Duke Players We Thought Would Be Great in the NBA but Never Were
The Duke Blue Devils are the defending National Champions and are currently ranked number one in most college basketball polls. They have been one of the top four or five programs for as long as most of us can remember. There have been many great players to wear the Duke blue and white. Some have gone on to great NBA careers. Or have they? Come to think of it, what great NBA players played for Duke? Well let's see there's...uh...wait a minute
The second pick in the 1989 NBA draft, Ferry started in 186 games in his career that spanned all the way to 2003. At Duke he was the man during his college career. He was on three Final Four teams and is still in Duke's top five in rebounding and scoring.
One of 13 Dukies to have his number retired, Laettner started in FOUR Final Fours in his Duke career. He is the Duke all time leader in three point shooting at 48.5%. He is best remembered for his performance in the Kentucky game. Duke beat UK on his buzzer beater in the Regional Final in 1992. In that game he shot 100% from the field (10 of 10) and 100% from the free throw line (10 of 10). If he misses just one shot all night, Duke loses. They won 104-103.
In the NBA he was the third pick in the 1992 draft. He bounced around until 2005 with several teams. He was an All Star reserve in 1996. A torn Achilles hampered his professional career. He wound up averaging 13 points per game and 7 rebounds.
One of Laettner's teammates on the 1992 team, Parks went on to a stellar career at Duke. He was picked 12th in the NBA draft by the Mavericks. His best season was 1998 with Minnesota where he averaged 7 points per game and five rebounds.
Point guard for these great Duke teams of the early 90s was Bobby Hurley. He is the NCAA's all time assist leader with 1076. He was the 7th pick in the NBA draft with Sacramento. A near fatal auto accident his rookie year was greatly responsible for wrecking his NBA career. Speaking of that...
Jay led the Blue Devils with a school record 841 points in the 2001 season as Duke won the National Title. He then came back to lead the Devils to another stellar season and taking home the Wooden Award. He then left school and was the 2nd pick in the 2002 NBA draft, taken by the Chicago Bulls.
In June of 2003 he crashed his motorcycle into a street light and nearly died. He severed nerves in his leg, broke his pelvis and tore his ACL. Career over.
Shane Battier scored over 700 points for the 2001 National Champs. He was also college basketball's Defensive Player of the year three times. He was the sixth pick in the 2001 draft taken by the Grizzlies.
In the NBA he's been mostly invisible.He averages just under 10 points per game and 4 rebounds. However he could very well make his mark as a great coach someday.
Mike Dunleavy Jr
Another member of the 2001 National Title team, Dunleavy scored a team high 21 in the Championship game. He was the third pick in the draft in 2002 by Golden State. In his career he averages 12 points and four rebounds per game.
Another 600 point scorer for the 2001 National Champs, Boozer was drafted by Cleveland in the second round of the 2002 draft. Perhaps one more year of college would have helped his draft status?
Compared to his teammates his career has been gangbusters. Two time All Star, ALL NBA third team in 2008. Still a bit underwhelming for a school with that much college success that boozer is one of their best NBA players.
Injuries derailed what was once a very promising NBA career for Hill. After six stellar seasons in Detroit, the Orlando Magic mortgaged much of its future on Hill only to be disappointed. Hill missed all but about 60 games in four seasons with the Magic due to ankle injuries and complications from surgeries. The Magic spent millions on Hill but got minimal results.
#7 pick in the 1980 NBA draft, Gminski is on the list of players with 2000 points and 1000 rebounds in their college careers. In a 15 year NBA career he averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Known as one of the few players to leave Duke early, Maggette has been an average NBA player at best. Drafted 13th in the 1999 draft, Maggette has averaged 16 points per game in his NBA career and has turned this into a handsome 9.6 million dollar salary from the Bucks this season. For that money, the Bucks are getting 13 a game with 3 rebounds and an assist in every other game.
Player of the year in 1999 for a Duke team that was the National runnerup, Brand's career has had a few moments, but nothing to get too excited over. He's averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds per game in his career but thus far has appeared in one playoff team, the '06 Clippers. He has played in two All Star games and has made second team All NBA one time.
A member of Duke's 1999 NCAA runnerup team. If not for the photo I wasn't sure if he even played in the NBA. Should have stayed in school Willie. He was drafted by Minnesota at #14 in the draft. In three seasons, he averaged 2 points and one assist per game. Can you say draft bust?
Perhaps not really fair to include Duhon, point guard on the '01 team. Chris was not drafted until #38. But many players have been drafted that low and become great so, the heck with it. He's on the list.
He is now riding the pine for the Magic. In his career he's averaged 7 points and 5 assists per game.
He led Duke to the 1986 National Title game. In the 1986 tournament he once had 16 steals in one game. He had duke's career steals record until Shane battier broke it in 2001. He was too small to play in the NBA however. Drafted by Seattle in the third round (a round that no longer exists, neither does the team for that matter) he failed to make the team and went back to Duke to get an MBA. He is now head coach at Harvard.
The Moral Of The Story
Coach K is one great college coach. Some might say he doesn't get his players NBA ready. I say he takes moderate talent and turns it into great college success. After all that is the job of a college coach isn't it? To win college games and championships for his school? Let's ask John Calipari.