College Basketball: 20 Players Who Should Be in the NBA by Now
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The world of high school recruiting has become a crazy place over the past decade. Kids today are having their game magnified at ridiculous levels, being hyped and bashed at extreme levels that aren't acceptable for kids at such a fragile age.
We, the media, often put many of our best high school basketball players on pedestals that are too high for them to stand upon. However, to be fair, some of these prospects are worthy of the hype they receive, but become their own worst enemy in attempting become national icons.
Here are 20 NCAA players who have, or still do have, the skills to be playing in the National Basketball Association right now, but aren't for one reason or another.
Herb Pope, Seton Hall
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There may not be a sadder story in college basketball. A top-30 prospect coming out of high school, despite growing up with a painfully unstable home life, who was destined to be playing professional basketball by now.
However, after being shot as a high school senior, and then almost dying because of a heart problem a few years ago, he has been playing catch-up with where his skill set should have already been at. His senior year is started in the right direction, averaging a double-double for the Seton Hall pirates.
Herb Pope is definitely someone you should be rooting for with all of the uphill battles he has faced so far in his young life.
Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State
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At this point, we all know the Mississippi State big man's story. Heralded prep prospect whose career has been on a downward spiral since moving to Los Angeles to gain more exposure as a young high school sophomore. He is a poster boy for what's wrong with grassroots basketball and its leeches.
He now seems like he is capable of being a reliable secondary post option for the Bulldogs behind Arnett Moultrie. I'm not going to count Sidney out just yet, though. He still has the body and skill set to make an NBA roster. However, as the story has been since day one, it's all up to him just how far his basketball career can go.
Joshua Smith, UCLA
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Another dominant high school prospect who has sold himself short because of his lack of motivation to be a superstar basketball player. This season, the enormous Smith is in the worst shape of his young career.
When he is playing below 300 pounds, he can easily manhandle post players. However, he struggles mightily staying below that mark. If he ever decides that he wants to be an NBA draft pick, he will show the world just how effective he can be.
However, we don't know if that will ever happen. At this point, he has a better shot at being drafted into the NFL as a lineman prospect.
Tyshawn Taylor, Kansas
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The 6'3" combo guard has had his share of maturity issues since landing in Lawrence after a successful high school career under Bob Hurley at St. Anthony's High School (NJ). His talent has never been an issue.
He is an outstanding athlete who does a little bit of everything on the floor. He can score, pass, rebound and defend well. However, he is also very good at turning the ball over. This has been mostly because of his transition to becoming a full-time point guard.
As a senior, this is his last chance to show NBA scouts that he has what it takes to make it at the pro level. He passes the eye test, but will his maturity finally catch up to his skills on the hardwood? We will know by March.
Darius Miller, Kentucky
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Darius Miller has had a bit of a disappointing career for the Kentucky Wildcats. Despite being one of the state of Kentucky's biggest high schools stars in its illustrious history, the athletic specimen has never truly dominated at the college level like he is capable of doing.
He is such an unselfish player; he defers to teammates even though he is capable of producing big numbers. This year, he could bring a national title to Kentucky, playing the veteran leader to the freshman stars John Calipari has brought in.
Regardless of how he plays the rest of this season, he is going to get serious looks from NBA teams because of his physical attributes and his ability to play multiple positions at the next level.
Kris Joseph, Syracuse
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The 6'7" senior has always been athletic enough to play at the next level, and now he is starting to play like it. He's being much more assertive this year, showcasing his jack-of-all-trades skill set.
On an insanely deep Syracuse team, the leader is without a doubt the combo-forward. An All-Big East season will most likely result in him landing somewhere as a mid-first round draft pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Elias Harris, Gonzaga
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The German-born junior power forward burst onto the scene at Gonzaga as a true freshman, dominating the West Coast Conference in the process. After briefly thinking about entering the NBA draft, he decided to play one more season in a 'Zags uniform.
The problem is, last season was underwhelming for the 23-year-old. He played out of shape and regressed. After cutting out unhealthy American food this offseason, a refocused Harris is ready to lead Gonzaga again.
He is a prospect who is very old for a college junior, so you figure he feels the pressure to turn pro after this season before NBA personnel lose interest in him. He is your typical "tweener," caught between the small and power forward postions, but definitely has the ability to make an NBA roster with hard work.
Drew Gordon, New Mexico
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The former UCLA Bruin is the now the star in the New Mexico's frontcourt. The 6'9" power forward is a double-double machine and is looking to end his career in the record books.
He left the high school ranks as a very promising prospect, but had trouble fitting into Ben Howland's system in his time in Westwood. This hasn't been the case in Steve Alford's offense. Look for him to be a first round draft pick in 2012.
Eli Holman, Detroit
The 6'10" California native has physical gifts that many basketball players can only dream of. However, like many others before him, he hasn't fulfilled his basketball promise due to maturity issues.
It looks like it's the end of the line for Holman. He was supposed to dominate in his final season at Detroit-Mercy with rising star Ray McCallum, Jr. However, before the beginning of the season, he was indefinitely suspended by his coach.
JaMychal Green, Alabama
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A former McDonald's All-American that stayed four years in college. Wow. Talk about a rarity at the college level. He has steadily improved in each of his season's at Alabama and is looking to leave with a bang.
The 6'9" power forward will be a surefire 2012 draft pick after leaving his mark on the Crimson Tide record books.
Tony Mitchell, North Texas
The former Missouri signee is now set to dominate the Sun Belt conference with North Texas once he is eligible in December. If he had been able to play at Mizzou as a true freshman last season, he would have showcased his advanced rebounding skills along with his highly athletic game.
He will be a walking double-double as soon as he is eligible, and this should be his only season on the Mean Green roster.
Durand Scott, Miami
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The former New York City high school star has been a do-everything star for the Hurricanes since he stepped foot on campus. He does everything well, but nothing great.
He will find his niche at the professional level after the 6'4" guard sets a few records in Coral Gables. Look for this to be the last season for the junior.
Tyler Zeller, North Carolina
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Very few seven-footers at the college level run the floor like Tyler Zeller. The senior would have been long gone to the NBA if it had not been for numerous injuries in his career.
Now, he looks to lead North Carolina to a national championship this season and become a part of Tarheel lore.
Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh
The 6'9" bruising power forward came to Pittsburgh as a McDonald's All-American looking to dominate the Big East as a freshman. Well, that never happened.
Now, as a junior, he still hasn't lived up to his high school hype. He seems destined to a long European career at this point. However, he still has time to turn it around.
Augustus Gilchrist, South Florida
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The South Florida star big man has all the tools athletically to already be in the NBA. However, he hasn't had a shining season like he is capable of.
The 6'10" center is looking to have an All-Big East season and prove his worth in pre-draft workouts next spring.
William Buford, Ohio State
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The 6'6" shooting guard is a former McDonald's All-American who has shared the court with many players who have already left Columbus for the professional ranks.
He has patiently waited his turn, and now the senior looks destined to have a breakout season this year. He will team with Jared Sullinger and potentially take the Buckeyes to the Final Four and beyond before he takes his act to the NBA.