Top 10 Best Texas Basketball Players
Although the school is known more for its football program, the University of Texas has fostered many great basketball players. In fact, Texas is almost always a sure bet to make the NCAA Tournament every year but has never been able to win the title itself. Listed below are the best basketball players to ever play for the University of Texas.
Who Are the Best Texas College Basketball Players of All Time?
- Kevin Durant
- T.J. Ford
- Terrence Rencher
- Slater Martin
- Travis Mays
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Damion James
- LaSalle Thompson
- D.J. Augustin
- Chris Mihm
1. Kevin Durant
Kevin Durant is one of the great basketball players of all time and easily the best player to have played for the University of Texas. The Maryland native spent just one year as a Longhorn during the 2006-07 season but left his mark on the program. Durant was voted the best player in college basketball in a season, averaging 25.8 points per game and 11.1 rebounds per game. He also took his team into the second round of the NCAA Tournament before they were eliminated by the University of Southern California. The “Slim Reaper” had his jersey retired by the program after the season and was then drafted into the NBA, where he has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific scorers of all time.
2. T.J. Ford
- 2002 National Freshman of the Year
- 2003 Naismith and Wooden Award Winner
- Most Single-Season Assists in Texas History
Before Kevin Durant, T.J. Ford was Texas’s freshman phenom. Ford was a point guard with tremendous vision and precision, compiling 527 assists in just two years at Texas, the highest total in program history. After an incredible first year in which he became the first freshman to lead the nation in assists, Ford was made a consensus first-team All-American. He followed it up the next year by taking Texas to its first Final Four appearance since 1947. Ford went on to play in the NBA, leaving behind a remarkable collegiate legacy.
3. Terrence Rencher
- Most field goals made in program history (326)
- Most points scored in program history (2,306)
- Most steals in program history (255)
Terrence Rencher was a legendary two-way guard that improved each year he spent at Texas. Rencher averaged 19.1 points per game during his time at the school, which was the record in the now-extinct Southwestern Conference. The 6’3” guard also averaged 3.5 assists per game for a total of 440 assists, sixth-best in program history. Although he spent four years in Austin, Rencher was unable to lead his team any deeper than the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
4. Slater Martin
- Two time All-American
- Led Texas to its first Final Four in 1947
- Only Longhorns player to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
Slater Martin was the first legend to ever play for the Longhorns. Martin made the team’s roster for the 1943-44 season but soon enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served in the Pacific Theater. He returned to campus three inches taller and soon began to show the talent that would make him the leader of a stellar Texas team. Martin led the Longhorns to a Final Four appearance in 1947 and set a program record with 49 points two years later in a game against TCU. Martin had an even better career in the NBA, where he won five championships with the Minneapolis Lakers and St. Louis Hawks.
5. Travis Mays
- Second-Most Career Points in Longhorns History
- Second-Most Career Three-Pointers in Longhorns History
- Two-Time SWC Player of the Year
During his four years at Texas, Mays was a prolific scorer who made up a part of the “BMW Ultimate Scoring Machine” offense, along with Lance Blanks and Joey Wright. Mays had an unremarkable freshman year in which he averaged 8.6 points per game but made a huge jump as a sophomore, finishing his second year with 18.1 points per game. Mays led the Longhorns to an appearance in the Elite Eight to close out his senior year before being drafted in the first round by the Sacramento Kings. His 246 career three-pointers was the highest mark by any Longhorns player until it was broken 20 years later by A.J. Abrams.
6. LaMarcus Aldridge
- 2006 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year
- 2006 All-Big-12 First Team
- Second-Most Offensive Rebounds in Single Texas Season
Aldridge was a powerhouse forward in his time at Texas, dominating in the post and imposing enough to clean up missed shots off the glass. The 6’11” forward saw a major improvement from his freshman year to his sophomore year, going from 9.9 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game to 15.0 points per game and 9.2 rebounds per game. Aldridge led the Longhorns to an appearance in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Tournament, where his team fell to the 19th seed Louisiana State. LaMarcus Aldridge left Texas just before the arrival of Kevin Durant, leaving many to speculate what could have been had the two played together.
7. Damion James
- Fifth-Most Career Points in Longhorns History
- Most Career Rebounds in Longhorns History
- Seventh-Most Career Blocks in Longhorns History
Although he stood at just 6’7”, Damion James used his physical stature to make up for his lack of length while playing for Texas. Arguably as good a player in the low post as fellow Longhorn LaMarcus Aldridge was, James stayed at Texas for four years, averaging a double-double in both his sophomore and senior years. James was part of the same recruiting class as Kevin Durant, with whom he shared the court in their freshman seasons. While most of his skillset centered inside the paint, James was also a great three point shooter, finishing his sophomore year shooting 41% from beyond the arc. The closest James got to a National Championship with the Longhorns was in 2008 when Texas was defeated by Memphis in the Elite 8.
8. LaSalle Thompson
- Third-Most Rebounds in Longhorns History
- Most Double-Doubles in Longhorns History
- 1982 All-American
As one of the best centers to ever play for the Longhorns, LaSalle Thompson dominated the floor during his three years in Austin. Thompson was the quintessential 80s basketball big man: he could score, clean up the glass, and swat shots. Thompson was excellent doing all three of those things and is still in the record books for those categories 40 years later. Aside from his freshman year when he averaged 9.7 rebounds, Thompson averaged a double-double in points and rebounds each year he played at Texas, for career marks of 16.8 points per game and 11.8 rebounds per game.
9. D.J. Augustin
- 2008 First Team All Big-12
- 2008 First Team All-American
- Winner of the 2008 Bob Cousy Award
D.J. Augustin came into the Longhorns program the same year as Kevin Durant but was never overshadowed by him. The two played off each other well, as evidenced by Augustin’s nightly total of 6.7 assists per game that year. Augustin received second-team All Big-12 honors in his freshman year, but it was his decision to return for a second year that earned him his spot as one of the greatest all-time Longhorns. In his sophomore year, Augustin averaged 19.2 points per game, a five-point average increase from the previous year, leading his team to a rare Elite Eight appearance. He also racked up 452 assists during his two years at Texas, which is still the fifth-highest mark in the program.
10. Chris Mihm
- 2000 First Team All-American
- 1999 First Team All Big-12
- Most Blocks in Longhorns History
A local Austinian, Chris Mihm was a seven-foot center that made a massive impact on both ends of the floor. Not only does Mihm hold the second-highest career double-doubles mark (47), but he also set the record for most blocks in Texas history (264). Mihm was selected to the Big 12 All-Defensive Team twice, thanks to his intimidating presence in the paint. After an impressive freshman year in which he recorded 12.4 points per game and eight rebounds per game, Mihm followed that up with an even better sophomore year in which he tallied 13.7 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. He also led his team to the NCAA Tournament the next year, but they fell in the Round of 32.
- A.J. Abrams
- Ron Baxter
- Lance Blanks
- Kris Clack
- Raymond Downs
- Reggie Freeman
- Royal Ivey
- Jim Krivacs
- James Thomas
- Joey Wright
Who is the best Texas men’s basketball player of all time?
Although Texas has fostered many stellar players, the best is undoubtedly Kevin Durant. He holds multiple scoring records, led the Longhorns to an NCAA Tournament appearance, and had his number retired by the program after just one year. Durant was the best player in college basketball during his time at Texas, and he did it all as a freshman. Had he stayed for a year or more, it’s not unlikely that Texas would have secured its first national championship.