#NBLrank The Greatest “One and Done” Players of All Time

#NBLrank The Greatest “One and Done” Players of All Time

The All-time NBLrank rolls on with Aussie Hoopla ranking the best players in NBL history for the entire month of September.


To create all-time #NBLrank, the Aussie Hoopla writing team have all voted on the greatest players to play at each position as well as a few select other criteria.


Each Aussie Hoopla writer has made their decisions, but now we want to hear from YOU!



We will be unveiling the results of each position week by week but be sure to vote for whom you think should be #1 at each position below or tweet us your thoughts by using hashtag #NBLrank.


We’ve already listed who we rate as the league’s greatest point guards and shooting guards, but before moving onto the greatest big men we look back at the best players who made an impact down under despite playing only one season. We rank the best “One and Done” players in NBL history.



Played For North Melbourne Giants 1995


When Chris Jent stepped off the plane in Melbourne back in ’94, there was probably still confetti in his hair from celebrating the Houston Rockets 1994 NBA Championship.



He played in 11 playoff games for the Rockets who were able to win the cities first NBA championship that year.


When Jent dropped 33 points, ten rebounds and six assists in his NBL debut, it marked the first time a current NBA champion had played in our league. Only Andrew Gaze who won an NBA title in 1999 has been able to replicate this.


When Jent joined the North Melbourne Giants they were reigning NBL champions but with import Paul Maley being forced out through injury and the rest of the league making drastic steps to improve, the Giants needed a big time recruit to level the playing field, and Jent didn’t disappoint.


Jent was a winner. Before winning an NBA ring, he was a key member of the ’93 Ohio state team that finished 1st in the Big Ten. Chris was a major part of that team which was unlucky not to beat Chris Webber and his Michigan “Fab Five” (they lost by 4 points) to reach the NCAA Final Four.


North Melbourne’s coach at the time Brett Brown (now head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers) described him as the only player in the league who could “defend a point guard, play interior defence and break somebody down off the dribble”.


One of the deadliest long-range scorers we ever saw on our shores, his 46 point game against Canberra was a testament to that. He nailed seven from 14 from downtown and to show he wasn’t simply one dimensional finished with seven rebounds, four steals and two blocks before fouling out.


The Giants Grand Final match-up against Perth still stands as one of the most watched finals series in NBL history. The Giants fell one game short of being repeat champions that season and Jent returned to the states to play one more season in the NBA (with the Knicks) before carving out an impressive five-year career in Italy.


Many wonder what could have been had the dynamic duo of Jent and Darryl McDonald had been able to have another shot at a title. That never eventuated, but it didn’t change “D-Mac’s” opinion of how good he was.


“He averaged 26 a game, first team All-NBL, the only thing he missed was he didn’t cap it off was a chip. He was tough. Shot the ball well, played off the dribble and could defend. Chris is easily one of the best one & done players in NBL history” said McDonald.


Jent now coaches his alma mater Ohio State in the Big Ten and has previously been an assistant coach for Philadelphia, Orlando, Cleveland and Sacramento in the NBA.


Career Statistics (per game averages in brackets)

Points – 875 (25.7)

Assists – 97 (2.9)

Rebounds – 235 (6.9)

Steals – 64 (1.9)

Blocks – 22 (0.6)

Shooting Percentages – 45% FG, 38% 3PT, 83% FT



  • All-NBL First Team (1995)



Played for South Dragons 2008/09


The South Dragons were 16-4 when Donta Smith was axed while playing for CBA team Shanxi Zhongyu for Bonzi Wells. Brian Goorjian, the Dragon’s coach at the time, was aware of Smith from his time playing for the Atlanta Hawks and with current import Cortez Groves struggling to play due to injury, signing him mid-season was a no brainer.


donta-smith-vs-melbourne-nbl-grand-final-2009Despite having 41 and 35 point games in China during his last weeks in China, Smith started his NBL campaign relatively slowly.


Seven games in and Smith still was still coming off the bench and was yet to score over 14 in a game. His talent was never questioned however with his ability to fill the stat sheet in other areas ensured the Dragons finished the season on top of the ladder.


Once the playoff’s began, and Goorjian increased Smith’s minutes we saw the brilliance of Smith’s play. A player who could impact the game at either end, the five-game NBL finals gave Smith the opportunity to show what his teammates had been referring to him as one of the best ever to play in the NBL.


