Milk Carton Madness: What Happened to These Former College Basketball Stars?

Jeremy FiorettiContributor IIIMay 13, 2011

Milk Carton Madness: What Happened to These Former College Basketball Stars?

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    If there's one thing NBA playoff basketball makes you think of, it's good college players who never made noise in the pros.

    Okay, maybe not, but you can't help but wonder a little bit, when you realize John Lucas III is sitting on the Bulls' bench, what happened to the rest of your favorite D-I hoops players over the years.

    We all remember Lucas hitting huge shots during an Oklahoma State Final Four run in 2004, knowing the whole time he probably wouldn't have the required size to make it in the NBA, but at the same time not caring, because small, hard-working guys like Lucas epitomize the college game.

    Although he only scored a lone basket out of around 90,000 made field goals throughout the NBA this season, Lucas' presence on the bench as a spectator did not go unnoticed, as we take a look at a few other old favorites who you may have forgotten about.

Dee Brown, Illinois

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    Dee Brown was a four-year starter at U of I, a runner-up for the 2005 national championship and questionably the best player on a team featuring fellow guards Deron Williams and Luther Head.

    He was drafted by the Utah Jazz in the second round of the 2006 NBA draft and has been country-hopping ever since. It looked like he might have finally found his niche when he saw 11 starts in place of the injured Gilbert Arenas for the Wizards during the '08-'09 season, but he proved to be unproductive.

    Brown currently plays with Quebradillas in Puerto Rico and is averaging 18.4 points, 5.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds. He is teammates with former Michigan big man DeShawn Sims.

Jack McClinton, Miami

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    Jack McClinton started at Siena but transferred after his freshman year to Miami, and his collegiate career took off.

    He could fill it up in a hurry and consequently became recognized as one of the most lethal scorers in the country. He finished top-five in the ACC in scoring his junior and senior seasons and was a back-to-back selection for First Team All-ACC.

    McClinton was drafted in the second round by the San Antonio Spurs but failed to ever see the court in a regular season NBA game. After struggling to make an NBA roster, he took his game to Turkey.

    McClinton now plays for Galil Gilboa in Israel and has averaged 8.2 points, 1.1 assists and 1.2 rebounds this season.

Chris Lofton, Tennessee

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    Talk about a perimeter assassin.

    Chris Lofton ended his collegiate career as Tennessee's all-time leading three-point shooter. Although he never advanced past the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament, he was twice named a consensus second-team All-American, but that wasn't good enough to get him drafted into the NBA. 

    Lofton had a successful first season in Turkey, playing with Mersin, as he averaged 20.3 points and tallied a 61-point game, making 17 of 22 three-pointers.

    Lofton now plays with Lokomotiv in Russia, where he is teammates with former college stars Alando Tucker and Lionel Chalmers.

A.J. Abrams, Texas

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    You know those college players who seem like they've been on a team for about 10 years? A.J. Abrams was one of those guys.

    He was a staple for Texas from 2005-2009, and while guys like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant and D.J. Augustin came and went, Abrams was the constant for a team that won 109 games during his tenure. Not to mention he scored over 1,000 career points and holds the Big 12 record for three-pointers made.

    Unfortunately, the talent didn't translate to the NBA level, and A.J. had to continue his playing career in Greece and Italy, most recently playing for Tezenis Verona.

Gerry McNamara, Syracuse

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    Gerry McNamara might be the most adored player on this list.

    He started every game for four years at Syracuse, won the NCAA tournament as a freshman with Carmelo Anthony and Hakim Warrick and has all kinds of school and Big East records.

    No one played with more passion than this kid. McNamara bled Orange, and there hasn't been a more admired player to step inside the Carrier Dome since.

    G-Mac bounced around between European and NBA Developmental League teams, never being able to break into the NBA.

    After a few frustrating years of a professional career, McNamara decided to take a break from the game and go back to Syracuse as a graduate student.

    He is now a member of Syracuse's coaching staff as a graduate assistant.

Julius Hodge, N.C. State

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    Julius Hodge was one of the most exciting players in the nation while lacing them up at N.C. State. He had attitude, energy and the killer instinct to make the Wolfpack a legitimate force in the ACC.

    He could do it all, as he finished his career as only the third player in ACC history to reach 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 400 assists.

    Hodge ended up being drafted 20th overall by the Denver Nuggets in what would turn out to be a forgettable NBA career.

    Since then he has been on six different teams abroad, never really establishing himself as the potent offensive machine he was in college.

    He most recently played in the Iranian Super League with the Petrochimi Bandar Imam Basketball Club.

Joseph Forte, North Carolina

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    Joseph Forte only played two seasons at North Carolina, but he put together a nice résumé for NBA scouts in the little time he was there.

    He was the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2000, when the Heels made it to the Final Four, and the next season shared ACC Player of the Year honors with Shane Battier before leaving for the draft.

