Kevin Durant. Carmelo Anthony. Russell Westbrook. John Wall. Michael Beasley. All five of these players made the decision, and probably the right one financially, to forgo multiple seasons of eligibility to enter the NBA Draft and become stars (aside from Beasley at the moment) at the next level after excelling at the collegiate level.
With the start of the "one and done's" beginning in 2007, more top players have left after one or two seasons rather than staying all four. Sure, there are still players like Nolan Smith who exhausted their eligibility before moving on to the pro game, but it has no longer become the norm that it was twenty years ago.
The players on this list only played one or two seasons of college, and are currently (or about to be) in the NBA and have had success in both college and the NBA. They are ordered from the year they entered the NBA Draft.
Most of us have probably forgotten that before UConn won their second national title, this kid carried the Huskies in 2002 to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Maryland as a sophomore. He averaged 20 points and seven rebounds per game that season.
Considering his senior season would have coincided with UConn's 2004 championship, that team would have been incredibly special with a seasoned veteran such as Butler anchoring that squad.
Had I ranked these players based on my personal desire to see them play all four years, this guy would have been number two (number one is coming up). Melo remains the only true freshman to lead his team to a national title. His performance in the NCAA Tournament has been one of the most memorable ones of the decade.
Considering that team was young with then-freshman Gerry McNamara and sophomore Hakim Warrick, there's nothing to dispute that the Orange could have won multiple titles with Anthony exhausting all of his eligibility.
Few remember Bosh's only season at Georgia Tech considering the team did not make the NCAA Tournament and his numbers weren't eye-popping (16 points and nine rebounds per game).
Still, knowing what we know now, Bosh was an incredible talent that would have dominated the college game in subsequent years. Also, remember that the Yellow Jackets made it all the way to the NCAA title game the following year, losing to Connecticut.
Had Bosh still been on the team, that outcome could definitely have been different.
One of the quickest guards I've ever seen play basketball, Ford was a blur for the Longhorns in the early part of the decade. He was one of the top distributors in each of his two seasons, and with the amount of talent Texas had during his time in Austin, those teams would have been special.
His scoring was never superb, peaking at 15 points in his sophomore season, and with a couple more seasons he could have been a candidate for an unheard of 20 point-10 assist per game season.
An incredibly hyped player that wasn't at Duke long enough to really live up to it. Deng remains one of the few "one and done" players Coach K ever signed, though he may have felt Deng would stay at least one more season.
Deng still managed to average 15 points and was a key part of the Blue Devils' appearance in the Final Four back in 2004.
Considering J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams were on the way next year, Deng's involvement with those teams would have created one of the more balanced, and dominating, trios in history.
Andre Iguodala is another guy whose college career is not remembered as much as it probably should be: probably because he played on the west coast.
Nevertheless, Iguodala's performance for Arizona was pretty incredible. He amassed three triple-doubles in his sophomore campaign, making him one of just two players (Jason Kidd) in Pac-10 history to record multiple triple-doubles in a season.
His athleticism and defense was always top notch, and considering the Wildcats made the Elite Eight in 2005 with stars Channing Frye and Salim Stoudemire, losing to runner-up Illinois in OT, that team probably would have won the national title.
I don't think I ever enjoyed watching a guy play basketball as much as I loved watching Chris Paul. It's a shame he only attended Wake for two seasons before taking his talents, and rightfully so, to the NBA.
He was virtually unstoppable as an underclassman, so just imagine how incredible he would have been as a junior and senior. Even though his teams would not have had as much talent as other guys on the list, Paul would've used his ability to make his teammates immensely better.
LaMarcus Aldridge has finally become a star in the NBA with the monster season he has had in 2010-11. Five years ago, he burst onto the national scene as a tall, lanky sophomore for the Longhorns who was vital in their Elite Eight appearance before losing to LSU.
If Aldridge had stayed for two more years, he would have formed arguably the scariest duo in decades considering another tall, lanky kid was due to arrive in Austin the year after Aldridge left.
That kid happened to be Kevin Durant. Just try to imagine how unstoppable these two would have been as college teammates.
Gay's last collegiate game is widely viewed as one of the greatest upsets in NCAA tournament history when his top seeded Huskies fell to 11th seeded George Mason in the Elite Eight back in 2006.
Currently he's become a fringe All-Star who's arguably the best player on an NBA playoff team in Memphis.
One would imagine that if given another two seasons to work his magic on a talented Husky squad that would later be led by Jeff Adrien and Jerome Dyson, Gay's final game as a senior would not go down in infamy like it has in Connecticut history.
And here would be my number one choice. Durant had the most memorable season of my lifetime, winning Player of the Year in his only season at Texas before moving on to dominate the NBA.
Remember that last year, when he broke out for the Thunder to lead the league in scoring, would have been his senior season at Texas.
I'm not sure any college scoring record would have been safe if Durant had stayed all four seasons.
