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    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Facebook Page
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    This is the final part of our countdown of the top 101 players in the 101 seasons of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team. This section takes a look at the program’s Top 10 players (in reverse order).

    10. Billy Thompson (1982-86) - The 6-foot-7 forward ranks 12th on the program’s all-time scoring list (1,685/11.8 ppg), eighth in rebounding (928/6.5 rpg) and assists (459/3.2 apg) and fourth in blocked shots (185/1.3 bpg). The Cardinals went 107-40 (a 72.8 win percentage) in his four seasons, which were highlighted by the ‘86 national championship and also included a trip to the Final Four his freshman season and an appearance in the Sweet 16 as a sophomore.

    9. Butch Beard (1966-69) - The 6-3 swingman is the program’s 17th leading scorer (1,580 points) despite playing in only 83 games. He has the second-best scoring average (19 ppg) behind Wes Unseld. Beard averaged 20.5 ppg as a freshman, 16 as a sophomore and 20.6 as a senior, when he earned All-American honors. The Cards went 65-18 (a 78.3 winning percentage) in his three seasons, which were highlighted by two trips to the NCAA Tournament.

    8. Milt Wagner (1981-84 & 1985-86) - The 6-5 guard is the program’s sixth all-time leading scorer (1,836 points/12.8 ppg) and also ranks ninth in assists (432/3 apg). “Ice,” who buried many a clutch foul shot in his career, also ranks eighth all-time in free throw percentage (81.4). The Cards went 111-32 (76.6 winning percentage) in his four seasons, which were highlighted by the ‘86 national title but also included back-to-back Final Four appearances in ‘82 and ‘83.

    7. DeJuan Wheat (1993-97) - The 6-0 guard ranks second all-time in scoring (2,183 points/16.1 ppg) and fifth in assists (498/3.7 apg). He’s also second all-time in made 3-pointers (323). The only thing Wheat didn’t do in his career was reach a Final Four. He got as far as the Elite Eight. The Cards went 95-41 (69.9 percent) in his four seasons.

    6. Russ Smith (2010-14) - The 6-0 guard was pound-for-pound arguably the best player ever to suit up for the Cards. Russdiculous finished his career fifth on the all-time scoring list (1,908 points/14.3 ppg) as well as second in free throws made (488) and third in free throws attempted (642). Smith, who averaged only 2.2 points per game as a freshman, has two of the top five scoring seasons in program history. His 748 points scored his junior year rank No. 2 (behind only Darrell Griffith) while his 673 points his senior season are tied for fifth. The Cards went 121-31 (a 79.6 winning percentage) in his four seasons, which were highlighted by the ‘13 national title and the ‘12 Final Four.

    5. Rodney McCray (1979-83) - The 6-7 forward-center’s statistics don’t stack up against the rest of the players in the Top 10, but all he did was win, win, win. McCray, who started on the ‘80 national title title team and led the Cards to two more Final Fours (in ‘82 and ‘83), ranks 35th all-time in scoring (1,247/9.2 ppg), fifth in rebounding (1,029/7.6 rpg) and fifth in blocked shots (178/1.3 bpg). His best season was his last. He averaged 11 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a senior before he was the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA Draft. The Cards went 109-26 (80.7 winning percentage) in his four seasons.

    4. Charlie Tyra (1953-57) - The 6-8 center, UofL’s first All-American (in both ‘56 and ‘57), is the program’s ninth all-time leading scorer (1,728 points/18.2 ppg - the fourth-highest scoring average) and still is its all-time leading rebounder (1,617/17 rpg). Tyra averaged double-doubles in each of his final three seasons, including 14.7 ppg and 13.6 as a sophomore, 23.8 ppg and 22.2 rpg as a junior (the highest single-season scoring and rebounding averages in program history) and 21.3 ppg and 20 rpg as a senior. He also holds the single-game rebound record (38 vs. Canisius in December of 1955). Tyra led the Cards to the 1956 NIT title (when that tournament was as big as the NCAA tourney) and an 88-23 record (a 79.3 winning percentage) in his four seasons.

    3. Pervis Ellison (1985-89) - “Never Nervous” Pervis, a 6-9 center, is the only Cardinal to tally 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in his career. He ranks as the program’s third all-time leading scorer (2,143 points/15.8 ppg) and rebounder (1,149/8.4 rpg) as well as its all-time leading shot blocker (374/2.8 bpg). Ellison also ranks sixth in career field goal percentage (57.7 percent). He is, of course, most well known for leading Louisville to its 72-69 victory over Duke in the 1986 national championship game. Ellison finished with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. His putback of Jeff Hall’s air ball with 41 seconds left was the key play down the stretch in helping UofL win its second national title and led to his earning the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four award (he was the first freshman to win the honor since 1944). The Cards went 98-41 (70.5 percent) in his four seasons, which also included two trips to the NCAA’s Sweet 16. Ellison went on to be the No. 1 selection in the ‘89 NBA Draft.

    2. Wes Unseld (1965-68) - The 6-8 center is the program’s 11th all-time leading scorer (1,686), but still is the all-time leading scorer for three-year players, and ranks second in rebounds (1,551). Big Wes, who starred at Seneca High School, has the highest scoring average (20.6 points per game) and highest rebound average (18.9 per game) in program history, not bad considering he played in only 82 games. In addition to having the highest single-game scoring effort (45 vs. Georgetown College on Dec. 1, 1967), Unseld also had eight of the top 11 rebounding games in UofL history, topped by two 30-rebound efforts. The Cards went 60-22 (73.2 winning percentage) in his three seasons, which were highlighted by a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. Unseld thrived in the NBA. The No. 2 overall selection (by the Baltimore Bullets) in the ‘69 draft became only the second player (Wilt Chamberlain was the first) to win the league’s Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1988.

    1. Darrell Griffith (1976-80) - Griff was simply the best, better than all the rest. The 6-4 high-flying guard, who starred at Male High School, is the program’s all-time leading scorer (2,333/18.5 ppg) and led the Cards to their first national championship in 1980. He also ranks first all-time in field goals made (981) and attempted (1,877) and holds the single-season records for points (825 in ‘80), made field goals 349 (in ‘80) and field goals attempted (631 in ‘80). Dr. Dunkenstein also ranks third all-time in career dunks (156) and steals (230). The Cards went 101-25 (80.2 winning percentage) in his four seasons, which of course, were highlighted by his MOP performance in the ‘80 Final Four. Griff, the national Player of the Year and a first-team All-American his senior season, scored 34 points in UofL’s 80-72 semifinal win over Iowa, then tallied a game-high 23 points in Louisville’s 59-54 victory over UCLA in the national championship game. He went on to be the No. 2 overall pick in the ‘80 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz and earned Rookie of the Year honors in ‘81. Griffith is Louisville’s “Living Legend."

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 20-11

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 30-21

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 40-31

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 50-41

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 60-51

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 70-61

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 80-71

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 90-81

    Cards Countdown: Nos. 101-91

    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Men’s Basketball Facebook Page

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