College Basketball: 20 Current Stars Who Will Be Busts in the NBA
College basketball is full of stars. Almost every team has one or two key players they must count on to perform every single night in order to win.
But what happens when these stars get to the next level? The NBA is a much different game than college. And not everyone is ready to make that jump.
Some players who are putting up monster numbers this season in college will fall flat when they reach the professional ranks.
Many have been touted as the next big thing, only to be weighed down by expectations and never truly live up to their hype.
Players like Adam Morrison and Hasheem Thabeet had amazing college careers, but found out the hard way that excelling in the NBA was not as easy.
So who is this year’s Adam Morrison? Let’s take a look at the most likely candidates.
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The North Carolina Tar Heels’ roster is supposedly loaded with can’t-miss NBA prospects. But Harrison Barnes is not one of them.
Barnes has one skill that will translate very well to the next level: shooting. He makes his living standing out around the perimeter, waiting to shoot set shots.
And when Barnes gets those shots, he converts. Barnes is shooting 48 percent from the field and 44 percent from deep.
Yes, the NBA undeniably needs more shooters. But to truly succeed in the pros, Barnes must be able to do more than just shoot.
Barnes cannot create his own shot. He is a shaky ball-handler at best, which will make him more of a liability than an asset.
Barnes also must rebound better if he is going to continue to play at forward in the NBA. How many offensive rebounds do you think LeBron James would get over Barnes? Also, his assist numbers are atrocious.
Barnes has one great skill, but unless he can develop the rest of his game, his experience in the NBA will not be a pleasant one.
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After the Connecticut Huskies’ success last season, Alex Oriakhi seemed poised for a breakout season in his junior year.
He was supposed to be a force in the middle, a true big man who had the experience and confidence to dominate opponents.
Far from it.
Almost all of Oriakhi’s statistics are down this season. It seems that he and Andre Drummond are struggling to coexist, especially surrounded by shoot-happy guards like Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier.
If Oriakhi cannot average more than five rebounds per game in college, what will he produce in the NBA?
At 6’9”, he must be a stronger interior presence and use his body to seal off defenders and grab rebounds like Chuck Hayes.
Given the way he is playing now, though, Oriakhi does not seem capable of doing so.
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JaMychal Green is key to the Alabama Crimson Tide’s success. When he is scoring in bunches and grabbing every rebound available, Alabama is a great team.
Green’s problem is that he is not nearly as consistent as he should be. He can have a streak of three 20-point games in a row, then follow that up with four games in which he fails to even crack double digits.
Green is slightly undersized, and because of that, he needs to stop relying on posting up every possession.
He must improve his outside shot in order to stretch defenses and make his opponent work to guard him. As it is now, Green is too predictable and can be easily covered in the paint.
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Ashton Gibbs has been a key player for the Pittsburgh Panthers since he began college four years ago. He is undeniably a great player, but his game will not translate to the NBA.
Gibbs is just 6’2”, making him a clear point guard at the next level. But he has shown an unwillingness to embrace his role as an offensive facilitator.
Gibbs’ ball-handling is not good. He is not steady enough to get the ball up the floor against pressure and start the offense.
Furthermore, Gibbs cannot penetrate in the lane and create his own shot. On a busted play, point guards must make something out of nothing and should also be able to take the offense on their shoulders when necessary. Gibbs simply cannot do that reliably.
Pittsburgh’s miserable season this year is proof that the Panthers’ teams of seasons past were more than just Gibbs. This year was his chance to prove that he was a true leader and a winner. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to do so.
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Terrence Jones was a preseason All-American this year and likely would have been a lottery pick in last year’s NBA Draft.
This year, his inconsistent play has raised questions about his all-around skill level.
Most worrisome for Jones is that he does not have a true position. His size indicates that he could be a quick power forward or a strong small forward. However, Jones often shies away from true post-up opportunities, but does not have a reliable jump shot.
Jones prefers to spend his time about 12 feet from the basket, facing up against defenders and attacking the rim.
But Jones’ ball-handling is not as strong as scouts believe. He often gets the ball swiped away from him on drives and can only be counted on to put the ball on the floor once before passing or shooting.
Jones can also easily get pushed around. He needs to develop either his strength or his ball-handling to solidify his position. Answering issues about his toughness and character would also help his draft stock.
