The Power-Six All-Conference Basketball Teams (2010-2020)
First 3 conferences are written by Jared Rosenthal
Final 3 conferences are written by Jonathan Lidskin
Zion Williamson (courtesy of Raleigh News & Observer)
College basketball is debatably the most entertaining sport to watch in the world. Having raw talent come together--in a student dominated atmosphere--can yield some of the fiercest battles in the history of athletics. The best aspect about college basketball is that every athlete has something to prove.
Some kids are playing to carry on a family legacy and some are striving to represent their hometown in a positive light. Certain athletes are purely determined to showcase the mightiness and strength of their college while others are trying to increase their draft stock for the NBA. There are a countless number of motives for players competing, whether it be a starter or a bench player, but the overall goal is that the players develop a chemistry, which, in theory, should enable their team to be successful during the regular season, thus granting their team the chance to make a single elimination playoff (March Madness tournament) where the victor from the 68 team bracket must have won six straight games to claim the title. This is MADNESS to say the least and it’s extremely unpredictable and hyper-emotional for both players and fans.
(Courtesy of www.wsj.com)
Within the last decade, many players have been able to make a significant mark on the game of college basketball and have strengthened its brand. Here are our all-conference teams, consisting of players between 2010-2020, from the power-six conferences of college basketball.
Coach: Bo Ryan
The term “Bo Knows” is associated with Bo Jackson, but that idea of invincibility and being able to produce at high levels should also be affiliated with Bo Ryan. Four time Big Ten Coach of the Year (‘02, ‘03, ‘13, ‘15), Adolph Rupp Cup (‘07) and Jim Phelan Award (‘08) recipient, coached four seasons where his Badgers were ranked in the top ten, and went to back-to-back Final Fours (‘14,‘15) including a championship game (‘15). He was able to turn typical midwestern boys into unstoppable basketball machines. I think there is something to be said for only having coached four consensus all-americans and being able to guide Wisconsin towards a level of prosperity which nearly established the program as a blue blood.
Bo Ryan (courtesy of Breakthrough Basketball)
When you think about the history of Wisconsin Badgers Men’s Basketball, “Frank the Tank” has to be one of the first names that comes to mind. Kaminsky won a variety of awards: Consensus National College Player of the Year (‘15), Consensus first-team All-American (‘15), Big Ten Player of the Year (‘15), two time First-team All-Big Ten (‘14, ‘15), Big Ten Tournament MVP (‘15), and the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (‘15). In terms of growth and player development, his strides from year-to-year are unmatchable by any player that has come through college basketball. Frank went from being some goggle-wearing awkward player to a game changing big man that could shoot the three and beat defenders in the paint with his lethal post-moves.
Frank Kaminsky (courtesy of Sports Illustrated)
Burke goes down in the history of college basketball as one of the most clutch players to ever play the game. His regular season and tournament presence was a ginormous threat for each opponent, as demonstrated by his ability to win all four major player of the year awards in the 2013 season. Though Louisville might have beat Michigan in the championship game in 2013, Burke’s refusal to quit in high-pressure moments is what makes him a legendary college player.
Trey Burke (courtesy of Pinterest)
Up until Draymond Green in 2012, nobody within these six conferences, besides Tim Duncan in 1997, had been able to average 15 points, 10 rebounds, and three assists. We are talking about a first team All-American, Big Ten Conference Sixth Man of the Year when he was a sophomore, Big Ten Player of the Year (‘12), and spirit-filled athlete that made the Breslin Center ELECTRIC.
Tom Izzo (left) and Draymond Green (right) (courtesy of MLive.com)
This was one of the most intimidating players to compete against. He strode through the Big Ten with a swagger and confidence that very few players possess--always seeming so poised. Turner was a National college player of the year (‘10), Consensus first-team All-American (‘10), Big Ten Player of the Year (‘10), two time First-team All-Big Ten (‘09, ‘10), and Big Ten Tournament MVP (‘10). Though he was unable to capture a title or even get to a Final Four, he established a winning culture at THE Ohio State University and provided the nation with tremendous entertainment.
