, two times Consensus First-team All-American.

11. Jerry Ray Lucas

Jerry Lucas was one of the more intriguing eccentrics ever to play basketball. He could lay a double-double on an opponent and recite the phonebook while doing it.

Jerry Lucas was born on March 30, 1940. He is a former American basketball player who was nationally awarded in high school, an Olympic gold medalist in 1960.

Lucas was a phenomenal and absolute greatest part player in part cartoon figure. He has one of the fascinating figures in the history of the sport.

He has got a brilliant mind and reads every game more carefully and analyses them. Voted among the NBA’s 50 greatest players, he blazed a Championships trail that began in high school.

His achievements include seven times NBA All-Star, three times All-NBA First Team, two times All-NBA Second Team, NBA Rookie of the year.

12. David O’Neil Thompson

Born on July 13, 1954, a Five-time all-star and Hall of Famer, he spent most of his NBA career playing in Denver.

In 2009 David Thompson got a phone call from the administrators at the Hall of fame. They told Thompson that Michael Jordan wanted to be introduced by him during his nomination.

David O'Neil Thompson
David O’Neil Thompson.

Thompson was recognized as one of the best college basketball players ever, which led him to the 1975 draft. He was the first overall selection by both the ABA and the NBA.

Both leagues could draft players back then, but Thompson chose to go to the ABA or NBA. He ultimately decided to go to the Squires in the ABA because he felt like the Hawks weren’t that interested in him.

But then, after the Squires traded him to Denver Nuggets and the ABA team. So Thompson spent his first seven seasons with the Nuggets. He was four times NBA All-Star, two times All-NBA First Team, ABA All-star, NBA All-Star Game MVP.


So, these are our top twelve lists of best college basketball players of all time. You can comment down below to share your views with us.

Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah
Sanjib Sah is an engineer and content writer passionate about sports and athletics. With a background in engineering and a love for all things active, Sanjib brings a unique perspective to the world of sports writing. Whether he is covering the latest trends in sports technology or sharing tips on improving your game, Sanjib's words are always rooted in a deep appreciation for players' hard work and dedication everywhere. In his free time, you can find him hitting the courts or hitting the trails, always looking for new ways to challenge himself and improve his skills.

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