Men’s Basketball: All-Time Wildcat Roster

By Jacob Brown

I really miss Northwestern Athletics. Without any live sports, I got to thinking, who are the best players to have ever worn a Wildcat uniform? With all of the time in the world, I think I found the best of the best:

PG

Name: ​Michael ‘Juice’ Thompson

Years: 2007​-2011

Stats:

Games played: 129

Points per game: 13.1

Rebounds per game: 2

Assists per game: 4.1

Analysis:

Juice is a gem of the Northwestern program. The Chicago native not only leads the ‘Cats in games and minutes played, starting all of the 129 games he played in, he is second only to Bryant McIntosh in assists. Thompson showed an unbelievable amount of skill, passion and leadership during a forgettable period for the Wildcats, going 65-64 over his four years with the team. His excellence and leadership in the program helped pioneer Northwestern men’s basketball towards a new era, an era of success.


Name: ​Bryant McIntosh

Years: 2014​-2018

Stats:

Games played: 129

Points per game: 13

Rebounds per game: 2.8

Assists per game: 5.4

Analysis:

McIntosh was the on and off court leader of the storied 2017 team, the first in Northwestern history to make the Big Dance. The guard from Greensburg, Indiana played with an instinct and basketball IQ that NU may never see again. His ability to find his teammates produced a program record 541 career assists. McIntosh put up a staggering 1683 points, only six short of Thompson’s career total. McIntosh’s performance in college landed him a brief stint with the Pelicans for the 2018 summer league, and he then took his talents to Europe for a year, before returning to Evanston to serve as NU’s assistant director of basketball operations this past season.


Name: ​Pat Baldwin Sr.

Years: 1990​-1994

Stats:

Games played: 96

Points per game: 12.4

Rebounds per game: 3.6

Assists per game: 4.7

Analysis:

Baldwin is Northwestern’s all-time leader in steals, with 272 during his career in Evanston. Baldwin was not only a great in his time at NU, but also after. In 2001, less than 10 years after graduating from NU, he got his first college coaching job as an assistant at Lincoln (Mo.) After that he served as an assistant at Green Bay for two years, Loyola Chicago for seven years, Missouri State for two years, and returned to the shores of Lake Michigan to serve as an assistant coach from 2014-2017. Finally, he found his way to the University of Milwaukee, where he has been the head coach since 2017. While Baldwin was an assistant in Evanston, his son Pat Baldwin Jr. was a ballboy for the ‘Cats, who now ranks as one of the top recruits in the nation from the class of 2021, positioning Northwestern for a chance to land the five-star small forward. Not only did Baldwin make major waves with his playing and coaching careers, his lineage and connection to the school may just change the future of the program as we know it.

SG

Name​: Craig Moore

Years: ​2005-2009

Stats:

Games played: 121

Points per game: 10.7

Rebounds per game: 2.4

Assists per game: 2.5

Analysis: 

​Moore, hailing from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is one of the best shooters to ever play in Evanston. Not only was he named to the Big Ten All-Freshman team after the 2005-06 season, he was an honorable mention All-Big Ten his junior year and third team his senior year. He led the Big Ten in three-pointers per game in 2007 with 3.23, and he broke his previous school record of 97 shots from deep, draining 110 in his senior year. He finished his career with 320 career threes, the seventh most in Big Ten history.

Moore played in Europe in the 2009 and 2011 seasons, but was never quite able to find stable footing overseas. Since then, he has served as a member of Princeton 3×3, and is a three-time National Champion in the league (2014, 2017, 2018), as well as having played in the 3×3 World Cup in 2014 and 2017.


Name: ​Jitim Young

Years: ​2000-2004

Stats:

Games played: 117

Points per game: 13

Rebounds per game: 4.6

Assists per game: 2

Analysis:

Hailing from Chicago, Young made an immediate impact for the Wildcats, ending his first year as one of the top five first-year scorers in the Big Ten. He was selected to the All-Big Ten third team his junior year and first team his senior year. Aside from a variety of statistical accolades for the ‘Cats (top 10 in minutes played, games started and steals), he appeared in Sports Illustrated, Athlon Sports Magazine, Street Smith and Slam Magazine.

