The 15 Worst Basketball Players John Calipari Sent To The NBA

The Boston Celtics won the NBA draft lottery and are expected to take Washington point guard Markelle Fultz first overall on June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. While the 19-year-old Fultz has emerged as this year’s premier prospect, Kansas small forward Josh Jackson, Duke small forward Jayson Tatum and UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball are also considered to be potentially transformative players. Per usual, following Fultz, Jackson, Tatum and Ball, Kentucky coach John Calipari will send another blue-chip talent, Wildcats point guard De'Aaron Fox, to the association this summer. Calipari, who has embraced the one-and-done rule, has helped 39 players get drafted while coaching at UMass, Memphis and Kentucky.

“The Kentucky Effect is there and it’s real,” said Calipari, 58, who was hired by the Wildcats in April 2009 after agreeing to an eight-year contract worth $31.65 million. “Senator Mitch McConnell has said to me, ‘You’re creating more millionaires than a Wall Street firm,’ and I went, wow, we are.”

Over the prior decade alone, Calipari has produced NBA stars Derrick Rose, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns. While many of Calipari’s players entered the association with lofty expectations, a Minuteman and some Wildcats and Tigers were drafted late and with minimal hype. Plus, many of Coach Cal’s former players remain youthful and have ample time to develop on the hardwood.

Circumstances notwithstanding, this list will rank the 15 worst players that John Calipari sent to the NBA over his 28 years as a collegiate head coach.


Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was an invaluable part of Kentucky’s 2012 national championship squad. The 23-year-old Kidd-Gilchrist, a 2012 consensus second-team All-American, bolted Lexington after his freshman season and was subsequently taken by the Charlotte Hornets with the draft’s second pick. The 6-foot-7, 232-pound Kidd-Gilchrist performed admirably in The Hornet's Nest and was named to the 2012 NBA All-Rookie Second Team. The precocious New Jerseyan has averaged 9.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 283 games as a Hornet.

Provided Hornets owner and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan doesn’t bully the youngster and crush his spirit, Kidd-Gilchrist has the skills to mature into a tremendous player. Still, for a second overall selection, it’s concerning that Kidd-Gilchrist doesn’t routinely score in double digits.


Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky shooting guard James Young flourished throughout his lone season in Lexington and earned 2014 second-team All-SEC honors. Later that spring, the 21-year-old Young was drafted by the Boston Celtics with the 17th selection. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Young was immediately beset by a string of injuries and Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge opted to send his rookie to the organization’s developmental squad in Portland, Maine. In 31 games as a Red Claw, Young averaged 18.7 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.3 steals. Young impressed the Celtics’ brain trust and he was promoted to Beantown last autumn. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has given Young limited time on the hardwood. Nonetheless, as a member of this year's Eastern Conference’s top seed, Young’s future seems promising.


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky power forward Patrick Patterson was a lockdown defender who twice-achieved All-SEC honors. The 28-year-old Patterson graduated from Kentucky as a junior and decided to forego his final season of eligibility to turn professional in 2010. Intrigued by the Wildcat’s defensive abilities, the Houston Rockets drafted the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Patterson 14th overall. Patterson mainly disappointed over three seasons as a Rocket and he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in February 2013. Patterson was only a King for 10 months before he got sent north of the border to become a Toronto Raptor. In 477 games as a Rocket, King and Raptor, Patterson averaged 7.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks. The veteran utility man is a pending unrestricted free agent.


AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The Oklahoma City Thunder drafted University of Kentucky center Dakari Johnson with the 48th pick in 2015. The 21-year-old Johnson was quickly demoted to the organization’s developmental squad. Undeterred, the 7-foot, 255-pound Johnson has dominated the competition with the Oklahoma City Blue. As part of the Blue, the towering Brooklynite made the NBA D-League All-Rookie Team in 2016 and was a 2017 All-NBA D-League First Teamer in 2017. A 2013 McDonald’s All-American, Johnson has averaged 18.5 points, 7.9 boards and 2.3 dishes in 99 games with the Blue. Johnson is an alluring prospect and he is expected to soon join Russell Westbrook and the rest of the Thunder. After all, a nimble and skillful giant doesn’t appear daily in Oklahoma City.


Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Shooting guard Archie Goodwin was a one-and-done player after the 2012-13 season for John Calipari’s Kentucky squad. The 22-year-old Goodwin shined from the outset in Lexington and was named to the 2013 SEC All-Freshman team. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Goodwin averaged 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists over 33 games as a Wildcat. Following one standout campaign in Kentucky and a flurry of moves on draft night, Goodwin eventually went to the Phoenix Suns with the 29th pick in 2013. Likely due to immaturity, Goodwin bickered with teammates in the Valley of the Sun and was surprisingly released by the franchise in October 2016.

Largely thanks to solid performances for the Greensboro Swarm, the Brooklyn Nets offered Goodwin a 10-day contract in March. Shortly thereafter, Goodwin and the Nets agreed to a multiyear deal.


via tinypic.com

Calipari coached power forward Lou Roe at UMass from 1991 to 1995. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound Roe excelled as a Minuteman in Amherst and was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and a consensus second-team All-American in 1995. A native of Atlantic City, New Jersey, the then 22-year-old Roe was taken by the Detroit Pistons with the 30th overall pick in the 1995 draft. Following an uninspiring, one-year stint in Motown, Roe played his final season in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors in 1997. Although unsuccessful in the association, Roe thrived competing for 16 professional organizations across the globe before retiring in 2012 as a member of Argentina’s Club de Regatas Corrientes. Roe averaged 2.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 66 games as a Piston and Warrior.


Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Power forward Terrence Jones was a gifted Wildcat who grabbed the 2011 SEC Rookie of the Year award and proved to be a key part of the school’s NCAA championship team in 2012. Roughly two months after Kentucky clinched its eighth title, the Houston Rockets took the 25-year-old Jones with the 18th pick in the draft. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound Jones showed glimmers of brilliance in Space City. Regrettably, a litany of ailments derailed Jones’ progress and he signed with the New Orleans Pelicans in July 2016. Somewhat ironically, Young was cut in February once the Pelicans acquired former Kentucky star DeMarcus Cousins. Young left the Big Easy a couple of weeks later and briefly found employment with the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee waived Young in April and he’s currently a free agent.


via thesportsquotient.com

Shooting guard Rodney Carney was a consensus second-team All-American at the University of Memphis in 2006. A once-fearsome Tiger, the 33-year-old Carney was chosen by the Chicago Bulls with the 16th pick in the 2006 draft. The Bulls immediately dealt the 6-foot-7, 205-pound Carney to the Philadelphia 76ers. The Memphis native struggled in the City of Brotherly Love and he became a journeyman in the association. Carney averaged 5.9 points, 2.0 rebounds and 0.4 assists over 299 contests as a member of the 76ers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies. Following the 2010-11 campaign in Memphis, Carney began playing overseas and he’s now collected paychecks from nine separate international franchises. Carney presently competes in Japan for the Toyotsu Fighting Eagles Nagoya.


via sbnation.com

Small forward Shawne Williams was a standout contributor for John Calipari and the University of Memphis Tigers throughout the 2005-06 season. Yet another Calipari one-and-done recruit, the 31-year-old Williams was selected by the Indiana Pacers 17th overall in 2006. Unfortunately for Pacers fans, the 6-foot-9, 235-pound Williams was completely unproductive in Indy. Williams never managed to find a permanent home in the association and, after getting relocated from Indianapolis in October 2008, he gained temporary employment with the Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. In addition to playing for an array of teams, Williams has been arrested on multiple occasions for various drug violations. Williams is a free agent without any known suitors.


via thesource.com

Despite a forgettable, one-year showing in Lexington, the Orlando Magic took Kentucky center Daniel Orton with the 29th pick in 2010. Predictably, the 26-year-old Orton disappeared with the Magic and became a journeyman. Since the debacle in Orlando, the 6-foot-10, 265-pound Orton has played for the New Mexico Thunderbirds, Oklahoma City Thunder, Tulsa 66ers, Philadelphia 76ers, Maine Red Claws, Sichuan Blue Whales, Purefoods Star Hotshots, Grand Rapids Drive, Santa Cruz Warriors, Leones de Ponce, Hunan Yongsheng, Mayrouba Club and Kymis B.C.

