More than just a championship is on the line in this weekend’s Final Four. A lot of these players â€“ guys like Kemba Walker, Shelvin Mack, Joey Rodriguez and Brandon Knight â€“ have the chance to do something special. This has been the year of the underdog with not a single number-one or number-two seed still dancing. These four teams weren’t expected to be here, but that doesn’t mean the basketball won’t be great.
Great, but perhaps not great enough. With the games set to tip tomorrow, I went diggin’ in the crates to try to find the greatest players in Kentucky, VCU, UConn and Butler’s history.
So here are the all-time starting lineups for each of the four schools playing this weekend.
Ray Allen– An All-American at UConn who is considered by many to be the school’s best player ever. Of course, he has to own the school’s all-time single-season record for three-pointers (115 in 1995-96).
Richard Hamilton– The next in line after Jesus. Hamilton followed immediately afterwards and was the catalyst for perhaps the best UConn team ever (1999). His buzzer-beater during the 1998 tournament run against Washington is one of the greatest shots in school history.
Donyell Marshall– UConn’s first consensus First Team All-American, Marshall won all types of individual honors after a junior season that saw him average over 25 points a game. The only thing his UConn resume lacks is an NCAA title.
Emeka Okafor– Perhaps the greatest defensive center in the Huskies’ history. In their 2004 championship run, he was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Okafor led the entire nation in blocked shots that season.
Ben Gordon– Before Kemba Walker, there was this guy. His run of play during the Big East Tournament and the NCAAs in 2004, when UConn won it all, was without parallel and it took an extraordinary march this year from Walker for people to actually compare the two.
Dan Issel– Issel was an All-American two out of his three seasons. He was just a monster and is currently the greatest scorer in Kentucky history (2,138 career points). As a senior, Issel averaged a stupid 33.9 points a game.
Jamal Mashburn– Mashburn literally carried a few of the Kentucky teams he was on during the early 1990s. He twice led the team in both points and rebounds and set the stage for the mid-to-late ’90s teams that were some of the school’s best ever.
Jack Givens– During the 1978 NCAA championship game, Givens went beserk, scoring 41 points to beat Duke. In three different years, he led them in scoring on his way to finishing third all-time in points in school history.
Tony Delk– Perhaps the best shooter in school history, Delk was named all-conference three different times and was a part of the 1996 “Untouchables” squad. His 283 career three-pointers is first in school history.
Kenny Walker– You probably know him as “Skywalker,” the guy who starred on a lot of those old NBA Slam Dunk Contest VHS tapes. At Kentucky, he made the All-SEC team every year he was there and is near the top of the school’s record books in a bunch of categories such as points, rebounds and blocked shots.
Gordon Hayward– Hayward is probably the biggest name to ever come out of Butler. Last season’s tournament march was obviously the best ever for Butler, and Hayward’s individual run during those six games was equally as impressive.
Chad Tucker– Tucker made more field goals than any Bulldog ever (912). That’s probably the reason why he also has the most points of anyone in Butler history (2,321).
Thomas Jackson– With 540 career assists, Jackson is number one in school history. He also had 15 in a game once during the 2000 season against Detroit, which is also a school record. By the way, he also has the most career steals in school history (207).
Billy Shepherd– Shepherd holds both the school’s single-season scoring record (27.8 points a game) and the all-time average (24.1). He was consistent throughout, nearly setting class records in each of his four seasons.
Daryl Mason– The best rebounder in Butler school history. Mason pulled down a school-record 961 boards during his years, good for a 13.6 per-game average. Want to know how dominant he was? Three of the top-five single-game rebounding numbers are his.
Eric Maynor– Maynor is probably the most well-known VCU player of all-time because of his NBA career and the shot that beat Duke in the 2007 NCAA Tournament. His 1,953 points is first all-time in school history, and he is also top-10 in a bunch of other categories.
Charles Wilkins– During his time with VCU from 1968-71, Wilkins averaged a ridiculous 13.5 rebounds a game. He also ranks first in school history with a career scoring average of 23.8 a game.
Lorenza Watson– Pulled down 1,143 rebounds during the late 1970s, which is a school record and leads VCU’s all-time double-double list with 46.
Kendrick Warren– Another big rebounder, Warren had 43 career double-doubles in the early 1990s while being second all-time in scoring and first in made buckets.
Rolando Lamb– Lamb was the Rams’ career three-point percentage leader (47%) and has the most steals in school history (257) while finishing sixth in career minutes played. He also hit a buzzer-beater to upset Northeastern and their coach Jim Calhoun in the 1984 NCAA Tournament. Ironically, he is the father of UConn’s Jeremy Lamb.
Who’s all-time starting five is the best?
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