From College Basketball Star to Unknown: The 10 Best Cases of the 2000s
Throughout the years we have seen many college basketball stars turn into NBA superstars. You see them every time you tune into an NBA game.
There are also numerous college basketball stars who have little, to no NBA success. These are the players who I have chosen to talk about.
This is my list of the 10 best college players of the past decade, who's game never translated well to the NBA.
No. 10—Dee Brown
- Started in all four of his seasons at Illinois.
- Two time All-American and was named National Player of the Year by The Sporting News, after his junior season.
- One time Big-10 defensive Player of the Year
- One time Big-10 Player of the Year
- Drafted in the second round by the Utah Jazz (46th)
- Played sparingly for four NBA teams, including the Wizards.
- Went overseas and played in Turkey and Israel.
The knock on Brown, was his size. I think that's a load of crap. There have been plenty of quality NBA players under 6'0". Off the top of my head... Nate Robinson (who won a dunk contest), Earl Boykins, Tim Hardaway, Avery Johnson, and Mugsy Bogues (who was 5'3").
Post College Claim To Fame: Continuing to ride the coat tales of Deron Williams to the NBA playoffs as a reserve for the Utah Jazz.
No. 9—Hollis Price
- Started games in each of his four seasons at Oklahoma.
- Was named to The Sporting News All-American team.
- Two time All Big-12.
- Oklahoma's All-time leader in Free Throw percentage, shooting better than 80 percent.
- Second in school history with 224 three-pointers.
- Was part of an OK record, 111 wins.
Hollis never played a single minute in the NBA, and instead played overseas. The concern with Price, similar to Brown, was that he wouldn't be able to handle the physical nature of the NBA.
Personally, I would have taken him on my team any day of the week. He was a great shooter and handled the ball well. More importantly, he was a team leader, a character guy, and someone who played with an enormous amount of heart. These are all traits that many NBA players do not have and furthermore, never will….(cough) Tim Thomas.
Post College Claim To Fame: Having a successful career overseas.
No 8—Wayne Simien
- Played significant minutes in all four seasons at Kansas.
- Was named to the All-American team after both his junior and senior season.
- Fourth in KU history with 38 double-doubles
- Shot better then 53 percent from the field in each season.
- Drafted 29th overall by the Miami Heat.
- Played in only 51 NBA games, averaging a dismal 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds.
Simien was one of the more dominant players to play for KU this past decade. Upon being drafted he was a strong 6'9", 260 pounds. His game should have translated better to the NBA. I don't buy the injury excuse. Many players return from injury, especially younger ones.
To devote more time to his religion, he retired from basketball on 2009.
Post College Claim To Fame: Teaming up with Michael Doleac in an effort to keep Shaq's two seats warm during the playoffs of the Miami Heat's 2006 NBA championship run.
No. 7—Gerry McNamara
- In his freshman season, he helped lead the Orange to their first ever National Championship. He had six three-pointers in the first half of the finals.
- Started all 135 games he played in.
- First team All-Big East in both his junior and senior season.
- In Big East play, he holds the record for most three-pointers, with 183, and his 400 career three's ranks sixth in NCAA history.
As talented and successful as Gerry was at Cuse, he was not drafted. After the NBA passed up on him, he played a few years overseas and a year in the D-League.
Currently, he is a Graduate Assistant under Jim Boeheim.
It is also worth noting that McNamara has the most extensive Wikipedia Page page of any player to never play in the NBA.
Post College Claim To Fame: Being named a reserve for the Gillette D-League All-Star Game.
No. 6—Brandin Knight
I spoke about Brandon Knight in my piece entitled University of Pittsburgh Mens Basketball All-Decade Teams.
He was one heck of a player at Pitt, but played only three total minutes in the NBA. He had one career assist.
He also played two seasons in the D-League before retiring.
Post College Claim To Fame: Becoming a graduate assistant under Jamie Dixon.
No. 5—Luke Jackson
- Four year standout for the Oregon Ducks.
- One of two players in Pac-10 history to record 1,900 points, 700 rebounds, and 400 assists.
- Two time All Pac-10 player and an All-American.
- Drafted 10th overall by the Cavaliers.
- Spent two seasons in Cleveland, playing in 46 games, averaging a lowly 2.7 points per game.