Evan Turner (courtesy of Ohio State Buckeyes)
In simple words, Garza is a force to be reckoned with. Garza came to Iowa City in 2018 when the team finished with only 14 wins, but over the last two years his playmaking ability and basketball IQ has grown, enabling his team to win at least 20 games in each of the past two seasons. Garza has made history at Iowa, becoming the first ever player to earn national player of the year distinction by six individual news outlets (Sporting News, Basketball Times, Stadium, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, and ESPN). Also, Garza was the Big Ten Player of the Year this past season and became the first Big Ten player in over 17 years to have seven 25-point/10-rebound outings in a single season.
Luka Garza (courtesy of Yahoo! Sports)
Coach: Dana Altman
When you talk about coaches that are adaptable and can elevate their players to tiers never conceived before, Dana Altman is that man who makes those incredible possibilities turn into realities. During Altman’s time in Eugene, he has won two regular season Pac-12 Conference championships (‘16, ‘17) and three Pac-12 tournament championships (‘13, ‘16, ‘19). Also, he took Oregon to a Final Four (‘17) for the first time in 78 years! The culture shock that manifested itself when Altman arrived is still existent today, enabling players their envisionable successes and beyond “deep in the woods”.
Dana Altman (courtesy of Oregon Live)
Straight out of West Linn, Oregon, Pritchard was the engine for Duck Basketball over the years and had proven time and time again that he was a leader in all departments. During Pritchard’s time in the pacifc northwest, he set the Pac-12 record as being the sole player to score 1,900 career points, grab 500 career rebounds and dish out 600 career assists. This Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year (‘20), Pac-12 Player of the Year (‘20), and Naismith Trophy Finalist (‘20) had the heart of a lion, playing in 144 consecutive games and starting in 140 consecutive ones.
Payton Pritchard (courtesy of Oregon Live)
Another Duck, a first team all-american, that contributed to the winning environment that has been established in Eugene is Dillon Brooks. On top of being the first Duck to reach the feat of scoring 1000 career points as a sophomore, he earned Pac-12 Player of the Year (‘17) and was determined the District IX player of the year by the USBWA (‘17). Brooks was one the most impactful small forwards in college basketball, commanding Oregon on their 2017 Final Four run, averaging about 17 points, five rebounds, and three assists.
Dillon Brooks (courtesy of 247Sports)
Lonzo Ball playing ball in Westwood was awesome on so many different levels, but most importantly he made a previously 15 win Bruin team become a 31 win nightmare for the entire Pac-12 conference. He gave UCLA basketball a spark. In Ball’s one season, he earned the accolade of being a consensus first-team All-American (‘17); his fearlessness when it came to pulling up from deep, facilitation skills, and advanced court vision helped him to improve everyone around him and take UCLA to the Sweet 16.
Lonzo Ball (courtesy of TSN)
This man is an athletic freak of nature--coming out of college he had a 39 inch vertical leap and 32.5 inch standing vertical...that is jaw-dropping considering his large configuration being on par with the Hulk. Gordon was one of the 30 finalists in the running for the Naismith College Player of the Year (‘14), a part of the All-Pac-12 first team (‘14), as well as being named the Pac-12 Freshman Player of the Year (‘14). This was the man that the Wildcats relied on to bring them glory, and his ability to maintain the legitimacy of the Arizona basketball program was a success.
Aaron Gordon (courtesy of Twitter)
The Utah Utes became one of the most respectable teams in the nation with the help of Poeltl. In 2016, Jakob won the Pac-12 Player of the Year award and was a member of the All-Pac-12 First Team (‘16). After, he won the Pete Newell Big Man Award (‘16) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (‘16). Previously as a rookie In 2015, he was the leader of the Pac-12 in shooting percentage and was ranked fourth nationally at 68.1 percent on 188 shots from field goal range. The man was a beast.
