Top 10 Best Gonzaga Basketball Players
One of the most successful college basketball programs of the 21st century, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have had some incredible basketball players over the years. While they have yet to win a national title, that does not take away from the greatest of their athletes. The remainder of this piece will discuss the 10 greatest players in school history.
Who Are the Best Gonzaga College Basketball Players of All Time?
- Frank Burgess
- Elias Harris
- Adam Morrison
- Ronny Turiaf
- John Stockton
- Kevin Pangos
- Jim McPhee
- Jerry Vermillion
- Matt Santangelo
- Josh Perkins
1. Frank Burgess
- All-time scoring leader (2,196 points)
- Second-most free throws made (596)
- Most field goals made (800)
One of the first great stars in Gonzaga history, Frank Burgess deserves the title of the greatest basketball player in school history. Despite only playing three seasons due to freshmen not being eligible during his time, he still is Gonzaga’s all-time leading scorer. During his three seasons, he scored an incredible 2,196 points, one of just two players in school history to reach the 2,000-point mark. Unsurprisingly, he is also the school’s scoring leader, with 800 made field goals, and is in second place with 596 free throws made. After his senior season in 1961, he was named to the All-American team and is one of three Bulldog legends to have his number retired. Despite his greatness, Gonzaga never made the NCAA tournament during his three seasons.
2. Elias Harris
- Fourth-most points scored (1,857)
- Second-most rebounds (979)
- Fourth-most field goals made (666)
One of the most talented big men ever at Gonzaga, Elias Harris comes in at number two on this list. Harris finished his career in 2013 as the Bulldogs’ fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,857 points, a spot he still holds today. He holds that same position on the field-goals-made list, making 666 shots from the floor. Harris also recorded the second-most rebounds of anyone at Gonzaga with 979 boards. While he never got much national recognition, Harris was named to the All-West Coast Conference (WCC) team three times. In the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs were eliminated in the second round in all four of his seasons with the team.
3. Adam Morrison
- Third-most points scored (1,867 points)
- Third-most field goals made (669)
- Eighth-most free throws made (401)
Arguably the most famous player in Gonzaga history, Adam Morrison certainly became a legend during his time in school. Despite leaving after his junior season to go to the NBA in 2006, Morrison still scored the third-most points in school history with 1,867 points. He did so by scoring from both the field and the free throw line, making the third-most field goals (669) and the eighth-most free throws (401) in program history. During his junior season, he scored a school record 906 points in a single season, and his 28.1 points per game that season led the country. He was awarded the WCC Player of the Year Award that season, and was a first-team All-American. Although he was great, he was unable to lead Gonzaga past the Sweet 16 in the tournament that season.
4. Ronny Turiaf
- Third-most blocked shots (179)
- Fifth-most rebounds (859)
- Seventh-most points scored (1,723)
Another great big man for the Zags, Ronny Turiaf claims the number four spot. Turiaf sits in third place all-time for blocked shots with the Bulldogs, with 179, fifth place for rebounds, with 859, and seventh in scoring, with 1,723 points scored. He also holds the school records for both free throws made (643) and attempted (899). The year prior to Morrison winning the WCC Player of the Year Award, in 2006, Turiaf did so in 2005 after his stellar senior year. As for tournament success, however, Ronny never made it past the second round in any of his four tournament appearances with Gonzaga.
5. John Stockton
- Most steals in program history (262)
- Fifth-most assist in program history (554)
- Sixth-highest field goal percentage (55.9%)
One of the greatest point guards in NBA history, John Stockton also stood out during his time with Gonzaga. While he was never much of a scorer, Stockton was a terrific defender and distributor. He is still the program’s all-time leader in steals, with 262, and currently sits fifth on the all-time assist list with 554. Furthermore, when Stockton did shoot, he was efficient, as he shot 55.9% for his career, good enough for the sixth-best in school history. As was the case with many of his fellow top 10 members, Stockton is a former WCC Player of the Year Award winner, taking home the trophy following his senior season in 1984. Like Frank Burgess, Stockton had his number retired by the Gonzaga program, but as was also the case with Burgess, Stockton never made the NCAA tournament with the Bulldogs.
