Seemingly every great player in the NBA is naming their “Mount Rushmore” of all-time NBA players, at the moment. This trend has trickled down to many other people making their lists for specific teams or universities. Badger of Honor even put out a Mount Rushmore of Badgers Football, which you should check out.
But since we are in the middle of a very…interesting, yet exciting Badgers college basketball season, we figured we’d put out the Wisconsin Basketball Mount Rushmore. Thus, I got out my debatably arbitrary chisel and began to make the shape of the four biggest players in Wisconsin Basketball history. For the sake of this list we’re including only the modern era of Badgers basketball (no offense to the 1941 NCAA champion Badgers).
Bo Ryan will not see his face on the mountain because his impact is beyond what any of these players have brought to the program. Thus, this mountain is for players only.
The Mount Rushmore of Badgers Basketball; in all of it’s glory:
Michael Finley: Played at Wisconsin from 1991-1995 and was drafted as the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer with 2,147 points while in Madison (now second on the list). Finley’s contribution was greater than the sum of those points though, he helped bring Bucky back into the national spotlight on the collegiate court. His ample success in the NBA included; being named to the 1996 NBA All-Rookie First Team, being a two-time All-Star (2000-01) and an NBA Champion (2007). That success, coupled with his career 15.7 PPG average, gave Wisconsin exposure on the NBA level for years; he is since retired. His spot on the mountain is incredibly deserved as he is one of two players ever to score over 2,000 points while wearing the cardinal and red.
Devin Harris: Was at Wisconsin from 2001-2004 and left for the NBA after his highly-impressive junior season. Had Harris came back for his senior year, he would certainly be the third Badger with over 2,000 career points. A starter as a freshman who helped lead the Badgers to a shocking Big Ten Championship. His sophomore year the Badgers repeated as Big 10 Champions and he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Big 10 Tournament. As a junior he was widely-regarded as one of the nation’s top players and was named the Big 10 Player of the Year, was a second-team All-American and received the Silver Basketball Award. He helped turn Wisconsin basketball into a respected power in the Big 10. In the NBA, he was named an All-Star in 2009 and has averaged 12.6 PPG over his career.
Alando Tucker: The most exciting player to watch in Wisconsin history was in Madison from 2002-2007. Tucker is the Badgers’ all-time leading scorer with 2,217 career points. As a redshirt freshman he started 30 out of 31. As his career at Wisconsin went on it became more clear how special of a player he was. He wasn’t a great shooter, he was just a phenomenal scorer; someone the team rallied behind. In his senior season he averaged 19.9 PPG, was a consensus first-team All-American, was the Big 10 Player of the Year, took home the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and was in the conversation for the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. Tucker also led the Badgers to their highest ever NCAA tournament seed (2) in his senior year. He also broke Finley’s UW record vertical jump record while at Wisconsin. He was a “tweener” as 6-foot-6 and didn’t fair well in the NBA after being drafted by the Phoenix Suns but still plays professionally in another league. He will never be forgotten by Badgers fans (I saw him play in East Lansing, MI, — an incredibly fond memory).
Jordan Taylor: Played at Wisconsin from 2008-2012. Possibly the greatest pure point guard to ever play for the Badgers. Scored 1,533 points while playing for the Badgers in his years but wasn’t even known as a “scorer” by any means. Although, he was known for his numerous clutch shots and owns the Wisconsin record for three-pointers in the NCAA Tournament (23). He is Wisconsin’s all-time leader in assist-to-turnover ratio at 3.01 (464-154), which is also the all-time NCAA record. Wow. In 2011 he was named first-team All-Big 10, to the All-Big 10 Defensive Team and consensus second-team All-American. In 2012 Taylor was named first-team All-Big 10 (coaches) and second-team All-Big 10 (media). He plays professionally in the Italian League (lucky him) and will be remembered awhile for his sure hands, clutch shots and the way he controlled games while in Madison.
These four players helped to shape what is UW basketball and how people view the Badgers nationally. Their impact was incredibly felt when they were on campus and still is today. They laid the foundation for the consistent success on the court which we enjoy year in and year out. I wonder if any of the current Badgers will make a run at erasing one of these names…I’m looking at you Sam Dekker, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes. In some ways, these players can never actually be replaced.
Hope you enjoyed the list.