Top 50 Best University of Michigan Basketball Players of All-Time

As a big-time University of Michigan basketball fan, it was fun to go back through Michigan’s history and learn more about the players that helped shape where Michigan basketball stands today. Beginning in the 1908-09 season, the Wolverines have fought in the Big Ten, filled with plenty of success stories and failures. Plenty of NBA stars have passed through Crisler Arena, the home of Michigan basketball. With 14 Big Ten regular-season championships, 3 Big Ten tournament championships (2 official), and a loan National Championship title, the Wolverines have shown that they are can never be left out of the picture. Even as an 8-seed, the Wolverines became the lowest seed to win the Big Ten tournament in its history. I will be going over the top players to ever wear the maize and blue throughout Michigan’s extensive history. From 1908-2020, here are the top 50 basketball players in Michigan history.

1. Glen Rice

Even after not starting his freshman year, Glen Rice is referred by many as the best basketball player in Michigan history. He climbed up to be the leading scorer in Michigan history with 2,442 total points. His 859 total rebounds rank sixth in total rebounds all-time. Rice was money from three with the 2nd best 3-point percentage in Michigan history with 48.04%. In the national championship season in 1988-89, he held the top position for the Big Ten in many scoring statistics, including field goals (363), 3-point field goals (99), total points (949), and points per game (25.6). He also holds the record for total points in an NCAA tournament with 184 points. With how many categories he led Michigan and the Big Ten in as well as being the main reason for Michigan’s only national championship, Rice is the clear number one on this list.

1988-89 Key Stats
PPG: 25.6
3P%: 51.6

Accolades
-1987-88 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1988-89 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1988-89 Big Ten Player of the Year
-1988-89 2nd-Team All-American
-1989 NCAA All-Tournament
-1989 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1989 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
-1987-88 Big Ten Points Leader (728)
-1988-89 Big Ten Points Leader (949)
-4th Overall Draft Pick

2. Cazzie Russell

Cazzie Russell was nothing short of dominant in the scoring department for Michigan. Russell only played three seasons for Michigan’s varsity team as freshmen could not play back in the day but finished top-5 in scoring in Michigan history. With a fourth season, he would easily have been number one. Along with the points, he ranks 20th in rebounds as he averaged 8.5 RPG throughout his career. His 27.1 PPG is the highest career total in Michigan history. In his final year, he finished with an astounding 30.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG. Michigan won the Big Ten regular-season title each of his three seasons as well as three Elite Eight appearances. They made the Final Four in two of his seasons and a finals appearance in sophomore year. A new arena was built following Russell’s departure named Crisler Arena, but the arena has also been nicknamed “The House That Cazzie Built” in honor of Cazzie Russell. His number is now retired.

1965-66 Key Stats
PPG: 30.8
RPG: 8.4

Accolades
-1963-64 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1963-64 2nd-Team All-American
-1964 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1964-65 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1964-65 1st-Team All-American
-1965 NCAA All-Tournament
-1965 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1965-66 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1965-66 AP Player of the Year
-1965-66 Helms Foundation Player of the Year
-1965-66 Sporting News Player of the Year
-1965-66 UPI Player of the Year
-1965-66 USBWA Player of the Year
-1965-66 1st-Team All-American
-1966 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-#1 Overall Draft Pick

3. Rudy Tomjanivich

If there was any way to follow in the footsteps of Cazzie Russell, Rudy Tomjanivich found the way to do it. Rudy played three seasons as well and finished 7th on Michigan’s all-time scoring list. While this is impressive in itself, where Rudy exploded was with rebounds. He ranks at the top of Michigan’s leaderboard with 1,039 total rebounds. He averaged 14.4 RPG and 25.1 PPG which are both incredible. Michigan did not see much success in the wins column, but Rudy’s numbers will forever shine as some of the best in Michigan history. Even with a subpar team around him, Rudy became the king of double-doubles in individual categories. Rudy went on to be drafted 2nd overall in the NBA draft and now has his number honored at Michigan and retired by the Houston Rockets.

