Top 10 UConn men’s basketball players of all time

Jim Calhoun’s All-Star Game in 2014. File Photo/The Daily Campus

By: Stratton Stave, Evan Rodriguez

Over the last few decades, the UConn Huskies have established themselves as one of the premier programs in college basketball, with no other school collecting more national championships since 1999. In these years and those before, Jim Calhoun recruited an elite set of players that allowed the team to reach such heights. Although there are many deserving players, sports columnists Evan Rodriguez and Stratton Stave narrowed it down to just 10 in what can be described as the Calhoun-Championship Era.  

1. Rip Hamilton 

Stratton- Rip Hamilton is in the number one spot simply because of his pure dominance while at UConn. The guard averaged 21.5 ppg in each of his final two seasons as a husky and racked up the accolades while winning games. Aside from being the best player on UConn’s first ever national championship team in 1999, Hamilton was the Most Outstanding Player in the tournament and won Big East Player of the Year twice. Don’t be surprised to see his number 32 follow Ray Allen’s footsteps and be retired in the near future. 

2. Kemba Walker 

Evan- Cardiac Kemba is one of the most decorated Huskies of all time during his time at UConn. During his UConn career, the guard earned not only a NCAA Championship on one of the best UConn teams of all time, but also earned multiple Big East honors on top of that. Even in his last year with the team, the NBA guard averaged 23.5 points and solidified his spot in Huskies history with impressive statistics across the board. Oh, and how could we forget Walker’s game winning shot against Pitt’ in 2010, one of the greatest shots in college basketball history.  

3. Emeka Okafor 

Stratton- Plain and simple, Okafor was that guy on UConn’s second national championship team in 2004. During his three year career, the center averaged 13.8 points and 10.6 boards, which are purely dominant numbers. He was also one of the biggest defensive forces in Husky history, swatting over four shots per game. These stats placed Okafor on the All-Big East team in all three years and won him the Big East Player of the Year twice. Winning a title at UConn gives Okafor legend status and his elite statistics reaffirm his spot and placement on this list. 

4. Shabazz Napier 

Stratton- Some may not like having Napier this high, but one thing that cannot be disputed is the fact that he was a key player in not one but two national championship runs. As a freshman, the point guard was the sixth man of the young 2011 championship team led by Kemba Walker, averaging a very solid 7.8 points, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals. Even after the Huskies were banned from the NCAA tournament in 2013, Napier stuck around while many left, staying for the worthwhile prize of a 2014 national championship victory, averaging 18.6 points and 4.9 assists per game and winning Most Outstanding Player during that run. 

Kemba Walker at Jim Calhoun’s All-Star Game in 2014 File Photo/The Daily Campus

5. Ray Allen 

Evan- As one of the greatest shooters the basketball world has ever seen, Allen had a great college career and easily solidified his spot as a top five player. If you somehow don’t watch basketball and didn’t know about Allen, a three point percentage of 46.6% in his final year with the Huskies will certainly help that. His defense was very solid too as the guard averaged close to two steals in his last two seasons in Storrs. While Allen wasn’t able to secure a NCAA tournament as the cherry on top of his college career, his statistics still place him as one of the best to wear the UConn blue.  

6. Ben Gordon 

Evan- Gordon was a monster with the Huskies and most notably during the 2003-04 championship Huskies roster with Emeka Okafor and Co. The 6’3’’ guard was not only dependable with the Huskies, but also lights out from the three-point line. Gordon was also a multi-time All Big East selection and was never an easy stop during his time with the Huskies. It’s important to note that even with our #3 selection Okafor playing alongside Gordon, the guard always led UConn in scoring throughout his college career other than his freshman season, where honorable mention Caron Butler was the top scorer.  

7. Khalid El-Amin 

Stratton- El-Amin was not necessarily “the guy” during the 1999 title run during his sophomore year playing alongside No. 1 Rip Hamilton, but he was a key player. The undersized point guard was the team leader in assists and really facilitated the offense that allowed Hamilton to flourish. In his career, he averaged 15.3 points and 4.4 dimes, which are both very solid when mixed with his national championship. It’s also important to note El-Amin made the All-Big East team in all three of his seasons as a Husky, earning him a spot on the list. 

