You might be too young to remember Larry Johnson at UNLV. Hell, you might be too young to remember Larry Johnson at Charlotte. But back in the day, Johnson was not only one of the best players in the nation for one of the best teams in NCAA history, he was also one of the most hated.
Considering what all of his former teammates now say about him, and all that he sacrificed as a veteran player in New York, the hatred he drew from fans while at UNLV is ironic. Still, it helped vault him into a special class as one of the most disliked college players ever.
College basketball is followed by millions of people. Whether it’s students shouting and cheering for their fellow peers or alums keeping tabs on their alma maters from afar, people are always tuned into NCAA games. With such a vast and passionate fan base there are going to be numerous players that aren’t liked by the fans and this article is a list of 20 of the most hated players throughout NCAA history.
If you’re a Duke fan, I suggest you prepare yourself.
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20. AUBREY COLEMAN
While many of the other players on this list didn’t do much more to garner the hatred of opposing fans than play basketball (or go to Duke), Aubrey Coleman decided to do more with his feet than run and jump. Four years ago, Coleman and his Houston Cougars faced the Arizona Wildcats. After Wildcat swingman Chase Budinger took a charge, Coleman was upset with the call and took it out on Budinger’s face by stomping down on it as he walked over Budinger.
19. MARCUS CAMBY
Marcus Camby was a program-changing player for the University of Massachusetts. His impact was felt immediately for UMass, blocking 105 shots on his way to winning A-10 Freshmen of the Year following the 1993-94 season. Then in 1996, he led the Minutemen to the Final Four. The NCAA later nullified that after it was discovered Camby accepted $28,000 from two sports agents while still at UMass. Camby may be the only player on his list that was more hated by his own school’s fans than those of the opposing teams.
18. JOAKIM NOAH
Joakim Noah was the definition of unique during his years as a Florida Gator. Noah combined athleticism, flair, size and long locks of hair into a persona that made him an easy target for haters. Winning back-to-back NCAA championships didn’t help either and Noah was very much the face of those teams.
17. DANNY AINGE
Danny Ainge brought BYU to the forefront of college basketball during his tenure there from 1977-81. Ainge was best known for his ability to frustrate other opponents. He was constantly hustling for loose balls, diving after anyone within his reach and was always in the face of opposing players. But it’s the penultimate play of his college career that drove most fans wild, a seemingly effortless full court layup to upset Notre Dame.
16. DERRICK COLEMAN
Derrick Coleman had all the talent in the world and during his time at Syracuse, his potential shined brighter than almost any other player in the nation. However, it was Coleman’s questionable attitude would be his ultimate downfall.
15. ERIC MONTROSS
Eric Montross is one of the best big men to grace the floor as a North Carolina Tar Heel. Don’t let his number fool you either; he was far from a zero. Yet, his willingness to bang down low with his lunch pail attitude, Montross was labeled as a bully by many fans outside of Chapel Hill.
14. DANNY FERRY
Danny Ferry was much more hated as an effect of circumstance than anything else. Unlike other Blue Devils on this list, Ferry wasn’t the most fiery or energetic player while on the court. But he did mix skill and determination together with relative ease and on top of that, it said DUKE across his chest. When you are the first player in ACC history to compile 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists there will definitely be a target on your back.
13. ADAM MORRISON
Adam Morrison dominated college basketball during the 2005-06 season. He scored 28.1 PPG and was named co-player of the year alongside another player on this list. Morrison wasn’t afraid to celebrate his accomplishments on the court even in a demonstrative way; anyone could easily tell just what was going through his head at any point of the game. Sadly enough, I’m sure more than a few fans enjoyed seeing Morrison break down and cry after his final NCAA game: a loss to UCLA in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
12. SHANE BATTIER
Shane Battier is the ultimate glue guy; always ready and willing to do whatever it takes even if it means sacrificing his body in order to get the result necessary for his team to win. Throughout his basketball career, I don’t think there was one time where Battier didn’t annoy fans of opposing teams. He is workmanlike in his approach to basketball, even if many do not appreciate his blue-collar approach.
11. GARY PAYTON
Gary Payton is the best basketball player to ever come out of Oregon State. If you’re wondering how a player as talented as Payton ended up being hated at a school like Oregon State, look no further than GP’s mouth. Payton was enormously skilled on both ends of the court and he wasted no time in telling everyone just how great he was. “The Glove” would begin his trash-talking the moment he stepped off the bus and wouldn’t stop until he got back on it following the game.
