With 2019 coming to a close, it’s time to look at what and who made up college hoops this past decade. We choose the Player, Coach and Team of the Decade, as well as give you the best and worst hires, the biggest villain of the past 10 years and also the most inspirational story.

PLAYER OF DECADE: Jalen Brunson, Villanova – The guy won TWO national titles, and was the National Player of the Year his junior campaign in 2018. He averaged 9.6 points as a freshman while starting on the 2016 national title team and put up 18.9 points and 4.6 assists while being the key cog in ‘Nova’s 2018 national championship squad. But the biggest difference between Brunson and everyone else? The multiple rings.


Doug McDermott, Creighton – A three-time All-American, the crazy thing is that his dad, Greg, didn’t know if he was good enough to play in the Big 12 while he was the head coach at Iowa State. Doug wound up plenty good enough, winning National Player of the Year in 2014 and finishing fifth on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with 3,150 points.

Anthony Davis, Kentucky – One of the most selfless and talented players, Davis only averaged 14.2 points in his lone season in Lexington. However, he did whatever the team needed, also putting up 10.4 boards and 4.7 blocks — and most importantly, leading the ‘Cats to the national title in 2012.

Frank Kaminsky, Wisconsin – Northwestern didn’t want him out of high school, and he averaged 1.8 points per game as a freshman and 4.2 points as a sophomore. But he developed over the next two years, winning the National Player of the Year in 2015 while averaging 18.8 points and 8.2 boards and leading the Badgers to their second straight Final Four appearance.

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma – He played four seasons in Norman, and was unheralded coming into college. The native of Bahamas led the Sooners to the Sweet 16 as a junior, but was the lead story in college hoops his senior campaign – when he made 46 percent of his 3’s and averaged 25 points per game in carrying Oklahoma to a Final Four appearance.

Kemba Walker, UConn – He put his teammates on his back and carried the Huskies to a national title. It was a UConn team that had lost four of five heading into the Big East tourney, but Walker helped lead the Huskies to five wins in five days to claim the Big East tourney, and then led the Huskies to six straight in the NCAA tourney. It was a remarkable performance by Walker and UConn – who won 11 consecutive elimination games.

COACH OF DECADE: Jay Wright – There are plenty of candidates, whether it’s Coach K, Tony Bennett, Cal, Roy and even maybe Brad Stevens. But the only coaches who won multiple national titles in the decade are Wright and Mike Krzyzewski. Wright had his struggles in the tourney at Villanova during the early part of the decade, but the two national championships at ‘Nova in 2016 and 2018 are incredibly impressive – especially at ‘Nova. Wright has also won the Big East regular-season title in five of the past six seasons.

TEAM OF THE DECADE: I know most will go with ‘Nova in 2018, but I’m going with last year’s Virginia squad. Were Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers the most talented?  No, but they came from the depths of despair to the pinnacle of the sport, becoming the first-ever No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed the previous year and winning the national championship. They finished 35-3, won the ACC regular-season title, had a couple of first-round picks, and were far more effective on the offensive end than Bennett’s previous teams in Charlottesville.

PLAY OF THE DECADE: Villanova’s Kris Jenkins hitting the game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to beat North Carolina in the 2016 national title game. It was arguably the biggest shot in the history of college basketball, a game-winner in the final game on Monday night. It also came just seconds after Tar Heels guard Marcus Paige tied the game at 74.

MOST IMPRESSIVE ACCOMPLISHMENT: Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs making consecutive national title game appearances coming from the Horizon League. In 2010, Stevens had a couple of pros with Gordon Hayward and Shelvin Mack, and also a stud college player in Matt Howard. The Bulldogs went 33-5 and dominated the Horizon, and came up a Hayward shot shy of cutting down the nets. The next year, after Hayward left for the NBA, it was shocking that Butler made it back, especially after going 13-5 in league play.

MOST CAPTIVATING PLAYER: Zion Williamson, Duke – He averaged 22.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and captivated the country with his strength, athleticism, infectious personality and hard-playing style. Sure, he only played one season and didn’t win a national title, but he was a dominant force in his lone season in Durham.

BEST HIRE: Tony Bennett, Virginia – Give former Virginia AD Craig Littlepage credit for taking a risk with Bennett, who had been the head coach at Washington State for three years. Bennett went to the tourney twice in Pullman, but no one saw this coming – dominating the ACC the last half-dozen years (91-19 in the last six-plus seasons) and also winning a national title in Charlottesville. Think about this: Before Bennett arrived, the program had gone to the NCAA tourney twice in 12 years.

WORST HIRE: Kim Anderson, Missouri – Mike Alden, with the help of a search firm (Todd Turner), hired the Mizzou alum in 2014 fresh off a Division II national title at Central Missouri. Anderson had spent a dozen years as the head coach at Central Missouri and he was ill-equipped to make the transition to the high-major DI ranks. He was 27-68 in three seasons and won just eight league contests. Anderson’s hire just edged out Isiah Thomas’ hire at FIU.

BIGGEST OFF-COURT STORY: It broke on Sept. 27, 2017 when the FBI arrested 10 people – including four assistant coaches and others affiliated with adidas – in a men’s basketball corruption scandal that would overshadow many of the on-court happenings. It’s still ongoing as multiple programs — including Kansas, N.C. State and Arizona – still wait for their punishment from the NCAA.

BEST TRASH TALKER: Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss – All you need to do is watch this:

MOST INSPIRATIONAL: Austin Hatch – The former Michigan Wolverine survived two plane crashes. In 2003, he lost his mother, younger brother and older sister. In 2011, a little more than a week after committing to Michigan, his father and stepmother passed away in another plane crash. Hatch was in a coma for two months, and there was concern he might not be able to walk or talk again. Hatch wound up playing in five games for John Beilein at Michigan and even scored a point –

BIGGEST VILLAIN: Grayson Allen – He was a hero of sorts as a freshman, scoring 16 points in Duke’s national title game victory in 2015. He decided to return to school and that’s when the roller-coaster began. He intentionally tripped Louisville’s Ray Spalding on Feb. 8, 2016, and tripped Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes a couple weeks later. The next year, in a game against Elon, he did it again, this time to an Elon player, earning a one-game suspension. All of these exploits, combined with his on-court accomplishments and the fact that he starred at Duke, made him college basketball’s biggest villain of the decade.

CINDERELLA: UMBC – This one is easy. Ryan Odom and the Retrievers became the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 when they took down Virginia in the first round of the 2018 NCAA tourney. No. 1 seeds had been 135-0 against 16’s entering the contest. The historic game took place in Charlotte, and UMBC wound up winning, 74-54. Virginia was a 20.5-point favorite.