Jakob Poeltl (courtesy of CBS Sports)
Coach: Jay Wright
This is someone that has extracted the same winning formula that Rollie Massmino generated during his coaching career at Villanova, and has been able to win a pair of championships with that continued persistence (‘16, ‘18). Wright has been a part of seven 28+ win seasons with the Wildcats, and has transformed a number of players into competitors in the NBA including Kyle Lowry, Donte DiVincenzo, Jalen Brunson, and Josh Hart. Wright gets paid about four million dollars per year which further proves his stature in the A-list of college coaches (John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, etc).
Jay Wright (courtesy of ThePostGame.com)
This is the man that has haunted every Butler Bulldog fan since the 2011 championship game when their Cinderella story was almost completed. Kemba played three years at UCONN and in his third year he became the second leading scorer in the nation, determined as a consensus First Team All-American, and won the Most Outstanding Player Award (‘11). Additionally, in the 2011 season, Walker was named to the All Big-East First Team, awarded the the Big-East Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and was regarded as the nation’s top point guard through his Bob Cousy Award. Walker’s impact on the program had a lasting impact as the Huskies went on to win the title three years later, commanded by Shabazz Napier who had been a freshman on the 2011 team.
Kemba Walker (courtesy of NBC Sports)
(played in the MVC and Big East so we’ll count him as a Big-East guy)
McBUCKETS! Doug McDermot, a John R. Wooden Award and Adolph F. Rupp Award winner (‘14), seized his senior year as he ranked number one in scoring with 26.7 points per game, finishing his career at Creighton at number five on the all-time NCAA Division I scoring list--he surpassed Larry Bird. McDermott became the first player in NCAA history to score double digits in 135 games and most deservingly was named the 2014 National Player of the Year. He was the MVC Player of the Year (‘12, ’13) and Big East Player of the Year (‘14), making him one of three players in NCAA history to earn the accolade in multiple conferences.
Doug McDermott (courtesy of Bleacher Report)
Otto Porter Jr.
OPJ made Georegtwon a special place to be at while he was in our nation’s capital. From Otto’s transition from freshman to sophomore year, his newfound tenacity and scoring power made him a definitive star in college basketball. With his leadership as a sophomore, the Hoyas were a steady top ten team and this impressive play at Georgetown was reflected by his reception of the Big East Player of the Year Award and his appearance as a finalist in the running for the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award.
Otto Porter Jr. (courtesy of RantSports)
It’s pretty tough to get the recognition you deserve if you are a college athlete playing in Providence, Rhode Island, but Dunn stood out among the nation’s best and proved to everyone why he was a legitimate reason for people to keep their eyeballs on him. Kris was a two time Big East Player of the Year (‘15, ‘16), made the First-team All-Big East twice (‘15, ‘16), and was a two time Big East Defensive Player of the Year (‘15, ‘16). As a junior, he was putting up about 27 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals and 5 assists each game and was able to hit the 2000 point milestone as a senior. Kris Dunn was the full package, truly a college coach’s dream.
Kris Dunn (courtesy of ESPN.com)
(was on Syracuse when part of the Big East for his first two years)
Rakeem Chritmas was the perfect player in Jim Boeheim’s system: attentive, hard working, and efficient. Though Christmas was recognized as the ACC's Most Improved Player in his senior year (‘15), that improvement award was the culmination of everything he had worked for since the first day of his career in the Big East as a freshman. He went from being a two points, three boards kind of guy to a voracious 18 points, nine boards, three blocks guy. What made Rakeem so special was that he embodied Syracuse Basketball in a similar manner in which Perry Ellis did with Kansas; both were integral parts of their programs and became the source of guidance and veteranship that teammates relied upon.
Rakeem Christmas (courtesy of Sporting News)
Note: These teams include players from the 2009-2010 season to the 2019-2020 season.
Point Guard: Frank Mason lll, Kansas
There might not be a player in the history of Kansas basketball that developed better than Frank Mason did. Mason was a 4 year player at Kansas and went from playing 16 minutes a game and averaging 5.5 points per game his freshman year, to playing 36 minutes and averaging 20.9 points per game his senior year. Mason also averaged 4.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists during his senior year. Mason won the Wooden Award in addition to winning Big 12 player of the year and being a first team All-American during the 2016-17 season. Mason’s shot at a national championship ended in the Elite 8 in a loss to Oregon, but despite never reaching a Final Four, Mason was still undoubtedly the best point guard of the decade in the Big 12.