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Tu Holloway and the Xavier Musketeers were supposed to be on track for a breakout season. Holloway was a potential second-round draft pick last year, but one more year at school was supposed to be his ticket to a solid first- or second-round NBA selection.
But this season, both Xavier and Holloway have vastly underperformed. Holloway’s numbers are all down from his junior campaign, and the Musketeers have completely dropped out of the national rankings.
His disappearance in some games is worrisome for NBA scouts. Holloway simply doesn’t have the consistency or one go-to skill to make GMs willing to take a chance on a 6’0” point guard.
His shooting is not great. He is not a speed demon and doesn't have the court vision of someone like Ty Lawson, who was able to overcome his size.
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J’Covan Brown’s statistics this season are slightly inflated, thanks to an inconsistent Texas Longhorns offense with no reliable scoring threats.
Brown has had to pick up most of Texas’s scoring, but in doing so, he has raised more questions about his draft stock.
Brown does not appear to have a true position. His height indicates that he should be a point guard, but this season he has been forced to mostly play shooting guard in order to score points for his team.
Brown has not yet shown that he can facilitate for teammates and look to pass first instead of finding his own shot.
At this point, it doesn't seem that he will have success in the NBA as a point guard, and he certainly does not have the size to play shooting guard.
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Simply put, Tyshawn Taylor is too inconsistent and mistake-prone to succeed in the NBA.
For a point guard to make the jump from college to the NBA, he must be able to facilitate his teammates and minimize turnovers.
Taylor has not shown that he can do either. He is unsteady to say the least, showing flashes of brilliance, but also having unacceptable 11-turnover games.
Taylor must learn how to see his teammates when driving to the basket so he can dish the ball off for an easy layup instead of barreling through traffic.
Right now, Taylor has not done anything to set him apart from the rest of the college point guards. Instead, he is known mostly for his high turnover rate and erratic play. That kind of reputation will not lead to professional success.
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Tyler Zeller’s senior season has been marred by the entrance of his brother, Cody Zeller, into the college game.
Tyler has never awed scouts with his offensive production, and Cody’s success is only further illuminating Tyler’s flaws.
Tyler is seven feet tall, but don’t be embarrassed if you didn’t know that. On offense, Tyler is still learning how to use his height to score easy baskets.
He is not mobile enough under the basket. Zeller should be getting many more shot opportunities than he is. While that may be due to sharing duty with John Henson, Zeller must be more active in the post.
Zeller has simply not shown that he is strong enough or quick enough to compete with the athletes in the NBA.
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In his senior season, Henry Sims is finally showing the potential that Georgetown Hoyas fans expected of him four years ago.
But what he is showing is still potential and not enough solid performance to convince NBA scouts that he is a good prospect.
Sims is averaging just over five rebounds per game. For an NBA center, that is not nearly good enough. He must be stronger on the glass and get in position for offensive rebounds.
Sims also turns the ball over far more than he should, leading to questions about his strength with the basketball and his ability to post up and convert shots successfully.
Sims came on so late in his college career that it is reasonable to ask if this production is all he is capable of.
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The Syracuse Orange are by far the deepest team in college basketball. Yet Fab Melo is still an integral part of their attack. When Melo was unable to play in Syracuse’s game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Orange lost their first game of the season.
Because his absence led to a loss, it may seem like Melo is a key offensive force for Syracuse. However, one of NBA scouts’ biggest concerns with Melo is his lack of offensive production.
Melo averages just seven points and five rebounds per game, all very low statistics for a seven-foot, 245-pound center.
Melo must learn some post-up moves and attack the basket more frequently to prove that he can compete at the next level. In another couple of years, Melo might be ready, but if he declares for the draft this season, he will be the next Kwame Brown.
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Jeff Taylor has been a huge part of the Vanderbilt Commodores' success in his four years at Nashville. But his prospects for an NBA career after college are not good.
Taylor is a good shooter who has improved on his game dramatically this year. He does most of his damage from beyond the perimeter, but is not very effective otherwise.
Taylor has struggled with creating his own shot and penetrating. While he has improved in these areas, it likely will not be enough to generate great NBA success.
Rebounding is also a concern for Taylor. He is averaging just over five rebounds a game. It seems that he is unwilling to get into the paint and muscle in shots or snag rebounds.
