UCLA Basketball: Top 10 Bruins Stars Who Were Huge Disappointments in the NBA

Robert Pace@Robert_PaceContributor IIIJanuary 21, 2012

UCLA Basketball: Top 10 Bruins Stars Who Were Huge Disappointments in the NBA

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    UCLA is currently tied for the most former players in the NBA with 13 (Afflalo, Ariza, Barnes, Collison, Davis, Farmar, Holiday, Hollins, Kapono, Love, Mbah a Moute, Watson, and Westbrook). 

    Most of those players have been pretty productive in the NBA, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love standing out as the most talented players out of the current UCLA alumni playing professionally. 

    Despite the mob of Bruins who have found success in the NBA, there have been some Bruin stars who performed at a high level in college but weren't able to acclimate their skills to the professional level. 

    Here are the top 10 Bruins stars who fell short in the NBA.

10. Dan Gadzuric

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    Dan Gadzuric (1999-02) started in all of his four years as a Bruin and made a big impact on the squad from the very beginning. 

    He did well to embed himself in UCLA's record books, and currently sits at No. 33 on the all-time scoring list, No. 8 in career rebounds, and No. 2 in career blocked shots. 

    Gadzuric was drafted in the second round of the 2002 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and had a 10-year NBA career. 

    So, where's the disappointment if he played professionally for 10 years?

    Gadzuric never turned it on the in pros, and remained a semi-average player throughout his career. His career stat line (14.8 MPG 4.7 PPG 4.4 RPG 0.9 BPG) reveals his decency. 

    He may have been able to make a living by playing basketball professional, but he never blossomed in the pros as Bruin fans were hoping he would. 

    Current happenings: As of the 2011 season, Gadzuric plays in China for the Jiangsu Dragons.

9. Rod Foster

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    Rod Foster (1980-83) was a spectacular guard who led his team to the NCAA Finals as a freshman, averaging 11.5 points per game. 

    He was the most accurate free-throw shooter in UCLA history (88.0 percent), recording an astounding 95 percent in his junior season.

    Foster currently sits at No. 28 on the all-time scoring list, capping out his game-high at 35 points in his junior season. 

    He was drafted in the 1983 NBA Draft in the second round as the 28th overall pick by the Phoenix Suns. Foster went on to play for the Suns for three seasons, but never really found his niche in the NBA. 

    It looked as though Foster was going to blossom in the NBA after his sophomore season of 8.8 points per game; however, he declined in his third season with the Suns and ended his career after that. 

    Current happenings: Foster has run basketball camps at UCLA over the years and currently heads a basketball program called the LA Rockets. 

8. Dijon Thompson

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    Dijon Thompson (2002-05) flourished once he was offered a starting role his sophomore season. Once scoring 39 points in a game during his senior season, Thompson landed himself at No. 22 on the all-time scoring list. 

    He led his team in scoring his junior (14.4 PPG) and senior (18.4) seasons, and brought the Bruins to the NCAA Tournament his senior year under Ben Howland for the first time in three seasons. 

    Thompson made some big three-pointers for the Bruins over the years, and maintained an edge as a 6'7" shooting guard. 

    He may have been a great college player, but NBA teams didn't see much in him and were correct in their assessment. 

    Thompson was drafted by the New York Knicks as the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft. 

    He was involved in a big trade between the Knicks and the Suns for Quentin Richardson and Nate Robinson before he had a chance to play in New York. 

    After playing a season with the Suns, Thompson signed a 10-day contract with the Atlanta Hawks and ended his NBA career after the Hawks didn't re-sign him. 

    Current happenings: After a short NBA career, Thompson played ball abroad in Germany, Israel, Ukraine, and Russia. As of 2012, he plays as a small forward in France.

7. Tyus Edney

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    Nobody will every forget Tyus Edney's (1992-95) drive down the court to score the winning basket for the Bruins in the 1995 NCAA Tournament with 4.8 seconds remaining. 

    Edney averaged 12.1 points and 5.2 assists per game in his UCLA career and is No. 20 on the Bruins' all-time scoring list. 

    The crafty guard ranks No. 2 on the all-time assists list and No. 3 in all-time steals. 

    After being drafted in the second round of the 1995 NBA Draft as the 47th overall pick, it seemed as though Edney was going to prove everyone wrong about his NBA potential when he posted an impressive 10.8 points and 6.1 assists per game in his rookie season with the Sacramento Kings. 

    However, Edney was never quite able to turn it on at the professional level. After a disappointing sophomore season with the Kings, he was picked up as a free-agent by the Boston Celtics and then finished his NBA career with the Pacers in 2001after playing abroad for two seasons.

    Current happenings: After a successful basketball career abroad in Lithuania, Greek, Italy, Ukraine, Spain, and Poland, Edney returned to the U.S. and is now a member of the UCLA basketball coaching staff. 

6. J.R. Henderson

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    After playing a key role on the Bruins' 1995 NCAA Championship team, J.R. Henderson (1995-98) continued to improve every season and became one of the most dominant forwards in the Pac-10. 

    Henderson ended his career averages at 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, which landed him at No. 7 on the all-time scoring list. 

    He also stands at No. 11 in all-time rebounds after averaging 6.4 per game as a Bruin. Henderson is also fifth in career double-figure scoring games with 95. 

    Despite his collegiate success, Henderson only lasted in the pros for 30 games in one season with the Vancouver Grizzlies, who drafted him in the second round as the 56th overall pick. 

    Henderson's height (6'8") may have been what made him undesirable in the NBA, as he was too small to be a NBA forward but was too tall to be a guard given his skill set. 

