Ranking the Most Overlooked College Basketball Recruits in the Last Decade

Kerry Miller@@kerrancejamesCollege Basketball National AnalystSeptember 11, 2015

Ranking the Most Overlooked College Basketball Recruits in the Last Decade

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    Davidson's Stephen Curry is by far the most famous of the overlooked "recruits" of the past decade, but men's college basketball has been littered with diamonds in the rough that have shone nearly as bright.

    Last month, we ranked the biggest 5-star busts of the past decade. Dredging up memories of all that talent gone to waste was one of the most depressing things that I've ever researched and written. But this was a much happier process; remembering the tale of underdogs who turned into stars.

    To qualify for the list, a player must have:

    1) Averaged at least 20 points, 10 rebounds or five assists in one of the past 10 college basketball seasons

    2) Received a recruiting rating of three stars or worse on 247Sports

    3) Spent at least some time in the NBA

    Because of the first criterion, pretty much everyone on the list put up incredible collegiate numbers. Half of them scored at least 2,000 career points, and several others certainly would have gotten there if they had stayed enough years and/or stayed healthy. As sucheven though most of the text is devoted to their college dayssuccess in the NBA was the primary barometer in actually ranking our top 20 players.

    After all, it's one thing to excel for a couple of years against minor conference competition. The real underrated-players-turned-stars are the ones who can put up big numbers against the best of the best.

Honorable Mentions

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    Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

    Alan Williams, UC Santa Barbara
    Cameron Payne, Murray State
    Tyler Harvey, Eastern Washington

    Because NBA career was such an integral part of the ranking, we elected to disregard anyone who was playing college ball in 2014-15.

    However, a hat tip to these three players was in order, as Harvey came out of nowhere to lead the nation in scoring in 2014-15, Payne went from a low 3-star rating to a 2015 lottery pick and Williams basically rewrote the meaning of efficiency on KenPom.com. Should we revisit this article idea a few years from now, these are three names that may well make the cut.

    Travis Bader, Oakland

    The NCAA's all-time leader in made three-pointers, Bader finished his career with 2,351 points. However, draining triples was about all he could do, and the NBA hasn't yet shown any interest in the one-trick pony. He was part of the Overseas Elite roster that won The Basketball Tournament in early August, though, so at least he's still making some money for that sweet, sweet stroke.

    Aubrey Coleman, Houston

    A JUCO transfer from Southwest Mississippi Community College, Coleman only played two seasons with Houston, but he averaged 22.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.5 steals per game. He never made it to the NBA, but he has been playing all over Europe for the past few years.

    MarShon Brooks, Providence

    Brooks was a nobody as a freshman (3.4 PPG), a solid player for the next two seasons (12.4 PPG) and an absolute monster as a senior (24.6 PPG). He turned those 788 points for a sub-.500 team into a first-round pick and actually had a pretty solid rookie year with the Nets, averaging 12.6 points per game during the strike-shortened season.

    That was about all she wrote, though, as Brooks scored more points that year than he has in the past three, failing to even appear in an NBA game in 2014-15.

20. Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

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    Stephen Lance Dennee/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,050 points, 385 assists, 366 rebounds, 157 steals

    NBA Career: 533 points, 120 assists, 111 rebounds

    The college basketball forefather of Cameron Payne, Isaiah Canaan was the driving force of Murray State's quest for perfection in 2011-12.

    He was a pretty decent player for his first two seasons, but he absolutely exploded that year as a junior. Canaan averaged 19.0 points per game and shot 45.6 percent from three-point range while chipping in 3.6 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals per night for good measure. He would finish the season ranked 10th in the nation in win shares per 40 minutes, slotted just behind Cody and Tyler Zeller, and just ahead of Doug McDermott.

    Not bad company for a kid whose list of interested schools aside from the Racers consisted of South Alabama, Arkansas State, New Orleans and Tulane.

    There's a pretty good chance we haven't heard the last of Canaan, either. In 22 games for the tanking 76ers at the tail end of this past season, he averaged 12.6 points and 3.1 assists.

19. Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure

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    Rocky Widner/Getty Images

    247Sports Rating: 0.7889 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,103 points, 887 rebounds, 244 blocks

    NBA Career: 1,216 points, 595 rebounds

    A Canadian who didn't start playing organized basketball until the 11th grade, Andrew Nicholson single-handedly put St. Bonaventure back on the fringe of the college basketball radar.