Shooting Guard: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Buddy Hield was one of the elite scorers of the decade in college basketball. He had so many iconic performances including a game at Kansas in which he scored 46 points. Those 46 points were part of a season where Hield averaged 25 points a game en route to winning the Wooden Award. Hield also won Big 12 player of the year twice. During Hield’s final season at Oklahoma, he led the Sooners to a Final Four. Hield managed to help Oklahoma knock off a good Texas A&M team and a top-seeded Oregon team led by Dillon Brooks. He also shot an absurd 45.7% from three during his senior season. Hield will be remembered as one of the great shooters and scorers in Big 12 history.
Small Forward: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech
Jarrett Culver only played two seasons at Texas Tech, but during his sophomore season, Culver won Player of the year in the Big 12 and was a consensus second team All-American. What’s most notable about Culver’s career at Texas Tech is he led the program to their only two Elite 8 appearances, only Final Four appearance and only National Championship game appearance. Culver did all of this while improving his draft stock and drastically improving his numbers from his freshman year to sophomore year. Culver’s points per game increased by 7.3 from his freshman to his sophomore year. His assists went up by 1.9 per game and his rebounds went up by 1.6 per game. His improvement allowed him to be the 6th pick in the NBA draft in 2019 and also allowed him to rack up the personal and team accolades while at Texas Tech.
Power Forward: Georges Niang, Iowa State
This is possibly the most controversial position of the list. Marcus Morris of Kansas also had an extremely productive two seasons in this decade, but Niang barely edged him out. During the 2015-16 season, Niang won the Karl Malone award for best power forward in the country and also was a unanimous All-Big 12 first team selection. During his senior season, Niang averaged 20.5 PPG and 6.2 RPG. The only reason he didn’t win Big 12 Player of the Year is because of the tremendous year Buddy Hield had. Niang was a part of two of Iowa State’s 5 Sweet 16 appearances including an appearance during his senior season where the Cyclones were beat by the number 1 seed in their region, Virginia. While Niang’s college career might be overshadowed because of other players in his conference, the accomplishments are without a doubt still there.
Center: Udoka Azubuike, Kansas
This one was actually relatively easy compared to the other positions. Azubuike had a breakout sophomore season, was injured for most of his junior season, and was one of the best post players in the country during his senior season. He was the only center to win Big 12 player of the year in the decade. During his sophomore season, Azubuike averaged approximately 13 points and 7 rebounds while helping Kansas reach the Final Four. In his senior season, he averaged 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks and was a big factor in Kansas being the number 1 team in the country going into Champ Week (the week where all the major conference tournaments are played). Kansas would’ve likely had a good shot at the National Championship if COVID-19 did not cancel the remainder of the season. Despite not being able to get that National Championship, Azubuike was still a force to be reckoned with every time he was on the court.
Coach: Bill Self, Kansas
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Kansas won at least a share of the regular season Big 12 championship every single season of the decade except for 2019. Despite the ongoing Adidas scandal, Kansas has still produced many good NBA players like Joel Embiid, Marcus Morris, Andrew Wiggins and Devonte’ Graham. Self’s dominance over the decade is backed by his development and even though he didn’t have a National Championship this decade, he still ran over everyone in the Big 12.
Point Guard: John Wall, Kentucky
John Wall played a short one season in the decade and at Kentucky, but that one season was extremely impactful. As some of you might recall, Wall was part of a Kentucky draft class that produced 5 first round picks in the 2010 NBA draft. That is still a record today. Wall was the number 1 pick in the draft after averaging 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game during his freshman season. Wall was also the runner-up for the Wooden Award during the 2009-10 season, finishing behind Ohio State guard Evan Turner. Many people expected Kentucky to win the National Championship in 2010, but their run was cut short in the Elite 8 when the Wildcats shot 4-32 from 3 (yes you read that correctly) in a loss to West Virginia. Had Kentucky not shot so poorly, Wall and Kentucky would have possibly finished one of the most dominating seasons in college basketball ever as the Wildcats only had 2 losses prior to that game.
