Top 10 University of Michigan Basketball Players of the Decade: 2000s

I will just cut to the chase here and say that the 00s was not the best decade for Michigan basketball. The one good thing that came out of the decade was the introduction of John Beilein as head coach. Beilein took over the head coach role for the Wolverines in the 2007-08 season and began to raise a team deep in the hole into a Big Ten Championship contending team year after year. Michigan only went over .500 in the Big Ten once during these ten seasons with 3rd place being their best finish in the season rankings. They never saw one Big Ten tournament championship game and only reached the NCAA tournament once.

1. LaVell Blanchard

LaVell Blanchard came to Michigan right at the turn of the decade in the 1999-00 season. Michigan had just suffered one of its worst seasons in recent history and needed something new to help jumpstart the team. Blanchard came in with the mission to turn the team around. Throughout his four seasons with Michigan, he played like a superstar. His 14.4 PPG and 7.9 RPG helped earn him the Big Ten Rookie of the Year award. The following year was his best with 17.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG. In his senior year, he led Michigan to its last above .500 record in the Big Ten for the rest of the decade. He was the first player to lead the team in both points and rebounds for all four years of his eligibility.

2000-01 Key Stats
PPG: 17.8
RPG: 8.4

-1999-00 Big Ten Rookie of the Year
-2002-03 1st-Team All-Big Ten

2. Manny Harris

Manny Harris played in the maize and blue in the last three years of the decade and immediately emerged as the leading offensive player for the team. Harris averaged 18.1 PPG in his senior year along with 4.1 APG. He broke into the scene with making the Big Ten All-Freshman team then made the 1st-Team All-Big Ten team the following year. Michigan made its only NCAA tournament during his second season, making it into the second round after a win over Clemson in the first round. He started the trend of great guards to go through Coach Beilein. Harris was signed by the Cavaliers in the NBA after an injury put a dent in his draft capital. After seeing a few years in the NBA, he decided to play overseas where he still sees action.

2009-10 Key Stats
PPG: 18.1
APG: 4.1

-2007-08 Big Ten All-Freshman
-2008-09 1st-Team All-Big Ten

3. Daniel Horton

Daniel Horton started right away for the Michigan basketball team in his freshman year. He finished just shy of LaVell Blanchard, a senior, for leading scorer on the season. But his contributions would not go unrecognized as he was named the Big Ten Rookie of the Year. Michigan won the NIT tournament the following year in which Horton was named the NIT MVP. He began to show off in his final year at Michigan where he posted 17.6 PPG with 5.3 APG. His 1.9 steals per game are not to be looked over either. He led the team in all three categories for the season and sits at #2 all-time for Michigan in steals.

2005-06 Key Stats
PPG: 17.6
APG: 5.3

-2002-03 Big Ten Rookie of the Year
-2002-03 Big Ten All-Freshman
-2003-04 NIT MVP
-2005-06 1st-Team All-Big Ten

4. Courtney Sims

After being at the bottom of the starting five in his first season, Sims finished at the top of the team in rebounds and second in points for his remaining three years. His points and rebound statistics increased every single year to his graduation. In his four years, he did not sit out on any game. He was elected to the Big Ten All-Freshman team which can be attributed to how well of a shot-blocker he was. In his freshman year, he led the Big Ten in blocks with 68. To put that into perspective, the second-place finisher had only 45. After that, he increased his ability to bring down rebounds on defense and put the ball into the net on offense. During his time, Michigan saw three of its four 20-win seasons and its first time in the AP top 25 in the decade.

2006-07 Key Stats
PPG: 11.5
RPG: 6.2

-2003-04 Big Ten All-Freshman
-2003-04 Big Ten Blocks Leader (68)

5. DeShawn Sims

DeShawn Sims, paired with Manny Harris, was nothing to be messed with. The two of them paired for the #1 and #2 spots in scoring for Michigan in the three seasons that they played together. Sims finished at the top of the rebounding list for all three seasons. He statistically improved in rebounding and scoring each season. He finished off his senior season with his best numbers of 16.8 PPG and 7.6 RPG. He had some Big Ten leading stats throughout his career. In 2008-09 he led in total field goals with 224. In 2009-10 he led the conference in offensive rebounds with 98, 16 above second place. While Michigan did not see team-wide success, certainly Sims put in his effort.

