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 has 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 Rutgers Scarlet Knights. 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 Recap Since 2000
However, before we jump into the discussion regarding Rutgers’ greatest players over the last 17 seasons, let’s take a moment to recap what the program has done during that time frame. Before we get to the best players, let’s dive into some of the statistics.
Brief Stats Since 2000
- NCAA Tournament Appearances: Zero
- Winning Seasons: Three
- Big Ten POTY Winners: Zero
- Consensus All-Americans: Zero
Well, that was rough.
The Scarlet Knights had mild success in the mid-2000’s as a member of the Big East, highlighted by a 20-win season in 2003-04—their highest win in over 20 years. In fact, that breakout season 14 years ago even featured two wins over future Big Ten counterparts Penn State and Northwestern.
Unfortunately, 20 wins weren't enough to get them into the Big Dance and Rutgers was relegated to the NIT.
Despite not making the coveted NCAA Tournament, the Scarlet Knights made a memorable run in the 2004 NIT. The team knocked off four top-flight programs—Temple, West Virginia, Villanova, and Iowa State—before losing the NIT Championship Game to another future Big Ten comrade, the Michigan Wolverines.
Since that run in 2004, Rutgers has only had one winning season (2005-06) and four different campaigns where they won 10 games or fewer.
But, fear not Rutgers’ fans, this team is finally on the rise with head coach Steve Pikiell driving the bus. Within the next few years, the Scarlet Knights will have their first winning season as a Big Ten member which hopefully will translate into another postseason appearance.
Rutgers’ Mount Rushmore Since 2000
Quincy Douby (2003-2006)
With that 2003-04 season fresh in our minds, we lead things off with one of the most decorated players in Rutgers’ history. Douby was just a freshman at Rutgers when they won 20 games and made their NIT run, but he had an impact right from the beginning.
On that squad, he was one of three players to average double figures in points and did it much more efficiently than the other two players—Ricky Shields and Herve Lamizana. Douby shot a combined 40 points higher than his fellow leading scorers and blew them away from beyond the arc. On 162 attempts, the 6-foot-3 swingman made 69 three balls (42.5 percent), dwarfing both Shields (37.3 percent) and Lamizana (28.3 percent).
While his freshman campaign was noteworthy, Douby saved his best performance for the 2005-06 season—Rutgers last season above .500. In 33 games, the Brooklyn-native led the entire Big East in scoring with 25.3 points per game, aided in large part by his 46.2 field goal percentage. Also, like his freshman year, he shot over 40 percent from downtown and chipped in almost two steals per game (1.8).
Following his junior season, Douby was an All-American Honorable Mention and was eventually taken No. 19 in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
He ranks No. 6 on Rutgers all-time scoring list.
Myles Mack (2011-2015)
If you haven’t heard of Myles Mack, he was Rutgers’ version of Nate Robinson. Not only was he a 5-foot-10 guard that wore No. 4, he also had some of the same explosiveness that Robinson displayed in his NBA career.
He was a steady hand for Rutgers during one of their most difficult times, as he stuck around through the Mike Rice scandal and the program’s transition from the Big East to the AAC and finally to the Big Ten. Not too many players can say they starred in three different conferences during their college career, but Myles Mack is one of the few.
In his lone season in the AAC, he was in the Top-10 in points per game (14.9), assists per game (4.3), and steals per game (1.6). Plus, he led the entire conference in free-throw shooting at 89.5 percent. Then, as a member of the Big Ten, Mack finished the 2014-15 season No. 3 in minutes per game (35.4) and No. 8 in assists per game (4.2).
When he finally wrapped up his career at Rutgers, Mack had played in 128 games and was No. 7 on the Scarlet Knights all-time scoring list.
Corey Sanders (2015-present)
If you are a current fan of the Big Ten, you know who Corey Sanders is. He is arguably the Scarlet Knights’ most exciting player since 2000 and is certainly the most exciting player on their current team. In fact, I’d go as far as saying he is in the conversation for the most exciting player in the Big Ten right now. With Derrick Walton Jr. and Melo Trimble gone, only Miles Bridges is ahead of him in my opinion.
In his two seasons at Rutgers, Sanders was easily the go-to guy and will be given the same duties in the 2017-18 season. New head coach Steve Pikiell deserves a lot of credit for rebuilding the program, but without Sanders, it’s just a bunch of good ideas with no one to execute them.
This year’s team will go as far as Sanders can take them, both as the team’s primary scorer and the defender of the opposition’s best player. His team believes in him, and the same can be said for Pikiell. When a coach hands you the keys to the program that says a lot, and as far as we can tell, Corey Sanders is up for the challenge.
With 800-plus points already, the 6-foot-2 guard from Florida will definitely join Rutgers’ 1,000-point club by season’s end, and if he stays for all four years, could join Mack and Douby in the program’s Top-10.
Mike Rosario (2008-10)
You can’t have a Mount Rushmore list without a little bit of controversy.
Enter Mike Rosario.
Rosario was to late-2000’s Rutgers’ basketball what Corey Sanders is to Rutgers’ basketball right now. He was an explosive guard with monster scoring ability, complete with the same flair for the moment Sanders flaunts on a nightly basis now. The one thing that separates Rosario, though, is the fact that he was a hometown product from Bob Hurley Sr.’s famed St. Anthony High School; the kind of recruit Rutgers is dying to get these days.
While his career on the banks only lasted two seasons before joining the Florida Gators, they were two very notable years.
Although they weren’t a top team in the Big East, the conference was weak enough where they were neck-and-neck in a lot of games they played. The main reason for that was the scoring ability of Mike Rosario.
Playing in all 64 of Rutgers’ games from 2008-10, Rosario averaged 16-plus points per game in each season, finishing his short career as one of the few two-year members of the 1,000-point club.
On a side note, I remember the night when Rutgers beat St. Johns in 2010 and he dropped 33 points—the kind of rivalry game Rutgers will never experience in the Big Ten. It wasn’t a great time for the program, but with No. 3 on our side, we always felt like we had a chance.
Honorable Mention: Mike Williams, Ricky Shields