    In the five seasons before his arrival, the Bonnies had an overall record of 32-110. They were particularly awful in conference, going 12-68 (for a .15 winning percentage) against A-10 competition.

    Good thing they were able to strike gold in 2-star Nicholson, since no right-minded, high-ranking recruit was giving the Bonnies the time of day. Two years before Nicholson's arrival, their recruiting class consisted of one 2-star freshman and four JUCO transfers.

    With Nicholson, though, they were a much more respectable eight games over .500 overall with a 31-33 conference record. St. Bonaventure even won the A-10 tournament in Nicholson's senior year, resulting in its only tournament berth of the past 15 years. He was named the A-10 Player of the Year before being selected with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

    Unfortunately, the NBA portion of his career hasn't gone so swimmingly. He had a somewhat promising rookie year with the Orlando Magic, but he appeared in just 40 games this past season despite being healthy. Nicholson has one more year left on his contract to prove that he can still be the guy that somehow turned St. Bonaventure into a tournament team.

18. Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary's

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    Al Behrman/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8458 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,933 points, 768 assists, 469 rebounds, 150 steals

    NBA Career: 658 points, 390 assists, 249 rebounds

    There was an awful lot of "Who is this annoying dude?" banter when Matthew Dellavedova was logging major minutes and inciting serious outrage during the 2015 NBA playoffs, but college basketball fans knew.

    He was our little gnat, all grown up, driving the pros crazy.

    A native of Maryborough, Victoria, he grew up playing both basketball and Australian rules football, blatantly evident in his reckless and scrappy style of play. Even with his aggressive nature, he pretty much never missed a minute of action at Saint Mary's, averaging at least 35.3 per game in each of his four years.

    The Gaels won at least 25 games in each of his four seasons and went dancing three times, including a trip to the 2010 Sweet 16 in his freshman year. Like Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet currently at Wichita State, it felt like Dellavedova was at Saint Mary's for the better part of a decade, because of the exposure he got in his first season.

    If you think Celtics, Bulls and Hawks fans hated Dellavedova after last year's playoffs, imagine how relieved the rest of the West Coast Conference was to see him go after logging nearly 5,000 minutes in his collegiate career.

    Despite his durability and tenacity, Dellavedova went undrafted in 2013 before turning a Summer League invite into a multiyear contract. We shall see how much of a role he has this year with the Cavs, but early returns are that he's the type of guy who will hang around for a good number of years.

17. C.J. McCollum, Lehigh

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    247Sports Rating: 0.8365 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,361 points, 696 rebounds, 304 assists, 228 steals

    NBA Career: 625 points, 139 rebounds, 91 assists, 57 steals

    True CBB addicts knew all about C.J. McCollum. He entered the 2012 NCAA tournament with 2,020 career points, even though it was only his junior season. He was named the Patriot League Player of the Year as a freshman and again as a junior. Not only was he an excellent scorer, but the 6'3" guard averaged better than six rebounds per game in his collegiate career and was a plus defender.

    However, few casual fans had heard of the low-ranking recruit who was setting the nets on fire for a rarely talked-about program.

    Until the NCAA tournament, that is.

    Lehigh has won precisely one NCAA tournament game in school history, but it was arguably the most surprising upset of the past nine years. McCollum scored 30 as the No. 15 seed Mountain Hawks toppled No. 2 seed Duke in the first round. (Can we retroactively call it the first round even though it was officially known as the second round back then? Well, we're doing it anyway.)

    He missed most of the following season with a broken foot but was taken with the 10th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft anyway.

    McCollum's first 1.9 seasons in the NBA were awfully unnoteworthy, but he made a huge impact this past April with Wesley Matthews out of the Trail Blazers lineup with an injury. Not only did he average 17.3 points per game over a stretch of seven games near the end of the regular season, but he put up 26, 18 and 33 in Portland's final three playoff games. He clearly has the potential to be a star in the immediate future.

16. Eric Maynor, VCU

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    Don Heupel/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,953 points, 674 assists, 442 rebounds, 168 steals

    NBA Career: 1,141 points, 760 assists, 348 rebounds, 111 steals

    As it turns out, serving as the MVP for a team that knocks Duke out in the first round is a pretty good way to get recognized. It worked for C.J. McCollum as a junior in 2012 after working pretty well for Eric Maynor as a sophomore in 2007.