If he cannot prove that he is a stronger, more aggressive player, Taylor will not do much at the next level.
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The Gonzaga Bulldogs have not performed up to expectations this season, and much of that is on Robert Sacre’s shoulders.
Sacre was supposed to be Gonzaga’s next star. But this season, his production has declined almost across the board and he has not been as assertive as he should be on offense.
Many of Sacre’s problems stem from his lack of quickness and strength. Sacre cannot power past bigger centers and is not quick enough to speed past them either.
He should take advantage of his role on the team and demand the ball in order to show scouts that he can still get his shots. Yet Sacre too often disappears in big games.
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Draymond Green would be a great power forward in the NBA. He has great touch from deep, is strong enough to muscle down rebounds and is an excellent passer.
The only problem? Green is 6’6” and destined to be a small forward.
Green simply is not quick enough and is too big to be a successful NBA small forward. He has all the tools, but his body just won’t cooperate.
Green is a smart player who might be able to carve out a small role for himself professionally, but he just does not have the quickness or jumping ability to play the position his height indicates he must.
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The question surrounding Doug McDermott is whether he will be the next Adam Morrison or the next J.J. Redick.
McDermott is scoring 23 points and averaging over eight rebounds per game for the Creighton Blue Jays this season. He is a great shooter and expanding his game to fit the small forward position.
The problem with players like McDermott is predicting how well they will transition from having the ball in their hands on every possession to playing a more team-oriented style of basketball.
McDermott only averages 1.4 assists per game. He cannot find teammates well and has not shown that he can excel in an offense in which he is not his team’s primary option.
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Kenny Boynton is the Florida Gators’ do-everything guard. He carries the team and has been a steadying presence for young players.
But Boynton has the same problem as many of the players on this list: size. He is just 6’2” and should be a point guard at the next level.
At Florida, though, Boyton has played like a shooting guard. He is often too content to take long three-pointers or wild, running shots even though he is very capable of penetrating.
Boyton is averaging less than three assists per game this season. His inability to set up teammates raises major questions about how well he will be able to adapt to being an NBA point guard.
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The Duke Blue Devils’ forward is having a breakout season. His scoring and rebounding are both up as well as his shooting percentages.
Mason Plumlee is having a good season for Duke, but it will not translate to success in the NBA.
Plumlee’s biggest problem is that he is not an offensive threat. Teammate Ryan Kelly is averaging more points per game than Plumlee this season.
He is a great rebounder, but has not developed a low-post game yet. He has not learned how to involve himself in the Blue Devils’ offense.
In college, Plumlee has been one of the main focal points of the team’s offense, and he is still barely scoring over double digits. In the NBA, he will have to make his own offense, something he does not seem capable of doing.
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The Baylor Bears are rolling, and at the beginning of the season, freshman Quincy Miller was rolling as well.
But as the year has gone on, Miller is beginning to show scouts why he needs at least one more season in Waco before he can make a major impact in the NBA.
Miller needs to get stronger if he is going to be going up against NBA power forwards night in and night out.
But Miller’s biggest problem is that he has begun settling for outside jumpers far too often. He has not proven that he is willing to bang down low and seems much more content to wander around on the perimeter.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
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Ironically enough, Tim Hardaway Jr.’s biggest problem is his ball-handling. If his father could teach him some more of the family skills, Hardaway might be a can’t-miss prospect.
Hardaway has improved dramatically this season with his shot selection and defending, but until he can handle the ball better, Hardaway will not become an NBA star.
Hardaway’s shooting is not great either. He is shooting just 27 percent from three and will be unable to do much of anything at the next level if that statistic does not improve.
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From the time Peyton Siva began his career with the Louisville Cardinals, he was supposed to be Rick Pitino’s next star point guard.
At times, Siva has shown why he was pegged as the next big thing. He is crazy quick, can play great defense and is a solid passer.
But Siva’s career has been plagued by inconsistent play. He has a habit of taking bad shots, often when driving into traffic. In his three years at Louisville, Siva still has yet to develop a three-point shot. He is shooting just 18 percent from deep this season.
Siva has the athletic ability to be a great point guard, but just has not been able to get his shot selection and perimeter shooting under control.