Most Assists in College Basketball History
College basketball has been defined by the players who could light up a scoreboard — they headline the teams that win national championships and All-American teams.
But behind every great scorer in NCAA history is a player who was selfless. Someone who made sure that star player had the ball in their hands at the right moments and in the right spots. It's the point guard who keeps the team running smoothly and moving in the right direction.
There's not a lot of fanfare that comes with dishing out assists, but the very best to ever do it never really cared about grabbing headlines. Here's a look at the players with the most assists in college basketball history.
20. Frank Smith, Old Dominion — 883 Assists
High school: Mount Vernon High School (Alexandria, Virginia)
Career highlights: Two-time All-Sun Belt (1986, 1988), AP All-American (1988), Sun Belt All-Rookie Team (1985)
Bottom line: Frank Smith was a star point guard and option quarterback at Mount Vernon High who had football offers from Nebraska, Notre Dame and USC, among others, but chose to play basketball for Old Dominion instead.
Smith made history for ODU as he set Sun Belt Conference career records for both assists and steals and averaged almost 40 minutes per game over his last three seasons.
Note: All career assists leaders through the end of the 2022-23 season
19. Jim Les, Cleveland State/Bradley — 884 Assists
Born: August 18, 1963 (Niles, Illinois)
High school: Notre Dame College Prep (Niles, Illinois)
Career highlights: MVC Player of the Year (1986), Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (1986)
Bottom line: Jim Les left Bradley as No. 2 on the NCAA's career assists leaderboard and was named Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year as a senior in 1986.
Les, just 5-foot-11, played six seasons in the NBA and eight seasons of professional basketball. Les was Bradley's head coach from 2002 to 2011 and led the Braves to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2006. He's been the head coach at UC Davis since 2011.
18. Cassius Winston, Michigan State — 890 Assists
Born: February 28, 1998 (Detroit, Michigan)
High school: University of Detroit Jesuit Academy (Detroit, Michigan)
Career highlights: Two-time AP All-American (2019, 2020), Big Ten Player of the Year (2019), three-time All-Big Ten (2018-20), Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player (2019), Michigan Mr. Basketball (2016)
Bottom line: Few schools have the great history of point guards that Michigan State has, with legendary players like Magic Johnson, Mateen Cleaves and, most recently, Cassius Winston. Winston was a two-time All-American for the Spartans and was named Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 2019.
17. Chico Fletcher, Arkansas State — 893 Assists
Born: October 25, 1977 (Osceola, Arkansas)
High school: Osceola High School (Osceola, Arkansas)
Career highlights: AP All-American (1999), two-time Sun Belt Player of the Year (1998, 1999), three-time All-Sun Belt (1998-2000), Sun Belt Tournament MVP (1999)
Bottom line: Standing at just 5-foot-6, Arkansas State's Chico Fletcher is the shortest player to make this list and had an unusual path to college basketball stardom — Fletcher came to Arkansas State on a football scholarship but decided to try out for the basketball team as a walk-on following his redshirt freshman year on the football team.
Fletcher became a starter for Arkansas State early in his first year before eventually becoming a two-time Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year and leading his school to the first and only NCAA Tournament appearance in 1999.
16. Andre LaFleur, Northeastern — 894 Assists
Born: March 22, 1965 (Los Angeles, California)
High school: Governor Dummer Academy (South Byfield, Massachusetts)
Career highlights: Two-time All-America East (1987, 1988), All-America East Rookie Team (1985)
Bottom line: Northeastern point guard Andre LaFleur's college career is marked by his being the running mate to future NBA star Reggie Lewis, who tragically died following an offseason workout in 1993.
LaFleur and Lewis ran roughshod over America East opponents, winning the league championship and making the NCAA Tournament all four years — Northeastern was 60-6 in conference play and 102-26 overall in that stretch and won 38 straight home games at one point. LaFleur ended his career as the NCAA career assists leader and is still Northeastern's career leader in assists, minutes played, games and steals.
14. Orlando Smart, San Francisco — 902 Assists (Tie)
Born: January 19, 1971 (Austin, Texas)
High school: Crockett High School (Austin, Texas)
Career highlights: Two-time All-WCC (1993, 1994), USF Hall of Fame (2001), WCC Hall of Honor (2019)
Bottom line: Orlando Smart had over 200 assists in each of his four seasons playing for the University of San Francisco — no other player in USF history has ever had more than 200 assists in a single season. Smart also finished his career as No. 2 on the Dons' steals list and played two seasons of professional basketball in Poland.
14. Kameron Langley, North Carolina A&T — 902 Assists (Tie)
Born: April 13, 1999 (Greensboro, North Carolina)
High school: Southwest Guilford High School (High Point, North Carolina)
Career highlights: Two-time All-MEAC (2020, 2021), MEAC All-Freshman Team (2018)
Bottom line: North Carolina A&T's Kameron Langley led the nation in assists as a junior in 2020 and is the only player on this list who got to play five full seasons — he was granted an entire extra year of eligibility in 2021-22 because of the pandemic.