    At least with McCollum, it was a reasonable expectation. Maynor was much more of a pass-first point guard who didn't do much of anything as a freshman. He averaged 6.4 assists and 4.6 made field goals per game as a sophomore, but he kicked it up a notch or three for the tournament with 22 points, eight assists and three steals against the Blue Devils, including the game-winning jumper with less than two seconds remaining in a tie game.

    That was just the beginning of a great college career. Maynor was named the CAA Player of the Year in both his junior and senior seasons, averaging roughly 20 points, six assists, four rebounds and 1.5 steals per game over the course of those two years.

    It never manifested into much of a professional run, though. Despite being taken with the 20th pick in the 2009 NBA draft, Maynor started a grand total of two games in his career. He was traded to Oklahoma City midway through his rookie season, where he became the primary backup to Russell Westbrook for the next few years. After leaving the Thunder, he appeared in 31 games with the Wizards and 76ers in 2013-14 before taking his talents overseas to Italy and Russia.

15. Nick Fazekas, Nevada

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    Jake Schoellkopf/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8444 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,464 points, 1,254 rebounds, 192 blocks, 170 assists

    NBA Career: 107 points, 89 rebounds

    Brace yourself for a brief run on guys who had outstanding collegiate careers before dropping off the face of the earth.

    Nick Fazekas was the WAC Player of the Year for three consecutive seasons, averaging at least 20 points per game in his sophomore through senior years. The Wolf Pack have been to just four NCAA tournaments in the past 30 years, and Fazekas was a prominent member of all four of those teams.

    His freshman year, Nevada reached the Sweet 16 for the only time in school history. A sign of things to come, he recorded a double-double against Gonzaga to help propel the Wolf Pack to a blowout upset over the No. 2 seed Bulldogs.

    As a result of his unstoppable four seasons, he is one of just 10 players in NCAA history with at least 2,450 career points and 1,250 rebounds. Five of the other nine players (David Robinson, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, Elvin Hayes and Tom Gola) are in the Naismith Hall of Fame, so it's a pretty exclusive club.

    However, the leap from the WAC to the NBA proved to be far too steep. Fazekas played a grand total of 269 minutes in the NBA before embracing a career spent bouncing around Europe and Japan.

14. Nate Wolters, South Dakota State

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    Elijah Van Benschoten/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: None

    CBB Career: 2,352 points, 688 assists, 601 rebounds, 192 steals

    NBA Career: 459 points, 208 assists, 183 rebounds

    At least Nick Fazekas had a star rating and was recruited by someone. I can't even find evidence on 247Sports that Wolters ever actually signed with South Dakota State or what his rating was. ESPN gave him a grade of 70, which made him the third-most promising prospect in a class of three.

    Needless to say, he proved some people wrong.

    After a fairly lackluster freshman year, Wolters exploded as a sophomore, averaging 35.7 minutes, 21.0 points, 5.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game over the course of his final three years. Ohio State's D'Angelo Russell was the only player in the country to put up at least 19.0 points, 4.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game last year, so for Walters to average that for three seasons is just silly.

    Four years ago, USA Today reported that Talor Battle became just the third player in NCAA history with at least 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 500 assists, joining Danny Ferry and Greivis Vasquez in that elusive club. Once Wolters got to 2,200 points, 600 rebounds and 600 assists, he began a triple threat club so elite that he's the only member.

    In his junior and senior year, he led the Jackrabbitswhich only transitioned to Division I a decade agoto consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. They were competitive in losses to Baylor and Michigan but were decimated on the glass in the former and couldn't get Wolters going in the latter.

    As was the case for Fazekas, though, the transition from a minor conference to the NBA was more than he could bear. An early second-round draft pick in 2013, Wolters got the opportunity to start 31 games as a rookie but quickly disappeared. He is signed on to play in Turkey next season.

13. Jimmer Fredette, BYU

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    Andy Carpenean/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8345 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,599 points, 515 assists, 367 rebounds, 167 steals

    NBA Career: 1,407 points, 322 assists, 236 rebounds

    Jimmer Mania was both completely out of control and 100 percent justifiable during the 2010-11 season.

