Top 100 players in the 100 years of Gator hoops: 1-10

Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 11:08 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 8, 2016 at 12:04 p.m.

The top 10. Feel free to disagree.

10 — Cliff Luyk

When I was a kid, my dad used to tell me about Cliff Luyk. And how every time he scored a basket, the crowd at Alligator Alley would shout, “Luyk! Luyk!”

Luyk was a tremendous player from 1959-62 who finished his career averaging a double-double. His career scoring average was 15.1 and he averaged 12.2 rebounds a game.

Luyk's 26 rebounds against Kentucky in 1962 are the most by a UF senior. He had three 20-rebound games and his 21.3 points per game in 1957-58 is the sixth-best average in the history of the program.

9 — Corey Brewer

The ever-present smile is his trademark, but defense was his forte at UF. Brewer could handle anything you threw at him from a point guard to a center.

He was the Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Final Four when he scored 32 points with 10 rebounds in the two games.

Brewer also recorded the first triple-double in school history and was a starter on Florida's two national championship teams. He had 300 assists, 176 steals, 44 blocked shots and 469 rebounds for his career to go along with 1,225 points.

He was also the co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2006.

8 — Andy Owens

An All-American in 1970, Owens was a scoring machine for the Gators. He had a real knack for scoring and his 27.0 points per game is still the best average in Florida history.

Owens is also the all-time leader in points for a season with 676 in 1969-70 and is 16th on the Florida all-time scoring list with 1,445 points in three seasons.

Owens shot 47.7 percent for his career and 80.9 percent from the free-throw line, the eighth best percentage in UF history. He averaged 19.0 points a game for his career, which is tied for the fourth best career average at UF.

7 — Joakim Noah

The numbers hardly tell the story for Noah. Sure, he is third all-time in blocked shots and second in career free throw percentage.

But it was his heart that was a big reason why Florida won two straight national titles. He was the emotional leader of the team and probably the most interesting guy I covered at Florida in any sport.

He was also the Most Outstanding Player in the 2006 Final Four. Here is his line for the six games in the tournament that year: 97 points, 57 rebounds, 29 blocked shots and 20 assists.

And who can forget his “stickety dance” on CBS after Florida swept through the SEC Tournament in 2007 without trailing?

6 — Dwayne Schintzius

Schintzius bolted on Florida 11 games into his senior season because of conflicts with Don DeVoe (whom he referred to as “Captain Ahab” in his resignation letter), but his legacy had already been created.

The 7-foot-2 center had an amazing touch for his size and even through all kinds of trouble off the court, he was an amazing player.

He tied for the second most double-doubles in a season in 1988-89 when Florida won its first SEC title. That year, fans in Nashville threw tennis balls at Schintzius because he had been involved in a skirmish involving a tennis racket. Schintzius nailed two free throws after a technical was called and sent the game to overtime, where Florida won.

His 1,624 points are the seventh most in UF history and he has more blocked shots than anyone who has played at UF.

5 — Udonis Haslem

When Haslem was a senior, Billy Donovan and I had a discussion about his legacy. Donovan felt Haslem, who played in the NCAA Tournament in each of his four years, was the best player in Florida history.

I disagreed, but he was definitely in the conversation.

Haslem started in 125 games and seemed to get better in every one of them. He shot 58.4 percent from the field for his career and had 99 games where he scored in double figures.

Haslem's 1,781 points are the fourth most in Florida history and he averaged 13.7 points for his career.

As a freshman, Haslem scored in double figures in all six of Florida's NCAA games, including 27 points in the title game loss to Michigan State.

4 — Mike Miller

Perhaps more than anybody, Miller changed Florida basketball. When he chose Florida over Kansas, it signalled the arrival of coach Billy Donovan.

He was only at UF for two seasons before declaring for the NBA draft, but Florida went from a losing record to a Sweet 16 berth in his first season. A year later, the Gators reached the national title game.

Miller gave Florida a big guy who could handle the ball and shoot 3s. He shot 48.3 percent for his career from the field and occasionally played point guard while averaging 6.0 rebounds a game during those two seasons.

And, of course, there is the most memorable shot in Florida history, the game-winning runner against Butler in the opening round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament.

3 — Vernon Maxwell

Vernon, Vernon, Vernon. What do we do about Vernon? The kid from Buchholz High certainly made an impact on the program. His final two seasons were expunged from the records by UF because he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA.

But we saw the ball go in the basket. No matter what anyone tells me, he is the all-time leading scorer at Florida. His 2,450 points are by far the most. He also would be the all-time leader in steals.

And he would be fourth in 3-point shots made. Maxwell could knock down 3s and slash to the basket. He may well have been the best athlete to play at UF.

There were some character issues, to be sure. But he still averaged 21.7 points a game as a junior and 20.2 as a senior. And when he left the school he was second in the SEC all-time in scoring behind Pete Maravich.

That all happened. No matter what it says in the media guide.

2 — Al Horford

When we are evaluating the players from the team that won two straight national titles, it's easy to think of them as one entity because they played so well together.

Here's why Horford ranks the highest of any of them — when Florida absolutely needed a basket, he's the guy they went to.

He has 28 double-doubles in his career and had the second most at UF in his junior season. He finished sixth in rebounding at Florida for his career and second in blocked shots. He almost averaged a double-double in his junior season.

While Horford played a major role in the first national title, look at his numbers in the tournament when Florida repeated — 81 points and 68 rebounds in six games. That included 18 points and 12 boards in the title game.

1 — Neal Walk

That he is the only player to have his number retired is almost meaningless because Florida doesn't retire numbers anymore. But what means something is that he was a dominant player who played at the wrong time.

The NCAA Tournament was only available to conference champs so Florida teams that went 21-4 and 18-9 didn't make it. But anyone who saw Walk play remembers him as an amazing player.

As a junior, he averaged 19.8 rebounds a game. That doesn't seem possible today. He averaged 17.8 as a senior. For his career, he averaged 20.8 points and 15.3 rebounds and is Florida's all-time leader in free throws, rebounds and scoring average.

He also ranks first in UF history in 30-point games (15) and 20-rebound games (seven). He was taken second in the NBA draft, the highest of any Gator. Walk died last year. His legacy lives on.

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