7. Mike Bibby
6-foot-1, 190 pounds
Shadow Mountain High School
Bibby was considered a prodigious talent dating back to his time at Shea Middle School in Phoenix. He then attended Shadow Mountain High School, where he set the Arizona State high school scoring record and was named to the 1996 McDonald's All-American Team.
1996-97: Fr. (25-9 overall record) 5th Pac-10 13.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 5.2 APG, 44.5 Field goal Percentage, 39.4 Three Point Percentage
Regular Season: Bibby scored 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and dished out 5 assists in the first game of his career, an 83-72 victory against the seventh-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. It wouldn't be the last time the Wildcats would face the Tar Heels, led by Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter and freshman point guard Ed Cota.
The Wildcats rolled through the first half of the schedule before staggering at the back end, as the team struggled to integrate Miles Simon into the line up.
In particular, Bibby struggled, scoring nine combined points as UA was swept by Stanford and Cal in the last two games of the regular season.
NCAA Tournament: UA's inconsistencies vanished once the NCAA Tournament commenced. The No. 4 seed Wildcats squeaked out wins against 13-seed South Alabama and 12-seed College of Charleston to reach the Sweet Sixteen, where the top-seeded, 34-1 Kansas Jayhawks, led by Jacque Vaughn, Paul Piece, Raef LaFrentz, and Scott Pollard were waiting.
Bibby dominated the senior all-American Vaughn, scoring a team-high 21 points and dishing out 5 assists. He made the deciding free throws as the Wildcats moved on to the Elite Eight to face the 10-seed Providence Friars.
Fueled by dominant performances from Simon and Bibby, Arizona narrowly escaped Providence 96-92, advancing UA to the Final Four to play the No. 1 seed North Carolina Tar Heels.
Despite falling behind early to the Tar Heels, UA came storming back and went into the half up three. The Wildcats won 66-58 and no player was more instrumental than Bibby. He dictated the pace, making 6 three-pointers, chipping in 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals while holding Cota, the ACC Freshman of the Year, to 5 points and 4 assists.
The win advanced Arizona to its first championship game in school history to play the No. 1 seed and defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats. While Miles Simon stole the show, Bibby controlled the pace and scored 19 timely points in UA's 84-79 overtime victory.
1997-98: Soph. (30-5 overall record) 1st Pac-10
17.2 PPG, 3 RPG, 5.7 APG, 46.4 Field Goal Percentage, 38.7 Three-Point Percentage
Regular Season: With every major contributor returning from the previous year's national title team, UA entered the 1997-98 season as the preseason No.1 team in the country. Bibby improved upon all his previous season's statistics and was easily the best point guard in the country. With a team boasting three all –Americans, the Wildcats finished the season pegged by many as the favorite to win the national championship.
NCAA Tournament:The Wildcats faced little opposition in the first three rounds before running into a talented, but overlooked No. 3 seed Utah team.
Utah coach Rich Majerus deployed a triangle and two defense focused exclusively on stopping Miles Simon and Mike Bibby. The strategy worked to perfection, as Simon and Bibby played two of the worst games of their careers in UA's 76-51 loss.
Role in Building Program: Bibby would be higher on the list if not for his abbreviated stay at UA. From his very first red-blue game, it was obvious that Bibby was more skilled than almost any freshman in UA history. While Miles Simon received the lion's share of the credit --deservedly so--for the team's' championship run, it would not have been possible without Bibby. Bibby was the second cog for UA's lone championship and played his best against the No. 1 seeds, outscoring the three opposing point guards 60 to 21.
Bibby became the school's second point guard in three years to become an NBA lottery pick, and then experienced sustained professional success.
Bibby is Number 7... because he was an irreplaceable presence on UA's lone national title team.