“The guy was a winner, consistently won in 3-4 different leagues around the world and could fit into any role, ” said Rhys Carter, a member of the Dragons in 2009.


Smith’s play in a gruelling NBL Grand Final series which the Melbourne Tigers stretched out to five games against explains it all. With each Dragons victory, it seemed Smith was able to showcase another way he could help his teams win in a unique style of play.


Dragons win Game 1 – Smith delivers 19 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists while shooting 73% from the field.

Dragons win Game 3 – Smith has a near triple-double with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists and 9 blocks while shooting 70% from the field.

Dragons win Game 5 – To deliver the final blow Smith filled the box score with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.

It was no surprise when Smith was named Finals MVP, averaging 18 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks across the five games.


“He won Finals MVP’s in Isreal, Spain and here, but never a league MVP, so potentially you could say he was one to chill when it didn’t really matter but when it counted his was all-around amazing” Carter added.


Career Statistics (per game averages in brackets)

Points – 270 (15.0)

Assists – 64 (3.6)

Rebounds – 94 (5.2)

Steals – 20 (1.1)

Blocks – 18 (1.0)

Shooting Percentages – 40% FG, 30% 3PT, 78% FT



  • NBL Champion (2009)
  • NBL Grand Final MVP (2009)



Played for Illawarra Hawks 1991



1991 was a rocky one for the Illawarra Hawks’ a 6-26 record resulted in a bottom of the ladder finish, import Norman Taylor fleeing the club after serving three years and second import Lewis Jackson fleeing the country after DUI charges.


It wasn’t a surprise that the club wanted to find two imports that could fit “quietly” into the team and just put up numbers.


Their first move was sound, signing a soft-spoken young big man Melvin Thomas (who was good enough to play 235 games for the Hawks). The Hawks quest to find a point guard to team with Thomas wasn’t so easy however, dragging on through the entire pre-season before at the very last minute then coach Dave Lindstrom stumbled across the 23-year-old Doug Overton.


The 185cm point guard had been drafted by Detroit in the second round and then promptly told he should play overseas for a season and try his luck with the team the following year.


With a point to prove to NBA doubters, Overton made the NBL his proving ground and as a result, single-handedly carried the Hawks into the postseason by playing more minutes than anyone else in the league (he played 45+ minutes in 17 of his 26 games).


Some incredible performances had Overton back on the NBA radar in no time. In his debut game he dropped 29 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds against eventual champions South East Melbourne, one night in Geelong he shot 14/17 from the field and finished with 32 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists and 2 steals and one chilly night in Canberra he must have thought it best to keep warm and play all 48 minutes in a game where he finished with triple-double (38 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists).
Phil Smyth faced a lot of point guards during his legendary NBL career. Overton was one who stands out till this day.


“He was such a smooth operator, one of those players that was all class. He wasn’t flashy just super efficient with multiple ways to score and involve his teammates” said Smyth


A talented North Melbourne team eliminated the Hawks in the playoffs, but Overton was lauded as the best point guard in the league and named to the All-NBL first team. At season’s end, he returned to America with a number of NBA team’s wanting his signature. He signed with Washington and averaged 8 points, 2 rebounds and 4 assists the next year before playing a further ten seasons for Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic, New Jersey Nets, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets and Los Angeles Clippers.


“His defence improved dramatically in his short time in Australia, I can’t help but feel that’s what initially was stopping him from making an NBA team, but once he had that in his game he was quite a talent,” said Smyth.


Career Statistics (per game averages in brackets)

Points – 631 (24.3)

Assists – 162 (6.2)

Rebounds – 129 (5.0)

Steals – 42 (1.6)

Blocks – 2 (0.1)

Shooting Percentages – 45% FG, 42% 3PT, 84% FT


  • All-NBL First Team (1992)




Played for Sydney Kings 2002/03


Chris Williams did a lot of things that a lot of people didn’t think he could do. Despite playing mostly at small forward, he played all five positions during his one season in the NBL.


chris-williams-sydneyIt’s because of that versatility that many revere Williams as the number one for best “one and done player”, and for good reason. Kavossy Franklin, William’s teammate in Sydney, is one of them.


“He was awesome. On the court, he could do it all. “Dub” as I call him, was a walking triple double every time he stepped on the court. He’s the best all-around player I’ve seen grace the NBL.” said Franklin


Williams arrived in Sydney a mere 22 years of age, and the Sydney Kings had signed him after playing just one year of college ball at Virginia. He debuted in the purple and gold against the Townsville Suns and top scored with 24 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks, crazy numbers for a 22-year-old in any league.