The tame Wildcat now works for the famed Champville Maristes Sports and Basketball Club in Deek El Mehdi, Lebanon. In 51 games with the Magic, Thunder and 76ers, Orton averaged 2.8 points, 2.5 boards and 0.5 assists.


via rookie.com

Small forward Darius Miller and Doron Lamb have had remarkably similar experiences since exiting Lexington. The New Orleans Hornets selected the 27-year-old Miller with the 46th pick in the 2012 draft. New Orleans quickly deduced that Miller needed to hone his abilities and he was assigned to the Iowa Energy in December 2012. The renamed Pelicans recalled the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Miller in January 2013. Unfortunately for the Pelicans, Miller’s game didn’t dramatically improve and he was waived by the organization in November 2014. The 2012 NCAA national champion has played for Germany’s Brose Bamberg since February 2015. Miller’s blossomed in Europe and he won the BBL Finals MVP award in 2016 and was a 2017 All-BBL First Team selection.


via sbnation.com

The Milwaukee Bucks chose University of Kentucky shooting guard Doron Lamb with the 42nd pick in the 2012 draft. Considering how late the 25-year-old Lamb was taken and his relative youthfulness, it’s difficult to bash the past Wildcat. Still, it’s evident that the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Lamb isn’t an NBA-caliber player. Milwaukee traded Lamb to the Orlando Magic less than a year after drafting him in February 2013. Approximately 17 months later, Lamb was released by the Magic in June 2014.

As with other former Wildcats on this list, since getting cut, Lamb has played for a few developmental teams and organizations abroad. In 100 contests with the Bucks and Magic, the 2011 SEC All-Rookie Teamer averaged 3.5 points and 0.8 assists. Lamb’s been employed by the Westchester Knicks since November 2016.


via chicagotribune.com

Like Kidd-Gilchrist, point guard Marquis Teague was a key contributor to Kentucky’s 2012 national championship team. As a freshman Wildcat, the 24-year-old Teague averaged 10.0 points, 4.9 dishes and 2.5 boards over 40 games as a starter. The Chicago Bulls selected the 6-foot-2, 180-pound Teague with the 29th pick in the 2012 draft. Chicago’s suits quickly soured on Teague and traded him to the Brooklyn Nets in 2014. Regrettably for the Nets, Teague also failed to produce in the most populous borough of New York City.

An underachiever in Chicago and Brooklyn, Teague has been stuck performing for developmental teams and franchises abroad. Teague averaged 2.3 points, 1.4 assists and 1.0 rebound in 88 contests as a Bull and Net. The toothless Wildcat signed with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in March.


via UPI/John Angelillo

Center Josh Harrellson transferred from Southwestern Illinois College to the University of Kentucky following the 2007-08 campaign. Despite initially feuding with John Calipari, the 28-year-old Harrellson developed into a solid Wildcat and ultimately averaged 15.0 points, 15.1 rebounds and 2.9 blocks over 94 games with the program. The 6-foot-10, 275-pound Harrellson wasn’t a highly regarded prospect and, therefore, he wasn’t drafted until the second round by the New Orleans Hornets in 2011. Before getting near the Big Easy, the Hornets traded Harrellson to the New York Knicks for cash considerations. Harrellson played in the association for the Knicks, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons. However, Harrellson enjoyed his best outings overseas. In particular, Harrellson soared with the Beikong Fly Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association and captured the 2013 NBL Player of the Year award.


via foxsports.com

Despite failing to intrigue scouts, University of Kentucky shooting guard Aaron Harrison decided to forgo his final two years of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NBA Draft. Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old Harrison went undrafted and became a free agent. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Harrison excited scouts with his performances during the 2015 NBA Summer League. Consequently, the Charlotte Hornets signed Harrison to a contract in July 2015. Charlotte's hierarchy chose to send Harrison to its new D-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. Following less than two years in Greensboro, Harrison was shipped north to compete for the Delaware 87ers. Harrison remains in Delaware and is seemingly determined to prove his detractors wrong.

More in College Basketball