2009-10 Key Stats
PPG: 16.8
RPG: 7.6

-2008-09 Big Ten Field Goal Leader (224)
-2009-10 Big Ten Offensive Rebound Leader (98)

6. Dion Harris

Dion Harris stuck with Michigan for four years as a starter and put up some sizable numbers during his stay. He locked up the starting role in his freshman later into the season, but after he picked up the spot, he never looked back. After finishing fourth in scoring his freshman year, he never went under second with two top-scoring seasons. His best season came in his second year with an average of 14.3 PPG and 3.5 APG. While Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims were an iconic duo, Dion Harris and Courtney Sims was another duo, just with different first names. This duo came first in chronological order and featured two seasons in which they were #1 and #2 in scoring and once when they were #2 and #3. During his time, Michigan saw three 20-win seasons which is the most success that the team saw during this decade.

2004-05 Key Stats
PPG: 14.3
APG: 3.5

-2003-04 Big Ten All-Freshman

7. Bernard Robinson Jr.

Bernard Robinson Jr. joined the maize and blue after the turn into the 2000s in which he quickly picked up the starting position and averaged double-digit points every season. Robinson Jr. made his presence known immediately as a freshman when he averaged 14.4 PPG which was only behind LaVell Blanchard. He was the number two guy in the offense and would follow right behind Blanchard for the following two seasons as well. Usually, players tend to specialize in either rebounds or assists depending on what position they play, but Robinson was unique in that he did both well as well as stealing the ball. He finished his career with 640 rebounds and 364 assists which for Robinson were 5.3 RPG and 3 APG. Robinson became a second-round draft pick for the Bobcats where he built an NBA career until an injury ended it in which he started playing in Brazil.

2003-04 Key Stats
PPG: 12.1
APG: 3.8

-2nd Round Draft Pick

8. Lester Abram

Lester Abram makes his way on to this list because of his consistency for each of his four years. He missed almost all of his junior year and elected to play a fifth year to make up for it. He consistently put up around 10 PPG each season with 4 RPG which while they are not necessarily great numbers, they are not bad either. He started every season he played and was a contributing factor in Michigan’s NIT championship. In the championship season, he averaged his career-high 13.1 PPG. While this was the only real highlight of his time and he was never the top player on the team, his consistency helped keep Michigan basketball from not dipping too low.

2003-04 Key Stats
PPG: 13.1
RPG: 4.2

9. Zack Novak

Zack Novak is one of the earliest players that I remember watching along with Stu Douglass. Like Lester Abram above, he never put up any exceptional numbers during his career but instead consistently was a support mechanism for Michigan basketball to stand on. Novak played during the turn of the decade towards the end of the ‘00s. He started all four seasons and is sixth all-time in games played for Michigan and fourth in starts. Where Novak stood out among the rest is in his three-point shooting. In his career, he shot 36% from beyond the arc, and while technically this happened after the decade, he shot 40% for the 2011-12 season. Novak was able to lead Michigan up to the point where in the following season after his graduation, the Wolverines made it to the National Championship game.

2008-09 Key Stats
PPG: 6.7
3P%: 34.4

10. Chris Young

Chris Young played at the early turn of the decade alongside Blanchard and Robinson who were listed above. There is not really much special about Chris Young besides his senior season shining out among the rest. He still was just third in scoring for the season by the Wolverines, but when you are behind guys like Blanchard and Robinson, it is not so bad. He averaged 11.4 PPG and reeled in 5.7 RPG which was second on the team. Because of Michigan’s unsuccessfulness during this time, nothing notable came out from his time, but he assisted with growing the team towards its eventual NIT championship.

2001-02 Key Stats
PPG: 11.4
RPG: 5.4

I am a student at the University of Michigan studying Sport Management. I have been involved in sports as long as I can remember, playing football, baseball, and basketball. I also love learning how to play songs on the piano and ukulele.

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