If you’re a standout college basketball player in the USA, you’ve got a good shot of making it in the NBA. Almost every year there’s some amazing new talent that’s got everyone talking, but graduate from the NCAA into the big league — and just can’t keep up.
It’s around this time of year, the era of March Madness betting, that people are placing bets and sharing opinions on who they think will be the next Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan. But not everyone manages to make it to the top, even if they’ve had a standout performance in years past. Here are five of the players who, for a variety of reasons, just couldn’t keep up momentum.
Adam Morrison is one of those players everyone remembers for a few things. His moustache for one; his tearful reaction after Gonzaga blew the lead and lost the 2006 Sweet 16; and for his failure in taking his career further in the NBA.
Drafted No. 3 in 2006, Morrison was at one point considered to be a top college basketball star. Named Co-player of the Year with Duke’s J. J. Redick and the finalist for the Naismith and Wooden Award, he played for three years at Gonzaga University.
Selected by the Charlotte Bobcats as a rookie he averaged 11.8 points per game, but suffered from bad defence. He also tore his ACL and missed the 2007-08 season, which put a massive damper on his career. He briefly played for the LA Lakers during their 2009 and 2010 season, appearing in two 2010 post season games before being released. He’s a player many will remember as a rising star, but he just couldn’t cut it in the NBA.
Fans of Bo Kimble will also remember Hank Gathers. Considered a dream pairing, they began their college careers at USC before transferring to Loyola Marymount and completely dominated the year. On their first campaign on the floor the Lions were at 28-4. Gathers died during the 1990 WCC tournament tragically due to an abnormal heartbeat. Which many credit with driving Kimble’s performance that got LMU to the Final Four with him averaging 35.8 points in four of their tournament games.
He started his NBA career solidly with the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 1990 NBA draft, having received the eight overall pick. But soon he was averaging just 5.4 points and his career ended not long afterwards. It was a brief but astonishing one, with a college basketball star who made the highest single-season scoring total in 35 years.
During the 1990s, Ed O’Bannon was the star playing leading UCLA to a national championship. A 1995 Wooden Award winner was the 9th pick in the 1995 NBA draft and selected by the New Jersey Nets signing a three year deal. Becoming home sick and suffering an injury, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in his second season. Losing confidence, he left the NBA for a career in Europe and retired at the age of 32 after undergoing knee surgery. Despite not making it in the NBA he played for 12 different teams over six countries and approximately 15 different coaches — a feat in its own right.
Jimmer Fredette is definitely a phenomenon when it comes to college basketball. With a four year run at BYU, he didn’t play much as a freshman. His talent was a slow burn — over the next three years he went from 7.0 points per game, rising towards being a 40 percent shooter putting in an incredible 28.9 points a night. He became known for making jumpers from over 30 feet away, with many referring to the show as the “Jimmer Range”.
Following college he was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks and soon traded to the Sacramento Kings. He did have a moderate career, but never got a strong enough foothold in the NBA, starting just seven games throughout his career.
He was later drafted by the Shanghai Sharks where he’s had success averaging 37.0 points per game during the three seasons he played in China between 2016 and 2019.
Shawn was known as a player that dominated the Spartans, averaging 20.1 points during his sophomore year. As a junior he raised it to 24.3 points and then 25.6 points as a senior, carrying the rest of the team alongside point guard Eric Snow to a no. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament. During his college career he racked up more than 2,500 points.
He was selected by the Portland Trailblazers in the 1st round having been an 8th overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft. Following that he was traded to Toronto, briefly played in Dallas then returned to the Raptors. His career ended in Phoenix having played 172 games in total and scoring 851 points.
On a brighter note, he’s had a successful coaching career since for both the minor and major basketball leagues, so his legacy has lived on.