Top 10 College Basketball Stars Who Fizzled in the NBA

    May 19, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Every year the NBA drafts a new batch of collegiate basketball superstars and every year nearly half of them fall flat on their faces as they struggle to adapt to the speed and athleticism of the pro game. From recent rejects like Evan Turner to veteran busts like Shelden Williams, the league is full of can’t miss college stars who fizzled in the NBA.  To narrow the field we’ve chosen to examine only bona fide team leaders and All Americans who were top 10 picks in their respective draft classes.

    Dajuan Wagner

    dajuan-wagnerThe Cleveland Cavaliers can be forgiven for selecting Dajuan Wagner with the sixth pick in the 2002 Draft. After all, the do-it-all guard once scored 100 points in a high school game and had just averaged 20 points a contest in his freshman year at Memphis. Unfortunately, Wagner was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during his second season in the league and had to have his colon removed. The operation left him too weak to focus on basketball and he was out of the league by 2006.

    Who they should have picked: Any of the other 57 players in the draft who didn’t have colitis.

    Greg Oden

    greg-odenGreg Oden still has plenty of time to turn around his career, but the early results aren’t promising. The number one pick of the 2007 Draft, this Ohio State pivot entered his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers being heralded as the game’s next Bill Russell. Four years and several catastrophic knee injuries later, he’s now being called the game’s next Sam Bowie.

    Who they should have picked: Kevin Durant. The sweet-shooting “Durantula” has already won two scoring titles in his first four seasons in the league.

    Michael Olowokandi

    michael olowokandiMichael Olowokandi looked almost too good to be true during his final season at Pacific when he averaged 22.2 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. As it turned out, he was. This physically gifted 7’0” center never lived up to his billing as the top pick in 1998 and retired in 2007 after nine forgettable seasons with three teams.

    Who they should have picked: Anyone not named Michael Olowokandi. Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and Mike Bibby would have all been enormous upgrades.

    Adam Morrison

    Adam-MorrisonThe Charlotte Bobcats found out the hard way that just because a player looks like Larry Bird doesn’t mean he’s going to have the same impact in the NBA. This shaggy-haired mid-major star lacked the athleticism and mental toughness to succeed in the pros and was drummed out of the league in 2010, a mere four years after being chosen with the third overall pick.

    Who they should have picked: Rajon Rondo. The two-time NBA All-Star was selected by the Boston Celtics with
    the 21st pick in the draft.

    Ed O’Bannon

    Ed_O'BannonThe New Jersey Nets thought they had found a franchise cornerstone in 1995 when they selected UCLA All-American Ed O’Bannon with the ninth pick in the Draft. As is usually the case with the Nets, they were dead wrong. The lanky forward was too skinny to play in the post and too slow to play on the perimeter and he found himself out of the league two years later after averaging 5.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game for the Nets and Mavs.

    Who they should have picked: Michael Finley. The two-time NBA All-Star was selected by the Phoenix Suns with the 21st pick in the Draft.

    Jay Williams

    jay williams

    Duke point guard Jay Williams had just been named the Naismith Player of the Year in 2002 when he was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the second pick in the NBA Draft. The New Jersey-native could pass, he could shoot and he could defend. In fact, the only thing he couldn’t do was drive a motorcycle. Unfortunately the last skill proved to be Williams’ undoing when he crashed his motorcycle into a streetlight following his rookie season. The accident robbed him of his trademark speed and he never played again.

    Who they should have picked: Amar’e Stoudemire. The six-time NBA All-Star was chosen ninth by the Phoenix Suns.

    Robert Traylor

    robert traylor funny sun chipsThe Milwaukee Bucks were so enamored with Robert Traylor that they traded the Michigan big man to Dallas on Draft Day in 1998 for Pat Garrity and Dirk Nowitzki. It would prove to be a very, very bad decision. Nowitzki has since gone onto become an NBA MVP while Traylor is now out of the league after averaging a paltry 4.8 points and 3.7 rebounds per game over seven seasons. Sadly, “Tractor” Traylor died of heart complications just last week in Puerto Rico.

    Who they should have picked: Paul Pierce. The nine-time NBA All-Star was selected by the Boston Celtics with the 10th pick in the Draft.

    Bobby Hurley

    bobby hurleyWhat is it with Duke guards and motor vehicles? The seventh pick of the 1993 Draft, Bobby Hurley nearly died 19 games into his rookie season when he was involved in a high speed collision on his way home from a loss against the Clippers. Hurley somehow survived, but he was never the same after the accident and his career was over by 1998.

    Who they should have picked: A better driver. Allan Houston, Sam Cassell and Vin Baker would have all been better fits.

    Bo Kimble

    bo kimbleIt’s only natural to expect big things from a player who averages 35.3 points per game during his senior year of college. The Clippers certainly did, which is why they selected Bo Kimble with the eighth pick of the 1990 Draft. Unfortunately the Loyola Marymount guard spent more time on the injured list than on the court and his career came to a premature end in 1993.

    Who they should have picked: Toni Kukoc. The Chicago Bulls stole the talented 6’11” guard with the 29th pick in the draft.

    Chris Washburn

    chris washburnNorth Carolina State center Chris Washburn was widely regarded as one of the most dominant freshman in America when the Warriors chose him with the third pick in the 1986 Draft. Unfortunately for Golden State, he was also one of the country’s biggest cokeheads. His affinity for “Bolivian Marching Powder” got him banned from the NBA for life in 1989 after he failed his third drug test in three years.

    Who they should have picked: Dennis Rodman. The Detroit Pistons selected the cross-dressing Hall of Famer with the 27th pick in the draft.


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