He worked out for a few teams before the 2004 draft, but wasn’t selected, likely due to his size and inconsistent shooting. He found his way onto the Phoenix Suns summer league team, but never played in the regular season. He played eight years outside of the United States, the final three seasons in Israel, where in 2011 he averaged 22 points per game. He then took to 3×3, as Craig Moore would after him. He played on the 3×3 USA national team in the 2014 FIBA cup, and was in the semifinals of the USA National tournament for 3×3 in 2015, 2016 and 2018.


Name: ​Vic Law

Years: 2014​-2019

Stats:

Games played: 125

Points per game: 11.5

Rebounds per game: 5.7

Assists per game: 2.0

Analysis:

Perhaps the most important player to ever wear a Wildcat jersey, Law has the size, athleticism and ability to make him capable of playing the two, three or four. The South Holland, Illinois native was one of Chris Collins’ first big gets, and would turn out to be a program defining player. Law did it all: driving, nailing pull-ups, defense, rebounding, everything. His leadership and prowess helped carry NU to the NCAA tournament, and although the team struggled in 2018 and 2019, Law continued to shine.

His play wasn’t enough to get him drafted, but it got him noticed, and he played for the Orlando Magic in the NBA summer league. After performing well over the summer, Law found a roster spot on the Lakeland Magic of the G-League. After dominating in the G-League, Law signed a 10 day two-way contract with the Magic, where he made five appearances before the season was cut short. Not only did Law change the trajectory of Northwestern men’s basketball in the college landscape, establishing a culture of competition and grit, he showed that there is a path to the NBA through NU. Between his play on court, his commitment to hard work, and the success he has had after college, it is clear that Law is one of the program’s GOATs.

SF

Name: ​John Shurna

Years: ​2009-2012

Stats:

Games played: 130

Points per game: 15.7

Rebounds per game: 5.0

Assists per game: 2.3

Analysis:

​Shurna is the greatest scorer to come out of Northwestern. A local talent, native to Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Shurna was named to the All-Big Ten second team in 2010, a year in which he was the Sporting News Most Improved Player. He was named to the All-Big Ten first team in 2012, when he also won the Big Ten scoring title. That year, he was an honorable mention as an AP All-American, as well as winning the State Farm college 3 point contest. He ended his career as NU’s leading scorer, with 2,038 career points, 661 of which came in 2012.

Shurna went undrafted out of college, but found himself on the Atlanta Hawks summer league team. He performed well enough to earn a one-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Knicks, but was waived before the regular season started. Since then he has played in the summer league for the Cavs, Bucks and Raptors, but never made an NBA roster. Instead, he has competed overseas for seven years, including winning the Croation Cup in 2017.


Name: ​Kevin Coble

Years: ​2006-2009

Stats:

Games played: 81

Points per game: 14.9

Rebounds per game: 5.1

Assists per game: 2

Analysis:

Coble is one of the stranger stories of Northwestern basketball. Coble led the ‘Cats to a 20 win season in 2009, taking them to the NIT, where they lost in the first round. Coble missed the Wildcats only game in the NIT, a 76-64 loss to Rhode Island, with a foot injury, but they seemed destined to make a huge leap with Coble returning to join a roster with Juice Thompson, John Shurna and Drew Cawford. Instead, Coble quit the team and graduated, largely due to an ongoing feud with coach Bill Carmody. In the 2010 season that Coble opted not to play, the ‘Cats won 20 games, making it to the quarter finals of the NIT. This leaves NU fans questioning what went wrong, and what could’ve been if the star had stayed. He had brief experience in the D-League and in Japan, but ultimately found little success in pro ball.


Name: ​Drew Crawford

Years: 2009​-2014

Stats:

Games played: 143

Points per game: 13.4

Rebounds per game: 5

Assists per game: 2

Analysis:

It’s hard not to love Drew Crawford. The 2009-2010 Big Ten Freshman of the year brought a fiery scoring ability that complemented John Shurna and Juice Thompson extremely well. In his redshirt senior season, he was named to the All-Big Ten third team, as well as receiving his fourth Academic All-American nod. Despite his success, he went undrafted. In his first three years out of college Crawford played in the lower levels of the Raptors, Magic and Pelicans organizations, but never settled. In the same years, he made brief stints overseas, where he would finally settle in 2016. He played in Germany and Israel before making his way to Italy, where he was the Italian League MVP in 2019. He currently plays for Olimpia Milano.

