NBA Draft 2012: Biggest Pac-12 and Big Ten Busts of All Time
Over the course of professional basketball history, the Big Ten and Pac-12 have always been steady contributors when it comes to sending talent to the NBA Draft. From former UCLA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to one-time Michigan State star Jason Richardson, many past NBA legends destroyed the opposition in their respective college conference before beginning their dominance on the hardwood.
This season, the Big Ten is proud to send Ohio State bruiser Jared Sullinger and Michigan State forward Draymond Green to this summer's draft, while the Pac-12 is preparing to lose University of Washington stars Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten. While none of these prospects have star potential, all of them are capable of becoming consistent contributors in a NBA rotation in the future.
Nonetheless, not all prospects from these two conferences transition smoothly into the fast-paced NBA. Some former Pac-12 or Big 10 players turn into the one thing no professional athlete wants to be labeled: a bust.
Let's take a trip down memory land and explore the busts who came out of these two conferences.
9. Channing Frye (Pac-12)
Coming out of the University of Arizona, Channing Frye's intangibles and vast offensive arsenal developed major buzz in the NBA. After all, how many big men can shoot the three-ball as efficiently as Frye?
The Knicks decided to draft Frye with the eighth overall pick in 2005, a selection that contributed to New York's terrible years in the 2000s. Not only did the 6'11" power forward not develop into the next great shooting big man, but he has struggled to maintain a solid role with any organization.
Frye possesses career-averages of fewer than 10 points, six rebounds and one block per night. Eighth overall pick worthy? I don't believe so.
8. Jared Jeffries (Big 10)
With the 11th overall pick in 2002, the Washington Wizards selected Indiana forward Jared Jeffries. At the time, this draft choice seemed to be a perfect fit, as Jeffries was a lockdown defender during his tenure in college. Sure, his offensive game was quite raw, but many expected that the combination of Jeffries and 2001's first overall pick Kwame Brown would develop into a serviceable one-two punch.
However, neither player translated into anything exceptional and are now just average big man role players.
Currently, Jeffries is a solid contributor with the New York Knicks, as he is averaging four points and three boards per contest.* But, are those stats what you are looking for in an 11th overall pick?
*Jeffries will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
7. Luke Jackson (Pac-12)
The story of Luke Jackson is rather unfortunate.
Back in 2004, Jackson was coming off arguably the best season in Oregon basketball history. Not only did he average more than 21 points, seven boards and four assists per night, but the lanky small forward was a finalist for both the prestigious John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award. Plus, Jackson significantly raised his NBA draft stock from the previous season, as he was projected to be taken in the mid-late first round.
However, Jackson was selected by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 10th overall pick, a move that doomed his career from the start.
Why was this such a terrible fit for the forward?
Well, one season earlier, the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted fan-favorite LeBron James with the first overall selection. It was shocking that the Cavs would select Jackson with a franchise cornerstone small forward already on the roster.
With James on the team, there was very little court action for Jackson and he would find himself out of the league in just a few seasons.
6. Josh Childress (Pac-12)
When an NBA organization possesses a sixth overall selection, the franchise hopes to select a player who will develop into a perennial All-Star. At the very least, the team wants to acquire a quality starter.
Josh Childress didn't develop into either.
The 6'8" small forward, who was selected by the Atlanta Hawks, has been relegated to the bench for most of his career. In fact, he even went overseas after the 2008 season, but returned in 2010.
Even though Childress, a former Stanford star, is a gifted defender, incredibly athletic and long, he has never become a consistent scorer. Childress has an average of nine points per game for his career.
5. Joel Przybilla (Big 10)
The 2000 NBA Draft was home to arguably the least talented class in professional basketball history. When the prize of the draft was one-time All-Star Kenyon Martin, you know their was a lack of depth for teams to select from.
Joel Przybilla was part of this class, and the 7'1" center was selected with the ninth overall pick by the Houston Rockets. The former Minnesota star possessed major potential, as he was a valuable defensive presence in college and had a smooth mid-range jumper.
Przybilla, however, never panned out in the NBA, and the former encouraging prospect has career averages of two points and five rebounds. He has bounced around the league serving as a backup center.
4. Ike Diogu (Pac-12)
I bet the Golden State Warriors had higher expectations when they drafted Ike Diogu with the ninth overall pick in 2005.
The former Arizona State star has only started 18 games in his career and has never played a full season of basketball. In addition, the 6'9" undersized power forward has bounced around the league for the last eight seasons, as he has never held a consistent spot in a rotation.
There is not much to say about Diogu. He is a classic example of a player who just didn't pan out like many scouts expected.
3. Robert Traylor (Big 10)
After a successful tenure at the University of Michigan, Robert Traylor was drafted in 1998 by the Dallas Mavericks with the sixth overall pick, but was then traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for German prospect Dirk Nowitzki and power forward Pat Garrity.
From that point forward, the media would begin to compare the careers of Nowitzki and Traylor. To say it simply, the former Michigan star lost.
Traylor, who battled obesity for most of his career, averaged a career-high in the 2000-01 season with Cleveland when he scored nearly six points per game. He would find himself out of the league in seven seasons.
Nowitzki, on the other hand, is a perennial All-Star who has won an MVP award and led his squad to a championship. Additionally, this All-NBA talent will go down as one of the best power forwards in NBA history.
Traylor unfortunately passed away one year ago.
2. Greg Oden (Big 10)
"With the first overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select Greg Oden."
These are the words that have brought misery to the Portland Trail Blazers' organization and its loyal fans.
Throughout history, no franchise has seen its patience tested more than the Blazers. From the infamous Portland "Jail Blazers" years to missing out on the one they call "Air Jordan," every NBA fan must have a soft spot for this unlucky squad.
However, this last injury bug/draft fail has to be the icing on the cake. Not only did they select Greg Oden over arguably the best young star in the league in Kevin Durant, but the former Ohio State big man has had four knee surgeries in his brief career and hasn't played in a game since Dec. 5, 2009.
Additionally, the Blazers just released the once intriguing prospect, marking an end to the Oden-era.
When healthy, Oden did provide solid minutes, but the time he was healthy was minimal.
1. Ed O'Bannon (Pac-12)
Leading up to the 1995 NBA Draft, Ed O'Bannon was shocking scouts with his versatility and intangibles. In addition, he just had a fantastic senior season at UCLA, as he not only led his team to a National Championship but won the John R. Wooden Award.
O'Bannon would be drafted with the ninth overall selection by the New Jersey Nets. From the beginning, however, O'Bannon struggled adapting to the NBA. He was too weak and lean to guard post-players, but not quick enough to handle perimeter players due to a rebuilt knee, which had a torn ACL suffered during his time in college.
After being traded to Dallas and Orland, O'Bannon would find himself out of the league in just two seasons.