For this week’s Top Twelve, I am going to go right off the top of my head and try to come up with the most physically dominating college hoops players that I can remember. The criteria, as I am defining it, is bruising, big men, who dominated both ends of the floor by sheer physical size and strength.
I am trying to rule out guys that were just big, but didn’t use it quite to their advantage (Florida’s Dmitri Hill, Arkansas’s Dwight Stewart, or Temple’s Ron Rollerson). I am also ruling out guys who were intimidating on one end of the floor, but not quite as much on the other (UConn’s Emeka Okafur and Hasheem Thabeet, Memphis’s Lamont Dozier, or Ohio State’s Greg Oden). Also ruled out are the pure shot-blockers (BYU’s Shawn Bradley, Seton Hall’s Samuel Dalembert, Washington’s Spencer Hawes, or GW’s Yinka Dare). I also ruled out guys who were physically dominating, but as much on the perimeter are they were in the paint (Purdue’s Glenn Robinson, Indiana’s Alan Henderson, UNLV’s Larry Johnson, Wisconsin’s Alando Tucker, or Xavier’s David West). I ruled out guys who were ridiculously intimidating and dominant, but more because of freakish athletic ability than physicality (LSU’s Stromile Swift and Tyrus Thomas, or K-State’s Michael Beasley). Because it is hard to measure, I also ruled out guys who didn’t play top competition during their careers (Ohio’s Gary Trent (“The Shaq of the MAC” or Vermont’s Taylor Coppenrath). And, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t get “homer-ish” and overrate some local favorites (Temple’s Kevin Lyde, St. Joe’s Ahmad Nivens, or Villanova’s Chuck Kornegay). Finally, I did rule out some guys who were monsters, but did it as much or more with skill than they did with pure size (G’town’s Alonzo Mourning, Duke’s Elton Brand, Michigan’s Chris Webber, Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, Kansas’s Nick Collison, LaSalle’s Lionel Simmons, Maryland’s Joe Smith, or UConn’s Donyell Marshall).
Here is a quick list of other honorable mentions that were not mentioned above: Lou Roe (UMass), Sean May (UNC), Walter McCarty (Kentucky), Lonnie Baxter (Maryland), Lawrence Funderburke (Ohio St.), Al Thornton (Florida St.), Donya Abrams (Boston College), Stacey King (Oklahoma), Rodney Rogers (Wake Forest), Ace Custis (Virginia Tech), Andrew Bogut (Utah), Juwan Howard (Michigan), Carlos Boozer (Duke), Tyler Hansbrough (UNC), Trelonnie Owens (Georgia Tech), Torey Jackson (Notre Dame), and Darrell Arthur (Kansas).
So, now that you’re all sick of reading random names that came to my mind over the past couple of days, here is the Top Twelve Physically Dominating Big Men in my college basketball memory:
12. DeJuan Blair (Pittsburgh). Blair is the impetus to this list because of his ridiculous performance against Hakeem Thabeet the other night at UConn. Blair is only 6’7″, but uses his body in a very similar way to the great Charles Barkley.
11. Eric Montross (North Carolina). Awful flat-top aside, Montross was as physically dominating as I have seen. His skills were not nearly as good as his numbers may indicate, but he was such a force under the basket, that he dominated both ends without a lot of a ton of athleticism. People don’t realize that along with his 15 points and 8 rebounds that he averaged his last two years at UNC, he also averaged almost 2 blocks per game. And, he wasn’t exactly a great “leaper.”
10. Al Horford (Florida). That team was, obviously, stacked, and a lot of attention went to Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer, but personally, I always thought Horford was not only the best player on that team, but the one player that provided things that simply could not have been replaced, and that was physical domination. He simply wore down his opponents on both ends of the floor because of his sheer size and intensity.
9. Marcus Camby (UMass). The only reason Camby is not higher on this list is because my vision of this top 12 was more of the big, grueling post player (like Blair). However, Camby was so physically dominant, during his time at UMass, that I could not justify leaving him off the list. In his UMass career (92 games), Camby had 336 blocks and only 262 personal fouls. He also averaged 21 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists in his junior year. He is one of only four players in college history to record more than 300 blocks, and he has the all-time NCAA tournament record with 43 in 11 career tournament games. Well, he would have all of these records, if his feats were not scratched from the record books because of recruiting infractions.
