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Athletes Who We Swore Were Going to Be Amazing

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistJune 25, 2014

Athletes Who We Swore Were Going to Be Amazing

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Throughout the history of sports, fans have seen their fair share of riveting players and colossal busts.

    Growing up, it's always fun to predict who's going to be a star and who will get the short end of the stick.

    The point of this list is to check out a bunch of names who the majority of us sports fanatics thought would go out and rock it.

    From pro hoops to the gridiron, here's a look at some athletes who we all swore were going to amazing.

Dontrelle Willis

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    In the early 2000s, Dontrelle Willis was part of an incredible young Florida Marlins pitching staff.

    Alongside Josh Beckett and A.J. Burnett, Willis helped the Marlins capture a World Series title in 2003 with his unorthodox delivery and exuberant personality.

    The best part about Willis and the gang was that those three guys made it cool to root for the Marlins for a brief period of time. They were a group of young fireballers filled with a supreme amount swagger that went out and beat the New York Yankees.

    Willis was also one the most unique players you'll ever see play the game. He looked like he was playing backyard wiffle ball with his wild pitching motion.

    It wasn't just fun to watch Willis heave the pill. The guy was also very effective for a short period of time.

    After winning 22 games in 2005, it looked like the D-Train was about to cement himself as one of baseball's best pitchers.

    Then, as quickly as he rose to stardom, Willis came crashing back down to Earth.

    He struggled with his control, his wild mechanics deteriorated and as they say, the rest is history.

    The D-Train never won more than two games from the time he left the Marlins in 2007 until his last major league stint with the Cincinnati Reds in 2011.

Sebastian Telfair

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    USA TODAY Sports

    There was actually a point in time that Sebastian Telfair was the most hyped NBA prospect leaving high school since LeBron James.

    Before the NBA pumped the brakes on the whole jump from high school directly to the pros notion, Telfair was living the dream.

    James was definitely more publicized on a national level, but in the tri-state area, Telfair was a hoops icon.

    His story had kids leaving class early and taking the train down the Madison Square Garden just so they could catch of glimpse of the living legend.

    During that whole AOL Instant Messenger, pre-Facebook Internet era, the Telfair hype was almost too real.

    Without having access to a ton of scouting reports and what the talking heads had to say about him, we all thought Telfair was going to dominate at the pro level.

    Sadly, Telfair's pro career couldn't get off the ground. He bounced around from team to team and never quite lived up to the potential we saw in the documentary Through the Fire.

Vernon Gholston

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    Coming out of Ohio State, Vernon Gholston was a pass-rushing savant.

    During the whole predraft process, the scouts over at NFL.com wrote up a dazzling review on Gholston, basically anointing him as the next John Abraham.

    In the storied halls of Radio City Music Hall, New York Jets fans were amped up when the team took a chance on the Ohio State mauler. They had finally gotten a guy who would make Tom Brady's life miserable.

    It was hard not to think that Gholston wasn't going to be the next great edge-rusher. He looked like Scott Steiner from a physical point of view and his production in college was outstanding.

    But three seasons later, Gholston had zero sacks in a Jets uniform and his NFL career was basically over.

    The good news is he lived up to our wildest dreams in video games. Anyone with speed like that coming off the edge was a beast in the EA Sports Madden franchise.

Charles Rogers

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Let's jump from one massive NFL bust we thought was going to tear the walls down to another.

    Wide receiver Charles Rogers was the one guy everyone and their mother wanted at wide receiver when he left Michigan State to play professional ball in 2003.

    The guy was crazy fast. I'm talking "strap a cheetah to the back of a Ferrari and let it rip" kind of fast.

    Selected by the Detroit Lions, Rogers opened up his professional career by catching two touchdowns passes in front of a roaring Detroit crowd. From that point on, Rogers' career fell apart by the seams.

    He got mixed up in a bevy of off-field issues, and while he was on the field, he struggled to stay healthy and produce.

    It was a brief, tragic run for a guy we all thought was going to be one of the top pass-catchers in the National Football League.

Mark Prior

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Mark Prior's 2003 season was the defining moment of his professional baseball career.

    At just 22 years old, the 6'5" right-handed pitcher went out and destroyed his foes like he was Genghis Khan wearing a Cubs uniform.

    Finishing that noteworthy year posting 18 wins, a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts, Prior was ready to for long-term greatness.

    But pitching in general is an art that can be torn apart in a matter of minutes.

    Constant injuries suffocated the sky-high trajectory Prior was on.

    His career came an abrupt conclusion after the 2006 season, leaving many baseball fans wondering how good this guy could have really been.

