Top Ten most influential: Sean Elliott has counted down the top ten most influential players in program history. Read on to see why Sean Elliott takes the top spot in our countdown.

Sean Elliott

6-foot-8, 205 pounds

Tucson, AZ

Pre UA

Elliott left Cholla High School as the most decorated player in Southern Arizona history. He chose UA over UTEP and was selected to play in the 1985 McDonald's All-American Game.

UA Career

1985-86: Fr. (23-9 overall record) 1st Pac-10

15.6 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, 48.6 Field Goal Percentage

Regular Season: Elliott's local ties and dynamic scoring ability made him an instant fan favorite. He progressed throughout the season and was eventually named Pac-10 Freshman of the Year.

NCAA Tournament: Elliott was superb in No. 9 seed UA's 73-63 loss to 8-seed Auburn in the opening round. He tallied team-highs in points, rebounds, and assists, while arguably outplaying Auburn all-American forward Chuck Person.

1986-87: So. (18-12 overall record) 2nd Pac-10

19.3 PPG, 6 RPG, 3.7 APG, 51 Field Goal Percentage, 37.1 Three-Point Percentage

Regular Season: Elliott improved his numbers across the board and started to consistently dominate games. While he thrived, the team took a step back without Kerr.

NCAA Tournament: Despite Elliott posting a game-high 26 points, the No. 10 seed Wildcats still lost their first round match-up with 7-seed UTEP.

1987-88: Jr. (35-3 overall record) 1st Pac-10

19.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 3.6 APG, 57 Field Goal Percentage, 47.1 Three Point Percentage

Regular Season: Led by Elliott, the Wildcats breezed through the regular season and were ranked in the top three for 13 of the season's 17 weeks.

NCAA Tournament: UA faced little resistance in the first four rounds and entered its Final Four game against No. 1 seed Oklahoma as the pick of many to win the championship.

Oklahoma set the tempo early and didn't look back on its way to an 86-78 win.

Oklahoma big men Harvey Grant and Stacy King dominated UA's post players, while the Oklahoma guards forced Kerr into a career-worst game. Elliott finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds.

1988-89: Sr. (29-4 overall record) 1st Pac-10

22.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 4.1 APG, 48 Field Goal Percentage, 50.4 Three- Point Percentage

Regular Season: With the graduation of Steve Kerr, Elliott became the unquestioned leader of the team and was considered by most analysts to be the best player in the country.

The Wildcats faced little opposition during the regular season and went into the NCAA tournament as the top-ranked team in the country.

NCAA Tournament: UA breezed through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, setting up a Sweet Sixteen match-up with the No. 4 seed UNLV Running Rebels.

While Elliott contributed a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds, UA was unable contain UNLV's vaunted perimeter attack.

The Wildcats allowed the Running Rebels to stay in contention into the final seconds, where UNLV guard Anderson Hunt's three-point field goal with four seconds left ended Elliott's collegiate career.


  • 1985-86 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year

  • 1986-87 All Pac-10 Team

  • 1987-88 All-Pac-10 Team

  • 1988-Pac-10 Player of the Year

  • 1988 AP First-Team All-American

  • 1989 AP First-Team All-American

  • 1989 Pac-10 Player of the Year

  • 1989 Wooden Award Winner

  • 1989 AP Player of the Year

  • Left as Pac 10's all-time leading scorer

  • Jersey retired by University of Arizona in 1996


  • 1989 NBA Draft: Rd. 1 Overall 3 (San Antonio Spurs)

  • 1993 NBA All-Star Selection

  • 1996 NBA All-Star Selection

  • 1999 Memorial Day Miracle- Connected on one of the most improbable and famous shots in NBA postseason history.

  • 1999 NBA Champion.

  • Lost some of his prime years battling a kidney condition that required a transplant

  • First player in NBA history to return after kidney transplant

  • Jersey retired by San Antonio Spurs in 2005

  • Earned more than $ 40 million in NBA contracts

  • UA's sixth all-time leading NBA scorer (10,544)

    Role in Building Program: As the lone player from Tucson since the beginning of the Olson era to make an impact at UA, it is fitting that Elliott is also the program's best and most important player.

    Elliott was Olson's first lottery pick, prominent pro, and player Olson could reference to potential high school recruits.

    While Elliott won almost every award during his time at UA, his impact went beyond accolades.

    While UA was on the rise before Elliott's arrival, the program's upward trajectory spiked during Elliott's playing days. He instantly became the face of a budding program and transformed it into a national powerhouse, highlighted by the school's first Final Four appearance.

    While the other players on this list struggled during many of their NCAA tournament losses, this wasn't the case with Elliott, who performed at an even higher level than he did during the regular season.

    Elliott is Number 1...because he is far and away the best and most influential player in school history.

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