Here, in my humble estimation, are the top Cougar hoopsters in the program’s 100-plus-year history:
Jimmer Fredette (2007-2011)
BYU’s all-time leading scorer and consensus national player of the year took the country by storm his senior year, as “You Got Jimmered” became a national catch-phrase. As a senior, Fredette averaged 28.9 points per game, finished his career with 2,599 points, and led the Cougars to a Sweet 16 appearance. He was a first-round draft pick in 2011.
Danny Ainge (1977-1981)
Ainge guided BYU to its first, and only, Elite Eight appearance. He scored 2,467 points in an era that didn’t have a 3-point line. Not only was Ainge a fierce competitor and consistent scorer, but he also was one of the the Cougars’ best when it came to shooting percentage, assists and rebounds. He won both the Eastman and John Wooden Awards as a senior. He was drafted by Toronto (Major League Baseball) and Boston (NBA). After a long and successful NBA career as a player, he became a coach and now is the President of Basketball Operations for the Boston Celtics. His jersey (No. 22) was the first to be retired by BYU.
Devin Durrant (1978-79, 1982-84)
Durrant is No. 4 all-time at BYU in scoring. He was the first high-profile BYU basketball player to serve a mission and thrive as a returned missionary. He averaged 27.9 points per game as a senior and played for a couple of years in the NBA.
Kresimir Cosic (1970-1973)
In just three seasons, back in a time when freshmen weren’t allowed to play, the 6-foot-11 native of Croatia did amazing things on the basketball court with the way he could pass, rebound and score. Cosic had a school-record 48 double-doubles as a Cougar. He is the only BYU player who is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. In addition to his basketball skills, he also was a respected representative of the LDS Church and was the deputy ambassador of Croatia to the United States.
Shawn Bradley (1990-91)
The 7-foot-6 Bradley set the all-time record for blocked shots in a season, with 177. That also ranks him No. 2 for career blocked shots. He averaged 5.2 blocks per game as a freshman. Then Bradley left for his LDS mission to Australia.Cougar fans were excited about what the future held for Bradley and BYU basketball, and some projected the Cougars as a potential Final Four team when he returned. But he opted to enter his name into the NBA draft rather than return to BYU, leaving Cougar fans to lament about what might have been. Bradley was selected No. 2 overall in the NBA draft in 1993.
Michael Smith (1983-84, 1986-1989)
Another NBA first-round pick, Smith had a colorful personality to match his basketball talents. Smith is No. 3 all-time in scoring at BYU, with 2,319, and No. 1 all-time in rebounds with 922.
Fred Roberts (1978-1982)
Roberts was an integral part of BYU’s team that went to the Elite Eight in 1981. He finished his career No. 6 in scoring (1,841) and No. 6 in rebounding (838).
Russell Larson (1991-1995)
Larson is No. 5 all-time in scoring (1,885) and No. 8 in rebounding (821).
Jeff Chatman (1984-88)
Known for his long arms and big hands, Chatman is No. 7 all-time in scoring (1,824). The Alabama native holds the record for consecutive games started — 122.
Travis Hansen (2000-2003)
The athletic Hansen excelled on both ends of the court, both offensively and defensively. In just three seasons, Hansen ended up scoring 1,137 career points.
Nathan Call (1986-1988, 1990-1992)
Call was one of BYU’s best point guards of all time and he is No. 3 all-time in assists with 528.
Andy Toolson (1984-1985, 1987-1990)
Toolson scored 1,388 career points. He knocked down 49 percent of his 3-point attempts as a senior and enjoyed a solid NBA career.
Jackson Emery (2005-06, 2008-2011)
While he played in the large shadow of Fredette, those who follow BYU basketball know how valuable Emery was to his team. His excellent defense freed up Fredette to score points in bunches. Emery finished his career as the Cougars’ all-time leader in steals with 249.
Marty Haws (1986-1990)
Perhaps the fastest player in BYU basketball history, Haws is No. 5 all-time in assists, with 502.
Roland Minson (1948-51)
The MVP of the 1951 NIT championship team, Minson scored 1,407 points and was drafted in the first round by the New York Knicks. His number was retired last winter by BYU.
Best of the rest
Brett Applegate, John Benson, Eldon Brinley, Lee Cummard, Gary Earnest, Jim Eakins, Dave Eastis, Bernie Fryer, Tom Gneiting, Mike Hall, Mark Handy, Noah Hartsock, Mark Heslop, Doug Howard, Kari Liimo, Mike May, Jared Miller, Matt Montague, Joe Nelson,Kevin Nixon, Trent Plaisted, Randy Reid, Robbie Reid, Doug Richards, Silester Rivers, Ken Roberts, Elwood Romney, Bryon Ruffner, Nick Sanderson, Steve Schreiner, Jonathan Tavernari, Alan Taylor, Brian Taylor, Gary Trost, SteveTrumbo, Jim Usevitch, Brady Walker, Trent Whiting.