Every college basketball program has had its fair share of players be drafted into the NBA, some faring better than others. College basketball is definitely different than NBA basketball, and some players have had trouble transitioning into the league. This is even worse when this happens as some NBA franchises uses their first round pick to select guys from colleges, and it really can deter the franchise when a high drafted player doesn't develop into the player people thought he would.
In this article, we will be looking at the biggest NBA bust from the top 15 NCAA programs. This is not a ranking of the top NCAA programs because it has been debated for decades what the best program is, plus those perceptions seem to change every year. This is just the biggest bust from the top 15 programs meaning these colleges aren't necessarily in perfect order for top programs. These guys were never able to produce in the NBA despite having good careers at some of the top colleges in the country, and sadly, did not end up doing their alma mater proud, at least not on an NBA court.
Here is the biggest NBA bust from the top 15 NCAA programs.
15 Georgetown - Mike Sweetney
Mike Sweetney had a very solid three-year career at Georgetown University. He averaged just over 18 points per game while shooting a healthy percentage from the field, and showed a knack for grabbing rebounds as well. He was a candidate for the college player of the year award and looked as though he would have a nice career in the NBA. Wrong. Sweetney was drafted with the 9th pick in the legendary 2003 NBA Draft, and failed to make a name for himself in the league as he battled weight issues during his short career and just couldn't cut it with NBA talent. He eventually took his talents overseas after no NBA team signed him. Mike Sweetney was without a doubt, the worst draft bust from Georgetown.
14 Gonzaga - Adam Morrison
Adam Morrison is often considered one of the worst draft busts of all-time, as he was easily one of the most dominant players in the basketball world, as he did Gonzaga proud during his playing days there. Morrison averaged over 28 points per game during his final season at Gonzaga, and was the highest scoring player in college.
He was drafted 3rd by the Bobcats in 2006, which turned out to be the wrong move for Charlotte as Morrison did not turn out to be the high volume scorer he was in college in the NBA. Knee injuries kept Morrison sidelined for a lot of time during his early days in the league, and things just didn't go smoothly for Morrison as he moved from team to team, never finding a good fit. At least he lucked his way into two championships with the Lakers.
13 Villanova - Kerry Kittles
As like Adam Morrison, Kerry Kittles was a great scorer in college as he holds the Villanova record for most points scored, however his scoring prowess didn't move into the NBA with him. Kittles had a great four-year career at Villanova, which led him to being drafted with the 8th pick in the legendary 1996 NBA Draft. Kittles didn't have a bad NBA career, but he wasn't the star scorer people believed he would be, as he is the greatest Villanova basketball player of all-time yet he failed to make much noise in the league other than being a solid shooter. Kittles is a Villanova legend for sure, but he will not be considered an NBA legend, especially when you look at who else was drafted in '96.
12 Cincinnati - DerMarr Johnson
DerMarr Johnson could have been a great NBA player, but things just didn't work out for the Cincinnati forward, as he turned out to be the biggest bust in the history of the school. Johnson was a McDonald's All-American player in high-school, and decided to play for the University of Cincinnati. After a solid lone season for Cincinnati, Johnson was selected 6th in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, and averaged only about 6 points with the team for two seasons. He was in a bad car accident in the summer before his third season, and he cracked a vertebrae and was lucky to ever be able to walk again.
He then played for a team in the American Basketball Association. After 19 games he signed with the Knicks, but his comeback was anything but a fairy-tale as he never was a productive player in the NBA.
11 Syracuse - Jonny Flynn
The name Jonny Flynn is a bad memory for Timberwolves fans, as the Wolves selected Flynn with the 6th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, which happened to be just one pick before Stephen Curry was taken by the Warriors. Ouch. Flynn looked to be a nice option for the Wolves as had a nice career at Syracuse, but he was not effective in the NBA and was out of the league within three years. Stephen Curry on the other hand went on to become arguably the greatest shooter in the history of the NBA, meaning the Timberwolves completely missed the mark on this one. Not only did the Wolves make a bad call in taking Flynn, but it was also the infamous draft where they took two point guards back-to-back.
10 Ohio State - Greg Oden
Greg Oden was primed to be one of the most dominant big men to ever play the game of basketball, however it wasn't meant to be, as Oden turned out to be one of the worst busts in NBA history. He had a dominant one year at Ohio State University, which led him to be drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 1st pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. Drafted one pick behind him was a kid named Kevin Durant, and the two players had two very different careers. Oden put on a lot of weight before his rookie season to be able to bang with the big boys down low, but this may have been his downfall as his body broke down on him, not allowing him to play long stretches of games which is why he has been out of the league for a while now while KD is competing for championships.
9 Connecticut - Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet had a solid three year career at UConn, where he displayed an ability to score down low, rebound, and block shots due to his long length on the court. Drafted with the 2nd pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, Thabeet turned out to be the worst pick of the draft, as he never did anything note worthy in the league as he could not compete with the talented big men in the NBA. He wound up signing contracts with six different teams in his NBA career.
Guys drafted behind him include James Harden, Stephen Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday, Jeff Teague, and a bunch of better NBA players who would have helped the Grizzlies more than Thabeet ever could. He certainly didn't make the Huskies proud.
