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Sports Then and Now

Best College Shot Blockers of the Past 30 Years

Posted on March 26, 2014 by Martin Banks

By taking a look at March Madness and the way college basketball teams advance through the tournament, it’s easy to see how valuable an elite shot blocker can be. Protectors of the rim have always been an important part of the college game and have been some of the best players in the history of the sport. Unfortunately, the blocked shot didn’t become a statistic until the ‘80s, so greats like Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain couldn’t leave their mark completely. However, the last 30 years or so have given us plenty of great shot blockers. Here are the best of the best.

Hakeem Olajuwon

Olajuwon was easily one of the most dominating forces college basketball has ever seen. His defensive prowess led the Houston Cougars to the Final Four in each of his three seasons playing for the school. Had he stayed for a fourth year, Olajuwon would almost certainly be the all-time leader in blocks. He totaled 454 rejections with an average of 6.61 blocks per 40 minutes.

David Robinson


Known as the Admiral, Robinson is one of the best shot blockers of all time, which is all the more impressive considering he didn’t start playing basketball until his final year of high school. Robinson recorded a total of 516 blocks in his four-year college career at Navy, averaging 5.55 blocks per 40 minutes. Robinson is one of only six players to block at least 14 shots in a single game and he holds the record for blocked shots in a season with 207. His knack for rejecting shots earned Robinson both the Naismith and Wooden Player of the Year awards.

Jarvis Varnado

Varnado used his four years at Mississippi State to become the all-time NCAA blocks leader with 564. His humongous wingspan made him seem taller than his actual 6’9’’ height. Varnado used all of his length to average 6.24 blocks per 40 minutes and record a 170-block season and a 157-block season. Varnado earned the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award in 2010.

Alonzo Mourning


Mourning was easily one of the best shot blockers in recent memory. In his four years at Georgetown, Mourning blocked a total of 453 shots and blocked 5.02 shots per 40 minutes. He led the nation in blocks as a freshman with five blocks per game, then earned five blocks per game again in his final year of college ball. Mourning protected the hoop better than you could protect your body from bugs with mosquito protection devices.

Adonal Foyle

Foyle is one of the lesser-known players on the list, but has one of the more impressive resumes. The great thing about March Madness is that it introduces us to smaller schools like Vista College, Southern State, or in this case, Colgate. In Foyle’s three years at Colgate, he blocked 492 shots, averaging 5.7 rejections per game. An even more jaw-dropping stat for the rim defender is that he averaged an incredible 6.24 blocks per 40 minutes.

Emeka Okafor

The rim protector for the UConn Huskies in the early years of the new century was 6’10’’ Okafor. He wasn’t just a defensive player, as he averaged a double-double in points and rebounds over his three college years. However, defense was his calling card. Okafor led the nation in blocked shots in his final two years with UConn and led the team to one of its three national championships. Okafor was also a two-time recipient of the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award.

Hasheem Thabeet

Although his game has failed to translate fully to the next level, Thabeet was a fantastic shot blocker in college. He rejected 417 shots in three years and averaged 5.73 blocks per 40 minutes. His raw defensive talent earned him the NABC Defensive Player of the Year award twice.

Shaquille O’Neal

Standing more than 7 feet tall, Shaq was a physical freak and a talented shot blocker for LSU. He averaged an amazing 6.03 blocks per 40 minutes and 412 total blocks. Shaq also had an impressive 12-block game against Loyola Marymount and an 11-block game in the NCAA tournament.

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