As the 2018 class is welcomed to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend, let’s take a look at some coaches and players who I think should get strong consideration for induction in a future class.
I’m sure there will be debate surrounding some of my choices. The factors that I looked at included - but were not limited to - being a player of the year, reaching a Final Four, winning a title and overall basketball impact. You can see the official guidelines for nomination and election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame here.
Here are 13 people I think we should see in a future class:
Billy Donovan: Coached Florida to two national titles in 2006 and 2007. Reached the Final Four two other times in 2000 and 2014. He won over 500 games in his college career. Regardless of what happens with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Donovan has had a Hall of Fame college career. Oh, by the way, as a player Donovan also led Providence to an improbable 1987 Final Four appearance.
Bob Huggins: Huggs has won over 840 games at Walsh, Akron, Cincinnati, Kansas State and West Virginia. He has been to two Final Fours, one while at Cincinnati and one at West Virginia. He has coached a myriad of pros, including a player of the year in Kenyon Martin. He helped create a new era of elite play at Cincinnati and has been the most perfect match for West Virginia, shepherding the Mountaineers into the Big 12.
Bo Ryan: Ryan took Wisconsin to consecutive Final Fours, something that should be looked at as remarkable based on where the Badgers’ program had been decades earlier. Sure, Dick Bennett got the Badgers to one in 2000, but Wisconsin became an elite program under Ryan. He also won four Division III titles at UW-Platteville. He ended his career winning 747 games.
Jay Wright: Wright is in his prime and has now won two of the last three national titles. Wright has made Villanova a blue blood. The Wildcats have a strong history and won a national title in 1985, but it has been Wright that elevated the Wildcats to elite status. The Villanova program has become a model for others to follow.
Mark Few: The Gonzaga program has become one of the most consistent programs in the country. The Zags are the barometer for countless others. Few got the Zags to the national title game in 2017 — his first Final Four appearance. The Zags have been a No. 1 seed multiple times and arguably the most reliable winner in the West. Few has won over 530 games so far in his career. The buildup of this program is one of the best success stories in college basketball’s modern era.
Now, it’s much more difficult to narrow down player selection. Remember, though, that we’re only looking at how the player performed in his college career.
The eight players who immediately jump out to me who had HOF type college careers — even if it was just one season — are:
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: Won a national title in his only season, impacting the game like few at his position have. Davis was originally a guard early in his high school career before a growth spurt. His ability to be so agile with his size was a game changer for Kentucky.
Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse: Anthony led Syracuse to the national title in 2003 in his only season with the Orange. ‘Melo melded incredibly well with Syracuse during his time there and has continued to be a tremendous ambassador for the university despite only being on campus for one season (Example: Melo Center on Syracuse's campus).
Kevin Durant, Texas: Was the consensus national player of the year in 2007. Durant didn’t take Texas to a Final Four, but he delivered for Rick Barnes despite not being heralded as a preseason national player of the year.
Steph Curry, Davidson: Curry led the Wildcats to an improbable Elite Eight in 2008. That run in the NCAA tournament catapulted him toward what would be a HOF career with the Golden State Warriors. But his college career should be celebrated for how it developed Curry into greatness.
J.J. Redick, Duke: Redick was the national player of the year in 2006 and had a stellar Duke career despite being a polarizing player. He embraced his role as a big-time shooter and money player when the game was on the line. He had an epic national scoring battle with Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison. Redick didn’t win a title during his college career but he played every game with that goal and usually delivered.
Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina: Hansbrough was one of the most dominant players at his position and led the Tar Heels to the 2009 national title. He was a force inside and was a consistent presence for the Tar Heels during his career.
Kenyon Martin, Cincinnati: Martin was the national player of the year in 2000 and would/could have led the Bearcats to a national title had he not broken his leg in the Conference USA tournament. He was a dominant player as a senior, elevating his game each of his four seasons with the Bearcats.
Jalen Brunson, Villanova: Brunson won two national titles in his three seasons and was the consensus national player of the year in 2018. Who knows what path his career will take in the NBA. What we do know is that he had a tremendous college career, worthy of some HOF consideration up to this point.