    Only one player in the past 19 years has recorded at least 975 points in a single season, and Jimmer Fredette absolutely shattered that glass ceiling by scoring 1,068 as a senior with the Cougars. He scored at least 21 points in each of his final 22 games that year and found an unbelievable gear in March en route to all of the national Player of the Year awards, averaging 34.4 points in the final eight games of his collegiate career.

    Hard to believe this stone-cold assassin from anywhere within 35 feet of the hoop was the same kid who averaged just 7.0 points per game as a freshman.

    Other schools knew he was going to be special, though. He only received a 3-star rating out of high school, but he had interest from Georgetown, Utah, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, among others. BYU was just lucky enough to be the team sitting back and watching him go crazy.

    So, at what point will he finally become the type of impact NBA player that J.J. Redick has been? It took Redick until his fourth year to really start hitting his stride, but Fredette seems to be steadily back-sliding as he enters his fifth season. Everyone on earth knows he can shoot, but we shall see if he can be enough of a complete player to excel in the pros, or if he instead goes the vanishing route of Adam Morrison.

12. Elfrid Payton, Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

    247Sports Rating: None

    CBB Career: 1,426 points, 508 rebounds, 486 assists, 197 steals (three seasons)

    NBA Career: 731 points, 533 assists, 349 rebounds, 142 steals

    Just like Nate Wolters, there's no evidence that Elfrid Payton was ever evaluated by a 247Sports scout. ESPN at least listed him as one of Louisiana-Lafayette's signings in 2011 but gave him a grade of NRpresumably "Not Rated."

    In other words, his ascension to the No. 10 pick of the 2014 NBA draft might have been the most unforeseeable thing to occur in the past decade.

    It wasn't even remotely predictable after his freshman year, either. Payton averaged 7.2 points per game, recording 97 assists against 96 turnovers as the Ragin' Cajuns' primary point guard.

    His sophomore year, though, they added Shawn Long to the mix, and suddenly Payton had the perfect sidekick. The double-double machine afforded Payton the opportunity to do his thing, driving and dishing like a madman while racking up better than two steals per game on defense, too. He still committed a ton of turnovers, but these things happen when one plays 36 minutes per night and is the only player on his Sun Belt Conference team capable of running an offense.

    Unlike Wolters, Nick Fazekas or Jimmer Fredette, Payton has proven himself capable of doing some serious damage at the next level. He played 30.4 minutes per game as a rookie with the Magic, recording 6.5 assists per game and a 2.63 assist-to-turnover ratio.

    And unlike most rookies, he didn't tire one bit down the stretch. Over the course of games 62 through 82, Payton averaged 12.4 points, 8.7 assists, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.1. The Magic lost the majority of those games, but they clearly have something special to build upon for years to come.

11. Norris Cole, Cleveland State

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    Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

    247 Sports Rating: 0.7958 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,978 points, 455 assists, 443 rebounds, 207 steals

    NBA Career: 1,986 points, 800 assists, 540 rebounds, 235 steals

    Norris Cole might as well be the poster child for the conventional four-year track. His per-game numbers steadily improved throughout his career at Cleveland State as he evolved from a no-name kid who was recruited by two schools to a minor, but crucial, piece of consecutive NBA champions.

    I hope to one day have a stock portfolio that grows as well as Cole did:

    2007-08: 4.9 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 0.8 APG, 0.6 SPG
    2008-09: 13.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 SPG
    2009-10: 16.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.8 SPG
    2010-11: 21.7 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.2 SPG (Horizon League Player of the Year)

    By the end of his sophomore year, it was clear he was a special talent. The Vikings made the NCAA tournament as a No. 13 seed that season, upsetting Wake Forest before falling to Arizona. Cole scored 39 points between those two games against major conference clubs, despite shooting just 2-of-13 from three-point range.

    Though Cole has been in the NBA for just four seasons, he has already played in 64 playoff games. Even seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry only played in 15.25 playoff games per season, so Cole could be on pace to become this generation's indispensable role player.

10. Lester Hudson, Tennessee-Martin

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    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,727 points, 513 rebounds, 283 assists, 169 steals (two seasons)

    NBA Career: 268 points, 77 rebounds, 71 assists

    There is a very clear divide between the top nine and bottom 11 players on the list. No player that we have encountered thus far has scored 2,000 points in the NBA, but every remaining player already has at least 3,400.