Shooting Guard: Malik Monk, Kentucky
I’m not going to lie, guys. Kentucky has run the SEC for the past decade. They recruit far better than anyone in the conference and despite many of their players being done, they consistently develop those players a lot in the one year they have them. Malik Monk is one of those players that came in and was an absolute stud for one year at Kentucky. Monk played in a backcourt alongside De’Aaron Fox and with those two paired together, Kentucky did a ton of damage. Monk won SEC player of the year in his one year at Kentucky. That year, Monk averaged 19.8 points per game and had many iconic games that college basketball fans will remember for a while. Monk started off the season on the right note by leading Kentucky to a victory over Michigan State in the Champions Classic with 23 points. Many fans will remember Kentucky’s win over UNC in which Monk put up 47 points and hit 8 threes. And of course, let’s not forget the two huge shots Monk hit against UNC in the Elite 8 to cut UNC’s lead to one and tie the game. Monk’s college career ended on a clutch shot by Luke Maye in that Elite 8 game, but he was without a doubt, a phenomenal player in his one year at Kentucky
Small Forward: Chandler Parsons, Florida
Chandler Parsons might be one of the more forgotten college basketball players in this past decade. Parsons won SEC Player of the Year under Billy Donovan at Florida in a year where Florida got the Elite 8. Parsons most memorable moment at Florida might be the two buzzer beaters he hit in the 2009-10 season. The thing about Parsons is his numbers weren’t eye opening. He averaged 12.4 points per game his junior season and 11.3 during his senior season. However, he rebounded extremely well for a small forward and he was a leader on that Florida team. His leadership is a huge reason Florida was able to make a run to the Elite 8 during that NCAA Tournament and an even bigger part of why he won SEC player of the year. Florida fans will remember him for his clutch shots and his alpha dog mentality.
Power Forward: Grant Williams, Tennessee
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise for most people. The accolades are ridiculous when it comes to Williams as an individual player. While his team was upset back-to-back years in the NCAA Tournament, Williams managed to shine in so many big spots during his sophomore and junior seasons. His sophomore season he averaged 15.2 points and 6 rebounds per game and his junior season he averaged 18.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. His athleticism and quickness were off the charts for a guy that weighed 236 pounds. Williams consistently put up big numbers for being undersized as he played power forward at 6’6 for Tennessee. During his time there, Williams won 2 SEC Player of the year awards and was a consensus first team All-American in the 2018-19 season. It would’ve been nice to see Williams reach a Final Four, but his numbers and awards speak for themselves. Williams dominated in his years at Tennessee.
Center: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Where do I even begin? When Anthony Davis was a junior in high school, he had one offer. Fast forward to a year later and Davis was the number one high school player in the country and committed to Kentucky. Davis proceeded to post one of the most absurd seasons in college basketball history. In his one season at Kentucky, he averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 BLOCKS per game. Davis was one of the greatest rim protectors college basketball has ever seen. Even with his numbers being that eye popping, Davis accomplished just as much with his team as he did as an individual player. We’ll start with the individual awards. In one season, Davis won SEC player of the year, SEC freshman of the year, SEC defensive player of the year, USBWA freshman of the year, NABC defensive player of the year (the naismith DPOTY didn’t exist yet), most outstanding player of the Final four and the Wooden Award. His team accomplishments include an SEC regular season title and a National Championship. Kentucky finished the 2011-12 season with a 38-2 record. Davis was the 1st pick in the 2012 NBA draft. Davis might’ve been the best player of the decade in college basketball and he helped John Calipari win his only National Championship as a college coach. Enough said.
Coach: John Calipari, Kentucky
This isn’t really a debate. Calipari won a national championship, reached 4 final fours, won the SEC regular season 6 times and won the SEC Tournament 6 times. His NBA production is astounding as he has developed guys like Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and John Wall to be very good pros. While guys like Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes have had some success, neither one of them has had even close to the same success as John Calipari over the last decade.
