Top 10 Best Kansas Basketball Players
The Kansas Jayhawks are known as one of the best collegiate basketball programs in the nation. They compete in the Big 12 Conference and have six overall National Championships in their history. Kansas is one of the oldest collegiate basketball programs in the country, as James Naismith, who is credited with inventing the game of basketball, was their first-ever coach. Throughout the years, Kansas has brought in some of the best players in the country and throughout the world.
Who Are the Best Kansas College Basketball Players of All Time?
- Wilt Chamberlain
- Danny Manning
- Paul Pierce
- Nick Collison
- Mario Chalmers
- Aaron Miles
- Clyde Lovellette
- Bill Bridges
- Raef LaFrentz
- Darnell Valentine
1. Wilt Chamberlain
- Led Kansas to the 1957 National Championship Game
- 1957 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- 26th in scoring in school history, only having played two seasons
- First in rebounds in a single season in school history
- Consensus All-American 1957, 1958
- Owns Kansas single-game scoring record (52)
- Owns Kansas single-game rebounds record (36)
Wilt Chamberlain is widely regarded as the best player ever to play at the University of Kansas and one of the best basketball players of all time. Out of high school, Chamberlain caught the eye of many coaches throughout the country. Reportedly over 200 schools tried recruiting Chamberlain to play basketball. In his sophomore year in 1957, Chamberlain led the Jayhawks to the National Championship, where they would eventually lose to North Carolina. For his efforts, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament.
During his junior season, opposing teams often guarded Chamberlain with three or four players for the entire game. Chamberlain still averaged over 30 points per game. He ended his career averaging 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds.
2. Danny Manning
- 1988 National Champion
- 1988 Unanimous National College Player of the Year
- 1987, 1988 consensus All-American
- Three-time Big Eight Conference Player of the Year
- Three-time Big Eight Conference First-Team
- Three-time Big Eight Conference All-Defense Team
- Leading scorer in Kansas Basketball history
- Leading rebounder in Kansas Basketball history
- 1988 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1987 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year
Danny Manning is by far the most accomplished player in Kansas program history. Manning is Kansas’ all-time leader in both scoring and rebounds. His 1988 season is one of the best seasons by a single player in NCAA history. Besides leading Kansas to a National Championship win, Manning also took home the honors of Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament, Big Eight Conference Player of the Year, consensus All-American, and National Player of the Year.
Manning was also named to the last all-collegiate Olympic team in 1988, which competed against professional athletes. The USA won the bronze medal in this tournament.
3. Paul Pierce
- 10th in scoring in program history
- 14th in rebounds in program history
- 1998 consensus First-Team All-American
- 1998 First-Team All-Big 12
- 1997 and 1998 Big 12 Player of the Tournament
Paul Pierce is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. During his freshman season, Pierce earned the Big Eight Player of the Year Award for his efforts. During his sophomore season, Pierce took off. He won Big 12 Tournament MVP and led Kansas to victory in the Big 12 Championship game, averaging 21.7 points.
During his junior season, Pierce dominated again, winning Big 12 Tournament MVP again, as well as being named a finalist for the Wooden and Naismith awards. He ended his Jayhawk careeras the fifth leading scorer in Kansas history. Following his junior season, Pierce would enter the 1998 NBA Draft.
4. Nick Collison
- 2nd in scoring in program history
- 3rd in rebounds in program history
- 2003 NABC National Player of the Year
- 2003 consensus First-Team All-American
- 2003 Big 12 Male Athlete of the Year
- Left school as the Big 12 leading scorer and rebounder
Nick Collison is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. Collison led Kansas to back to back Final Four appearances in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, Collison and the Jayhawks would fall to Syracuse in the National Championship. When Collison graduated in 2003, he was the all-time leader in Big 12 scoring and Big 12 rebounding, an unprecedented feat.
His number four would eventually be retired by Kansas. Collison entered the 2003 NBA Draft, where he was selected by the Oklahoma City Thunder, in the first round.
