For a long time, the state of Indiana has been a breeding ground for basketball talent. Hoosier basketball is something millions of high school athletes dream of being a part of, even though other programs have become more dominant. College students, at Indiana University, treasure their basketball team like none other. Each season, McCracken court caters to fans all over the nation. The program has won five championships. In regards to NCAA records, the Hoosiers are tied with Duke at 4th for the most titles. While the team has been historically relevant, they recently fired their coach, Tom Crean.
Crean had coached Indiana for seven seasons - but after a loss to Georgia Tech - he was ousted from the program. Indiana University has produced a high volume of talent at the professional level. While some collegiate players have gone on to great heights, like the Hall of Fame, others have or had struggled to find their way in the NBA. In some ways, Hoosier basketball has lost its way. Many Indiana high schoolers used to dream of playing at IU, but nowadays offers from Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, UNC end up attracting young talent. Here are The 8 Worst And 7 Best NBA Players Who Were Indiana Hoosiers.
15 Worst: Greg Graham
Greg Graham will forever be known for his legacy with Bob Knight between 1991-93. The shooting guard is an Indiana legend but was not an NBA contributor.
He will forever be known as one of the biggest NBA busts. Greg was selected 17th overall in the 1993 draft by the Charlotte Hornets, but he did not make an impact for them. He would then play for the Philadelphia 76ers, New Jersey Nets, Seattle SuperSonics, and Cleveland Cavaliers. By the time his career was over, in 1998, he had averaged a poor 4.5 PPG. Graham's NBA career would end, but he would then play in the D-League and overseas. His final season was in Sweden in 1999, when he played for Boras Basket. Graham would help coach the Indiana Alley Cats in the ABA for a season in 2005, but his basketball life was over by 2006. His triumphs in college were not mirrored in the pros.
14 Best: Mike Woodson
Woodson would prove to be one of Bob Knight's favorite players. In the 1979 NIT tournament, he ended up being the program's top scorer. The Knicks took him 12th overall in the 1980 NBA Draft.
Woodson would end up playing for multiple teams; namely, the Nets, Kings, Clippers, Rockets, and Cavaliers. Arguably, his best season was with the Kings. He averaged 18.2 PPG in the midst of a controversial 1982-83 season, in which the Kings were contemplating a move to Sacramento. By the end of his career, he had an average of 14 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 2.3 APG. While he wasn't a great passer, Woodson was a versatile 6-foot-5 guard. In 1979, Woodson would help the United States represent basketball in the Pan American Games; the team would win the gold. While his coaching career is interesting, notably his help for the Pistons in their '04 championship, Woodson had a very respectable playing career after Indiana.
13 Worst: Steve Alford
Alford was a legendary IU basketball player. He became the all time scorer in University history (2,438), and would help the program win the 1987 National Championship.
Steve would be drafted 26th overall in the 1987 NBA Draft. While Pacers fans were upset when the organization took Reggie Miller instead of Steve, the selection turned out to be fantastic. Steve would plummet to being one of the NBA's most irrelevant players. His stint with the Dallas Mavericks would prove to be nothing like his career with Indiana University, and once landed with the Warriors it was obvious Reggie Miller was the Pacers' right pick. Steve would end up finding more success as a coach. Obviously, the guy was a smart player and was very clutch in late game situations. Nowadays, he is coaching the UCLA men's team. This past season, he got smoked by Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen. While UCLA fans have embraced him, he wasn't always a notable coach. He began his career coaching Manchester, then Southwest Missouri State, and then finally, Iowa. From Iowa, Alford went on to coach New Mexico State and then UCLA starting in 2013.
12 Best: Victor Oladipo
Victor Oladipo averaged 24.6 MPG with the Hoosiers and 10.7 PPG over three seasons. While he wasn't a major scorer in college, scouts fell in love with his tough defensive play.
Today, Victor plays for the Thunder. He was the 2nd pick by the Magic in the 2013 NBA Draft and was voted by his peers to be the best defender in the entire draft. In the 2014-15 NBA season, Victor averaged 17.9 PPG, 4.1 APG, and 1.7 SPG. He is often defined as a lockdown defender and is beginning to become an integral part of the Thunder's game plan. While Durant may be gone from Oklahoma City, Oladipo is a nice addition to Russell Westbrook's fast paced structure. He is constantly praised for his work ethic and basketball IQ.
At IU, in his final season, he was named Big Ten Defensive Player Of The Year. While he may not be a superstar just yet, Victor's stock just keeps rising and he will continue to be a great asset for teams to come.