13. D.J. Cooper, Ohio — 934 Assists
Born: December 6, 1990 (Chicago, Illinois)
High school: Seton Academy (South Holland, Illinois)
Career highlights: AP All-American (2013), MAC Player of the Year (2013), three-time All-MAC (2011-13), MAC Tournament MVP (2012), MAC Freshman of the Year (2010)
Bottom line: One of the most decorated players in MAC history, D.J. Cooper picked Ohio from offers from several Power Five schools and was a three-time All-MAC selection, earning MAC Player of the Year honors as a senior in 2013.
Cooper has spent the last decade playing professional basketball overseas, where he's led three different European leagues in assists and led the Israeli League in assists in 2023.
12. Gary Payton, Oregon State — 939 Assists
Born: July 23, 1968 (Oakland, California)
High school: Skyline High School (Oakland, California)
Career highlights: AP All-American (1990), Pac-10 Player of the Year (1990), three-time All-Pac-10 (1988-90), NBA champion (2006), nine-time All-NBA Team (1994-2002), nine-time NBA All-Star (1994-98, 2000-03), NBA Defensive Player of the Year (1996), nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team (1994-2002), NBA All-Rookie Team (1991), NBA 75th Anniversary Team
Bottom line: The only player on this list who is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, Oregon State legend Gary Payton grabbed the nation's attention with one of the all-time great Sports Illustrated covers when he was playing for the Beavers.
Payton was the Pac-10 Player of the Year and an All-American in 1990 then played 17 seasons in the NBA. He was a nine-time All-NBA Team selection, the 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year, and won an NBA championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat in his penultimate pro season.
11. Doug Gottlieb, Notre Dame/Oklahoma State — 947 Assists
Born: January 15, 1976 (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)
High school: Tustin High School (Tustin, California)
Career highlights: All-Big 12 (1999)
Bottom line: Doug Gottlieb's college career has been well-documented for his off-the-court issues — what usually doesn't come up is that he was one of the greatest passers in college basketball history.
Gottlieb played his freshman season at Notre Dame, then transferred to Oklahoma State for his final three seasons, where he led the nation in assists twice and set the school record for assists in just two seasons. He also set records for single-game assists in the Big 12 regular season and Big 12 Tournament.
10. Greg Anthony, Portland/UNLV — 950 Assists
Born: November 15, 1967 (Las Vegas, Nevada)
High school: Rancho High School (North Las Vegas, Nevada)
Career highlights: NCAA champion (1990), two-time All-Big West (1989, 1990)
Bottom line: The man who ran point for arguably the greatest college basketball team of all time — the 1990 NCAA champion UNLV Runnin' Rebels — was Greg Anthony.
But did you know Anthony actually started his college career in the West Coast Conference? That's right. Anthony played his freshman season for the University of Portland, where he was the WCC Freshman of the Year in 1987.
9. Aaron Miles, Kansas — 954 Assists
Born: April 13, 1983 (Portland, Oregon)
High school: Jefferson High School (Portland, Oregon)
Career highlights: Two-time All-Big 12 (2004, 2005), three-time All-Big 12 Defensive Team (2003-05), McDonald's All-American (2001), Parade High School All-American (2001)
Bottom line: One of the greatest high school basketball players to come out of Oregon, Jefferson High's Aaron Miles helped lead Kansas to two Final Fours, one of which ended in a heartbreaking loss to Syracuse in the 2003 national championship game. Miles was one of two players from Jefferson to play for Kansas in that run alongside teammate Michael Lee. He is still the Big 12 career assists leader.
The athlete played nine years of professional basketball, with one season in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors.
8. Tony Miller, Marquette — 956 Assists
Born: April 16, 1973 (Cleveland, Ohio)
High school: Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School (Cleveland, Ohio)
Career highlights: Three-time All-Great Midwest (1993-95)
Bottom line: Tony Miller was a two-sport star in football and basketball in high school and was so highly regarded as a quarterback that most schools didn't bother to recruit him for basketball — Marquette head coach Kevin O'Neill was so persistent in his pursuit of Miller that he finally landed him. Miller led Marquette to the NCAA Tournament during his sophomore and junior seasons. He had a run to the Sweet 16 in 1994 that included an upset of Kentucky.
Miller played 13 seasons of professional basketball overseas, where he was one of the biggest stars in the Dutch League in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
7. Sherman Douglas, Syracuse — 960 Assists
Born: September 16, 1966 (Washington, D.C.)
High school: Spingarn High School (Washington, D.C.)
