5 Great College Players Who Will Flop in the NBA
The jump from the amateur ranks to the big leagues of the NBA is a life-changing event.
If a student has the chops to play in the NBA, there’s no telling the riches and accolades that can be bestowed upon him.
But that’s a big "if."
Just as the dream of getting drafted has driven mere mortals to super-human feats, the dream has also broken hearts and ruined promising careers.
Far too often, players who are not ready for the NBA buy into the illusion, hire agents, and throw away whatever chance they have had of developing the skills necessary to compete with the big boys.
If a player isn’t drafted in the first round, there’s no guaranteed money and no guaranteed dream come true.
Even when a student has realized his full potential and dominated the college ranks, it doesn’t mean he is a sure fire NBA success story.
The truth is no one knows how good any of these guys will be until they actually get on the court and play against professional competition.
If they did, the NBA wouldn’t look like such a graveyard of talent each year (I’m looking at you, New Jersey Nets).
The other side of that coin, however, is that it is generally a lot easier to tell who isn’t going to be NBA worthy. The NBA isn’t exactly full of walk-ons.
And players who go undrafted generally have to prove themselves in Europe or in the NBDL, but the success stories are not abundant.
One thing is certain. There will be more players who declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft than there are spots available.
Even with teams filtering out the have-nots, some players will slip through the cracks and get drafted; some with some pretty high picks.
This is my list of some players who will get drafted, but won’t quite make the cut. With a few, I hope I’m wrong—but it’s not likely.
This is of course according to my eye test, so please, no wagering.
Brad Beal, SG, Florida
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One of the many guards in the Florida stable, Beal is a lights-out shooter.
The problem with Beal is that he is a little undersized for his position in the NBA, and doesn’t have the quickness to compensate for that deficiency.
While Beal can easily sink open looks when he gets them, he isn’t athletic or skilled enough to create his own shot in the NBA.
Beal could be an off-the-bench shooting specialist, and can play enough on defense to not embarrass himself, but a fruitful NBA career doesn’t seem to be in the cards.
Meyers Leonard, C, Illinois
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Meyers Leonard is playing much better in his sophomore campaign than his disappointing freshman season. There are already whispers around the Illinois campus of him being a potential NBA lottery pick.
At 7' 1" 240 pounds, Leonard needs to put on size in order to not get pushed around on an NBA court.
However, he hasn’t shown a desire or maturity to do what’s necessary to become great.
Grabbing double-digit rebounds against Cornell and a few undersized opponents looks good on the stat sheet, but it’s not enough.
With the athleticism and size Leonard possesses, he should score 30 a night and grab 20 rebounds. He just doesn’t seem to have the will.
His length will get him drafted as long as he continues on the pace he is this season. But without the drive to improve, it will be a wasted pick.
Kris Joseph, F, Syracuse
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Kris Joseph is a prototypical talent for Jim Boeheim’s top-ranked squad.
He has length, quickness, and a good feel as a slasher, but something is missing.
Joseph has flair and can jump through the roof, but there isn’t any one thing that he does better than anyone else on the court.
Joseph seems to be a casualty of Syracuse’s success. He has the luxury of being able to have an off night because there are so many guys who are willing and able to pick up the slack.
Joseph scored exactly zero points in the Big East opener against Seton Hall, which is ludicrous considering the talent he possesses.
Joseph has too many holes in his college game to fill in the NBA. Syracuse’s success this year will put him on the NBA’s radar, but he really doesn’t deserve the attention.
Kris Joseph should be considered a Hakim Warrick-light—very light.
Myck Kabongo, PG, Texas
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Rick Barnes’ freshman point guard is lightening quickly, and has shown he can distribute the ball, dishing six assists per game.
His little frame will be his ultimate demise. At 6' 1" and only 169 pounds, Kabongo will have nowhere to go in the NBA. If he had a skill set of an Allen Iverson, for example, it would be conceivable that he could prosper in the NBA with his size.
But he has trouble finishing in traffic, and isn’t a good enough outside shooter to cut it as a pass-only NBA option.
Maybe it’s unfair to compare anyone to Iverson, but that’s the kind of skills Kabongo would need to possess to overcome his diminutive frame.
He showed a lack of maturity (turnovers/missed plays) against UNC, which got him a seat on the bench for the final 18 minutes of the game, and a great deal of Rick Barnes’ wrath.
When Kabongo is on, he’s definitely worth the price of admission at Texas. He has good flash and isn’t selfish with the ball, but he doesn’t have a whole lot else.
John Henson, F, North Carolina
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John Henson has the look of an NBA defensive specialist. He has a 6' 10" body with a 7-6 wingspan. What he doesn’t have is everything else.
Henson’s lack of physical stature will make him about as intimidating as a sleepy kitten. His bad footwork will make him a target of NBA big men.
Henson has a marginal offensive game at best, and relies way too heavily on his size.
Think wings of a 747 attached to a moped.
Henson has trouble staying focused on the task at hand. He doesn’t deserve to make an NBA roster, but his freakish length will land him somewhere in the pros.
This will be a mistake unless a whole lot changes in a short amount of time.