11 Worst: Rick Calloway
Calloway played just one season with the Kings in the 1990-91 NBA season. The IU and Kansas star was supposed to be a solid NBA player, but he failed big time at the professional level. In the 1990 CBA Draft, he was taken by the Omaha Racers. After ultimately failing in the minor leagues, he went overseas to play in Argentina and Poland.
At IU, he averaged 12.9 PPG and shot 52.9 percent from the field. The 6-foot-6 guard was supposed to potentially pan out, but obviously, he never developed into a more dynamic big man. Calloway played alongside the legendary 1986-87 College Basketball Champion Hoosiers, with Steve Alford, Dean Garrett, Keith Smart, Darryl Thomas, and Brian Sloan. Because of the team's college success, Calloway was thought to have some potential at the professional level. While this was a thought lingering in peoples heads, the college game is less intense compared to the NBA. Plenty of athletes who won an NCAA championship are highly irrelevant at the professional level.
10 Best: Eric Gordon
Gordon was beloved by IU fans. Currently, he holds the record for the most points by any freshman in a season with the IU basketball program. Additionally, the guard was a candidate for the Wooden Award.
Eric was drafted 7th overall by the Clippers. He currently plays for the Rockets, but his best season was in the 2010-11 season. He averaged 22.3 PPG, that year, and played a dominant 37.9 MPG. On January 2nd, 2017, Eric put up 31 points in a game against the Wizards. Most recently, he won the NBA Three Point Contest in the 2017 All Star Game. While the Rockets most recently put him back on the bench, since he was originally starting, Gordon has proven to be a productive guard. He is good at shuffling through screens, and notably, averaged 1.4 SPG back in the 2011-12 season.
9 Worst: Jay Edwards
Jay Edwards played for the Hoosiers from 1987-1989. The Indiana native averaged 20 PPG in his sophomore season and led the team to a 1989 Big Ten title. The former Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" played with his co-winner, and friend, Lyndon Jones at Indiana.
The Clippers took a swing at Edwards with the 33rd overall pick in the 2nd round of the 1989 NBA Draft. Sadly, he only played four games with the Clippers and struggled to put on any muscle - he was noted for not hitting the weight room very much. While his NBA career was so very irrelevant, he had a long career in the D-League. After being released from the Clippers in 1991, Jay went to the Rapid City Thrillers. This stunt would last just one year, as he would then bounce from D-League to D-League team. Teams did not find him to be useful, as he never played more than three years with the same professional squad.
8 Best: George McGinnis
McGinnis had a fantastic 1970-71 Hoosier season. He became the first sophomore to lead the Big Ten in points and rebounding and averaged 29.9 PPG. McGinnis would prove to be a valuable asset for the Indiana Pacers, notably in 1973 when he helped the team win the championship. In the 1972-73 season, he was the ABA Postseason MVP and averaged 23.9 PPG and a bulky 12.3 RPG. This was when the Pacers were an ABA team, so he eventually got drafted by the 76ers in 1973 with the 22nd pick. By the time his career was over, McGinnis was known as a dominant forward. In his career, he won two championships, was a three time NBA All Star, and an All NBA First Team selection in 1976.
In 2017, McGinnis was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. While he should have been inducted years earlier, he was accompanied in his enrollment with Tracy "T-Mac" McGrady, Bill Self, and Rebecca Lobo.
7 Worst: Eric Anderson
Eric Anderson was once "Mr. Basketball" of Illinois in 1988. In 1992, he was named the Most Outstanding Player of the West Regional after a big Hoosier victory to get to the final four. Unfortunately for him, he was not drafted in the 1992 NBA Draft. Teams apparently were not very intrigued by his, supposedly, one dimensional game. Luckily, the Knicks signed him, but he struggled to remain relevant.
As an NBA player, Anderson averaged 1.6 PPG, 1.1 RPG, and actually never missed a free throw. While he was a irrelevant player, the Knicks fans seemed to like him. He was a bench warmer for every game but once the game was out of reach, Anderson would receive a handful of cheers from the crowd. While his career with the Knicks would end in 1994, due to him being a very dispensable bench warmer, he played in the D-League. Andorra would be home for Eric until 1995 and he last played in 1998 with Fort Wayne Fury. The Once 1988 High School McDonald's All American was never a real threat in the pros.
6 Best: Isiah Thomas
Isiah Thomas, not to be confused with current Celtics star Isaiah Thomas, was specifically recruited by Bob Knight to be a Hoosier. At IU, he was nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful" and was loved by fans for his intense offensive approach. In 1981, Thomas was named the NCAA Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and in 1981 he would transition to the NBA.