    Current happenings: Henderson has been playing in Japan since 2001, where he has been very successful. In 2007, Henderson changed his name to J.R. Sakuragi and has become a naturalized citizen of Japan. 

5. Charles O'Bannon

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    Charles O'Bannon (1994-97) tore it up at UCLA and was a principal factor, alongside his brother Ed, to the Bruins' run to win the 1995 NCAA Championship in his sophomore season. 

    O'Bannon was an All-American his senior season, in which he averaged 17.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. 

    He started in all of his four seasons at UCLA and was one of the most consistent producers for the Bruins' squad during his career, which is evident by his 102 double-figure scoring games as a Bruin (third). 

    O'Bannon earned a No. 10 spot on the all-time scoring list as well as the No. 12 position in all-time rebounds. 

    After being a college star, O'Bannon was never able to flourish after being drafted by the Detroit Pistons in the second round as the 31th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. 

    O'Bannon played 48 games in two seasons for the Pistons, averaging 8.3 minutes, 2.5 points, and 1.4 rebounds per game in his short NBA career. 

    Perhaps O'Bannon never found himself in the NBA because of his lack of agility to play as a guard. Whatever the case was, he was waived by the Pistons after his sophomore season. 

    Current happenings: As of 2012, Charles O'Bannon plays in the Japanese Basketball League for the Panasonic Trians. 

4. Jelani McCoy

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    Jelani McCoy (1996-98) was a shot-blocking machine and is the Bruins' all-time leader in career blocks (188). He averaged 10.4 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in his UCLA career, and recorded one of the only two triple-doubles in school history (15 PTS 10 REB 11 BLK). 

    He was a second round, 33rd overall draft pick in the 1998 NBA Draft by the Seattle Supersonics. After a mediocre three seasons with the Sonics, McCoy floated around the league and was eventually waived by the Denver Nuggets in 2007 after a seven-year career in the NBA. 

    McCoy never really caught traction in the NBA, averaging 4.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks per game. 

    He nearly made a comeback with the Los Angeles Clippers in the 2008-09 after playing the preseason with the team, but was waived before the start of the season. 

    Current happenings: After the end of his NBA career, McCoy went to play in China for a few years. As of 2012, he plays in Spain. 

3. Toby Bailey

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    Toby Bailey (1995-98) is one of a short list of Bruins' players who have started all four years at UCLA*. In his freshman season, Bailey scored 22 points with nine rebounds in UCLA's championship win over Arkansas in 1995. 

    He is the fifth-leading scorer in Bruins history and is one of two Bruins to have achieved a triple-double** (23 PTS 10 REB 10 AST).

    Bailey peaked in his senior season with an impressive 17.9 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game.

    However, the 6'6" guard never survived as a pro. The fact that he was drafted in the second round as the 45th overall pick in the 1998 NBA Draft signifies that professional teams saw little potential in the college star. 

    Bailey played with the Phoenix Suns for 73 games in two seasons, averaging 9.6 minutes and 3.3 points per game. 

    Current happenings: Bailey has played for 13 different teams in six different countries in the past 13 years. As of 2012, he plays in EnBW Ludwigsburg in Germany. 

    *Note: Freshmen weren't allowed to play on the varsity team until 1972

    **Note: Some stat categories, such as assists, did not exist or were not recorded as strictly until the 1980s.

2. Trevor Wilson

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    Trevor Wilson (1987-90) flourished as a Bruin in his sophomore season, putting up team-leading 15.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. 

    He was both a scorer and a rebounder and worked his way into the Top 10 for both categories (eighth in scoring, fourth in rebounds). 

    In his senior season, Wilson led his team with 17.2 points and 9.1 rebounds per game to the NCAA Sweet 16, which was the farthest the Bruins had been in the tournament in 10 years. 

    Wilson finished career with some impressive numbers (14.3 PPG 7.9 RPG) and is in the Top 10 in both career double-figure rebounds and scoring games. 

    NBA teams didn't see too much in Wilson's skills for the professional level, and the dominant collegiate forward was drafted in the second round as the 36th overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. 

    Wilson was waived by the Hawks after his rookie season (2.2 PPG 1.6 RPG) and then floated around as a free agent after being picked up and the released by the Los Angeles Lakers. 

    Current happenings: After playing in Italy, Spain, France, Japan, and Turkey, Wilson retired from basketball in 1999. As of 2005, Wilson was an LAPD officer, according to the following source

1. Ed O'Bannon

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    Ed O'Bannon (1992-95) exploded in his sophomore season after playing a minor role in his freshman season, averaging 16.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. 

    He has gone down as one of the greatest Bruins of all time after leading the Bruins to a 1995 NCAA Championship, becoming a first team All-American after a huge season (20.4 PPG 8.3 RPG). 

    O'Bannon is currently No. 6 on the all-time scoring list and No. 10 in all-time rebounds. He was the Bruins' go-to guy from the onset of his sophomore season, and had 38 twenty-point or more games (8th). 

    The hype was big for the All-American who was coming off a NCAA Championship win, and O'Bannon went as the ninth overall pick in the first round of the 1995 NBA Draft by the New Jersey Nets. 

    After a decent rookie season (6.2 PPG 2.6 RPG), O'Bannon never really developed in the NBA and was released by Orlando Magic before the 1997-98 season. 

    "It wasn't injury, it was confidence," O'Bannon reflected on his NBA career. "I missed shots, got pulled from games, it affected my defense, and I lost all my confidence."

    Current happenings: After being a car salesman in Nevada for a while, O'Bannon signed up for classes back at his alma matter to earn his Bachelor's degree. 

    MORE: Check out a great article on the UCLA Bruins site about O'Bannon's return to college


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