The jaw-dropping games didn’t stop there. Williams’ one season in the league included a 21 points, 18 rebound, 9 assist effort against Canberra, a 34 point, 15 rebound and 11 assist triple double against rivals West Sydney and a 35 point 12 rebound victory over the Perth Wildcats who they would later face off in the Grand Final.


The 199cm Williams finished among the top five in the league in points, rebounds, steals and blocks. He was able to guide the city of Sydney (and Shane Heal) to that long-awaited title that had so far eluded them. He left Sydney with a stocked trophy cabinet doing so, he made the All-NBL team, won league MVP and grand final MVP all in one season.


” I also had the opportunity of playing with him in Germany as well. We made it to the championship game that season but lost. He was just as good of a player in that league as well. He made the game easier for all of us in Sydney. Tremendous Talent.” said Franklin.


Career Statistics (per game averages in brackets)

Points – 896 (23.6)

Assists – 165 (4.3)

Rebounds – 460 (12.1)

Steals – 82 (2.2)

Blocks – 49 (1.3)

Shooting Percentages – 53% FG, 16% 3PT, 63% FT

  • NBL Champion (2003)
  • NBL Grand Final MVP (2003)
  • NBL MVP (2003)
  • All-NBL First Team (2003)
  • Led the league in points per game (23.6 ppg)



Played for Perth Wildcats 2014


The Wildcats fell short of winning the title in 2013, falling to eventual champion New Zealand in the Grand Final. A few weeks later the team also lost electrifying import Kevin Lisch, who left to play in France.


A search to replace a former NBL MVP is never easy but when Wildcats managing director Nick Marvin and head coach Trevor Gleeson witnessed his ability first hand at the NBA Summer League they knew they had a star.


“We saw this guy score 25 points in the semi-final of the NBA Summer League and we thought wow, this kid can really play, but we didn’t think we’d get him to Australia” said Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson on signing Ennis.


“Now we’re super excited to have him at the Wildcats and can’t wait for him to suit up for us because he is going to be a highlight reel,” said Gleeson.


At 23 years of age and measuring 200cm and 90kg at the time, Ennis’ was proved his worth and was good for 25 points and 4 rebounds in his NBL debut, a three-point victory over arch-rivals Adelaide.


As “Big Game” James continued to notch up big games like his two outings against Cairns (33 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals in November or the 32 point, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in January) fans started began annointing Ennis as the league’s MVP. Legends of the game like Andrew Gaze also confirmed that Ennis was one of the greatest talents to play in the NBL.


“I thought he was phenomenal when he came here. Only one year, but in that year he won a title and, to me, he had the skillset that — if he had of played a long career here — he could rival some of the all time greats” said Andrew Gaze to Fox Sports.



Ennis wouldn’t claim MVP honours, that award going instead to Illawarra’s Rotnei Clark, something that prompted fans and legends of the game to review the league MVP voting system. It’s rumoured Ennis was so disappointed he threw his All-NBL first team award into the nearby Yarra River when he heard the news.


Whether that’s true or not it resulted in him finding another level of play in the Grand Final series, his 30 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists in Game 1 clearly showing he had a point to prove.


Immediately after winning the NBL title Ennis returned to the US and was rewarded with a contract to play for the Miami Heat. Although looking at Ennis best games statistically may not compare evenly with some of the others on this list, the standard of our league in 2014 was a much more competitive landscape than the 1990’s and 2000’s.


“He was very athletic, could score from anywhere on the court and played with a high basketball IQ. I loved his game.” Gaze noted.


And with approval from the greatest to have ever played the game here, it’s clear Ennis stands on top of this selective list of the greatest to have played here for a blink of an eye.

Career Statistics (per game averages in brackets)

Points – 699 (21.2)

Assists – 68 (2.1)

Rebounds – 235 (7.1)

Steals – 47 (1.4)

Blocks – 28 (0.8)

Shooting Percentages – 47% FG, 36% 3PT, 77% FT

  • NBL Champion (2014)
  • All-NBL First Team (2014)


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Dan BoyceAuthor: Dan Boyce (348 Posts)

Dan Boyce is a die-hard Sydney Kings fan who grew up in Melbourne during the roaring 90's of Australian Basketball and spent far too much time collecting Futera NBL Basketball cards