Career highlights: Two-time AP All-American (1988, 1989), three-time All-Big East (1987-89), NBA All-Rookie Team (1990)
Bottom line: Sherman Douglas led Syracuse to a national runner-up finish in 1987 and revolutionized one particular shot that's still prevalent in today's game: the floater in the lane. He ended his college career as the NCAA's career assists leader.
Douglas played in the NBA for 12 seasons and was one of the league's best point guards early in his career. But he became known for one of the strangest stats in league history after his career was over: going 0-30 in games against Michael Jordan.
6. Steve Blake, Maryland — 972 Assists
Born: February 26, 1980 (Hollywood, Florida)
High school: Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Virginia)
Career highlights: NCAA champion (2002), two-time All-ACC (2002, 2003)
Bottom line: The Maryland backcourt of Juan Dixon and Steve Blake were the catalysts in leading the Terrapins to the 2002 national championship, with Blake and Dixon teaming up to make two Final Fours.
Blake was the starter from the first game of his freshman season and became the first player in ACC history to finish his career with 1,000 points, 800 assists, 400 rebounds and 200 steals. Blake had a lengthy NBA career, playing 13 seasons for eight different teams.
5. Keith Jennings, East Tennessee State — 983 Assists
Born: November 2, 1968 (Culpeper, Virginia)
High school: Culpeper County High School (Culpeper County, Virginia)
Career highlights: Two-time SoCon Player of the Year (1990, 1991), AP All-American (1991), Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award (1991)
Bottom line: Standing at just 5-foot-7, East Tennessee State's Keith Jennings lit up college foes in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning Southern Conference Player of the Year twice while winning the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award in 1991 as the nation's top player 6-foot or under. The same year he also led the NCAA in three-point shooting.
Jennings played 13 seasons of professional basketball, including three seasons in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors from 1992 to 1995.
4. Jason Brickman, LIU-Brooklyn — 1,009 Assists
Born: November 19, 1991 (San Antonio, Texas)
High school: Clark High School (San Antonio, Texas)
Career highlights: All-NEC (2014), NEC Rookie of the Year (2011), NEC All-Tournament Team (2011)
Bottom line: San Antonio native Jason Brickman led the nation in assists his junior and senior seasons and is one of just four players in NCAA history to pass 1,000 career assists. Brickman averaged 11.3 points and 10.0 assists as a senior in 2013-14, becoming just the second player in NCAA history to average in double-digits for points and assists in a single season after Southern's Avery Johnson in 1988-89.
3. Ed Cota, North Carolina — 1,030 Assists
Born: May 19, 1976 (Los Angeles, California)
High school: Samuel J. Tilden High School (Brooklyn, New York)
Career highlights: Three-time All-ACC (1998-2000), ACC Rookie of the Year (1997), ACC All-Freshman Team (1997), Parade High School All-American (1996), McDonald's All-American (1996)
Bottom line: Brooklyn native Ed Cota was one of the most sought-after point guards in the country from the Class of 1996 and played alongside future college and NBA stars Kobe Bryant, Jermaine O'Neal, Stephen Jackson and Mike Bibby in the 1996 McDonald's All-American Game.
Cota had the enviable task of dishing out assists to Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter during his career and walked away with several NCAA records, becoming the first player in college basketball history to finish his career with 1,000 points, 1,000 assists and 500 rebounds. He also set an NCAA record by playing in 138 games without fouling out.
2. Chris Corchiani, North Carolina State — 1,038 Assists
Born: May 19, 1976 (Los Angeles, California)
High school: Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School (Hialeah, Florida)
Career highlights: Three-time All-ACC (1989-91), NABC All-American (1991), Parade High School All-American (1987)
Bottom line: North Carolina State's Chris Corchiani was the first player in college basketball history to pass 1,000 career assists and left college as the NCAA career leader in assists — a reign that would last less than two years.
Corchiani, who led the nation in assists as a senior in 1990-91, is still in the Top 25 on the NCAA career list for steals. Corchiani was a second-round pick in the 1991 NBA Draft and played 11 seasons of professional basketball, with the majority of that in the top European leagues.
1. Bobby Hurley, Duke — 1,076 Assists
Born: June 28, 1971 (Jersey City, New Jersey)
High school: St. Anthony High School (Jersey City, New Jersey)
Career highlights: Two-time NCAA champion (1991, 1992), NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1992), two-time AP All-American (1992, 1993), three-time All-ACC (1991-93), McDonald's All-American (1989), McDonald's All-American Game MVP (1989), two-time Parade High School All-American (1988, 1989)
Bottom line: Duke's Bobby Hurley had one of the more storied careers in college basketball history. He helped lead Duke to two NCAA national championships and an NCAA runner-up finish. The two-time All-American was named Most Outstanding Player at the 1992 Final Four and played six seasons in the NBA before going into coaching — he's been Arizona State's head coach since 2015.