Since 2000, the Big Ten conference has been loaded with elite talents and some of college basketball’s greatest players. Fans have seen numerous Big Ten players earn All-Americans and National Players of the Year honors during that time.
But who have been the best?
With the offseason in full swing, BTPowerhouse has decided to sit down and break down the Big Ten’s greatest players since the start of the 2000-’01 season. We will be taking a look at each program and how it fits into the league.
This time, we will look at the greatest players from the last 17 seasons for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Please note that this evaluation only looks at college contributions at the particular school. It does not include a player’s contributions at another school or at the professional level.
Brief Program Recap Since 2000:
However, before we jump into the discussion regarding Nebraska’s greatest players over the last 17 seasons, let’s take a second to recap what the program has done during that time frame. After all, 2000 may not seem that long ago, but there are kids literally on the verge of graduating high school who were born then. As such, it’s probably worth a quick recap.
-Basic Stats Since 2000
- NCAA Tournament Appearances: One
- Winning Seasons: Seven
- Big Ten POTY Winners: Zero
- Consensus All-Americans: Zero
As any Husker fan can tell you, Nebraska’s basketball history isn’t exactly the most decorated. Despite 121 seasons for the program, Nebraska has made the NCAA Tournament just seven times and has never won an NCAA Tournament game. The program generally avoids horrible seasons, but struggles to compete nationally.
Over the last 17 seasons, things haven’t differed much for the Huskers. Prior to the hiring of Tim Miles in 2012, Nebraska had spent its time since 2000 struggling in the Big 12 and in its sole year in Big Ten play. Notably, the program made four NIT appearances between 2004 and 2011, but went just 3-5 in those trips.
Since Miles has taken over, it’s been a mix of success and disappointment for the Huskers. The program made a surprising NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014, but underachieved in the following season and regressed even further afterward. Miles will now enter the 2017-’18 with some fire under his seat.
Nebraska’s Mount Rushmore Since 2000:
-Ryan Anderson (2007-2010)
Although Anderson never had an individual season that would warrant his inclusion on this list, his career numbers with the Huskers earns him a spot on this list. In particular, the diversity of his achievements stood out from several other contenders.
To start, Anderson played a ton for Nebraska. He played in 122 career games and ranks sixth all-time in Nebraska history in games started. Notably, he played in at least 30 games in three separate seasons and helped the program make two NIT appearances.
Anderson was also a great defender and finished in Nebraska’s all-time top 10 for three-pointers and steals. Additionally, he ranks top 25 for scoring, rebounding, and assists in Nebraska history. In 2009, he made the All-Big 12 defensive team. It may not be a career filled with flash, but Anderson got the job done more often than not.
-Aleks Maric (2005-2008)
During his four-year career, Maric played in 121 games and started 99 of those. That puts him just outside the top 10 in games played and seventh in games started in Nebraska history. Both of those are key reasons why Maric made it on this list.
However, Maric did far more than simply see the floor. He developed into a dynamic scorer and a fantastic rebounder. He ranks second all-time in Husker history in rebounds and sixth in blocked shots. Maric also was excellent at getting to the line, finishing second all-time in free throws made and attempted in Husker history. He finished with 1,630 career points, good enough for fifth in program history.
The only thing holding Maric back is that he spent most of his career on underwhelming Nebraska teams. He never played in the NCAA Tournament and the Huskers went 70-55 (.56) with him on the roster. His surrounding cast wasn’t great, but he still led the program to two NIT appearances.
-Terran Petteway (2013-2015)
Perhaps no player was an easier selection for this list than Petteway. Although he only played two seasons for the Huskers, he made a profound impact on the program during that time. Simply put, without Petteway, there’s no way Nebraska makes the NCAA Tournament in 2014.
Since 2000, no Husker has had a more dominant season than Petteway’s performance in 2013-’14. Thanks to his 18.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, Nebraska made its only NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly two decades. Petteway led the team in scoring and received All-Big Ten postseason honors in route to that appearance.
The only way someone could argue Petteway doesn’t belong on this list is because of his limited sample size. After all, it’s hard to have elite career numbers for Nebraska with only two seasons in Lincoln. But even with that noted, it’s hard to overvalue what an impact he made on Nebraska in that shortened period. Those two years were special ones for the Huskers.
-Shavon Shields (2013-2015)
Nebraska’s most underrated player of the last 17 seasons could very well be Shavon Shields. Despite earning some form of All-Big Ten honors in three separate seasons, he is often overlooked because he played on teams with players like Petteway. But when one sits back and looks at his career achievements, Shields deserves to be on this list.
Let’s start first with his overall numbers. He finished fifth all-time in scoring for Nebraska, eighth in field goals made, fourth in free throws made, and second in games started. At one point, he played in 108 straight games and started in 30 games in three separate seasons, including the 2013-’14 season, when Nebraska made the NCAA Tournament.
But on top of his career achievements, Shields also had some impressive achievements on a shorter-term basis. As mentioned, he earned some form of All-Big Ten honors in three separate seasons, two Big Ten Player of the Week and two Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors, and made a Big Ten All-Tournament team. Shields may not get all the love he deserves from some, but he will get it on this list.
Honorable Mention: Cary Cochran, Ray Gallegos, Lance Jeter, Brandon Ubel, Tai Webster.