Kentucky Basketball: 25 Wildcats Who Disappointed in the NBA
The University of Kentucky is the greatest program in college basketball history. They have had a number of great players. They couldn't be the team with the most wins without great players.
However, the NBA is another story. These guys were great at Kentucky, but they mostly failed to have the same success at the next level. Being on this list does not mean that the player is bad. It is a high honor just to get to the NBA.
Click here for a list of Kentucky's top pro players.
25. Wayne Turner (1999)
Wayne Turner was the point guard for the some great Kentucky teams. He is ranked fourth in career assists and first in career steals. Unfortunately, he did not get drafted but did catch on with the Boston Celtics for only three games back in 1999.
24. Randolph Morris (2007-2010)
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Randolph Morris was the go-to scorer on Tubby Smith's 2006-2007 team when he scored 16 points and grabbed almost eight boards a game.
The NBA proved to be much more difficult for Morris. Aside from the distinction of being the only player in history to go from the NCAA to the NBA in the same week, Morris didn't do much.
23. Daniel Orton (2010-Current)
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Daniel Orton was drafted 29th overall after one season at Kentucky. He was one of five Wildcats drafted in the first round. So far, Orton hasn't been able to play at the NBA level.
He has time to turn it around and to be removed from the list but for now, he is a disappointment.
22. Dirk Minniefield (1986-1988)
One of the best dunks in UK history
Dirk Minniefield has more assists than any other player in Kentucky history. He loved smoking weed in those days, but he was able to be a great player. Check out the video.
Minniefield's pro career was hampered by more drug use. He might have had a much longer career if he had been able to stay clean.
21. Ralph Beard (1950-1951)
Many regard Ralph Beard as one of the top players in Kentucky history. He was part of two NCAA titles, an NIT title, and won an Olympic gold medal. Beard was a three-time All-American.
What went wrong? Beard was part of a point-shaving scandal at the 1950 NIT in New York. Beard took money from gamblers and was banned from the NBA for life for the scandal.
20. Lou Tsioropoulos (1957-1959)
Lou Tsioropoulos was a member of Kentucky's NCAA Championship team in 1951. His No. 16 is retired.
At the NBA level, he was the backup forward to some guy named Tom Heinsohn. He only played three seasons in the NBA but was on the Boston Celtics championship teams in 1957 and 1959.
19. Tommy Kron (1967-1970)
Tommy Kron was one of Rupp's Runts and was a big part of the Kentucky team that went to the championship game in 1966.
His NBA career was pretty ordinary, though.
18. Rodrick Rhodes (1997-2000)
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Rodrick Rhodes was great at times at Kentucky. He and Rick Pitino didn't get along so well, so Rhodes transferred to USC.
Rhodes went on to a mediocre NBA career after being drafted 24th overall in the first round.
17. Larry Johnson (1978)
Larry Johnson was a very good point guard and is 12th all-time in assists at Kentucky.
Johnson's NBA career didn't last long after being drafted 24th overall in the 1977 NBA Draft by Buffalo.
16. Michael Bradley (2001-2006)
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Michael Bradley transferred from Kentucky to Villanova University after his sophomore season. That season, he averaged 20.8 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.
He was selected after his junior season by the Toronto Raptors with the 17th overall pick of the 2001 NBA Draft. Bradley lasted a few years, but only averaged 2.8 points and 3.4 rebounds a game.
15. Jack Givens (1979-1980)
Jack Givens led Kentucky to the 1978 title. He was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four. He scored 41 points in the title game. Givens is third on Kentucky's all-time scoring list.
He ended up getting picked 16th overall in the first Round of the 1978 NBA Draft by Atlanta. He averaged a mere 6.7 points and 2.9 rebounds in the NBA.
14. Jeff Sheppard (1999)
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Jeff Sheppard played on two national championship teams at the University of Kentucky. He was named Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament in 1998.
His time in the NBA was brief. He averaged 2.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in only 18 games.
13. Erik Daniels (2005)
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Erik Daniels was a solid player for Kentucky.