5. Mario Chalmers
- 30th in scoring in program history
- Most steals in a single season in program history
- 2nd in steals in program history
- 2008 National Champion
- 2008 Tournament Most Outstanding Player
- 2007 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year
- 2006 Big 12 Tournament MVP
Mario Chalmers is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. During his freshman season, Chalmers came off the bench and impressed quickly, being the second-leading scorer on the roster. He captured the Big 12 Tournament MVP, helping Kansas win the Big 12 Tournament Championship. During his sophomore season, Chalmers took home Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Honors. During his junior season, Chalmers led Kansas to the 2008 National Championship. With a few seconds on the clock, Chalmers hit a three-pointer to win the game against John Calipari, Derrick Rose, and Memphis. Chalmers was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament for his efforts. His number 15 was retired by the university.
6. Aaron Miles
- 40th in scoring in program history
- 1st in assist in program history
- 3rd in steals in program history
- Led Kansas to 2002 and 2003 Final Fours
- 1st in assists in Big 12 history
Aaron Miles is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. Miles played point guard and helped lead Kansas to back to back Final Four appearances in 2002 and 2003. Miles was a defensive-minded and pass-first point guard. He is the all-time leader in assists for both the Big 12 and Kansas and is second all-time in steals at Kansas. Miles went undrafted in the 2005 NBA Draft.
7. Clyde Lovellette
- 4th in program history in scoring
- 1952 NCAA Champion
- 1952 Final Four Most Outstanding Player
- 1952 Helms Foundations Player of the Year
- Two-time consensus First-Team All American
Clyde Lovellette is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. Lovellette led Kansas to victory in the 1952 National Championship game, winning Tournament MVP honors. In all three of his seasons at Kansas, Lovellette led the Big Seven in scoring. In his senior season, he scored over 28 points per game and was named the Helms Foundation Player of the Year. Lovellette is the only player in NCAA history to win a National Championship and lead the nation in scoring in the same season. His number 16 would be retired by the university.
8. Bill Bridges
- 57th in scoring in program history
- 4th in rebounds in program history
- Three-time All-Big Eight Team
- 1961 All-American Honorable Mention
- Number 32 retired
Bill Bridges is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. In 1957, Bridges walked on to the Kansas basketball team. Due to NCAA rules, Bridges could not compete in varsity competitions, but he could compete in practice. During these practices, Bridges went up against Wilt Chamberlain and made a name for himself enough to get a scholarship for the next three seasons. Bridges averaged 13 points and 14 rebounds in his three seasons at Kansas.
9. Raef LaFrentz
- 3rd in scoring in program history
- 2nd in rebounds in program history
- Two-time consensus All-American
- Two-time Big 12 Player of the Year
- Two-time First Team All-Big 12
- First Team All-Big Eight
Raef LaFrentz is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. During LaFrentz’s time with Kansas, the Jayhawks had a shocking 123-17 record. He averaged 15.8 points and 9.1 rebounds per game during his four seasons at Kansas. LaFrentz was named Big 12 Player of the Year in 1997 and 1998. He was drafted third overall in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets.
10. Darnell Valentine
- 7th in scoring in program history
- 6th in assists in program history
- First in steals in program history
- 1981 Second Team All-American
- Four-time First Team All-Big Eight
Darnell Valentine is one of the best players in Kansas Basketball history. Darnell Valentine was named All-American for his efforts in 1981 at guard. Valentine was also a three-time Academic All-American, graduating near the top of his class. He owns the Kansas record for steals in a single season. His number 14 was retired by the university. He was drafted 16th in the 1981 NBA Draft.
- Brandon Rush
- Eric Chenowith
- Greg Ostertag
- Jacque Vaughn
- Kirk Hinrich
- Marcus Morris
- Markieff Morris
- Sherron Collins
- Thomas Robinson
- Wayne Hightower
Who is the best Kansas men’s basketball player of all time?
Wilt Chamberlain is the best Kansas men’s basketball player of all time. In just two seasons at Kansas, WIlt Chamberlain left his mark by carrying the Jayhawks to the 1958 National Championship and winning the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award. He averaged 29.9 points and 18.3 rebounds in his two seasons at Kansas.