Big East, Rip Hamilton, UConn

Seton Hall and UConn are two of the original Big East programs and have had plenty of all-world talent. Cutting the list to just 20 wasn’t easy.

1. Ray Allen – UConn (1993-96)

  • Career stats: 19.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.6 SPG, 44.8 3P%
  • Junior year stats: 23.4 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.7 SPG, 46.6 3P%
  • Accolades: 1x Consensus All-American, 1995-96 Big East Player of the Year, 2x All-Big East, 1x NCAA All-Region, 2x All-Big East Tournament Team

Ray Allen might be the best spot-up three-point shooter to ever grace the floor. He was best known for hitting an iconic buzzer-beater to give UConn the 1996 Big East Tournament Championship.

Allen played in the prime of the Big East and was one of the premier players during the 1990s. Unlike so many of his Huskies teammates, Allen never did win a national title, but he did help pave the way for so many more to come.

2. Kemba Walker – UConn (2008-11)

  • Career stats: 16.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.7 SPG
  • Junior year stats: 23.5 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.9 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x National Champion, 1x NCAA All-Tournament, 1x NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 1x Consensus All-American, 2x All-Big East, 2011 Big East Tournament MVP

Walker bloomed as a junior and had arguably the best single-season for any player in the Jim Calhoun era. He dazzled with a killer crossover and posed such a scoring threat as a point guard that opposing teams had no answer.

Walker led the Huskies on an 11-game winning streak to take home their third title. He’s a fan favorite and often gets overlooked by some of the “hey-day” players, but those junior season stats say it all. Had he stayed another year, we could be talking about Kemba as one of the 10 or 15 greatest college basketball players of all time.

3. Rip Hamilton – UConn (1996-99)

  • Career stats: 19.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, 37.8 3P%, 1.3 SPG
  • Junior year stats: 21.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 34.7 3P%, 1.2 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x National Champion, 1x NCAA All-Tournament, 1x NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 2x Consensus All-American, 2x Big East Player of the Year, 2x All-Big East, 2x All-Big East Tournament Team

Ray Allen paved the path for Richard “Rip” Hamilton to have the career he had in college. Many would say Rip is the greatest UConn player of all time and you’d be right in saying that. He had some of the best offensive tools in Big East history.

Hamilton led UConn to its first national championship and conquered the rare feat of being named Big East POY twice in his career.

4. Terry Dehere – Seton Hall (1989-93)

  • Career stats: 19.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.5 APG, 38.9 3P%, 1.2 SPG
  • Senior year stats: 22.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 39.6 3P%, 1.1 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x Consensus All-American, 1x Big East Player of the Year, 3x All-Big East, 2x All-Big East Tournament Team, 1x Big East Tournament MVP

What stands out is Dehere’s longevity at the top. He was a three-time All-Big East performer with the Pirates. Dehere was a bucket getter from day one, just coming to campus one year late from the 1989 National Championship game run. Dehere was the best player in the PJ Carlisemo era, which is no small claim to fame.

5. Myles Powell – Seton Hall (2016-20)

  • Career stats: 17.5 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 34.6 3P%, 1.3 SPG
  • Junior year stats: 23.1 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.9 APG, 36.3 3P%, 2.0 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x Consensus All-American, 1x Big East Player of the Year, 2x All-Big East, 1x All-Big East Tournament Team, 1x Big East Most Improved Player

Myles Powell did everything but make a tournament run, which is even unfair to degrade him, given his best chance – 2020 – got nixed due to COVID-19. The Pirates were on pace to get a three of a four seed when the tournament got canceled.

But people exactly how great the Jerry West Award winner was. Powell was the best shooting guard in the country his senior season, and that’s saying something considering how much statistically better MP’s junior campaign was. No way around it. He was a special talent and one of the best scorers in college basketball in the last decade.

6. Emeka Okafor – UConn (2001-04)

  • Career stats: 13.8 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.3 BPG, 59.0 FG%
  • Junior year stats: 17.6 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 4.1 BPG,59.9 FG%
  • Accolades: 1x National Champion, 1x NCAA All-Tournament, 1x NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, 1x Consensus All-American, 3x All-Big East, 1x Big East Player of the Year, 2x Big East Defensive Player of the Year

As far as defensive centers go, Okafor might be one of the best the Big East has ever had. He controlled the paint the minute he got to Storrs and didn’t look back, winning two Big East DPOY awards with the Huskies.