8. Donyell Marshall 

Evan – While Marshall does not have the heavy accolades other than a handful of Big East honors, that shouldn’t take away from what the forward did while at UConn. A 25.1 ppg final year in Storrs is no easy task, and Marshall even helped UConn compete as the second seed in a competitive NCAA tournament before a devastating loss to Florida. Marshall’s last season in Storrs did not end with a championship, but he definitely competed until the very end and embodied the true Husky spirit that is looked upon by its players to this day.  

Ray Allen at Jim Calhoun’s All-Star Game in 2014. File Photo/The Daily Campus

9. Cliff Robinson 

Stratton-Many people would argue that without Cliff Robinson, there is no UConn basketball as we know it today, with its many titles and All-Americans. Robinson was basically the last successful Husky without any major accolades, instead setting up the success for those who followed him. In his final season, Robinson averaged 20 points and 7.4 rebounds, which was good for one of his two All-Big East selections. The year after “Uncle Cliff” left, the Huskies had their “Dream Season” that saw them win the NIT, which was followed nine years later by the first national championship. Although there were a lack of official accomplishments, what Robinson did for the program is beyond any hardware. 

10. Hasheem Thabeet 

Evan-Thabeet was an absolute force on the defensive end, while averaging four blocks during his college career. What earns Thabeet the last spot in our selections is the big man’s final season, a set of games that saw Thabeet average 13.6 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.2 blocks per game. He also elevated UConn to its first Final Four appearance since the legendary 2004 UConn Huskies. It’s no wonder that the big man was heavily scouted for his time with the Huskies and selected second overall in the 2009 NBA draft ahead of players like James Harden and Stephen Curry.  

Also considered: Ryan Boatright, Tate George, Rudy Gay, Charlie Villanueva, Caron Butler, Chris Smith, Corny Thompson, Jeremy Lamb, Scott Burrell and Art Quimby. 

Note: the players featured in this list are part of the “Championship/Calhoun Era” 


  1. Not having Chris Smith on this list is shocking and embarrassing. This is the single most important recruit Uconn ever had. The moment he walked onto campus he was their best player and it stayed that way all four years he was there. He was a far better college player than Uncle Cliffy. Chris was the engine that elevated Uconn basketball to prominence. Just terrible not to recognize his contribution to the program, he could be top five, but is most definitely top ten!

  2. Marcus Williams is the best point guard UConn ever had. Ray Allen should also be higher on this list. Rudy Gay should be nowhere near this list. He was endlessly talented but was very weak for UConn and left after doing very little. He wasn’t even the first Husky drafted his year (Hilton Armstrong). That 2006 team was the best UConn has had in spite of Gay’s disappointing play. The 2011 and 2014 teams weren’t anywhere near as good, but Kemba and Shabazz were clutch and certainly deserve to be here.

    • No he’s not. Kemba is and Jimmy Foster follows, and the only reason Foster is not highly ranked is because he was Jr. College transfer. The man was spectacular. He dazzled us with his quickness and his leaping ability and clutch shooting. When UCONN went to MSG to play in the NIT he won over the crowd with his play, and probably secured his pro contract during that game. Unfortunately for UCONN, Dee Rowe, having a 20 pt. lead over Boston College at half time, came out the second half and tried to run the Dean Smith 4-corner offense (there were not shot clocks back then), and BC crept back into the game and won it at the buzzer.

  3. Sorry, guys. Thabeet shouldn’t be anywhere near the top ten all-time best for UCONN. I agree with Bill about Chris Smith… he got things started!

  4. If there was an all-time “starting five” for UConn, Marcus Williams is the point guard. Like the above poster said, he is the best ball distributor UConn has ever had and there are plenty of guys who can score. The Starting 5 is Williams, Allen/Hamilton, Donyell/Buter, Robinson and Okafor or something along those lines.

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