Ranking the 10 Greatest College Basketball Players Who Were Flops in the NBA
If you didn't know any better, you would see that awkward long-haired dude with the mustache in the picture above and think "that must have been some scrub." I mean that guy is wearing a t-shirt under his jersey.
The t-shirt should have given it away, but Adam Morrison was just too good at Gonzaga for anyone to believe that he wouldn't last in the NBA.
College basketball and the NBA are different games, and if you don't believe that, this list should convince you of it.
Going back through time and looking at some of the numbers the stars put up, the reaction is always: "How did that guy fall off the face of the basketball planet?"
These are 10 of the brightest college stars who simply couldn't cut it in the league.
10. Joseph Forte
Joseph Forte is one of the cautionary tales of leaving college too soon.
Forte averaged 20.9 points per game his sophomore season in 2001 and was a first-team All-American. As an undersized shooting guard, he slipped to 21st in the draft and played only 25 games over two seasons in the NBA.
9. Trajan Langdon
Trajan Langdon was the J.J. Redick at Duke of the late 1990s.
The Alaskan Assassin set the all-time record for threes made at Duke—a record that was later broken by Redick. He played on one of the best teams ever but did not win the title in 1999 when the Blue Devils went 37-2, losing the national championship game to Connecticut.
Langdon was an undersized 2-guard, similar to Redick. Redick has been able to find his niche in the league, but Langdon never could. He lasted only three seasons with Cleveland, who drafted him 11th overall in 1999. Langdon would go on to have a successful career overseas.
8. Bo Kimble
Bo Kimble will forever be a college basketball legend. Kimble is the player who shot his free throws left-handed during the 1990 NCAA tournament in honor of teammate Hank Gathers, who collapsed and died in LMU’s semifinal game of the West Coast Conference tournament.
LMU was also memorable because of Paul Westhead’s System offense that was a never-ending fast break. Kimble averaged 35.3 points per game in his final season at LMU, and the Los Angeles Clippers picked him ninth in the 1990 NBA draft.
It turned out that Kimble was a product of the "Westhead's System." He averaged 5.5 points in three years in the league.
7. Sean May
Sean May, Rashad McCants and Raymond Felton were one of the best trios of the 2000s and led North Carolina to a 2005 national championship. Only one of the three would last in the league.
May was dominant during the 2005 tourney run, averaging 22.3 points per game on his way to Most Outstanding Player of the tourney. He would score 26 points on 10-of-11 shooting and grab 10 rebounds in the title game.
May had good footwork, a soft touch and knew how to use his wide frame, but his wide body slipped to No. 13 in the 2005 NBA draft. His size was an advantage in college, but he just kept getting bigger in the pros and lasted only four years in the league as he could never get his weight under control.
6. Marcus Fizer
Marcus Fizer was college basketball’s version of Karl Malone at Iowa State. He scored 22.8 points per game as a junior and was a first-team All-American.
Fizer was too powerful for college players and had enough game that it was tough to see him not become a scoring 4 man in the league. The Chicago Bulls thought so and drafted him fourth overall in the 2000 NBA draft.
Fizer averaged double figures in his second and third years in the league, but those were on bad post-Jordan Chicago teams. He lasted only six years in the league, playing only three games in his final season in 2005-06.
5. Ed O'Bannon
Ed O’Bannon led UCLA to its only title since John Wooden retired and won the Wooden Award that season. O’Bannon’s last game in the national championship was one of the best performances in a championship game ever, as he scored 30 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in a win over Arkansas.
O’Bannon was not the most promising pro prospect because at a lean 6’8", he didn’t have enough size to be a dominant 4 man in the league. The New Jersey Nets took him with the ninth pick, and O’Bannon lasted only two seasons in the league.
4. Scott May
The NBA just didn't work out for the May family.
Sean May's father, Scott May, was the star player on Indiana’s 1976 undefeated team. He was also the national player of the year that season and a two-time All-American.
The Chicago Bulls took May with the second pick in the 1976 NBA draft, and his career got off to a somewhat promising start as he averaged 14.6 points per game as a rookie. He never topped that total again and lasted only seven years in the league, making only eight starts.
3. Kent Benson
It’s probably not a good sign for your NBA career when you’re most famous for an elbow that led to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar punching you in the face and breaking his hand.
That about sums up the impact Kent Benson had on the NBA, and that was the first game of his career.
Benson's real claim to fame is that he was the center on the 1976 undefeated Indiana Hoosiers and a two-time first-team All-American, which led to the Milwaukee Bucks drafting him first overall in the 1977 NBA draft.
Benson did play 10 years in the league, but he was simply a role player and did not live up to the expectations that come as a No. 1 pick.
2. Jay Williams
This is the saddest story of the bunch.
In 20 years, if Jay Williams is still an analyst on ESPN, the next generation will probably know him only as another Dick Vitale. I’ll be one of the old guys telling my son how that man was one of the greatest point guards in the history of college basketball and telling tales of what might have been.
We’ll never know if Williams would have been a success in the NBA. His career was cut short because of a motorcycle accident after his rookie season.
That rookie season was not a great success—Williams averaged 9.5 points per game—but after watching him dominate for three years in college, it’s tough to imagine he wouldn’t have eventually figured out how to succeed at the NBA level.
1. Adam Morrison
The comparisons to Larry Bird were preposterous, especially looking back now, but it was tough to believe that Adam Morrison would not at least be a decent NBA player.
The dude could shoot from unlimited range, was 6’8” and he had a sick 'stache. For middle-aged white guys, it was like walking on a college campus and believing every chick is a 10. Time plays cruel tricks on us, and you just couldn’t help but believe Morrison had a little Bird in him.
But the third pick in the 2006 draft was such a bust that he’s not even playing basketball anymore. That’s right, not only is Morrison no longer in the league, he’s not even chucking threes in some obscure Euro league.
He lasted three seasons in the NBA, and the highlight of his career was winning back-to-back titles as a benchwarmer for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010.