He didn't get drafted in the 2004 NBA Draft but was signed by the Sacramento Kings as a free agent. He totalled 13 points and 18 rebounds in 21 games.
12. Reggie Hanson (1998)
He played at Kentucky from 1988 to 1991. He joined the Boston Celtics in the 1997-98 for eight games, 26 minutes and six career points.
He'll likely be the second-to-last Celtic to wear No. 34. Paul Pierce should be the last.
11. Gerald Fitch (2006)
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Fitch played four years at Kentucky.
He was undrafted in the 2004 NBA Draft but did end up with the Miami Heat in 2006, when he played 18 games.
10. Cotton Nash (1965-1968)
Cotton Nash played three years at Kentucky and was named an All-American in each of those years.
He averaged 22.7 points per game and 13.3 rebounds per game. His No. 44 jersey was retired.
Nash was drafted 12th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers. His success didn't carry over to the NBA. Nash averaged 5.6 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
9. Johnny Cox (1962-1963)
Cox may be one of the best players in UK basketball history, but his NBA career was nothing to write home about.
He was drafted 37th overall by the New York Knicks and was traded to the Chicago Zephyrs, where he played just one season.
8. Rob Lock (1989)
Rob Lock was a solid player at UK. He averaged nearly 11 ppg and 6.5 rpg as a senior.
Lock was a third-round draft pick in the 1988 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
His NBA career with the Clippers only lasted 20 games.
7. Joe Crawford (2009)
Joe Crawford was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the 58th overall pick of the 2008 NBA draft.
He didn't make it to the NBA until March 2009, when he played in two games with the New York Knicks.
6. Winston Bennett (1990-1992)
Winston Bennett played three uneventful seasons in the NBA, mostly for the Cavaliers.
Unfortunately, the stats he put up off the court were more memorable than on the court.
Bennett is mostly remembered now for being a sex addict.
5. Melvin Turpin (1984-1990)
Melvin Turpin was known as "The Big Dipper" at Kentucky. He averaged a career-high 15.2 points per game in 1983-84 and shot a ridiculous 74.5% from the field.
Turpin was the sixth player selected in the 1984 NBA draft. He had a decent season in 1985-86 when he averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, but Turpin was mostly a disappointing pro.
4. Kenny Walker (1987-1995)
Kenny "Sky" Walker was a beast at Kentucky scoring over 2,000 points.
Walker was selected with the fifth pick of the 1986 NBA Draft by the New York Knicks.
In 1989, Walker won the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and finished in third place in the 1990 contest. Walker battled knee injuries in what was mostly a mediocre career.
3. Alex Groza (1950-1951)
Groza was part of the "Fabulous Five" that won the 1948 and 1949 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships. He was the leading scorer on the gold medal-winning 1948 US Olympic basketball team.
After his career was over at Kentucky, Groza was drafted in the first round of the 1949 NBA Draft by the Indianapolis Olympians. He averaged 22.5 points per game over two seasons.
So what is disappointing about Groza? Well, he was banned from the NBA for life in 1951 for point shaving.
2. Rick Robey (1979-1986)
Rick Robey was a very solid player at Kentucky. They won the title in his senior season.
He was the third pick in the 1978 draft. Some guy named Larry Bird was selected three picks after him. Robey wasn't a bad player but expectations are high for the third pick overall.
He averaged 11.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg in the 1979-1980 season with the Boston Celtics. He ended up averaging 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game for his career. That is just weak for such a high pick.
1. Sam Bowie (1985-1995)
Sam Bowie was an All-American in 1980 and 1983 at Kentucky. Bowie is the eighth all-time rebounder and third all-time shot blocker.
He was drafted second overall by the Portland Trailblazers. Bowie was a decent NBA player. He averaged 11 points and 7.5 rebounds for his career. In the 1989-1990 season, he averaged a double-double.
However, since he was chosen instead of Michael Jordan, the city of Portland was disappointed with the pick. Jordan went on to become the greatest player of all time while Bowie rarely played a full season.