|#1 Ray Allen – (1993-1996)
by Meghan Bard
Look, Caron Butler is great. You’ll get no argument from me on that one. However, no one, but no one is Ray Allen great. The man barely needs to catch the ball before he fires off a perfect dagger of a shot. He is literally the best jump shooter to play basketball. Ever. In all of basketball.
Ray had some epic games at UConn, not least of which was the 1996 Big East Championship game against Allen Iverson and Georgetown. That crazy, off-balance, I-can’t-believe-that-went-in shot is one of my all time favorite shots in UConn basketball history. I can’t watch this too many times.
In case you forgot, here are the things about Ray that are awesome: He was a two-time All-American, a Big East Player of the Year, USA Basketball’s Male Athlete of the Year, UPI Player of the Year, a 10-time NBA All Star, an NBA Champion, an Olympic Gold Medalist, and he’s made more three-point shots than anyone ever. He’s third on the all-time scoring list, despite the fact that he only spent three seasons at UConn, and he set a single-season UConn record by hitting 115 three-pointers in the 1995–96 season.
And let’s not forget his epic performance opposite Denzel Washington (Denzel, guys! He was in a movie with Denzel!) in Spike Lee’s He Got Game as Jesus Shuttlesworth. And he was good! Really good! So not only is he an amazing basketball player, but the man can act, too. Even Shaq couldn’t pull that off. (This was real. Unfortunately.)
Caron gave us two great seasons, and some impressive individual performances. I’ve got nothing but love for him. I even let him eat some of my popcorn one time. So, really, love. But Ray Allen is the best player ever to wear a UConn jersey. It’s just no contest.
Oh, and for funsies, here’s a montage of Ray being awesome. You’re welcome.
Career Points: 1922
Career Rebounds: 601
Career Assists: 105
Career Steals: 159
Career Blocks: 41
|#2 Caron Butler – (2000-2002)
by Tyler Wilkinson
Statistically, it’s hard to make an argument for Caron Butler over Ray Allen. Allen’s third year on campus (to Butler’s two) pushed his point total into the stratosphere. Factor in his silky jumper, and an NBA career that has enforced fans’ UConn memories, and it becomes damn near impossible.
Thus, to truly advocate your vote for Butler over Allen, we must turn to intangibles. For one, Butler was a leader. He was surrounded by inexperienced players that he molded and shaped into the teammates he needed. The Butler-lead 2002 team reached the Elite Eight based, almost solely, on Butler’s determination and talent. Meanwhile, while Allen was without doubt the best player on his teams as well, they failed to meet expectations in March – including a heartbreaking disappointment in 1996 against Mississippi State.
Secondly, Butler was well rounded. As UConn fans, we have been conditioned to appreciate defense. Hell, Ricky Moore won two matchups in this contest because of it. Butler was certainly the superior defender to Allen. His combination of speed and brute strength made him a tough matchup for the opposing small forward or shooting guard. He was also the better rebounder, and arguably the better passer, although neither did much passing in Storrs.
While Allen’s time at UConn was spent paving the path to UConn’s first title in 1999, Butler was tasked with maintaining the program after it. Butler was UConn’s only first round draft pick between Richard Hamilton after the ’99 season and the Okafor/Gordon tandem after UConn cut down the nets again in 2004. Butler’s presence at UConn is what bridged the gap in Husky history from one-time champs to perennial powerhouse.
Career Points: 1136
Career Rebounds: 477
Career Assists: 190
Career Steals: 134
Career Blocks: 22
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