    Prior was just 25 years old when it was all said and done.

Greg Oden

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    Sam Forencich/Getty Images

    Before the Illuminati decided that fans would no longer be able to play college basketball video games, using Ohio State center Greg Oden was like playing with the Empire State Building.

    He would just camp nice and low in the paint, block every shot in the lane and score 40 points a game.

    Oden was supposed to be the NBA's next great big man. At Ohio State he looked the second coming of Shaquille O'Neal.

    He was big, strong as a bull and could turn on a dime, give you nine cents change and slam the ball home like it was NBA Jam.

    You know how the rest of the story goes. Degenerative knees and brutal injuries cost Oden a chance to be great.

    After ending his career with the Portland Trail Blazers, he started his comeback effort in 2013 with the Miami Heat.

    Because of lingering injuries, his impact was limited during his first season with the team.

Aaron Curry

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    There haven't been many bigger busts in recent memory than former Seattle Seahawks first-round pick Aaron Curry.

    Coming into the 2009 NFL draft, it was hard to imagine a scenario in which Curry would have fallen on hard times.

    He was an extremely polished, quality football player during his career at Wake Forest.

    To the surprise of just about everyone, when he got into the league, none of the skills that made draft pundits salivate over him translated to the field of play.

    Like watching Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun, it was perplexing to figure out why Curry was doing this.

    After he busted with the Seahawks and Oakland Raiders, Curry finally gave fans the reason why.

    Talking to New York Times reporter Tom Pedulla, Curry said, "At the time, I wasn’t motivated to do it. Football wasn’t my top priority, to be honest."

    And there you have it.

    One of the highest drafted linebackers in recent memory took $34 million of guaranteed money and mailed the rest of his career in.

Michael Beasley

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    Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

    Watching Michael Beasley dominant at Kansas State had NBA teams feeling some type of way.

    Before the Big Three burst onto the scene and started frog splashing dudes like D'Lo Brown, Miami put their franchise in the hands of Beasley.

    Taken right after Derrick Rose in the 2008 draft, Beasley looked like he was ready to turn into the Heat's version of Carmelo Anthony.

    Like Memphis Bleek, Beasley never lived up to the hype.

    After leaving Miami and playing ball for the Minnesota Timberwolves, he had only one season where he averaged more than 15 points per game.

    Since then, he's ricocheted around the league, and in 2013, his wild travels took him back to South Beach.

    As a pro, he's been cast off to the land of benchwarmers. A dreadful place where guys who don't pan out will forever be labeled as "players we thought were going to succeed."

Rick Ankiel

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    TOM GANNAM/Associated Press

    Younger fans of the MLB may know Rick Ankiel as a serviceable journeyman outfielder who retired in March of 2014.

    But if you watched baseball prior to the 2000 season, you will remember Ankiel as one of the most talked about young pitching prospects around.

    As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch put it, after inking his John Hancock on a piece of paper worth $2.5 million fresh out of high school, Ankiel "was in the big leagues by age 20."

    Ankiel had it all.

    Aside from his rapid fastball and a plunging curve, he had fame and fortune at a young age playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.

    Unlike a lot of other guys on this list, Ankiel's career unraveled in an odd way.

    Out of nowhere, the young ace started launching balls into the backstop during a display that to this day is hard to watch.

    In a matter of moments, he went from being one of baseball's youngest guns to reinventing himself as an outfielder.

Kwame Brown

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    Stephen J. Boitano/Associated Press

    Here's an amazing fact you can tell your friends.

    Did you know that Kwame Brown was actually compared to Kevin Garnett coming out of high school?

    No joke. The populace over at NBADraft.net wrote this about arguably the biggest bust in NBA history:

    Like Garnett, KB has freakish athleticism. Already bulkier than Garnett and could turn into more of a Webber type post player. Very graceful running the floor. Tremendous leaping ability. Passes and handles extraordinarily well for a 6-11 player. May still be growing. Touch on shots is excellent, and should only improve. Post game is solid. Very good shot blocker.

    As you well know, Brown turned out to be none of those things.

    Instead, his skill set was more limited that the Great Khali's in the squared circle.

    To his credit, Brown made a bunch of money during his playing days.

    For whatever reason, he usually found a way to get lucrative contracts thrown his way—I'm looking at you Golden State Warriors.

    Being drafted by the team Michael Jordan was partially in charge of—the Washington Wizards—had people believing that Kwame was going to be a star.

    Turns out, all we got from his NBA career was a bunch of jokes from Phil Jackson and Stephen A. Smith.

     

    All MLB, NFL and NBA stats and information provided by ESPN.com, unless noted otherwise.

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