Okafor improved on his scoring for by his junior season, averaging over 17 points and 11 rebounds on his way to being drafted second overall in the 2004 NBA Draft.

7. Ben Gordon – UConn (2001-04)

  • Career stats: 16.9 PPG, 4.1 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 42.3 3P%
  • Junior year stats: 18.5 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 4.5 APG, 1.4 SPG, 43.3 3P%
  • Accolades: 1x National Champion, 1x NCAA All-Tournament, 2x All-Big East, 3X All-Big East Tournament, 1x Big East Tournament MVP

Okafor was followed up by Ben Gordon, who went third in the ’04 draft. Gordon was more of the scorer on a Huskies team that would bring Jim Calhoun his second national championship. Gordon could make it happen from all three levels scoring the basketball.

8. Angel Delgado – Seton Hall (2014-18)

  • Career stats: 12.1 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.7 APG, 53.8 FG%
  • Junior year stats: 15.2 PPG, 13.1 RPG, 2.2 APG, 54.3 FG%
  • Accolades: 2x All-Big East, 1x All-Big East Tournament team, 1x Big East Rookie of the Year

The rebounding king after Derrick Coleman, Angel Delgado was once quoted as saying, “I love rebounds.” He sure did, ripping down double-doubles and setting program and conference records on the boards.

Delgado became a skilled offensive player in the paint, using pump fakes and size to give the Hall a weapon on both sides of the floor. He was a part of Kevin Willard’s first great recruiting class.

9. Walter Dukes – Seton Hall (1950-53)

  • Career stats: 19.9 PPG, 19.5 RPG
  • Senior year stats: 26.1 PPG, 22.2 RPG
  • Accolades: 1x Consensus All-American, 1x NIT MVP

Many still consider Dukes the best player in Seton Hall’s history. Say what you want about a different era, averaging 20 and 20 over the course of a three-year career is ridiculous. Dukes was an All-American on the national level and led the Pirates to the 1953 NIT title, which back then, was the equivalent to the NCAA Tournament of today.

10. Khalid El-Amin – UConn (1997-00)

  • Career stats: 15.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 35.5 3P%
  • Junior year stats: 16.0 PPG, 5.2 APG, 3.0 RPG, 1.7 SPG, 35.6%
  • Accolades: 1x National Champion, 1x NCAA All-Tournament team, 3x All-Big East, 3x All-Big East Tournament team, 1x Big East Tournament MVP

A streaker shooter, El-Amin was actually still a consistent player over the course of his career. His stats stayed the same throughout and they were darn good – El-Amin could light it up as a scorer but was also a crisp passer, serving as one of the better distributors in the Big East at his time.

11. Jeremy Hazell – Seton Hall (2007-11)

  • Career stats: 18.8 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.7 SPG
  • Sophomore year stats: 22.7 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.8 SPG
  • Accolades: 3x All-Big East

Hazell didn’t reach the level of national prominence as many of the other guys on this list, but he was still one of the better players in SHU’s history. Hazell put up an outstanding sophomore campaign, and still averaged over and around 20 points for his next two seasons, even as defenses keyed in on him. Hazell became a defensive guru, playing both sides of the floor and pilfering well over two per game in 2010-11.

12. Shabazz Napier – UConn (2010-14)

  • Career stats: 13.7 PPG, 4.5 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 37.5 3P%
  • Senior year stats: 18.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 4.9 APG, 1.8 SPG, 40.5 3P%
  • Accolades: 2x National Champion, 1x NCAA Tourney MOP, 1x Consensus All-American, 1x AAC Player of the Year, 1x All-Big East

To a bit of a lighter extent, Napier followed in Walker’s footsteps and delivered and second national title for the Huskies as their lead point guard. Shabazz learned from Walker’s 2011 run and completed his own in 2014, becoming an All-American in the process.

13. Chris Smith – UConn (1988-92)

  • Career stats: 16.9 PPG, 3.4 APG, 2.9 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 40.0 3P%
  • Senior year stats: 21.2 PPG, 3.7 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 42.0 3P%
  • Accolades: 3X All-Big East, 1x Big East Tournament MVP, 1x NCAA All-Region team

One of UConn’s first stars, Smith turned into the best statistical scorer the Huskies have ever had. And when you lead a team like UConn in that category, it’s got to mean something. He made three All-Big East teams in his college hoops career.