He was selected 2nd overall in the 1981 NBA Draft by the Pistons. Thomas played all of his career with Detroit, becoming a Michigan legend. By the end of his career, he had helped the organization win two championships, been a 12 time All Star, and got his jersey number #11 retired by the Pistons. In 2000, Isiah was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. After a great playing career, he tried his hand at coaching. From 2000-2003, he would coach the Pacers and from 2006-2008 he would coach the Knicks. While he wasn't a great coach, his playing career was legendary.
5 Worst: Kirk Haston
Haston is known as a legendary high school and collegiate player. Notably, he led his high school basketball team to a 37-0 record and a state championship: this got Bob Knight's attention. In the 2000-01 NCAA season - Haston led the Big Ten in scoring. In the same season, he hit a legendary buzzer beater against Michigan State at home.
The Charlotte Hornets took a gamble with Haston at 16th overall in the 2001 NBA draft. As a mobile and athletic forward, NBA analysts were still not sure as to whether the Hornets were reaching a bit for him. In 27 games, he would average a horrible 1.2 PPG and did not record 1 steal. Thus, he was a bust. The D-League would prove to a better place for him, as he averaged 16 PPG and got selected to the First Team. Unfortunately, he suffered a right knee injury which would end his marvelous season with the Florida Flame. His last time playing professional basketball was in 2005, with Upea Capo D'Orlando. Once again, he suffered an injury which cost him, this time, his career. Now, Kirk is a High School basketball coach.
4 Best: Walt Bellamy
Bellamy wanted to play down south. Luckily, the Indiana basketball program was one of the few programs that would bring in African American athletes. After four years, IU was blessed to have his presence on the court. He is currently the record holder for the most rebounds in program history: 1,087 (he averaged 15.5 RPG). Just take that number in.
The NBA was, arguably, even better for his career. He was taken 1st overall in 1961 and played for the Chicago Packers (yes that was an actual team name). The 1962 Rookie of The Year averaged 20.1 PPG, 2.4 APG, and a whopping 13.7 RPG throughout his career. In 2006, he was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, and eventually, the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. In the 1960 Olympic Games, Walt would help the US get the gold medal against Italy. Sadly, he passed away 2013. His last season was with the New Orleans Jazz in 1974.
3 Worst: Keith Smart
Keith Smart was drafted 41st overall in the 1988 NBA draft by the Warriors. Unfortunately, he would be released by the team. Luckily, though, the Spurs saw something in him. Smart, though, only played in two games. After showing fatigue and lack of physical strength at the hoop, he would head overseas. The guard would bounce around, team to team, and finally retired in the CBA with Fort Wayne Fury. Luckily, Smart would find more success as a coach. He began with the Fury, but transitioned into the NBA soon enough.
As of today, he is an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies. While he only scored two points in the NBA, he has been a great asset for the Grizzlies. The former "Final Four Most Outstanding Player" of 1987 can rest easy knowing, that he was destined to coach players and not perform.
2 Best: Larry Bird
Not only is Larry Bird one of the best Indiana Hoosiers ever, but he is one of the greatest NBA players to ever grace the court. After being drafted 6th overall in 1978, the Celtics were ecstatic to have him. The rest was history.
Larry was a three time NBA champion, a two time NBA finals MVP, and most notably, a 12 time All Star. Shockingly, he played his entire career with the Celtics; many players do not play with one team their entire career, but he just could not escape the city of Boston for 13 years. His best season, one that will forever, was the 1987-88 season. He averaged 29.9 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and shot .527 from the field. In the playoffs, Bird was an even bigger threat to opponents. In 1984, he averaged a dominant 27.5 PPG and 2.3 SPG in postseason play. Bird is all time great, I don't need to tell you that.
1 Worst: Patrick Ewing Jr.
Jr. did not find the same success his father found in the NBA. Patrick Ewing's son played for the Hoosiers for two years before transferring to Georgetown, where his father played. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2008 NBA Draft - 43rd overall. The Kings drafted him but he was soon traded to the Rockets in a Ron Artest transaction. Once again, he was shipped away - this time to the Knicks. He would soon be waived by the Knicks in 2008.
After this, his career has been predominantly in the D-League. While teams, like the Magic, have taken a shot at him, he hasn't panned out. There is something about NBA legends' sons; they never pan out in the NBA. As of 2015, Ewing played in Qatar. He only played a few NBA games but his impact was not there. In the D-League, Ewing made the 2011 All Star game and made the All D-League 3rd team. Unfortunately, he has failed in the NBA.
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