1969-70 Key Stats
PPG: 30.1
RPG: 15.7

Accolades
-1968-69 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1969-70 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-2nd Overall Draft Pick

4. Chris Webber

Click link to read full player profile #1 of the 1990s

5. Bill Buntin

To continue the streak of great shooters and rebounders, here is Bill Buntin. Buntin averaged Michigan’s 4th best PPG with 21.8 and 2nd best RPG with 13.13. In his three seasons for the varsity team at Michigan, he saw 2 final four appearances, once making to the championship game. He also ranks 2nd in total rebounds with 1,037. He was so dominant at Michigan that the MVP award for the team is named after him. Buntin helped Michigan achieve two regular-season Big Ten championships. Combined with Cazzie Russell, this team was nothing short of dominant during their era. Buntin was a territorial pick for the Detroit Pistons but had his career cut short with a fatal heart attack at 26 years old.

1962-63 Key Stats
PPG: 22.3
RPG: 15.7

Accolades
-1962-63 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1963-64 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1964 NCAA All-Tournament
-1964 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1964-65 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1964-65 2nd-Team All-American
-1965 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-Territorial Draft Pick

6. Campy Russell

Like those above him, Campy Russell was one the best in terms of scoring and rebounding for Michigan. Campy ranks 6th in PPG and RPG with 21.1 and 10.41, respectively, throughout his career at Michigan. In his final year, he averaged a double-double every game with averaging 23.7 PPG. Michigan also made it to the regional finals in the NCAA tournament that year led by Campy. He was named to the All-Big Ten team as well as an All-American for his efforts before going into the NBA draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers selected Campy with their 1st round pick to which greatly benefited them as Campy went on to make three playoff appearances with them, including a conference final appearance.

1973-74 Key Stats
PPG: 23.7
RPG: 11.1

Accolades
-1973-74 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1973-74 2nd-Team All-American
-1974 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-8th Overall Draft Pick

7. Gary Grant

Gary Grant is among the best point guards in Michigan history if not the best. He sits in 4th on Michigan’s all-time leading scoring list with 2,222 points. When it comes to steals, Grant was by far the best for Michigan with 300 steals. That ranks tied for 40th all-time in the NCAA. He also holds the record for most career assists in Michigan basketball history with 731 assists. That is over 150 assists above second place. Grant was also hot from three throughout his career in which he drained 46.11% of his three-point attempts. Grants barely missed the NIT championship and left right before the NCAA championship, but even though he does not have a championship to his name, he still had his talent recognized with many awards.

1986-87 Key Stats
PPG: 22.4
SPG: 2.7

Accolades
-1985-86 Big Ten Rookie of the Year
-1986-87 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1986-87 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
-1987-88 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1987-88 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year
-1987-88 Big Ten Player of the Year
-1987-88 1st-Team All-American
-1987-88 Big Ten Assists Leader (234)
-1986-87 Big Ten Steals Leader (86)
-1987-88 Big Ten Steals Leader (80)
-15th Overall Draft Pick

8. Jalen Rose

Click link to read full player profile #2 of the 1990s

9. Trey Burke

Click link to read full player profile #1 of the 2010s

11. Mike McGee

Mike McGee smashed the Michigan scoring record at the time with 2,439 points which have only since been beaten by Glen Rice. He led the team in scoring each of his four seasons which made him the first Michigan player to do so. McGee’s talent was shooting to the point where he holds the field goal attempts (2,078) and field goals made (1,010) records at Michigan. In all four years that McGee played college basketball at Michigan, he was nominated to the 1st-Team All-Big Ten roster which is an insane feat.

1980-81 Key Stats
PPG: 24.4
SPG: 1.5

Accolades
-1977-78 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1978-79 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1979-80 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1980-81 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-18th Overall Draft Pick

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10. Henry Wilmore

Henry Wilmore played three seasons for Michigan and climbed the ranks to the 11th top scorer for the Wolverines with 1,652 career points. He was voted to the All-American team in his final year while also being a 2-time All-Big Ten player. Michigan never won a championship or reached the NCAA tournament during his time, but his teams did finish with winning records every season. In the end, it was his scoring that left his mark at Michigan to the point where he is now in the Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor. He saw action on the US basketball team at the 1971 Pan American Games.

