Every now and then, great thinkers need something to ponder about. Today, the sports aficionados at The Sports Fan Journal decided to collaborate. Since we are all from various parts of the United States, and most of us are followers of different teams, our collaboration of ideas lead to collective observation and insight that should select a formidable group of talent that should hold up generations from today.
Each of these players served as a cog in a machine that was successful and made people take notice. Their legacy has been cemented in our hearts and minds as they should have been long forgotten, but every year around tournament time, something happens to rekindle our love for them and the game. Some of them were able to win it all, while others made a mark on the record books and left a lasting legacy.
Today, we will put together a list of the All - Time All - NCAA Tournament Team. We will select each position of the starting five based on votes. Some of us may have people playing different positions, but they may fit because of the team dynamic. Players receiving the most votes will appear on the first team. We will start as all good teams do with the point guard.
Point Guard – Ed Cota
When choosing a floor general, you want someone who can lead your team. They can pass the rock, shoot when necessary, and they can just flat-out lead. When you think of Ed Cota, he seems to fit all of these characteristics. Reverend Paul Revere spoke highly of Ed Cota by reminding us that Cota never won a national championship during his four years as the point guard of the North Carolina Tar Heels, and no, he never won a Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. So why is Ed Cota here? Because he made three trips to the Final Four in his four seasons, truly as the leader of those squads. He was the consummate point guard and the perfect fit for a cast of talented Tar Heels that would go on to NBA prominence. Cota knew his future wasn't as bright, so he put all his effort into maximizing the abilities of his teammates, like any true elite point guard should. And that got the Heels to three Final Fours in four years. Ed Cota was the truth.
Shooting Guard – (tie) Anderson Hunt and Miles Simon
Shooters have to be lethal from all over the court. They have to have the ability to light up the court with their mere presence alone. They are marksmen, assassins, and perimeter snipers. Hunt was probably one of the most lethal shooters and scorers of my generation. Hunts skill set is often overlooked because of who he played, with but as Kenny Masenda put it, Anderson Hunt was a monster at the two in the Runnin' Rebels days. He also went as far as stating that two years ago, he didn't have him at the two when he made his list. I guess time has a way of rectifying wrongs.
Miles Simon also went on a run that very few have seen. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Miles’s run to the MOP of the NCAA Tournament in 1997. The 1996-97 Arizona Wildcats that won the NCAA Tournament had three future NBA players: Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, and Michael Dickerson. Bibby was the freshman who burst onto the scene and had NBA teams salivating, while Terry and Dickerson already had their NBA futures secured. But it was Miles Simon who went out there and tore through the field en route to the MOP. Simon was the heart, soul and unquestioned leader. Simon proved to be clutch and worthy of a spot on this team.
Small Forward – Carmelo Anthony
The wingman is one of the most important positions on the court. He has to have the abilities of a shooting guard and the ability to take you to the box like a power forward. When you think of versatility and a smooth inside and outside game, no one can argue with Anthony as a choice here. Jason Clinkscales goes further with this explanation of Anthony as a choice. As crazy as it sounds, this was a toss-up between the future Knick and Ed O'Bannon. Anthony got the edge because of the supporting cast he carried on his shoulders as a freshman. What was essentially a Two and a Half Men show for Syracuse (Melo, Hakeem Warwick & Gerry McNamara) compared to the deep team that the '94-'95 Bruins boasted (and that UCLA needed a miracle shot by Edney to advance). In addition, it was dominance from start to finish in the tournament; Anthony's Final Four 33-point performance against Texas was followed by the strong title game against Kansas.
Power Forward – Larry Johnson
Enforcers make a difference when it comes to the hoop game. The enforcer has to be a force in the paint, a monster on the boards, and one of the most feared players on both ends of the court. No enforcer has made a mark on the game like Larry Johnson brought us from the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. Johnson was the cog in the Runnin’ Rebel machine. Johnson led the team with 22.7 points per game and 10.9 rebounds. He wasn't only the best player on this team; he's the greatest in program history. Johnson was the co-Player of the Year in 1991, and his legacy will forever be as the man who led a slew of college stars to back-to-back Final Fours at a school that's not supposed to do that sort of thing. The 1990 Rebels remain the last team from outside a major conference to win a title.
Center – Christian Laettner
The big fella has to make you remember who they are. In college basketball, the big fella can be versatile. He can be explosive in the paint or possess a mid-range game that leaves you thirsty for more. He should also have the ability to use the glass from the elbow like a shooter, and then he back you down and throw it down on you with a vengeance. Christian Laettner is probably one of the best players to ever grace the college basketball court. Love him or hate him, in the end, you had to respect him. As the Rev put it, “I hate Christian Laettner. I've always hated Christian Laettner. And I will always hate Christian Laettner. Yet, I believe that to this day, Laettner is the best college basketball player I've ever seen, and if anyone leaves him off their all-NCAA Tournament team, their ballots should be null and void. He is one of only four players ever to play in four straight Final Fours, starting in all four of them for Duke, winning the 1991 MOP and winning two titles for the Blue Devils.”
|PG||Ed Cota (3)||UNC Tar Heels|
|SG||Anderson Hunt (2)|
Miles Simon (2)
|UNLV Runnin’ Rebels|
|SF||Carmelo Anthony (2)||Syracuse Orangemen|
|PF||Larry Johnson (2)||UNLV Runnin’ Rebels|
|C||Christian Laettner (3)||Duke Blue Devils|
How we picked them:
|Rev. Paul Revere|
The House That Glanville Built
Bull City State of Mind
|PG||Ed Cota||Ed Cota||Juan Dixon||Ed Cota||Tony Delk|
|SG||Anderson Hunt||Miles Simon||No Choice||Anderson Hunt||Miles Simon|
|SF||Jamal Mashburn||Carmelo Anthony||Carmelo Anthony||Glen Rice||John Wallace|
|PF||Larry Johnson||Christian Laettner||Christian Laettner||Larry Johnson||Keith Van Horn|
|C||Chris Webber||Marcus Camby||Lew Alcindor (???)||Christian Laettner||Joakim Noah|
There were others that were worthy of consideration of the team and great arguments were made. The most compelling argument for a player that didn't make the list was made by Ed for Joakim Noah.
Here are the real deal facts about Joakim Noah's time at Florida. Two-time NCAA champion, 2006 NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player and the catalyst for Al Horford and Corey Brewer to return to Gainesville and have their team repeat as champions in 2007. Noah's leadership, defense, headiness and all-out hustle as a member of the Bulls has now become commonplace, but watching Noah's antics at Florida made him simultaneously loathed and loved. I root hard for Noah, because any basketball team would die to have him on their team, and that's the ultimate sign of respect for a player.
Here's our All-Tournament team, but what's your favorite all-time tournament team? Let us know in the comments section!
Color Commentator for Time Warner Cable Sports Network NC/SC/OH and NCCU Sports Network. Washed up athlete who used to ball, now I write and call.