8 Michigan State - Greg Kelser
Greg Kelser is one of the best Michigan State Spartans of all-time, as he and Magic Johnson played together and led their college to the national championship game in 1979 where they took home the trophy and solidified themselves as Michigan State legends. Kelser was often on the receiving end of incredible alley-oop passes from Magic, as the two really were great players in college together. Kelser was drafted with the 4th pick in the 1979 NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons, three picks behind his teammate Magic, however Kelser did not live up to being a top 5 draft selection as he was traded from the team just a few years later and never found a real home as he never played as well as he did in college.
7 Louisville - Pervis Ellison
Pervis Ellison was a national champion in college for Louisville, as he enjoyed a very successful four year career for the Cardinals. At 6'9" and 240 pounds, Pervis was a big body even though he was a little short for being a forward, but this didn't stop Ellison from being one of the most dominant players in the college basketball world. He was so dominant in fact that he was taken with the 1st pick in the 1989 NBA Draft by the Sacramento Kings.
Injuries absolutely plagued Ellison's career sadly, as he never lived up to being the first pick in a draft. The injuries earned him the unflatterin nickname "Out of Service Pervis". Ellison did Louisville incredibly proud during his days there, but did not have the success in the league that he did in college.
6 Indiana - Kent Benson
Kent Benson is still one of the greatest players in the University of Indiana basketball history, as he played four solid years there winning one national championship in a perfect record season in his junior year. He was a great center in college as he averaged about 20 points and 10 rebounds in his final season for the Hoosiers, and his great play against college talent led him to being drafted with the 1st pick in the 1977 NBA Draft to the Milwaukee Bucks. It was supposed to be a turning point for the Bucks franchise, but that was not the case. Benson's biggest moment in the league was being punched by Kareem-Abdul Jabbar which broke his jaw and made headlines around the country. Not a moment you want to be remembered for, but that's just how it goes.
5 Kansas - Thomas Robinson
Thomas Robinson is still currently in the NBA, but is the worst bust from Kansas of all-time. Robinson played three seasons at Kansas, as he worked his way from being a bench player his freshman year to being one of the best prospects in his country after a dominant junior year where he averaged about 18 points and 12 rebounds per game. He was taken by the Sacramento Kings with the 5th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, which turned out to be one of the Kings' worst draft selections as Robinson couldn't stay healthy and was off the team after one season.
Damian Lillard was selected just one pick behind Robinson, which makes matters worse for the Kings. To be on this list after just five years truly is remarkable.
4 Duke - Danny Ferry
Duke has traditionally been a powerhouse college program and Danny Ferry is still considered to be one of the best Blue Devils of all-time. He holds the school record for most points scored in a game with an incredible 58 points scored against Miami. Ferry played four great seasons for Duke. They were incredibly successful as he helped lead them too the Final Four in three seasons. He was even named the College Player of the Year in 1989. Ferry was drafted in 1989 with the second pick in the draft to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ferry didn't want to play for the Clippers so went overseas to play, which forced the Clippers to trade him to the Cavaliers. Ferry did not end up being the dominant scorer he was in college, as he averaged just 7 points a game over the course of 13 year career.
3 UCLA - Ed O'Bannon
Ed O'Bannon was one of the best high-school players in the country, which led him to being recruited by the biggest colleges but he decided to play for the UCLA Bruins. Before he even played a game for the Bruins, he tore a ligament in his knee after landing awkwardly in a pickup game with other Bruins. Doctors said he may not ever walk right again. After receiving a bone graft, he was back to playing form and made his way back into the program where he became one of the best players in college. In his senior season, he led the Bruins all the way to the National Championship as they won against Arkansas. He was then drafted with the 9th pick in the 1995 NBA Draft to the New Jersey Nets, despite wanting to be taken by a team on the West Coast. This led him to becoming homesick, and his game showed it, as he was just not the same player in the league as he was in college.
2 North Carolina - Marvin Williams
Marvin Williams played just one season for North Carolina, as he was the spark off the bench for the colleges 2005 National Championship team. His skills spoke for themselves, as he only averaged 11 points per game as a freshman, but declared for the NBA Draft and was definitely going to be a top 5 draft pick. Williams was taken with the 2nd pick in the 2005 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks, and didn't end up being the dominant power forward scouts thought he would be. Williams is currently on the Charlotte Hornets, where he is a solid stretch four for the team. Even though he's a solid player, he didn't exactly live up to his expectations as a second overall pick. Had he been picked 10-15 picks later, the perception would be very different.
1 Kentucky - Sam Bowie
Sam Bowie could be the biggest NBA Draft bust of all-time. Bowie spent five years with Kentucky due to the fact he had a stress fracture in his left-tibia, which caused him to miss the 1981-82 season. Bowie showed signs of superstardom for Kentucky, but that injury would be a sign to come for Bowie, as injuries would be the downfall of his career. Bowie was a bust in himself, but the real reason he will always be remembered is because of the player who was drafted just one pick behind him; Michael Jordan.
Bowie came nowhere near the caliber player that Michael Jordan was, as that draft pick is one of the biggest "what-if" moments in NBA history. Just imagine if the Blazers had looked to UNC to make their pick rather than Kentucky.
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