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Top 13 NCAA Tournament Players of All-Time

Travel—without penalty—back in time as we count down the best NCAA tournament players in history.

Picking the top NCAA basketball players is a daunting task; there are so many players to choose from. Do we set criteria? Do we only pick championship winners?  Many of these guys were stars before they hit the court, while others had to wait until the tournament to get their big moment. The players that made our list may not all have necessarily been the most outstanding players, but when the tournament spotlight shined on them they took it over in a major way.

13. Bill Bradley, Princeton
The future U.S. Senator and New York Knick dominated college basketball before heading off to Washington D.C and the bright lights of New York City. While at Princeton he led the Tigers to three consecutive NCAA tournaments and a run to the 1965 Final Four. Princeton may have lost to Michigan in the semifinals, but Bradley dropped 58 points on Wichita State in the third place game, which is still the record for most points by a single player at the Final Four. Bradley was named the Most Outstanding player of the tournament, where he averaged 33.7 points per game.

12. Jerry West, West Virginia
You know you’re good when your silhouette is the trademark for the NBA. The man known as “The Logo” rose to stardom on the hardwood during his sophomore year where he averaged 32 points and almost 15 rebounds per game. His 160 points in five tournament games tied a record, soon to be broken by Bill Bradley and Elvin Hayes (both on this list). West led his team in scoring and rebounding in every West Virginia matchup. He scored an amazing 275 points in nine NCAA Tournament games.

11. Elvin Hayes, Houston
The “Big E” as he was known during his playing days, attempted 310 field goals, making 152 of them during his 13 NCAA Tournament games, both of which are records. He also scored a jaw-dropping 358 points, good enough for second-most all-time. While Hayes scored in bunches he could never lead his team to the championship game, losing to UCLA in 67’ and 68’ in the semifinals. Hayes scored 25 points and pulled down 24 rebounds in '67. In the 1968 semi, which was a rematch of the aptly titled “Game of the Century” from the regular season where Hayes bullied Lew Alcindor for 38 points, UCLA held Hayes to just 10 points.

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