There was a thread started on the BRO Premium Hoops Forum debating who were the best point guards in UCLA history.
There was such a great discussion that ensued we decided to contribute some ourselves and create a list of the top 10 UCLA point guards, taking into consideration much of the opinion from that forum thread.
In making this list, we weighed pure talent and accomplishments at UCLA, plus we considered other factors on a smaller basis – like representing the University, NBA career, etc.
It, first, has to be said, that if we did this ranking on pure talent, Lonzo Ball would probably be at the top of the list. In reviewing all of the hallowed UCLA point guards of the past, there isn’t one that had the once-in-a-generation talent that Ball has, and we think we can safely say that after just one year in Westwood. For pure talent, the other comparables would be Baron Davis, Walt Hazzard, and maybe Andre McCarter. But, really, they don’t come close to the talent of Ball.
Not included on this list are the players who were more shooting guards when they were at UCLA, like Gail Goodrich, Russell Westbrook, and Lucius Allen.
A little factoid that’s stunning to think about: UCLA didn’t keep statistics on assists prior to 1974. So, all of the assists racked up by Walt Hazzard, Mike Warren and Henry Bibby are just floating out there in the unknown and can’t be honored.
We know we’re going to get some flak for this ranking, and that’s half the fun.
So, here goes:
1. Walt Hazzard
He was a three-year starter and was twice named an All-American (1963, 1964), which no other UCLA point guard has accomplished. In the 1963-64 season, Hazzard averaged 18.6 points (and we don’t know how many assists), was named Most Valuable Player at the NCAA Final Four, and earned national Player of the Year honors.
BRO Forum poster barrya said: “Walt Hazzard is at the very top. The nation’s best point guard, the nation’s best player and he was the piece that enabled John Wooden to raise the program over the top – UCLA’s first-ever national championship team with only one player over 6-5.”
2. Mike Warren
Warren was UCLA’s point guard and leader for three years, from 1966 to 1968, during a span that UCLA truly established itself as a history-making dominant force in college basketball. Not many players can compete with Warren in win/loss percentage, with Warren being 77-9 overall, and 59-1 in his last two seasons. The 1968 Bruin team is arguably considered the best team in college basketball history. Warren was named to the NCAA All-Tournament team and was a consensus All-American in 1968. Want to feel old? Mike Warren is 71 years old.
Poster Stagsoccer said: “Mike Warren was Wooden's favorite......that should be the end of the discussion.”
3. Lonzo Ball
He’s the most talented point guard ever to put on a UCLA uniform and it’s miraculous that we can say that after just watching him play one season. He has already been named a first-team All-American, and has a decent chance to be named the Wooden Award winner as the national player of the year. Of course, much will depend on what his legacy is – how well this current UCLA team does in the NCAA Tournament. If they win it all, he might be able to challenge Warren and Hazzard on this list. Again, that would be miraculous given Ball only played one year at UCLA. He'll probably be the highest-drafted UCLA point guard in history.
Poster Tim64 said: “I have seen everyone on your list as I am an alum of ’64. Up until this year no one was better than Walt Hazzard as a true point guard. Until now. I have moved Ball to the top of the list. Simply awesome. The gap between Ball and all others on the list is as easy to see as Ball sees the court. Even though all others listed were very good or great in their own right. Just the opinion of a 75-year-old alum.”
4. Henry Bibby
If you are old enough to remember watching Henry Bibby, he was truly the prototypical point guard. He controlled the game, and had exceptional vision and passing ability. Under Bibby, UCLA achieved the most dominant three-year stretch in college basketball history, winning three straight NCAA Championships between 1970 and 1973, and the first 47 games of the 88-game winning streak. He is only one of four Bruins to start on three NCAA Championship teams (others: Lew Alcindor, Curtis Rowe and Lynn Shackleford). He was an All-American his senior year. He had a solid, nine-year career in the NBA.
Poster gracedatrial said: “Bibby was Wooden on the court for his championship teams.”
5. Tyus Edney
A four-year starter, Edney was named all-Pac-10 for three seasons, and won the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award as the nation’s best player under six feet tall in 1995. He, of course, was the leader on UCLA’s 1995 NCAA Championship team; the 4.8-second jaunt up the court to beat Missouri in the second round of the NCAA Tournament is probably good enough by itself to get him ranked No. 5 here. He’s currently No. 2 on the all-time UCLA career assist list with 652 assists.
Poster elscissors said: “Edney, if only because of that Last Natty. Skills and accomplishments may place him outside the top 10 here at the real point guard u., but if you saw it live, you can never forget that supremely incandescent last second dash against Missouri.”
6. Pooh Richardson
Richardson never won an NCAA Championship at UCLA, and only one Pac-10 championship. But from the time he walked onto the Pauley Pavilion floor to when he walked off, he was UCLA’s starting point guard for four years, from 1986 to 1989. He made the All-Pac-10 team for three years in a row, and is currently No. 1 on the all-time UCLA career assist list with 833.
7. Greg Lee
Lee was the point guard on back-to-back NCAA championship teams in 1972 and 1973, and a three year starter. He was an excellent distributor and was smart enough to realize one thing: Get the ball to Bill Walton.
Poster NYCLarry said: “Big Red would tell you Greg Lee knew how to get him the ball.”
8. Baron Davis
Like Richardson, Davis is one of the exceptions on this list of point guards that didn’t win a national championship. He is, though, probably the second-most talented point guard in UCLA’s history, only behind Ball. He spent only two seasons at UCLA, and that hurts him in the ranking, jumping to the NBA after his sophomore season. He was all-Pac-10 and third-team All-American after his sophomore season. But that last season, Davis was physically and athletically able to dominate his opponents and had developed deep range on his jump shot that clearly exhibited his NBA potential. He played 12 years in the League and was a two-time NBA All-Star.
9. Andre McCarter
McCarter was UCLA’s starting point guard for two seasons, and led the last John Wooden team to win a national championship in 1975. He was a talented, flashy player that then matured under Wooden and became a great, all-around point guard. Amazingly, he came from the same high school, Philadelphia's Overbrook High, as Walt Hazzard. He averaged 4.4 assists per game during his career at UCLA. McCarter played every minute of every UCLA game in the 1975 NCAA Tournament. McCarter was the main force behind getting John Wooden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.
10. Darren Collison
Collison played on three Final Four teams and was the starting point guard for two of those years. He was named all Pac-10 his senior season, and is No. 5 on UCLA’s all-time career assist list, with 577 assists. He was easily among the best defensive point guards in UCLA history. He also won the Frances Poweroy Naismith Award as the nation’s best player under six feet tall, like Edney. He was selected in the first round (No. 21) of the 2009 NBA Draft and is currently in his seventh year in the NBA.
Very Honorable Mentions: Jordan Farmar, Earl Watson, Roy Hamilton, Darrick Martin, Kyle Anderson, Ralph Jackson.