The National Collegiate Athletic Association grooms some of the best future NBA stars. Many of these players start off as stars of their high school basketball team and lead their teams to state championships. The recruiting process takes place and the best high school players in the country choose where they want to play their college ball. Some players that are not highly recruited have to go to a mid-major school, and at this small school, they must play at an elite level to be recognized. The highly recruited players go to big schools and try and prove they’re worthy of being so highly recruited.
Not all of these college basketball stars exceed at the NBA level and most of the stars of the NCAA peak at that level. Throughout the years there have been numerous first team and second team All-Americans that have failed to be even drafted. These undrafted college superstars try and make an NBA roster through the NBA Summer League, and hope they get an invite to an NBA team’s training camp. There are some that make the NBA and there are others that make it but do not perform nearly as well as they did in college.
These are the 15 great college basketball players in recent memory that are not currently in the NBA:
15. Jimmer Fredette
Jimmer Fredette was a superstar coming out of BYU. His scoring prowess allowed him to help BYU overachieve, and carved a path for him into the NBA. During his senior season, he led the nation in scoring averaging nearly 29 points a game. This led to Fredette being selected number 10 overall in the NBA draft, but unfortunately, the team that chose him was the lowly Sacramento Kings. Fredette did not last long in the league after beginning his career in 2011. He tried reviving his career in the D-League with the Westchester Knicks and got invited to play sparingly with the New York Knicks in 2016.
He is now playing in China for the Shanghai Sharks, and may never be able to reach the NBA again.
14. Tyler Hansbrough
Tyler Hansbrough was one of the fiercest college basketball players that the NCAA has ever seen. He hustled and worked hard on every possession, and one of his most memorable moments while playing for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels was when he dunked on 7-foot-7 Kenny George of UNC Ashville. He was drafted in the lottery by the Indiana Pacers. During his career in the NBA he never could elevate his game to a star level, and last year with the Charlotte Hornets he was fighting for his NBA career.
After only averaging two points and two rebounds a game with the Hornets no other NBA team was willing to give Hansbrough another chance at becoming the great NBA player that most thought he could be.
13. Russ Smith
Russ Smith was a first team All-American during his days as a Louisville Cardinal, but his size scared many teams away from giving him a chance in the NBA. Smith was effective on both sides of the floor. He set Louisville’s school record for steals in a season and led his team to a national championship in 2013. He only played in a total of 27 games at the NBA level with the New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies. He played for three teams in the NBA’s D-League, and just last year while playing for the Delaware 87ers he set the D-League record for most points in a game with 65 points.
He failed to get signed by an NBA team for this season and has chosen to play overseas.
12. JaJuan Johnson
JaJuan Johnson had an incredibly successful collegiate career while at Purdue and was rewarded for his outstanding play in 2011 when he was named a first-team All-American. Johnson proved that he was a great scorer and rebounder while in college averaging 20 points and over eight rebounds a game. Many thought these skills would easily transfer over to the NBA level because of his NBA-ready physique. Johnson was not selected until the end of the first round by the Brooklyn Nets.
Johnson never played a game for the Nets during the 2011-12 year, and only lasted one season in the NBA with the Boston Celtics during the 2011-12 NBA season where he was only able to average three points and less than two rebounds a game.
11. Scottie Reynolds
Scottie Reynolds provided one of the greatest moments in NCAA history when he hit a buzzer beater in the Elite Eight against Pittsburgh to punch Villanova’s ticket to the Final Four. Reynolds was a dynamic scorer in college, and his elite scoring capabilities led him to be named a first-team All-American in 2010. Reynolds was not given much of a chance at achieving his NBA dream.
He played in the summer league for the Phoenix Suns but was not signed to the team’s final roster. He tried to get into the NBA through the developmental league, but he never got an opportunity to play in an NBA game. He now plays in Europe knowing that his chances of making the NBA are weak.
10. Alando Tucker
While at Wisconsin, Alando Tucker set the scoring record for most points in a career which was previously held by Michael Finley. His 2007 year proved to be a resume builder for his post-collegiate aspirations of playing in the NBA, but it ended on a sour note with an unexpected loss in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Tucker was named a first team All-American and also was awarded the title of Big Ten player of the year. He was selected at the back end of the first round by the Phoenix Suns, but never was able to get a great amount of playing time with the team.
