With the impending move to the Pac-12, Greg Hansen of the Arizona Daily Star presented his picks for the top 10 athletes in Pac-10 history. The Pac-10 was originally founded in 1978, so this is his list of top athletes from 1978 to 2011.
Now, we all know that the Pac-10, with the moniker "Conference of Champions", has been home to some of the most amazing athletes in the country's history, and a top 10 list is pretty hard to formulate. I don't necessarily agree with Greg's top 10, but I can't disagree with it either...
You see, Greg's top athlete in that time span is UCLA's Natalie Williams. Many of you may not know her name...but guys like Nestor, gbruin and myself saw Natalie in action during our college years. She was absolutely amazing and was basically in the Daily Bruin at least once a week.
Photo Source: What's Bruin Blog
Natalie was 6-2, 200lbs...with a 31 inch vertical leap! Here are some of Natalie's accomplishments at UCLA:
- first woman to be a consensus All-American in NCAA volleyball and basketball
- Pac-10 Player of the Week an unprecedented 16 times (8 times in volleyball, 8 times in basketball)
- MVP of UCLA’s 1990 and 1991 national volleyball championships
- two-time basketball All-American, 1993 and 1994.
- four-time volleyball First Team All-American
- Pac-10 Player of the Year in volleyball and basketball
- National Player of the Year in volleyball in 1990 and 1992
- Named Pac-10's Athlete of the Decade in both sports
- She is believed to be the only athlete in college sports history to play in both a basketball game (an exhibition game) and a volleyball game on the same day.
- Inducted into UCLA Hall of Fame in 2004.
If you can't get enough, here is an interview from December 2010 when the Pac-10 caught up with her in honor of the conference's 25th anniversary of women's sports.
Not enough? Natalie also played on the national basketball team that won the Gold Medal at the Olympics in 2000 and at the World Championships in 2002. And she carried the Olympic Torch in Salt Lake City prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Even at UCLA, with a plethora of unbelievable athletes, you can see that Natalie stands out like no other.
Other Bruins on Greg's list include Jackie Joyner-Kersee (basketball/track), Kenny Easley (football), Lisa Fernandez (softball), and Gail Devers (track and field). Fantastic choices, of course :)
Being from Arizona, Greg also included...um...Phil Mickelson (who played golf at ASU)...at #2! And Sean Elliott at #9...
Here are some other athletes that I think you could make a case for (with a slight Bruin bias):
- Ed O'Bannon
- John Elway
- Karch Kiraly
- Reggie Miller
- Florence Griffith-Joyner
- Troy Aikman
- Cade McNown
- Brad Friedel
- Tiger Woods
I could go on and on. Who comes to mind for you?