1970-71 Key Stats
PPG: 25.0
RPG: 9.8

Accolades
-1970-71 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1971-72 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1971-72 2nd-Team All-American
-78th Overall Draft Pick

12. Juwan Howard

Click link to read full player profile #3 of the 1990s

13. Louis Bullock

Click link to read full player profile #4 of the 1990s

14. Rickey Green

Rickey Green only experienced two seasons at Michigan, but those seasons were filled with success for the Green and the Wolverines. Green led the team in points in his first season and led the team in assists for both seasons. He sits in 8th place at Michigan in terms of PPG in his collegiate career with 19.7. He also secured 8th place in APG with 4.2. Michigan reached the NCAA tournament both of his seasons, once making it to the national championship and once to the regional final. Green also helped lead Michigan to an outright Big Ten regular-season championship in 1977. The Golden State Warriors drafted him 16th overall, but he would not see his greatest season until years later on the Utah Jazz.

1976-77 Key Stats
PPG: 19.5
APG: 4.3

Accolades
-1975-76 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1976 NCAA All-Tournament
-1976 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1976-77 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1976-77 1st-Team All-American
-1977 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-16th Overall Draft Pick

15. Moritz Wagner

Click link to read full player profile #2 of the 2010s

16. Rumeal Robinson

Rumeal Robinson stayed for three seasons at Michigan near the end of the 80s and was part of the NCAA championship team. Michigan was a 20-win team each of his three years and Robinson was named to the NCAA Tournament All-Region team twice. He was a starter all three seasons and made a push up the all-time scoring list at Michigan to 25th place. Where Robinson was a star was in passing the ball. In just three seasons, Robinson sits in 2nd on the assists leaderboard for Michigan with 575. Only his predecessor, Gary Grant, has more. During the championship season, Robinson was only behind Glen Rice in scoring and led the team in assists and steals. He went on to be drafted 10th overall and went on to play in the NBA, CBA, and in the Euroleague.

1988-89 Key Stats
APG: 6.3
SPG: 1.9

Accolades
-1988 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1989 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1989 NCAA All-Tournament
-1989-90 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1989-90 2nd Team All-American
-1988-89 Big Ten Assists Leader (233)
-1989-90 Big Ten Assists Leader (184)
-10th Overall Draft Pick

17. Roy Tarpley

Roy Tarpley was all around insane when he played for Michigan during the mid-80s. He began starting in his sophomore year in which Michigan won the NIT championship. In that season, he led Michigan in points, rebounds, and blocks. He led the team in the same categories the following season and again in his senior year. His junior season was so outstanding that he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year. Tarpley was a major part of building Michigan basketball into what it later became. The NIT championship was the catalyst for a future NCAA championship and later the rise of the Fab Five. He went 7th in the NBA draft in which he had a couple of fantastic seasons until he was banned for use of alcohol and drugs. He took his career overseas in Europe before wrapping it up with one season in the CBA.

1984-85 Key Stats
PPG: 19.0
RPG: 10.4

Accolades
-1984-85 Big Ten Player of the Year
-1984-85 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1985-86 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1985-86 Big Ten Blocks Leader (91)
-7th Overall Draft Pick

18. Phil Hubbard

Phil Hubbard led Michigan in scoring for one of his three seasons while leading the team in rebounding each season he played. He still holds the single-season rebound record at Michigan with 389. He sits in 4th in both total rebounds and RPG in Michigan history. Michigan recorded a Big Ten regular-season during the 1977 season. Hubbard helped Michigan reach the national championship in 1976 and the regional finals in 1977. Hubbard had to sit out his junior year with knee surgery but still went on to have a successful career. He won a gold medal in the 1976 Olympics and was drafted 15th overall by the Pistons.

1976-77 Key Stats
PPG: 19.6
RPG: 13.0

Accolades
-1976 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-1977-78 1st-Team All-Big Ten
-1977-78 2nd-Team All-American
-1977 NCAA Tournament All-Region

19. LaVell Blanchard

Click link to read full player profile #1 of the 2000s

20. Nik Stauskas

Click link to read full player profile #3 of the 2010s

21. John Tidwell

John Tidwell was on a Michigan team that saw very little success in terms of winning, yet he showed how good he was in the scoring book. In his three varsity seasons, he averaged 20.0 PPG which ranks 7th in Michigan history. He led the team in scoring in his final two seasons with the Wolverines. During his time, he broke both the single-game and single-season points records for Michigan. He went on to be drafted into the NBA with the 38th overall draft pick, but like any good basketball player, he chose to pursue a medical career over playing basketball professionally.