    As such, it just feels right that Lester Hudson should be the buffer between the tiers, as he made an absolute mockery of the NCAA for two years before failing to accomplish anything in the NBA. (He has put up some doggone good numbers in China, though, averaging 29.7 points in 144 games over the past four years.)

    Hudson started his collegiate career at Southwest Tennessee Community College before transferring to Tennessee-Martin, where he averaged 26.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.6 steals per game for two seasons, earning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year honors both years.

    It's not fair to assume he would have put up similar numbers as a freshman and sophomore, but at a rate of 863.5 points per season, a four-year D-I career would have theoretically put him at No. 2 on college basketball's all-time scoring listthough, still more than 200 points behind what Pete Maravich was able to accomplish in three years without a three-point line.

    Despite those insane numbers, the NBA wanted almost no part of Hudsonprobably because he attempted 20.4 field goals per game with the Skyhawks. He has appeared in just 52 NBA games with six different teams over the past six seasons.

9. Marcus Thornton, LSU

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8444 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,347 points, 366 rebounds, 117 assists, 99 steals (two seasons)

    NBA Career: 4,941 points, 1,122 rebounds, 551 assists, 339 steals

    Marcus Thornton probably doesn't belong on this list.

    Yes, he got a 3-star rating, but after earning All-American honors at Kilgore College, he was the hottest JUCO commodity in the country. The list of teams that wanted to add him for two seasons consisted of four Big 12 schools, four SEC schools, one Pac 12 school, one Big Ten school and one in Memphis.

    LSU won that lottery and acquired a shooting guard who would average 20.4 points per game over the next two seasons. How in the world the Tigers managed to go 13-18 in Thornton's first season with Anthony Randolph and Garrett Temple also on the roster is one of the great mysteries of life, but they won the SEC by a three-game margin the following year, falling to eventual NCAA champs North Carolina in the round of 32.

    How did Thornton fare in their two tournament games? Oh, just 55 points, 12 rebounds, five steals and five assists.

    Despite those excellent games and being named the SEC Player of the Year, Thornton was taken with the 43rd pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He had a great, brief stint with the Sacramento Kings from 2010-12, averaging nearly 20 points per game over the course of 78 games. Once the Kings realized what they had in the next player on our list, though, Thornton became expendable and has barely made any impact with Brooklyn, Boston or Phoenix since being traded midway through the 2013-14 season.

8. Isaiah Thomas, Washington

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8653 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,721 points, 415 assists, 366 rebounds, 122 steals (three seasons)

    NBA Career: 4,415 points, 1,320 assists, 692 rebounds, 270 steals

    Isaiah Thomas had a higher rating than any other player on this list. Coupled with the fact that he shares a name (albeit with an extra "a") with one of the greatest NBA point guards of all time, it wasn't particularly flabbergasting to see Thomas put up 15.5 points per game as a freshman with the Huskies.

    It was when he relegated Venoy Overton to an afterthought and became the team's primary point guard that Thomas really transformed into a star. While maintaining a nearly identical scoring average, his assist total nearly doubled from 111 as a sophomore to 213 as a junior.

    When they were firing on all cylinders with Matthew Bryan-Amaning, Terrence Ross, Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox that year, the Huskies were one of the toughest teams to beat. Thomas had 31 points, 15 assists and four steals in two NCAA tournament games as Washington nearly toppled the No. 2 seed Tar Heels in the round of 32.

    For quite a few hours on draft night, it looked like he made a poor decision by forgoing his senior year for the NBA. However, he was taken with the 60th pick (the NBA equivalent of the NFL's Mr. Irrelevant) before beginning what has been a pretty successful professional career thus far.

    He hasn't been able to secure a starting job since leaving Sacramento, but teams are still finding plenty of use for a guy who has averaged 19.9 points and 5.9 assists per 36 minutes in the NBA.

7. Courtney Lee, Western Kentucky

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    Matt York/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8444 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,238 points, 663 rebounds, 281 assists, 242 steals

    NBA Career: 5,013 points, 1,353 rebounds, 809 assists, 524 steals

    Western Kentucky always seems to be pretty competitive, but the Hilltoppers were especially so during Courtney Lee's four seasons, winning 73.3 percent of their games. An excellent scorer and shooter from the get-go, Lee shot 40.1 percent from three-point range in his career, culminating in Sun Belt Player of the Year honors in his 20.4 points-per-game senior season.