14. Donyell Marshall – UConn (1991-94)

  • Career stats: 18.1 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.7 BPG
  • Junior year stats: 25.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.3 BPG
  • Accolades: 1x Consensus All-American, 1x Big East Player of the Year, 2x All-Big East, 1x Big East DPOY

If you single out the best single-seasons in Big East history, Donyell Marshall’s 1993-94 campaign has to be right at the top of that list. Marshall messed around and put up 25 points per game, nearly averaging a double-double, and blocking shots at an alarming rate. It earned him the conference’s POY and DPOY awards in the process.

15. Tate George – UConn (1986-90)

  • Career stats: 9.7 PPG, 5.3 APG, 3.3 RPG, 1.6 SPG
  • Senior year stats: 11.5 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x All-Big East, 1x NCAA All-Region, 1x All-Big East Tournament team

What might seem like an unpopular pick shouldn’t be to those who know UConn’s history. Tate George is considered by some to be the best all-around point guard in UConn history. If you know the list he’s going up against that’s a big statement, but George ranks second all-time in career assists and steals at UConn. He also hit one of the most memorable shots in college basketball history.

16. Nick Werkman – Seton Hall (1961-64)

  • Career stats: 32.0 PPG, 14.6 RPG
  • Sophomore year stats: 33.0 PPG, 17.2 RPG
  • Accolades: 1x All-Big East, 1x NCAA All-Region, 1x All-Big East Tournament team

Going back quite a bit again might seem like a cop-out, but UConn’s history was a blue blood between the 1990s and 2010s, whereas Seton Hall’s goes back quite further, peaks in the 1990s, and again as of late. Werkman was one of those old-school guys that put up such absurd numbers he’s impossible to keep off this list. He topped 2,000 points with ease in three seasons.

17. Scott Burrell – UConn (1989-93)

  • Career stats: 13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.6 SPG, 2.5 APG
  • Junior year stats: 16.3 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.5 SPG, 2.9 APG
  • Accolades: 3x All-Big East

Scott Burrell is one of the best defenders in UConn history but didn’t shy away from scoring or getting his teammates involved. It earned him a decent run in the NBA but one of the most underrated Huskies certainly had his moments under coach Calhoun.

18. Isaiah Whitehead – Seton Hall (2014-16)

  • Career stats: 15.8 PPG, 4.5 APG, 3.7 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 35.9 3P%
  • Sophomore year stats: 18.2 PPG, 5.1 APG, 3.6 RPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.4 BPG, 36.5 3P%
  • Accolades: 1x All-Big East, 1x Big East Tournament MVP

When I went to my Seton Hall orientation day in the summer of 2016, the NBA Draft happened to be on and Whitehead went mid-second round. Admittedly, I was still learning about the history of the Pirates, but it was easy to tell how much Whitehead meant to the program. He put Seton Hall on his shoulders and led them to an improbable Big East Tournament championship. Had he stayed another season, the Pirates would have been Final Four contenders.

19. Marcus Williams – UConn (2003-06)

  • Career stats: 9.0 PPG, 7.3 APG, 3.2 RPG
  • Junior year stats: 12.3 PPG, 8.6 APG, 3.9 RPG
  • Accolades: 1x NCAA Champion, 1x NCAA All-Region, 2x All-Big East, 1x Big East Most Improved Player

Marcus Williams barely played his first season and was never much of a scorer, but averaged an incredible 8.6 assists per game in the 2005-06 season that took UConn all the way to the Elite 8. He did win a championship in year one, and that obviously had a lasting impact.

20. Dan Callandrillo – Seton Hall (1978-82)

  • Career stats: 18.4 PPG, 3.5 APG, 3.3 RPG, 2.4 SPG
  • Senior year stats: 25.9 PPG, 3.6 APG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 SPG
  • Accolades: 1x Big East Player of the Year, 3x All-Big East

The third-ever Big East Player of the Year, Callandrillo was a lethal scorer all throughout his college career who brought it to an even higher level his last go-around.

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