Before they get to the NBA, many of today’s superstars had a chance to show out in the annual NCAA Tournament. With this year’s tournament canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a good time to look back at some of the best March Madness performances that helped launch the careers of some of the league’s top stars.
1- Carmelo Anthony – 2003
Freshman sensation Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse all the way to their first national championship — the only one in program history.
Melo started off the tournament fairly slow but turned it on once Syracuse got to the Elite Eight. In those last three games, the talented teenager put up 24.3 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while shooting 54.9 percent from the field.
2. Kemba Walker – 2011
The run by the 2011 UConn basketball team is one of the best in the tournament’s history. Behind that magical March Madness run was junior point guard Kemba Walker.
The 6-foot-1 star put up 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.7 assists while keeping the Huskies alive with countless clutch shots.
3. Steph Curry – 2008
Curry and 10-seed Davidson’s run to the Elite Eight in 2008 is one of the most memorable in tournament history.
That year, Curry was truly a one-man-band as he averaged 32 points per game while hitting 23 of his 52 three-pointers as Davidson tore through Gonzaga, Georgetown and Kansas before barely falling to eventual-champion Jayhawks
4. Anthony Davis – 2012
Davis’ 13.0 points per game may not seem too impressive, but it was clear in 2012 that the future No. 1 overall pick was the best player on the floor.
Davis put up 12.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game to go along with his points during the tournament, but it was his ridiculous 4.8 blocks per game that put his historic run into perspective.
5. Joakim Noah – 2006
Like Anthony Davis, Noah wasn’t overly impressive when it comes to scoring. However, alongside his frontcourt mate Al Horford, Noah averaged 16.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.8 blocks per game while leading Florida to their first of two titles in two seasons.
6. Carsen Edwards – 2019
During the most recent edition of March Madness, Purdue guard Carsen Edwards put on one of the best scoring displays in recent memory. Although the Boilermakers were eliminated in the Elite Eight by eventual champion Virginia, Edwards’ 34.8 points per game including 42 against Villanova and Virginia is enough to get Edwards on this list.
7. Blake Griffin – 2009
Although Griffin and the Oklahoma Sooners didn’t make it past the Elite Eight in 2009, the high-flying forward was a man amongst boys in his four NCAA tournament games.
The future six-time All-Star put up an effortless 28.5 points and 15.0 rebounds while shooting a highly efficient 78 percent from the field.
8. Derrick Rose – 2008
In the same year as Curry’s historic run, Memphis freshman and head coach John Calipari led the Tigers on a historic run to the championship game.
In six games, D-Rose put up 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game while shooting 51.8 percent from the field.
9. Buddy Hield – 2016
Although it ended in an embarrassing 44-point loss to Villanova in the Final Four in which the Oklahoma sharpshooter scored just nine points while shooting 1-8 from beyond the arc, Hield’s 2016 run was still incredible.
36 points against VCU in the second round and 37 against Oregon in the Elite Eight, Hield poured in 20 three-pointers in five tournament games.
10. Frank Kaminsky – 2015
Kaminsky has been a disappointment since being drafted No. 9 overall in the 2015 draft, but when you consider his NCAA tournament run a few weeks prior, the selection was a no-brainer.
A seven-footer with smooth footwork and a soft touch, Kaminsky averaged 22 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while leading the Wisconsin Badgers to the National Championship game for only the second time in program history