- Played in the D-League
- Got a 10 day contract.
- Got another 10 day contract.
- The rest of his career has consisted of an additional two failed opportunities in the NBA, another stint in the D League, and a trip to Europe.
I don't understand how his game didn't translate to the NBA. He was a 6'7", 215 pound guard, who was tough, saw the floor well, and could shoot the ball. I can't say I blame the Cavs for drafting him. He was dominant. Sometimes these things don't make sense.
Post College Claim To Fame: Making this list.
No. 4—Sheldon Williams
- Played more than 19 minutes a game in all four seasons.
- Joined Tim Duncan and Ralph Sampson as the third player in ACC history to record 1,500 points, 1000 rebounds, and 350 blocks.
- He is Duke's All-Time leader in rebounds and blocks.
- Two time National Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American.
- Drafted fifth by the Atlanta Hawks
-Including this season, his sixth in the NBA, he has averaged 4.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game throughout his career.
- He is already on his third NBA team.
Sheldon's lack of NBA success befuddles me. At first glance, is there anything different between him and Carlos Boozer? Why has Boozer seen so much more success.
He is one of the more decorated college players in recent memory and has everything a big man would need to be a quality NBA player; toughness, smarts, and discipline.
If it wasn't for the fact that I think he could eventually become a solid NBA player, he would have been even higher on this list.
Post College Claim To Fame: Marrying an arguably more talented basketball player in Candace Parker.
No. 3—Troy Bell
- He was a four year starter at Boston College.
- Owns the BC record for career points with 2,632.
- Reached the 1,000 point plateau in his 52nd game!
- Troy is one of five players in BE history to win Player of the Year twice, and his senior year he beat out Carmelo Anthony. The others are Troy Murphy, Rip Hamilton, Chris Mullin, and Patrick Ewing. That's pretty good company, isn't it?
- Drafted 16th by the Celtics.
- Played in only six total NBA games.
- His Career high was five points.
- Played in the D-League and Europe.
- Decided to pick up boxing.
- Went back to Europe.
Bell was one of the most explosive scorers the college game has seen in the last 10 years. I realize he wasn't the tallest guard around, but that's no excuse for only playing six total NBA games. Anyone care to explain?
Post College Claim To Fame: Boxing.
No. 2—Mateen Cleaves
- Three time captain at Michigan State
- The only three-time All-American in school history
- Two time Big-10 Player of Year
- In '00, he led the Spartans to a National Championship, and was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.
- Drafted 14th by the Pistons.
- In the NBA, he averaged 3.6 points and 1.9 assists per game.
- He played for nine different teams in his nine years as a pro, only four of which were NBA teams.
- He also played for such powerhouses as the Fayettesville Patriots and the Bakersfield Jam.
Cleaves, while at Michigan State, was the heart and soul of the team. If you look up the definition of leader in Websters, there should be a picture of him.
He is most famous for the National Championship game against Florida. He badly injured his ankle during the game but decided to continue playing and wound up leading his team to victory.
He is currently a talent manager in the music business.
Post College Claim To Fame: Trying to steal the spotlight from Heisman winner Mark Ingram.
No. 1—Adam Morrison
- Three year contributor who left Gonzaga for the NBA after his junior season
- Named WCC All-Freshman team
- All-West Coast team sophomore season
- Nations leading scorer in '06 (28.1 points per game)
- Won the Oscar Robertson Trophy in '06 (National Player of the Year)
- Drafted third by the Bobcats
- In his previous two seasons he's averaged 2.9 points 1.3 rebounds, and .65 assists per game.
- This season, with the Lakers, hes averaging 2.6 points in 8.3 minutes per game.
In my opinion, there is no good reason for his lack of production. He appears to have everything one would need to be a successful NBA player; Heart, emotion, the body, and skill. He’s a 6’8” swing-man with a deadly shot, who can create off the dribble.
The fact that he makes more than $5 million per year almost makes me sick.
Considering the hype he had when he left college, how high he was drafted, and how little he has accomplished since joining the NBA, Adam Morrison certainly earned the No.1 spot.
Post College Claim To Fame: His mustache.
Just Missed the Cut
Lonny Baxter—Maryland (Pictured)
Chris Thomas—Notre Dame