8. Acie Earl (Iowa). Earl goes back to some of my earlier days of college basketball viewership, and still to this day when I think physically dominant, I think Acie Earl. Maybe it was because of his tendency to commit a ton of hard fouls, but Earl did win 1992 Big Ten Defensive player of the year. He also ranks second all-time (behind David Robinson) for blocks in a single tournament game, when he blocked 8 Duke shots in a 1992 second-round loss to the eventual national champs.
7. Bryant “Big Country” Reeves (Oklahoma St.). Reeves was not nearly the defensive dominator as some of the other guys on this list, but his sheer strength and dominance on the offensive end could not be ignored. In each of the final three years of his OSU career, Reeves averaged about 10 rebounds a game, and his scoring averages were 20, 21, and 22, during that time–not bad for a guy without much of a game outside of four feet from the hoop. Because he is big, white, and has a bad haircut, he is often compared to #11 Eric Montross, but I think Reeves college career is considerably more impressive because he did not have that much around him at OSU. Whereas, Montross rarely had to face a double-team because of the talent he had around him, Big Country was the focal point of every opposing defense he faced.
6. Marcus Fizer (Iowa St.). Other than the points he scored, the dominant numbers do not jump off the page for Marcus Fizer’s career at Iowa State. But, from what I can remember, he was so dominant for one reason–even more so than Reeves at OSU, Fizer was the one guy that every opposing defense just had to stop. Yes, the Cyclones had a future NBA point guard in Jamaal Tinsley, but he was only a freshman in Fizer’s final year at ISU. And, Marcus scored at will–dominantly.
5. Brendan Haywood (North Carolina). Though Haywood might be best remembered for not living up to expectations and being a part of probably the worst 3-year span in modern UNC basketball history, there is nothing taking away from the utter dominance with which he played during his time at UNC. Not only did Haywood log the first triple-double in the illustrious Tar Heel history (18 points, 14 rebounds, 10 blocks), but he is also the ACC’s all-time leader in career field goal percentage (63.7%). In his junior year, Haywood was 191-274 from the floor–a ridiculous 69.7% for the year.
4. Erick Dampier (Mississippi St.). At 6’11” and 265 pounds of pure muscle, Erick Dampier was an absolute monster for at Mississippi State, leading them to a surprising SEC title and Final Four appearance in 1996. Dampier shot close to 60% from the field in this three-year career (including a gawdy 64% his sophomore year, playing close to 30 minutes per game). His career offensive averages–13 points and 9 boards–were good, but defense was where he shined. In 93 collegiate games (most of which were conference games in the brutal SEC), Dampier blocked 249 shots.
3. Derrick Coleman (Syracuse). Okay, I have to admit, I was barely even 11 years old when DC graduated from Syracuse in 1990, so I can’t say that I really understood all that was going on in college hoops at that time. But, I can honestly say, the one thing I do remember about that time–probably more than anything–is how absolutely unstoppable that big guy on the orange team was. And, with over 2,143 points, 1,537 rebounds, and 319 blocks, the numbers are there to back up my childhood memories. Just imagine this guy with a work ethic (sorry, I just had to post his police mug shot).
2. Corliss Williamson (Arkansas). This is my list and I will put whomever I want on this list. I will not be rattling off amazing stats or single-game feats or anything else. This spot is reserved for, without question, the scariest, most intimidating, most dominating player that I can remember–stats notwithstanding. “Big Nasty” was the emotional and physical leader of the back-to-back national championship Razorbacks teams. There is nothing that you could do to get me to try and guard this beast of a man, and if there wasn’t such an obvious #1, he would get my vote for the most dominant physical player I have ever seen wear a college basketball jersey.
1. Shaquille O’Neal (LSU). Is there anybody else? I don’t think I need to write much on his because of his legendary status. All I have to say is how awesome must the guy be for his personality to be even bigger than him–the largest, most physically intimidating man to ever play the game? Yes, he will pop up again, whenever I do my Top Twelve sports figures that I would want to hang out with on a consistent basis–he may even be #1 there too.
As always, this list is final, binding, and completely and totally factual. There is no debate about this, and there is nothing you can say that will change my mind about anything I have written here–so don’t try it………..