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 Wisconsin Badgers. 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 Wisconsin’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: 17
- Winning Seasons: 17
- Big Ten POTY Winners: Three
- Consensus All-Americans: Two
Wisconsin’s basketball history is one of the most underrated in college basketball. In their 119 seasons, the Badgers have made the NCAA Tournament 23 times, including six of the last seven years. The program has produced four Final Fours, with the most recent being back to back seasons in 2014 and 2015.
Over the last 17 seasons, Badgers fans have witnessed the most sustained success in program history. Wisconsin has produced two Final Four appearances (2014, 2015) while making the NCAA Tournament each and every season. The Badgers have reached nine Sweet Sixteens, including a current streak of four in a row (2014-2017).
The Badgers have been dominant within the Big Ten Conference as well, winning four regular season championships and three Big Ten Tournament championships during the time period. The Wisconsin Badgers have been one pf the most successful all around Big Ten basketball programs in the last 17 seasons.
Wisconsin’s Mount Rushmore Since 2000:
Frank Kaminsky (2011-2015)
This list begins and ends with 6’11” Badgers legend, Frank Kaminsky. He is Wisconsin’s leader in points scored in a season (732), and points scored in an individual game (43). Kaminsky ranks 11th on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list with 1,458 points over his four year career.
His individual accomplishments rank with the greatest Wisconsin players of all-time. Kaminsky earned first team All-Big Ten status in both 2014 and 2015. But it was his dominant senior season that clearly puts Kaminsky in this group. His accomplishments that season were as follows:
- National College Player of the Year
- Consensus first-team All-American
- Big Ten Player of the Year
- Big Ten Tournament MVP
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (Top Collegiate Center)
- John R. Wooden Award (Most Outstanding College Player)
While the litany of individual accolades is great, the team accomplishments during Kaminsky’s tenure are even better. The Badgers reached back to back Final Fours for the only time in school history. In 2015, Wisconsin reached the NCAA Championship game for only the second time in school history.
A Wisconsin Mount Rushmore (2000-2017) simply can’t exist without one of the greatest Badgers of all-time, Frank Kaminsky.
Alando Tucker (2002-2007)
It’s safe to say Wisconsin’s all-time leading scorer should make the Badgers Mount Rushmore. Alando Tucker finished his career with 2,217 points, surpassing Badgers legend Michael Finley. Tucker was a consistent scorer that will go down as one Wisconsin’s best players of all time.
Tucker was a four year started at Madison, and immediately made a Big Ten impact in his first season. He averaged 12.0 points, and 5.9 rebounds while logging an impressive 31 minutes per game as a freshman. After a right foot injury necessitated a medical redshirt during his sophomore season, Tucker returned in the 2004-2005 season and increased his averages to 15.2 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
In his last two seasons, Tucker brought his game to new heights. He averaged over 19 points per game in both seasons, and culminated his career not only as Big Ten Player of the Year Award, but by being named a consensus first-team All-American in 2006-2007.
Tucker was a part of some great team accomplishments as well, leading the Badgers to two Sweet Sixteens (2003, 2008) as well as an Elite Eight appearance in 2005. Tucker checks all the boxes as the ideal Wisconsin Mount Rushmore selection in any time period.
Devin Harris (2001-2004)
While only playing three years, Harris left Madison as one of the most heralded Badgers of all-time. He managed to make an impact in the conference as a freshman starter averaging 12.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game. Harris was immediately one of the best two-way players in the Big Ten, and helped the Badgers earn a share of the Big Ten Regular Season championship.
As a sophomore, Harris became a nationally recognized player, helping to lead the Badgers to their first outright Big Ten Regular Season title in 56 years. He was named Most Outstanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament and continued his dominant play all the way to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
To cap off his great career, Devin Harris was named Big Ten Player of the Year as a junior, and received consensus second-team All-American honors. He declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season, but still finished 13th on Wisconsin’s all-time scoring list with 1,425 points.
Jordan Taylor (2008-2012)
Wisconsin’s eighth all time leading scorer with 1,533 career points, Jordan Taylor rightly lays claim to a spot on Wisconsin’s Mount Rushmore. He played sparingly as a freshman, but made a huge leap as a sophomore starter averaging 10.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. It was a sign of things to come for the 6’1” 195 lb point guard.
As a junior, Taylor had his best collegiate season. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game while playing over 36 minutes per game. Taylor garnered first team All-Big Ten honors as well as first team All-Big Ten Defensive team accolades. Taylor led the Badgers to their third undefeated season at home, and guided Wisconsin to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. He was named a consensus second-team All-American for his incredible season.
As a senior, Taylor again achieved first team All-Big Ten honors, and helped the Badgers repeat a Sweet Sixteen trip. A top ten all-time Wisconsin scorer, two first team All-Big Ten honors, two Sweet Sixteens, and a consensus second team All-American recognition?
Jordan Taylor is an automatic 2000-20017 Wisconsin Badgers Mount Rushmore member.
Honorable Mention: Jon Leuer, Sam Dekker, Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Trevon Hughes