|#1 Kemba Walker – (2008-2011)
by Peter Bard
Rd 4, defeated #3 Khalid El-Amin, 136-11
Rd 3, defeated #5 Hasheem Thabeet, 137-2
Rd 2, defeated #8 Kevin Ollie, 142-14
Rd 1, defeated #16 Johnnie Selvie, 197-8
I’m gonna let you in on a little secret; Kemba is supposed to win this whole thing. I’m sorry to give it away early, but I want to make sure we’re clear on this. Walker was robbed of NPOY and even Big East POY, but let’s not be stupid.
Kemba Walker won a National Championship more or less all by himself. No other UConn player can make that claim, or anything close to is. Emeka Okafor had Ben Gordon. Rip Hamilton had Khalid El-Amin. You know how good those guys are; you voted them all into the Elite Eight. Did you see Alex Oriakhi or Jeremy Lamb getting anywhere near there? I sure didn’t.
It’s not just the title, either. Kemba’s season was statistically amazing, setting a new UConn single-season points record by quite a large margin. In addition, his game was beautiful. Take a minute right now to go on YouTube and search for Kemba Walker highlights 2011, and you’ll see no fewer than like 400 montages of Kemba’s UConn heroics with a beautiful soundtrack of gangsta rap rife with lyrics I can’t say. It’s amazing. It still bring tears to my eyes.
Kemba has, you may have noticed, asserted himself quite well in the NBA already. I can’t see the future, but I suspect that a great many All-Star games are ahead for Cardiac Kemba.
But this is about college success, and Kemba had that in spades, playing in two Final Fours and dominating enough as a junior to carry his team to a championship. Make the right choice, folks. Vote for Kemba.
Career Points: 1783
Career Rebounds: 493
Career Assists: 460
Career Steals: 185
Career Blocks: 28
||#1 Donyell Marshall – (1991-1994)
by Tyler Wilkinson
Rd 4, defeated #2 Richard Hamilton, 194-170
Rd 3, defeated #5 Scott Burrell, 118-20
Rd 2, defeated #9 Rashad Anderson, 198-61
Rd 1, defeated #16 Tim Coles, 228-1
Kemba Walker had an historic junior season at UConn. He captained the team to an unexpected National Championship and had – without a doubt – the greatest single season in Husky history.
But this a cumulative game. Donyell Marshall’s career body of work at UConn outweighs Kemba’s final, superhuman season. Donyell scored more points than Kemba during their respective freshman years. He also outrebounded him (obviously, considering his size advantage) and set a new freshman record for blocks by a freshman with 78.
Marshall also set the record for blocks by a sophomore (note: both have since been broken by Emeka Okafor). Kemba saw a spike in his scoring during his sophomore year, but Marshall became the third player in UConn history to score over 400 points and grab over 200 rebounds as a sophomore (Cal Chapman and Corny Thompson preceded him. Several have done it after him).
Donyell Marshall’s junior season set the standard for great UConn seasons. He scored an astonishing 855 points in 1993-1994. The previous single-season record at the time: 702 during Tony Hanson’s senior season. Walker’s magical season would best Marshall’s mark, but it’s worth noting that Kemba had 7 additional games to do it.
Statistics aside, the real argument for Donyell over Kemba is similar to the argument for Donyell over Richard Hamilton. Donyell came first, and made it possible to become a star at the University of Connecticut. He came to Storrs when no one of his caliber had done so before him. Then he lived up to expectations and carried a love and respect for the University with him through a 15-year NBA career.
Career Points: 1648
Career Rebounds: 695
Career Assists: 131
Career Steals: 113
Career Blocks: 245