Commentary

Vitale hands out 'All-Decade' awards

Updated: December 23, 2009, 2:32 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

As we close out this decade, it is time to look back and reflect on the crème de la crème, the best of the best. That's right, it's time to present my All-Solid Gold winners for the past decade-- in several categories.

TEAM OF THE DECADE:

Florida ... winner of back-to-back national championships.

North Carolina ... also won a pair of national titles in the decade.

Duke ... won more games than any other program in the decade.

Memphis ... total dominance in Conference USA.

Kansas ... won a national title and dominated the Big 12.

UCLA ... three straight Final Fours.

• And the All-Solid Gold winner is ... the Tar Heels. That's right, baby, I am going with Chapel Hill. North Carolina cut down the nets as the national champion in '05 and '09. In this decade, they had four trips to the Final Four and won five ACC regular season titles.

COACH OF THE DECADE:

My list of PTP'ers in this category includes:

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke. His team won more games than any other in the decade.

Roy Williams, Kansas/North Carolina. He earned two national championships.

John Calipari, Memphis/Kentucky. He built up something special at Memphis as the school set a record for most wins in a four-year period.

Tom Izzo, Michigan State. Four trips to the Final Four during the decade.

Billy Donovan, Florida. Consecutive national championships.

Ben Howland, UCLA. Rejuvenated the UCLA program with three straight trips to the Final Four.

• And the All-Solid Gold winner is ... Coach K. Not only did he have the most wins and a national championship in 2001, he deserves credit for contributing to the revitalization of USA basketball's pride in the Olympics.

PLAYER OF THE DECADE:

My list of PTP'ers in this category includes:

J. J. Redick, Duke ... finished career as ACC's all-time leading scorer.

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina ... passed Redick as ACC's top scorer.

Jason Williams, Duke ... part of his career was before 2000, but he still belongs in the discussion.

Kevin Durant, Texas ... averaged a double-double in his one magical season in Austin.

Emeka Okafor, Connecticut ... exemplified the term student-athlete in helping UConn win it all in 2004.

Stephen Curry, Davidson ... led a remarkable run that fell just short of the Final Four.

• And the All-Solid Gold winner is ... Tyler Hansbrough. He was the hardest worker I've seen during my 30-plus years of calling games for ESPN and ABC.

DIAPER DANDY OF THE DECADE:

My list of PTP'ers in this category includes:

Kevin Durant, Texas

Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse

Chris Paul, Wake Forest

Derrick Rose, Memphis

Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina

Kevin Love, UCLA

OJ Mayo, USC

TJ Ford, Texas

Michael Beasley, Kansas State

You can debate about several others. The decade had plenty of impact newcomers.

• But the All-Solid Gold winner is ... Durant. He averaged a double-double and won the majority of the national Player of the Year honors.

ALL-DECADE TEAM:

  1. F-Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina
  2. F-Shane Battier, Duke
  3. C-Emeka Okafor, Connecticut
  4. G-J. J. Redick, Duke
  5. G-Dwyane Wade, Marquette

OTHER CATEGORIES:

Premier point guard: My winner is Ty Lawson of North Carolina, narrowly edging TJ Ford.

Best three-point shooter: My pick is J. J. Redick of Duke. There were others considered, like Salim Stoudamire of Arizona, Jason Kapono of UCLA, Steve Novak of Marquette and Gerry McNamara of Syracuse, to name a few. The three-point shot has revolutionized the game and Mr. Redick was a clutch performer from behind the line.

Best shot blocker: My choice is Connecticut's Emeka Okafor, but another Connecticut star, Hasheem Thabeet, was up there. The Huskies have led the nation in blocks for eight straight seasons!

Best rebounder: Paul Millsap of Louisiana Tech didn't receive much air-time on national TV, but he led the nation in controlling the glass for three straight seasons.

Best scorer: Hansbrough over Redick. But Reggie Williams of VMI and Keydren Clark of St. Peter's led the nation in consecutive seasons.

Best foul shooter: Blake Ahearn of Missouri State led the nation for three straight years!

Best 'shock' team: George Mason. Wins over North Carolina, Michigan State and Connecticut made Jim Larranaga's team the Cinderella of the decade.

Intriguing man of the decade: Roy Williams. He took two traditional powers, Kansas and North Carolina, and returned them to prominence. Williams returned to Chapel Hill and led his alma mater to a pair of championships in '05 and '09 while coming up just short with the Jayhawks in 2003.

Inspiration and courage award: Jim Boeheim, Syracuse and Jim Calhoun, Connecticut. Both of these men are cancer survivors and both were inducted into the Hall of Fame. They continue to produce talented teams.

It has been a special decade for college hoops. Where has the time gone? It has flown by, baby!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.