1959-60 Key Stats
PPG: 21.7
RPG: 6.1

Accolades
-38th Overall Draft Pick

22. Loy Vaught

Loy Vaught was a rebounding machine for Michigan in the late 80s. He led the team in rebounds in each of his final seasons including the championship run. In his senior year, he led the Big Ten in both total rebounds (346) and rebounds per game (11.2). That average combined with his 15.5 points per game gave him a double-double on average per game. He currently sits at 3rd on Michigan’s all-time rebounding leaderboard with 993. After his time at Michigan, Vaught went 13th overall in the NBA draft and put up similar numbers in the NBA as he did in college, but injuries would eventually give an end to his basketball career.

1989-90 Key Stats
PPG: 15.5
RPG: 11.2

Accolades
-1989-90 Big Ten Rebounds Leader (346)
-13th Overall Draft Pick

23. Robert Traylor

Click link to read full player profile #5 of the 1990s

24. Terry Mills

Terry Mills was the complementing forward for Loy Vaught (above). Both of them had very similar stats throughout their career. In his three-year career, Mills started almost every game and averaged double digits per game in every season. In his second season he led the Big Ten in blocks with 49 and in his final season, he led the Big Ten in field goals with 237. The versatility of Mills made him a difficult player to deal with for opposing teams. He was a starting figure on the championship team of ‘89. He went on to be drafted 16th overall where he had a long career which included several teams including the Detroit Pistons.

1989-90 Key Stats
PPG: 18.1
RPG: 8.0

Accolades
-1988-89 Big Ten Blocks Leader (49)
-16th Overall Draft Pick

25. Jimmy King

Click link to read full player profile #6 of the 1990s

26. Ron Kramer

Ron Kramer was a duel athlete in both basketball and football. At the end of his collegiate career, Kramer held the career scoring record at Michigan which has since been beaten many times. He was voted to the All-Big Ten team in every season and ended up being drafted into both the NBA (34th overall) and the NFL (4th overall). While he never played in the NBA, his time at Michigan will never be forgotten. He was voted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and among the first to be inducted in the Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor. He went on to make an excellent NFL career.

1955-56 Key Stats
Points: 448
PPG: 20.4

Accolades
-1954-55 2nd-Team All-Big Ten
-1955-56 2nd-Team All-Big Ten
-1956-57 3rd-Team All-Big Ten
-34th Overall Draft Pick

27. Oliver Darden

Oliver (Ollie) Darden played alongside Cazzie Russell in one of Michigan’s most successful eras. Michigan reached the NCAA tournament every year that Darden played while winning the Big Ten regular-season championship those three seasons as well. In his sophomore year, Michigan made it to the final four. In his junior year, they made it to the national championship. Lastly, in his senior year, they made it to the regional finals. Darden ranks 10th on Michigan’s all-time rebounding leaderboard. He went on to play in the ABA before being drafted by the Detroit Piston as the 22nd overall pick.

1965-66 Key Stats
Rebounds: 251
RPG: 10.0

Accolades
-22nd Overall Draft Pick

28. Derrick Walton Jr.

Click link to read full player profile #4 of the 2010s

29. Eric Turner

Right away, Eric Turner was making a difference for Michigan. He led the Wolverines in scoring (398) and in assists (120) in his freshman season while finishing second in steals (38), only one steal behind the leader, Thad Garner (39). The following year, he led the Wolverines again in scoring (490) and assists (160), while now leading the team in steals (29). In his final season, he was passed in scoring but led in assists (141) and steals (32) again. He sits in 3rd place on the all-time assists leaderboard for Michigan while only playing three seasons. The Pistons drafted Turner in the 2nd round, but he never played. Instead, he won Rookie of the Year in the CBA and finished his career with a season in the USBL.