6. Kevin Pangos
- Most three-pointers made (322)
- Fifth-most points scored (1,824)
- Third-most steals (177)
The greatest three-point shooter ever to play for the Zags, Kevin Pangos kicks off the second half of this list. Pangos holds the Bulldogs’ record for both three-pointers made, with 322, and three-pointers attempted, with 776. That comes out to a three-point field goal percentage of 41.5%, the third-highest in program history. Pangos also racked up other numbers, finishing fifth in points scored (1,824), third in steals (177), and sixth in assists (536). Pangos is one of the greatest players in WCC history, making the first team all-conference in all four seasons he played and winning the player of the year award after his senior year in 2015. That season, after losing in the second round his first three years, he led the Zags to the Elite Eight for just the second time in school history.
7. Jim McPhee
- Second-most points scored (2,015)
- Second-most field goals made (774)
- Fourth-most minutes played (3,908)
The second member of the 2,000-point club at Gonzaga, along with Frank Burgess, Jim McPhee barely passed that mark with 2,015 points scored. Those 2,015 points and his 774 field goals made both rank second in Gonzaga history behind Burgess. McPhee also was always on the court during his time with the Zags from 1986-1990, playing the fourth-most minutes with 3,908. He was efficient with his shooting as well, recording the eighth-best field goal percentage (53.9%) and the second-best free throw percentage (85.4%) out of all Gonzaga players. As was the case with all of the early Gonzaga legends, however, he never got to play in the NCAA Tournament.
8. Jerry Vermillion
- Most rebounds in school history (1,538)
- Fifth-most free throws made (442)
- Eighth-highest points per game average (17.5)
The oldest player on this list, Jerry Vermillion is without question the greatest rebounder ever at Gonzaga. Despite only playing three seasons from 1952-1955 due to eligibility rules, Vermillion holds the Gonzaga school record for rebounds, with 1,538 boards, almost 600 more than the player with the second-most. His average of 18.8 rebounds per game is also a school record, and his 17.5 points per game sits eighth on the all-time list. Additionally, he made the fifth-most free throws with 442. Since Gonzaga did not make their first tournament appearance until 1995, Vermillion never got to participate in the Big Dance, unfortunately.
9. Matt Santangelo
- Second-most assists (668)
- Fifth-most three-pointers made (252)
- Sixth-most points scored (1,810)
Another one of the great point guards at Gonzaga, Matt Santangelo is the penultimate player on this list. A terrific passer and scorer, Santangelo finished his career in 2000 with 668 assists, which was a school record at the time, until it was broken in 2019. He also scored the sixth-most points, with 1,810, and made the fifth-most three-pointers, with 252. As for his accolades, Santangelo was a co-Freshman of the Year Award Winner in the WCC in 1997, and went on to be a three-time first-team all-WCC member. In the NCAA Tournament, Santangelo led the Bulldogs to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history in 1999, and he helped the Bulldogs get to the Sweet 16 the following year.
10. Josh Perkins
- Most assists in school history (722)
- Most games played (153)
- Second-most steals (178)
The most recent member of this list, and the only one to appear in a National Championship Game, Josh Perkins rounds out the top 10. Perkins holds the school record for assists (722), games played (153), and minutes played (4,689). He also recorded the second-most steals with 178 and the sixth-most three-pointers made with 251. In the WCC, Perkins was a two-time first-team all-conference member. Lastly, Perkins led Gonzaga to their first Final Four and National ChampionshipGame in 2017, as well as two Elite Eight appearances, in 2015 and 2019, during his five seasons with the Zags.
While the players listed below did not quite make the top 10, they still deserve some recognition as honorable mentions. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name:
- Casey Calvary
- Dan Dickau
- Blake Stepp
- Matt Bouldin
- Kelly Olynyk
- Domantas Sabonis
- Rui Hachimura
- Corey Kispert
- Drew Timme
- Jeff Brown
Who is the best Gonzaga men’s basketball player of all time?
Frank Burgess is the best Gonzaga player of all time, though there have been many incredible players for Gonzaga over the years. Burgess, despite finishing his career in 1961, is still the school’s all-time leading scorer, with 2,196 points. Only one other man has reached the 2,000-point mark with the Zags (Jim McPhee). Burgess also has the most field goals in school history, with 800, and the second-most free throws made, with 596.