I think it's at least safe to say he would have become this generation's version of Pete Maravich and one of the greatest scorers in basketball history. Even with the more athletic players and better developed game, I don't think averaging 35-40 points per contest would have been impossible for the guy in his junior and senior seasons.
Now we go into players who would still be in college had they elected to use up all four years.
Derrick Rose is widely believed to be the favorite to win the NBA MVP this season. It's hard to imagine just how unstoppable he would be at the college level had he still developed the solid jumper he now possesses at the pro level.
Keep in mind he still averaged 15 points as an 18 year old without a consistent jump shot. He's now nearly impossible to guard in the NBA. It would be a crime to see what Rose would do to opposing defenders who AREN'T professionals.
I'd put the number of broken ankles he'd give out at around eight per season.
Make no mistake, Beasley by all accounts is crazy, though he's been able to contain most of it this season while in Minnesota and has put together a pretty solid season.
Remove him from the confines of arctic Minnesota, stick him back into a college campus where 90 percent of the population throw their inhibitions to the wind every weekend and we'd have some incredible stories coming out of Kansas State.
Oh, and basketball wise, remember that in his only season he averaged 26 points and 12 rebounds. I imagine Jacob Pullen and Frank Martin would have had much more fun this season had Beasley still been on the team.
As for every other team, they'd probably be holding parties after games to celebrate the fact that they'd never see this crazy monster again.
Westbrook came out of nowhere during his sophomore season and became one of the stars on the UCLA Bruins squad that made the Final Four. His athleticism is amazing and he would have developed into the reliable distributor he's become while playing for the Thunder.
Westbrook would also still have the benefit of having a teammate just as good, if not better, than him while playing with the Bruins for another two years. It also wouldn't have been a shock to see him record multiple triple-doubles during his final two seasons because of his athleticism and versatility.
Hopefully you were able to guess Westbrook's star teammate, and if not, ponder no further as Kevin Love is that guy.
He's become one of the best rebounders in the NBA and has developed into a reliable 20+ point scorer on an awful team in Minnesota.
Stick him on an elite college basketball team, and he'd be a legitimate threat to put up 20-20 games with regularity.
It also wouldn't surprise me if he and Westbrook pulled a play similar to Dwyane Wade's full court alley oop pass to LeBron James.
While neither guy has had a tremendous impact on the NBA, both get quality minutes, and are seven feet tall.
College teams have trouble defending one skilled seven foot center.
Stick these two guys, with a few years of experience and success, on the court at the same time and I'd be shocked to find a team that could match up with these twin towers.
It would be like Kansas' Morris Twins, only bigger and not quite as effective on the perimeter.
If Griffin is throwing down monster dunks against professionals, just imagine what he'd be doing to college kids considering he would have been a senior this year. He would have had the best play of the night every time he played.
If that doesn't make anyone wish he was still in college, then they have no soul.
Evans was slightly underwhelming while at Memphis, and then proceeded to win the Rookie of the Year and has become a quality NBA starter.
I doubt Evans would have attended Memphis if Rose hadn't left early, but the thought of those two playing together would have created one of the best backcourts in quite some time. Rose would be playing the point while Evans would be able to either drive off the wing or shoot wide open jumpers because of Rose's driving ability.
Even without Rose on the team, a seasoned and experienced Evans would have figured out ways to dominate the lesser conference known as Conference USA.
John Wall and the next man on this list were the best freshmen duo in the country last season. Wall has not disappointed during his only season in the NBA and probably would be the Rookie of the Year this year if not for a guy dunking on everything that moved in Blake Griffin.
Wall's ability to get to the rim and finish with his athleticism was tough to stop last year, just ask the SEC coaches. Give him three more years, and I wouldn't be shocked if he would develop a more consistent jumper to make him into a true Derrick Rose clone. AKA unstoppable at the college level.
More or less Michael Beasley 2.0. A superb talent who averaged a double-double in his only season at Kentucky, and is mentally unstable. Coach Calipari seemed to be the only one capable of keeping him semi-focused as there were even situations where Cousins would get upset on the floor.
While he wasn't as publicized as his smaller teammate, Cousins was a force down low for a Kentucky team that was a horrific shooting night away from making the Final Four last season.
While it's too early to predict how he'll turn out in the NBA, Cousins has shown flashes of the talent he possesses and looks to be a future top center in the NBA as long as he keeps his head on straight.
While Irving has yet to publicly declare for the NBA Draft, I see no logical scenario which has him staying more than another year. Heck, the only reason for him to stay at all is due to the likely lockout or shortened season that's looming for NBA players next season.
Along with Harrison Barnes and Derrick Williams, Irving is a prime candidate to be the top pick this year, especially after he came back from his toe injury and looked to be at 100 percent by the game against Arizona where he scored 28 points in the losing effort.
Should Irving stay for his sophomore campaign, a combination of him and incoming top recruit Austin Rivers would easily form the best backcourt in the country next season.
ACC opponents are probably praying Irving leaves, otherwise the one or two games they go against the Dukies will be like watching Jersey Shore: a train wreck.