|#1 Kemba Walker – (2008-2011)
by Peter Bard
I’m riding the Kemba-train all the way to the championship, so you can just call me Roscoe Smith.
Hasheem Thabeet was one of the best centers and shot-blockers ever to play at UConn, but he wasn’t an impact player or team leader like Kemba Walker was. Kemba set school records for points in a season, minutes played, and times making me say “You have to be #$%@ing kidding me.” But, like, in a good way.
I remember watching Kemba dismantle the Missouri defense in the 2009 Elite Eight as a freshman, and wondering what the hell Craig Austrie was ever doing on the court. Kemba just had a way about him, even then, that said “stand back everybody; I got this.” Players like that are rare and incredibly valuable, because they pare down a coach’s game plan. Any big shot late doesn’t require some complicated write-up, but rather just remembering who your best player is and GETTING HIM THE BALL. And it worked. A lot.
Thabeet’s contributions were significant, but Kemba Walker took an incredibly young team with questionable talent and carried them to the promised land. I think he can take this lousy write-up with him to another title.
Career Points: 1783
Career Rebounds: 493
Career Assists: 460
Career Steals: 185
Career Blocks: 28
|#5 Hasheem Thabeet – (2006-2009)
by Tyler Wilkinson
You should vote for Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, Kemba Walker was the superior player. Walker has more notable accomplishments. Walker’s had more NBA success. Hell, Walker is better looking. But damn it, Hasheem Thabeet deserves something good to happen for him.
Thabeet had a great run, right up until the day he was drafted 2nd overall by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2009. Since then, not much has gone right for the gigantic Tanzanian. In fact, beating Toby Kimball in Round 2 of this very challenge might be tops on the resumé at this point.
Despite an astounding lack of NBA success, Thabeet’s run at UConn is worthy of appreciation. He is the second greatest shot-blocker in the proud history of the program, and was arguably the best player on a Final Four team in 2009.
Thabeet’s relative athleticism and overwhelming size always left fans wanting more. They loved the defense but wanted more offensive moves. They were taken in by the finesse while pleaded for more brute strength. All the while, Thabeet was exceeding everyone’s expectations en route to a truly phenomenal UConn career.
Underappreciated in his past, overpaid and underplayed in his present – Hasheem Thabeet deserves your vote.
Career Points: 1028
Career Rebounds: 847
Career Assists: 41
Career Steals: 37
Career Blocks: 417
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