    With Tyrone Brazelton as his primary running mate, Lee finally got to the NCAA tournament in his final season and led the Hilltoppers to the Sweet 16. He and Brazelton combined for 141 points in the three games, but Lee struggled mightily in their final game against the mighty UCLA, scoring 18 points on 29 field-goal attempts.

    That's hardly an ideal way to end a collegiate career, but it didn't dissuade the Orlando Magic from taking him with the 22nd pick in the 2008 NBA draft. Lee has bounced around between the Magic, Nets, Rockets, Celtics and Grizzlies, but he has managed to remain in the big league for his entire career and appears to have finally found a good home in Memphis.

    Lee started 74 regular-season games in 2014-15 and averaged 13.3 points per game in the Grizzlies' 11 playoff games. He isn't quite their MVP, but he's certainly in the conversation. That's quite the transformation from a guy who only got offers from Western Kentucky and Bradley.

6. George Hill, IUPUI

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    TERRY GILLIAM/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,619 points, 547 rebounds, 317 assists, 155 steals

    NBA Career: 5,316 points, 1,540 assists, 1,459 rebounds, 422 steals

    George Hill missed almost his entire junior year at IUPUI with an injury, so try not to be fooled by the fact that he's one of the only players on the list that didn't score at least 1,900 points.

    Oddly enough, the injury had a Henry Rowengartner effect on Hill, as he came back better than ever. A career 36.0 percent three-point shooter when he went down, Hill shot 45.0 percent beyond the arc as a senior* and set new career-high averages in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks en route to being named the 2008 Summit League Player of the Year.

    *Hill still had one year of eligibility remaining because he received a medical redshirt for the 2006-07 season, but he decided to declare for the NBA draft instead, becoming a surprising selection at No. 26 by the San Antonio Spurs.

    Of course, once the Spurs wanted him, it was apparent he was going to be pretty good, seeing as how they seemingly haven't whiffed on a draft pick in the past two decades. He played a fair amount for his first three years with San Antonio but didn't really start making an impact until he was traded to Indiana.

    Hill missed the first 28 games of this past season with a knee injury, but as was the case at IUPUI, he came back stronger, setting new career-high averages in points, assists and rebounds.

5. Jason Thompson, Rider

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    MJ Schear/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,040 points, 1,171 rebounds, 246 assists, 235 blocks

    NBA Career: 5,063 points, 3,746 rebounds, 606 assists, 394 blocks

    Like so many others on the list, Jason Thompson gradually improved his way to conference Player of the Year honors, earning that crown in the MAAC for a downright silly 2007-08 season.

    Thompson averaged 20.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.7 assists per game as a senior for the Broncs. The only player in the country to average 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 assists per game this past season was Stony Brook's Jameel Warney, and he led the nation in double-doubles while earning America East POY for a second straight season.

    Thompson's numbers were at least 34 percent higher than each of those thresholds, so he was pretty ridiculous.

    His numbers haven't been nearly so outrageous in the NBA, but he started 405 games for the Sacramento Kings over the past seven years since they took him with the 12th overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft.

    In a very fortuitous sequence of events, he was traded from the Kings to the 76ers to the Warriors this past July, so he should be a key reserve for the defending champions after spending the past seven years with a team that failed to once win 36 percent of its games.

4. Rodney Stuckey, Eastern Washington

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    MATT CILLEY/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8572 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,438 points, 283 assists, 279 rebounds, 137 steals (two seasons)

    NBA Career: 7,387 points, 2,107 assists, 1,672 rebounds, 509 steals

    Eastern Washington has landed some incredible shooting guards in recent memory. Tyler Harvey was a blast to watch for the past few years, but even he barely held a candle to what Rodney Stuckey did in the mid-2000s.

    While the world went gaga over Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick, Stuckey quietly, but incredibly, put up 24.2 points per game as a freshman in 2005-06, ranking eighth in the nation in the category and leading the Eagles to a .500 record on the heels of an 8-20 season the year before. He was named Big Sky Player of the Year.