PF

Name: ​Shon Morris

Years: ​1984-1988

Stats:

Games played: 111

Points per game: 12.7

Rebounds per game: 6.4

Assists per game: 1.3

Analysis:

Morris had a stellar career with the ‘Cats, leaving his senior season as the No. 3 scorer and No. 4 rebounder in team history. While his records didn’t last, his legacy did, and Morris is still known for the effort he put into everything he did, not only diving for balls in practice, but also being named a GTE Academic All-American twice.


Name: ​Jim Pitts

Years: ​1963-1965

Stats:

Games played: 60

Points per game: 11.3

Rebounds per game: 13.3

Assists per game: N/A

Analysis:

Pitts has long been retired, but his records aren’t. He holds Northwestern single season records with 321 rebounds and 123 blocks in 1966. Furthermore, he holds the single game records for rebounds and blocks, with 29 and 10 respectively. Averaging a double-double per game while only playing 60 games in his career, it’s hard to imagine what the 6’8” center could accomplish today.


Name: ​Vedran Vukusic

Years: 2001​-2006

Stats:

Games played: 112

Points per game: 14.1

Rebounds per game: 3.5

Assists per game: 2.1

Analysis:

The Croatian star made an immediate impact for the ‘Cats, averaging five points per game in just 17 minutes per game in his freshman year. After sitting out his sophomore year, he averaged over 14 points in his next three years, starting every game he played those three seasons. The 6’8” scorer went undrafted, but played a year in Israel before going to Croatia, where he would play six years before retiring.

C

Name: ​Dererk Pardon

Years: 2015​-2019

Stats:

Games played: 112

Points per game: 10.6

Rebounds per game: 7

Assists per game: 1.2

Analysis:

Pardon is not only one of Northwestern’s best players, but one of the most memorable that the program has produced. Whether it be the headband, the shot, or the fiery passion that Pardon brought to the court, it’s impossible not to be a fan of the undersized big man. After an incredible career in Evanston, including an NCAA Tournament appearance, the Cleveland, Ohio native played for the Lakeland Magic in the NBA summer league, alongside former teammate Vic Law. He didn’t earn a G-league spot, but performed well enough to get himself a deal overseas, where he plays in the Italian league.


Name: ​Kevin Rankin

Years: ​1990-1994

Stats:

Games played: 112

Points per game: 14.1

Rebounds per game: 7.9

Assists per game: 2.4

Analysis:

Rankin started 111 of his 112 games played at Northwestern, and he led the ‘Cats in rebounding in all four of his seasons, helping the ‘Cats to the NIT in 1994. Out of college, he was on the Bulls roster for about two months, without seeing the floor in an NBA game. He then took his talents overseas, where he played in Turkey, Spain, Israel, Italy and Germany in 9 seasons.


Name: ​Evan Eschmeyer

Years: 1995​-1999

Stats:

Games played: 112

Points per game: 16.1

Rebounds per game: 8.9

Assists per game: 1.8

Analysis:

Eschmeyer is Northwestern’s lone player to have been taken in the NBA draft, selected 34th overall by the Nets in 1999. He played four seasons in the NBA, two with the Nets and two with the Mavericks. The three time All-Big Ten Center was also a consensus All-American. Not only did he lead the ‘Cats in scoring and rebounding three years in a row, he led NU to an 8 seed in the 1999 NIT, where they almost upset the No. 1 seed Michigan State Spartans. While he didn’t have great success in the pros, Eschmeyer is certainly one of the best players to ever wear Purple and White.

That leads to the question: how would you compose your All-Time NUMBB starting five? I think I’d have to go Juice, Law, Crawford, Shurna (stretch him to the four) and Eschmeyer, but my choices are certainly skewed by sentimentality.

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