It may seem strange when you’re watching basketball today, but this sport used to be a big man’s game. In an age where teams weren’t shooting 20-30 three-pointers a game, the top five college basketball centers of all time were impossible to stop.
5) Patrick Ewing – Georgetown
Ewing led the Georgetown Hoyas to three national championship games, winning one in 1984. He finished his college career with 2,184 points and a school record of 1,316 rebounds, leading to every NBA franchise clamoring for the future Hall of Famer. The Knicks “earned” the right to obtain Ewing after David Stern “randomly” avoided their envelope until it was the last one remaining.
4) Bill Walton – UCLA
Many folks look at Bill Walton as the hippy announcer who wants every team in the Pac-12 to be in the NCAA Tournament. However, Walton was dominant in his playing days with the UCLA Bruins. UCLA winning championships seemed like a foregone conclusion, especially with John Wooden drawing the X-and-Os on the bench. Still, it didn’t hurt that the school had remarkable centers patrolling the paint.
Walton averaged over 20 points and nearly 16 boards per game in his Bruin career. Aside from being the main cog of UCLA’s 88-game winning streak, Walton’s crowning achievement was his 21-for-22 effort in the 1973 championship game.
3) Wilt Chamberlain – Kansas
Although Chamberlain’s career as a Kansas Jayhawk pales in comparison to his great seasons in the NBA, including his 1961–62 campaign, where he averaged 50 points and 26 rebounds in 80 games for the Warriors, he was still a marvel on the hardwood.
Wilt “The Stilt” averaged nearly 30 points and slightly over 18 rebounds a game for Kansas. He and his Jayhawks made the championship game in 1957 but lost to an undefeated North Carolina team in three overtime.
Another thing to note about Chamberlain and his collegiate career is that he left after his junior year to suit up for the Harlem Globetrotters, so there’s no telling what he could have accomplished if he had stayed through his senior season.
2) Bill Russell – San Francisco
Bill Russell’s career in basketball makes him seem like a folk hero. Before being the focal point of 11 Boston Celtics championship reigns, he was doing his thing for the San Francisco Dons. In his three seasons, Russell won the Player of the Year in 1955–56, two national titles with a 60-game winning streak mixed within, and averaged over 20 points and 20 rebounds a game.
1) Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar - UCLA
Before becoming the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and changing his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Lew Alcindor was the best center ever to lace up his basketball shoes for the UCLA Bruins. Alcindor’s career averages of 26.4 points and 15.5 rebounds aren’t as gaudy as others, but his 88-2 record and three national championships separate him from the rest of the field. To put in perspective how much of a force Alcindor was, the NCAA banned dunking nearly a decade after his graduation because defending was impossible.
Of the five basketball positions, the top five college basketball centers of all time may be the most impressive group. Another impressive group of individuals is Pregame’s team of experts and their sharp NCAA basketball picks. Finding out which teams have the edge based on current trends is the quickest way to become a big winner when you lay some action. Although the season is coming to a close, we’ll be here to help you count your winnings in 2023–24!