Point Guard: Tre Jones, Duke
There were many point guards that could’ve been chosen for ACC point guard of the decade. With that being said, Tre Jones is the most qualified while only playing two years at Duke. After being the 4th best player on a loaded Duke team during his freshman year, Jones decided to come back to school and in the process became one of the best players in the country. Jones finished his college career by winning ACC player of the year and ACC defensive player of the year. His leadership guided Duke to huge wins this year against multiple top 10 teams and while there was some speculation that Jones would come back for his junior season, he did not. However, Duke fans will always appreciate the time and effort Jones gave to the program.
Shooting Guard: Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Virginia’s more recent success might overshadow what Malcolm Brogdon did for the program in his 4 years there. Brogdon brought the program back to relevancy and if it weren’t for 3 upsets in the NCAA Tournament, Brogdon would probably be one of the best college basketball players of the decade. Brogdon capped off his college career by winning ACC player of the year in the 2015-16 season. He averaged 18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in that season while guiding Virginia to a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Virginia was a huge Syracuse comeback away from reaching the Final Four, and even though Brogdon’s career ended abruptly, he paved the way for the next decade of Virginia basketball.
Small Forward: Justin Jackson, North Carolina
North Carolina has had a bunch of really good players in the last decade. Some are very memorable, and then there’s arguably the most forgotten UNC player in the last decade: Justin Jackson. UNC fans will remember him for being a crucial piece to a championship run in 2017. I remember Justin Jackson as a guy who hit acrobatic shots, was a sneaky good scorer and had timely breakaway steals en route to ACC player of the year. Jackson averaged 18.3 points per game as junior in a year where North Carolina won the ACC regular season title and the National Championship, and had the game sealing dunk in the title game against Gonzaga
Power Forward: Zion Williamson, Duke
Does this one even need an explanation? Zion Williamson was the most hyped up player in college basketball history. He lived up to the hype by throwing down ridiculous dunks, playing tremendous defense, and physically overpowering opponents. Williamson won the Wooden award in his one season at Duke in 2019. Duke’s national championship run was unfortunately cut short in an Elite 8 loss to a red hot Michigan State team, but Williamson did help Duke have a ton of success in the 2018-19 season. Williamson came back from injury for the ACC Tournament to help Duke take down North Carolina (who they had lost two twice without him) by 1 point, and followed that up the next night by leading Duke to victory over Florida State to capture the ACC title and the number 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Keeping it simple, Williamson was the greatest college basketball player ever.
Center: Jahlil Okafor, Duke
Jahlil Okafor was a dominant force during the 2014-15 season in college basketball. He led the Blue Devils to a National Championship in a year where they went 35-4, started the season 14-0, and were the number 1 seed in the South region for the NCAA Tournament. Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds a game en route to winning ACC player of the year. His stint at Duke was short, but he undoubtedly had a huge impact on the program.
Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke
Tony Bennett had a great decade at Virginia and nothing should be taken away from what he turned Virginia into. However, since the start of the 2009-10 season, Mike Krzyzewski is 11-4 against Tony Bennett. In the past decade, Krzyzewski has won 2 national championships, 4 ACC Tournament championships and became the all-time wins leaders among coaches in college basketball. The success in recruiting, coaching and mentoring might never be matched again by a college basketball coach. Krzyzewski continues to win despite the game changing. Duke will continue to be a force for a very long time because of the reputation he has built for the program.
Though you may be able to argue that certain players should have made it over others, there is no debate as to whether you believe these players and coaches are spectacular. Each conference has its good years and bad years, but you can always count on a handful of teams from each of the power-six conferences to be elite based on sheer talent. Unfortunately, because March Madness did not happen this year due to the pandemic, many players were snubbed of adding to their accolade list which definitely might have altered our perceptions towards specific players and coaches had the tournament games been played. As far as I am concerned, the grit and fire power that we have witnessed from each name on the list has provided us with awesome memories, so take a moment to cherish those flashbacks ranging from the John Wall days at Kentucky to the Kemba Walker days at UCONN, stay optimistic, and get prepared for the next exhilarating decade of college hoops.