1982-83 Key Stats
PPG: 18.1
APG: 5.1

Accolades
-32nd Overall Draft Pick

30. Zavier Simpson

Click link to read full player profile #5 of the 2010s

31. Manny Harris

Click link to read full player profile #2 of the 2000s

32. Antoine Joubert

Antoine Joubert started for Michigan just as the team began to improve. In his freshman season, Michigan won the NIT championship and went on to win a game in the NCAA tournament in each of the following three seasons. In his sophomore year, he finished 2nd in scoring for Michigan and led the team in assists. As of now, he is 16th on Michigan’s all-time scoring list which for never being the leading scorer on the team is impressive. After being drafted in the sixth round by the Pistons, he was later waived and saw time in the IBA for a while. He traveled all over the world playing basketball including Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Poland, and Venezuela.

1984-85 Key Stats
PPG: 13.4
APG: 5.7

Accolades
-134th Overall Draft Pick

33. Tim Hardaway Jr.

Click link to read full player profile #6 of the 2010s

34. Daniel Horton

Click link to read full player profile #3 of the 2000s

35. Ray Jackson

Click link to read full player profile #7 of the 1990s

36. Maurice Taylor

Click link to read full player profile #8 of the 1990s

37. Courtney Sims

Click link to read full player profile #4 of the 2000s

38. DeShawn Sims

Click link to read full player profile #5 of the 2000s

39. Caris LeVert

Click link to read full player profile #7 of the 2010s

40. Dion Harris

Click link to read full player profile #6 of the 2000s

41. Sean Higgins

Sean Higgins was the fifth and final player to start on the 1989 NCAA championship team. In the championship game, Higgins barely missed out on the team’s third player to reach a double-double that game with 10 points and 9 rebounds (Glen Rice and Rumeal Robinson both had double-doubles). Higgins was never the standout player statistically but was part of the backbone that gave Michigan success on the floor. He ranks fourth in 3-point percentage in Michigan history, shooting 44.83% in his three-year career. In the regional final in 1989, Higgins put up 31 points which were just behind Rice’s 32 on the day. He went on to be drafted in the 2nd round to start an 8-year career in the NBA.

1989-90 Key Stats
PPG: 14.0
RPG: 3.6

Accolades
-1989 NCAA Tournament All-Region
-54th Overall Draft Pick

42. Muhammad Ali-Abdur Rahkman

Click link to read full player profile #8 of the 2010s

43. C.J. Kupec

C.J. Kupec helped get Michigan a Big Ten regular-season championship in 1974 and made it to the regional final in the NCAA tournament that year. He ranks 25th all-time in rebounds but ranked 7th at the time of his departure. In his second season, he averaged a double-double per game and actually picked up 25 of them during his career which ranks 11th in Michigan history. He only started for two seasons which makes these records all the more amazing. The Los Angeles Lakers selected Kupec 56th overall but ended up playing in the Euroleague instead.

1974-75 Key Stats
PPG: 18.1
RPG: 8.4

Accolades
-56th Overall Draft Pick

44. Bernard Robinson Jr.

Click link to read full player profile #7 of the 2000s

45. Glenn Robinson III

Click link to read full player profile #9 of the 2010s

46. Ignas Brazdeikis

Click link to read full player profile #10 of the 2010s

47. Lester Abram

Click link to read full player profile #8 of the 2000s

48. M.C. Burton

M.C. Burton played in the late 50s and managed to make it into the 1,000 point club for Michigan. Not only that, but he also ranks 8th in total rebounds with 831 despite not being allowed to play as a freshman. In 1959, he became the first player in the Big Ten to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding. He also was the leader at the time in both categories at Michigan which have since been broken many times. While it was a tough stretch for Michigan basketball during the time, players like Burton stand out as some of the legends to have played in the maize and blue from back in the day. Like one other player on this list, he decided to forgo the NBA to pursue a career in the medical field.

1958-59 Key Stats
PPG: 20.9
RPG: 17.2

Accolades
-1958-59 1st-Team All-Big Ten

49. Maceo Baston

Click link to read full player profile #9 of the 1990s

50. Robbie Reid

Click link to read full player profile #10 of the 1990s

  
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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