    It was more of the same the following year, as Stuckey ranked seventh in the nation with 24.6 points per game and added 5.5 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 steals per game for good measure. Somehow, the Big Sky POY crown went to Weber State's David Patten (14.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG) in the one-millionth exhibit of the fact that voters annoyingly don't like picking the same guy in back-to-back years if they can possibly avoid it.

    Despite that snub, Stuckey declared for the draft and just barely missed the lottery picks, taken by the Pistons with the 15th overall selection. Following a fairly lackluster rookie campaign, Stuckey recorded at least 1,000 points and 350 assists in each of his next three seasons while the Pistons otherwise struggled immensely.

3. Damian Lillard, Weber State

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    Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8322 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 1,934 points, 444 rebounds, 362 assists, 129 steals

    NBA Career: 4,977 points, 1,495 assists, 923 rebounds, 235 steals

    Moving from one Big Sky legend to another, Damian Lillard had a remarkable three-plus years with Weber State. He missed most of his junior year after suffering a foot injury but didn't miss a step, coming back to average 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game as a senior.

    Very few casual fans had the opportunity to see him play before the NBA, though, as Weber State had a nasty habit of losing to Montana in the Big Sky tournament. Thus, it probably came as a surprise to many when he was taken with the sixth overall pick in 2012the only player in the top 18 that wasn't from a major conference program.

    However, Portland clearly did its homework well on the West Coast product. The two-time Big Sky Player of the Year is now a two-time NBA All-Star who has averaged 22.5 points per playoff game over the past two seasons.

    Who on the recruiting circuit in the mid-2000s could have ever guessed that Lillard would be the cover athlete for NBA Live 15?

2. Kenneth Faried, Morehead State

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    247 Sports Rating: 0.7667 (2 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,009 points, 1,673 rebounds, 241 blocks, 228 steals, 117 assists

    NBA Career: 3,436 points, 2,438 rebounds, 298 assists, 256 blocks, 247 steals

    Kenneth Faried wasn't highly rated out of high school, but apparently scouts forgot to inquire about his motor on the glass.

    A rebounding machine and a half, Faried ranked in the top eight nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and defensive rebounding percentage in each of his four years with Morehead State, according to KenPom.com.

    He only ranks 12th on the NCAA leaderboard for career rebounds, but that's largely because teams don't take (and miss) nearly as many shots as they used to. Prior to Faried, Tim Duncan (1993-97) was the last player to reach 1,500 career rebounds, and Faried finished his college days with 103 more rebounds than Mr. Fundamental. Robert Parish (1,820 rebounds from 1972-76) is the only player in the past 50 years to record more rebounds than Faried. He's arguably the best rebounder of my lifetime.

    He's more than just a Dennis Rodman clone, though. Faried averaged nearly 15 points per game and shot 57.2 percent from inside the arc. He was also an excellent defender, ranking in the top 200 in the nation in both steal percentage and block percentage all four years, also according to KenPom.com.

    The Manimal has done a pretty fine job as the next level, too, averaging 16.4 points and 11.6 rebounds per 36 minutes in his four seasons with the Nuggets.

1. Stephen Curry, Davidson

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    Duane Burleson/Associated Press

    247Sports Rating: 0.8444 (3 stars)

    CBB Career: 2,635 points, 473 rebounds, 388 assists, 221 steals (three seasons)

    NBA Career: 8,714 points, 2,866 assists, 1,719 rebounds, 716 steals

    We know infinitely more about three-year-old Riley Curry than we knew about the future 2015 NBA MVP when Stephen Curry was first starting out with Davidson.

    However, it wasn't long before we grew obsessed with the baby-faced assassin who fell through the recruiting cracks. Curry averaged 21.5 points per game as a freshman, including dropping 30 on Maryland in the 2007 NCAA tournament.

    Of course, he was just getting warmed up for next year, when he would score 128 points during Davidson's surprising run to the Elite Eight.

    Hard to believe that he decided to come back for one more year after capturing the hearts of the entire nation, but he did, scoring 974 points as a junior and earning the Southern Conference Player of the Year crown for a second straight season.

    Only eight times in the past 19 years has a college player scored at least 930 points in a season. Curry is responsible for two of them.

    He may not be the most underrated player of all time, but he's unarguably the best underrated college basketball recruit in a long time.

    Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

    Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.

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