by Rob Joyce
Just 16 games into his college career, Oklahoma’s Trae Young is already being hailed as the next Steph Curry. The 6-2, 180-lb. freshman from Norman is taking college basketball by storm in ways we haven’t seen in a long time. The point guard leads the nation in both scoring and assists as his Sooners, coming off an 11-20 season, are 14-2 and ranked fourth this week.
No one in NCAA history has led the nation in both categories in the same season, but at the season’s mid-point Young is in command. His 30.1 point per game average is 4.5 points better than the next best player (Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman), and his 10.0 assists per game are a half-assist better than second place (Saint Mary’s Emmett Naar) and two assists better than everyone else after that. Most recently he put on a show against TCU: 43 points on 15-of-27 shooting (including 10-of-18 from three), 11 rebounds and seven assists. If he can continue at this torrid pace, Young will join this company in the annals of college basketball for the greatest individual seasons of all-time.
6) Xavier McDaniel, Wichita State:
Hank Gathers and Kurt Thomas have since joined him, but McDaniel was the first player in NCAA history to lead the nation in scoring (27.2 points) and rebounding (14.8) in 1984-85. The ’84 Shockers team was better, as McDaniel had teammate Antoine Carr, but a postseason ban prevented the duo from competing in the NCAA Tournament. In ’85 Wichita State was a one-and-done.
5) Glenn Robinson, Purdue:
The consensus National Player of the Year, Robinson led the nation in scoring at 30.3 points per game in 1993-94, along with 10.1 rebounds. His 1,030 points that season remain a Big Ten record, as the Big Dog led the Boilermakers to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. In the Sweet 16 he poured in 44 points to beat Kansas, before Purdue lost to Duke in the Elite 8.
4) Lew Alcindor, UCLA:
Others have better stats, but none had the same impact on the college game as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Statistically all three of his seasons are nearly identical. As a sophomore he exploded on the scene with 29 points and 15.5 rebounds, shooting 67 percent from the field. His junior year he averaged 26 and 16, then 24 and 15 his senior season. It’s nearly impossible to decipher between the three, especially seeing as UCLA went 88-2 in that span, winning three national titles.
3) Bill Bradley, Princeton:
Bradley’s junior season (32.3 points, 12.4 rebounds) narrowly edges his senior season, but Bradley’s final year in New Jersey (1964-65) still gets the nod. Named National Player of the Year after averaging 30.5 points and 11.8 boards, his NCAA Tournament heroics are what separates him. Princeton advanced to the 1965 Final Four, where they lost to Michigan. In that era there was a consolation game, and Bradley ended his collegiate career on a high note. His 58-point effort against Wichita State set a Tournament record, which only two men have surpassed since.
Oh, and while he was busy dominating on the court, he won a Rhodes Scholarship as a senior, too.
2) Oscar Robertson, Cincinnati:
Like Kareem, good luck figuring out which of the Hall of Famer’s seasons stands out the most. His sophomore season (1957-58) is statistically the best, as he averaged an NCAA-best 35.1 points along with 15.2 rebounds while shooting 57 percent. His numbers are about the same in his junior and senior seasons, as he led the nation in scoring once again both times. Plus the Bearcats reached the Final Four in both 1959 and 1960.
1) Pete Maravich, LSU:
[watch video up top]
You could pick any one of Pistol’s three seasons at LSU and they’d all be worthy of the top spot, but we’re going with his senior campaign in 1969-70. After averaging 43.8 points as a sophomore and 44.2 a game as a junior, the future Hall of Famer ended his senior season averaging an eye-popping 44.5 points to go along with six assists. He had three 60-point efforts, including an NCAA record 69 against Alabama in being named National Player of the Year. Also of consequence, Maravich’s heroics helped lift LSU to the 1970 NIT, the school’s first postseason bid in 16 years.