    His NBA résumé wasn't as impressive, as he only scored 30 points in 25 career games with the Celtics and Sonics.

    Forte is currently averaging 19 points per game with his sixth European team in six years, as he suits up for Tuscany Pistoia in Italy's LegaDue with 2010 Mississippi State graduate Jarvis Varnado.

Levance Fields, Pittsburgh

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    Levance Fields helped lead Pittsburgh to a Big East Tournament title and four straight NCAA tournament bids during a collegiate career in which he had the reputation for being one of the best ball-handlers in the country. 

    As a senior he was second in the nation in assists and set a single-season school record with 270 that season.

    Fields was not drafted once he became eligible for the 2009 NBA draft and decided to sign with Spartak St. Petersburg in Russia, where he averaged 13.4 points and 3.5 assists.

    He most recently signed to play with Krasnie Krilya Samara in the Russian PBL for the 2010-11 season but failed to pass the physical and was waived by the team.

Jeremy Pargo, Gonzaga

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    Pargo led the West Coast Conference in assists during his junior and senior seasons and finished second all-time in Gonzaga history and fifth all-time in WCC history in that category with 656.

    He went to four straight NCAA tournaments, won multiple WCC championships and was named 2008 WCC player of the year before finishing his collegiate career and going undrafted in the NBA.

    Pargo has been somewhat successful in his international playing career thus far as a fan favorite in Israel for Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he averaged 9.7 points and 6.2 assists in the Israeli Basketball Super League this season.

Wayne Simien, Kansas

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    Wayne Simien's college basketball résumé was loaded.

    He won three Big 12 championships with Kansas, went to two Final Fours, led the Big 12 in scoring as a senior, was a first-team All-American the same year and had his jersey number retired at Allen Fieldhouse.

    So what happened to the former stud?

    You may vaguely remember a brief 51-game career Simien had in the NBA with the Heat, where he was "along for the ride" during a title run in 2006. He also had a stint with the Spanish League team Cáceres Creativa in 2008 but retired, officially concluding the season.

    Since basketball, Simien has discovered a deeper passion with religion, as he devotes himself to Christian ministry, including his own organization, Called to Greatness.

Michael Beasley, Kansas State

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    Okay, this one is a joke, but he's in Minnesota if anybody is looking for him.

Tyrese Rice, Boston College

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    Tyrese Rice packed a whole lot of explosiveness into his six-foot frame as Boston College's point guard from 2005-2009.

    He may have been most well-known for his 46-point game against North Carolina, but he was top-10 in both scoring AND assists for three consecutive years in the ACC. He scored over 2,000 points in his career and was selected to the First Team All-ACC in 2008.

    Rice went undrafted by the NBA and only managed to get a couple of looks in the Summer League before signing to play with the Artland Dragons in Germany, where he averages 16.9 points and 5.2 assists.

Jerel McNeal, Marquette

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    First Team All-Big East, Second Team All-American, Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and Marquette's all-time leading scorer. That sounds like a future first-round pick.

    Unfortunately for Jerel McNeal, all of those great accomplishments didn't warrant being drafted by an NBA team.

    McNeal currently plays for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBDL, where he averages 19.4 points and 4.4 assists.

    This is one guy on the list we may not have seen the last of.

Kevin Pittsnogle, West Virginia

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    How can you forget a name like Pittsnogle?

    Kevin was a standout at West Virginia, where he averaged double figures in points per game all four years, including 19.3 his senior year, which was good enough for third in the Big East.

    Although Pittsnogle's team didn't accomplish much during his career, the versatile big man was a fan favorite and one of the best in WVU history.

    After taking some heat for being out of shape, he ended up going undrafted and being kicked around in the NBDL until he finally retired in 2010.

Marcus Williams, Connecticut

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    Marcus Williams was UConn's point guard for three seasons, where he played with Emeka Okafor, Ben Gordon, Charlie Villanueva, Rudy Gay, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong, Denham Brown and A.J. Price.

    He led the nation in assists during his junior year and decided to declare for the NBA draft, where he was selected 22nd overall by the New Jersey Nets.

    Williams only started 10 games during four years with the Nets, Warriors and Grizzlies, averaging 5.6 points for his NBA career.

    He now plays with Enisey Krasnoyarsk in Russia with former Maryland standout Lonny Baxter, where he averages 15.5 points and 7.2 assists per game.

Honorable Mentions

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    Steve Logan, Cincinnati ('98-'02)

    Reece Gaines, Louisville ('99-'03)

    Jason Gardner, Arizona ('99-'03)

    Andre Emmett, Texas Tech ('00-'04)

    Blake Stepp, Gonzaga ('00-'04)

    Salim Stoudamire, Arizona ('01-'05)

    Daniel Ewing, Duke ('01-'05)

    Allan Ray, Villanova ('02-'06)

    Mario Boggan, Oklahoma State ('05-'07)

    Nick Fazekas, Nevada ('03-'07)

    Sean Singletary, Virginia ('04-'08)