10. ALLEN IVERSON
Allen Iverson was a national figure before he even set foot on the court for the Georgetown Hoyas. Iverson was involved in a now infamous bowling alley brawl in his hometown of Hampton, VA. This led to the persistent assumption that AI was a troublemaker off the court. Also his propensity to shot more often than he passed — while he was inaccurately labeled as a point guard — led to people believing he was selfish on the court. Both of these raps followed Iverson for the duration of his career.
9. GREG PAULUS
Greg Paulus is another of several more Duke players to make it on this list. As my good friend says, “You got a lot of haters when you’re on top.” And Duke has been on top since the early ’90s. Paulus caught a lot of slack from opposing fans for how he displayed his emotions for all to see while on the court. He wasn’t afraid to let you know when he did something good nor was he afraid of getting in an opponents face.
8. PATRICK EWING
Patrick Ewing is the second Georgetown player on this list and as great as AI was in his two years, Ewing is the greatest player in Hoya history. Ewing led the Hoyas to three NCAA title appearances and helped G’Town claim the ultimate prize in 1984. However, many people outside of the Washington, D.C. area saw Ewing as nothing more than a cheap-shot artist who showed no shame in throwing elbows at his opponents.
7. REGGIE MILLER
Reggie Miller was a prolific scorer during his days as a UCLA Bruin and to this day he still holds a number of UCLA scoring records. Miller was also known for his very passionate competitiveness that showed itself time and time again during his time on the court. Outside of Indiana and maybe California, I’m not sure there’s a single state that would have an approval rating of Miller if polled.
6. TYLER HANSBROUGH
Tyler Hansbrough is one of the most decorated players in North Carolina history. He won ACC Player of the Year, National Player of the Year and a NCAA Championship during his four-year career at UNC. But it was his intensity that brought on the hate from fans, as well as the creative and catchy nickname “Psycho T.”
5. BOBBY HURLEY
Bobby Hurley was the most important point guard to ever attend Duke University. He was part of the back-to-back national champion teams in 91-92. Hurley was also named first-team All-American in 1993. However, Hurley had two big strikes against him: first he played for Duke and second he was a coaches’ son. His father the legendary high school coach Bob Hurley might’ve been harder on his son than some fans. But for some reason coaches’ sons aren’t beloved by most fans just ask Austin Rivers.
4. STEVE WOJCIECHOWSKI
Steve Wojciechowski was a smart, dedicated, intense guard that gave his all every time he set foot on the court. “Wojo” is one of the players credited for starting the fad of hitting the floor while squatting in a defensive stance. Maybe Wojo’s small frame and slight stature led to many fans believing that they could have done as good as he did and that led to more and more hate being thrown in his direction.
3. J.J. REDICK
J. J. Redick is one of the best shooters to ever set foot in the ACC, yet he is also one of the most hated players. Redick is the most recent Duke graduate to find himself on this list. It has been previously reported that after fans from Maryland and North Carolina found out his cell phone number, Redick would receive approximately 50 to 75 hate calls per day.
2. JALEN ROSE
Jalen Rose was one of the biggest personalities of Michigan’s famed Fab Five recruiting class and behind Chris Webber, the second-best player. Like Gary Payton before him, Rose knew that he was talented and made sure that everyone else knew exactly what he thought about his skills as well. As seen most recently on the ESPN 30 For 30 film, The Fab Five, Rose is still to this day an outspoken person — going as far as to call Grant Hill an Uncle Tom. Rose is not one to bite his tongue and probably never will be. His loose tongue and urban demeanor certainly did not endear him to many fans nationally while he was a Wolverine.
1. CHRISTIAN LAETTNER
If Rose is number two than it is only right that Christian Laettner takes the number one spot in this list. Laettner’s legacy as a Duke Blue Devil cannot be downplayed. He’s the only player to ever start in four Final Fours and he led Duke to two NCAA titles. However, for the rest of the world Laettner was never good enough compared to the national attention he received from the media. Fans didn’t even try to restrain their outward showcase of disgust while he was in Durham.
Who are the most hated college players ever?
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