The dreaded back and forth drill between the NBA and D-League ended for Tucker after his third and final season in the NBA with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
9. Perry Ellis
Perry Ellis was an All-American while playing for the Kansas Jayhawks for four years. His style of play is very slow, but he was able to score and rebound in bunches under coach Bill Self. He expected to be drafted after being a first team All-American. No team in the 2016 NBA draft chose to draft him, but he did receive an invite from the Dallas Mavericks to participate for their summer league team. While playing for the Mavericks in the summer league he did not get all that much playing time.
He was not picked up by the Mavericks, and it seems certain that Ellis will end up playing overseas this upcoming basketball season. His NBA dreams are not dead but they are most likely on life support at the moment.
8. Seth Tuttle
Seth Tuttle was a player known to everyone in the nation due to his label as an adored underdog. He chose to play at the University of Northern Iowa instead of big name schools such as Iowa, Iowa State, and Wisconsin, and he instantly made a name for himself in the Missouri Valley Conference. Tuttle was named the freshman of the year in the conference. Soon Tuttle would become Northern Iowa’s star player, and in 2015 the team started the year with a 24-2 record. The mid-major school was now nationally ranked thanks in large part to Tuttle leading the team in scoring and rebounding.
Tuttle went undrafted after his senior season, and after playing in the NBA summer league with the Miami Heat, he chose to play basketball overseas.
7. Gerry McNamera
Gerry McNamera was a legend while he was at Syracuse. One of the most memorable conference tournament runs in NCAA history was pioneered by McNamera in the 2006 Big East tournament, when Syracuse defied the odds and did something that had never been done before in the tournaments history. The Syracuse Orangemen did not seem destined for the NCAA tournament before the 2006 Big East tournament. Led by McNamera, the team won four games in four days to win the tourney, and this was a feat that had never been accomplished in the Big East tournament’s history. During his illustrious college career, he averaged 15 points and five assists a game.
He failed to make it to the NBA after playing in the NBA summer league twice, and now is an assistant coach at Syracuse.
6. Kendall Marshall
Kendall Marshall was drafted in the lottery of the 2012 NBA draft but failed to live up to the expectations put upon him once he got into the NBA. During his collegiate career at the University of North Carolina Marshall was very good at setting up his teammates and putting them in the right position. He only scored seven points a game in college, but his eight assists a game made NBA scouts believe he could be a prototypical NBA point guard.
He ended up spending four years in the NBA. Marshall never found a true home in the NBA, and he ended up playing for four teams in his four years in the NBA. He failed to put up anywhere near the numbers he was able to accumulate in college.
5. Luke Harangody
Luke Harongody is arguably the best basketball player to ever suit up for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Harangody had an OK freshmen season at Notre Dame, but he took off his sophomore season averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds a game. His successful college run would last four years. In three of those four years Harangody was named a first-team All-American, and he was also named to the first team all-Big East for three of those four years. He was drafted late in the second round by the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA draft and lasted two years in the NBA.
After failing to make it back to the NBA through trials in the NBA summer league Harangody continued his basketball career overseas.
4. Scottie Wilbekin
Scottie Wilbekin did not make an impact with the Florida Gators until his junior and senior seasons. His first two years he averaged a pedestrian two points a game, but during his junior year, he upped his offensive input to nine points and five assists per game. During his senior campaign, he was named a third-team All-American, and was able to carry his team to success in 2014. The Florida Gators won the SEC regular season title and made a lengthy run in the NCAA. The Gators made it all the way to the final four in 2014, a feat that would not have been possible without the leadership of Wilbekin. Wilbekin went undrafted in the NBA draft and participated with the Philadelphia 76ers summer league and preseason team before being cut.
3. Hasheem Thabeet
Hasheem Thabeet is perhaps the most bust worthy on this list of former college greats. During his days as a Connecticut Husky, he was an All-American, and his ferociousness in the paint as a rim protector is a skill that all NBA teams cherish. Many big men have been able to survive in the NBA with little offensive skill but can block and alter shots on defense when they are inserted into a game. Thabeet was drafted second overall by the Grizzlies, but he did little to warrant such a high draft selection and the team sent him down to the developmental league.
The big man from Tanzania never became even an average NBA player. He bounced back and fourth between the NBA and D-League and holds averages of two points and two rebounds per game.
2. Jarrod Uthoff
Jarrod Uthoff’s success in basketball began early on when he was named the best basketball player in the state of Iowa in 2011. He began his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin but transferred to Iowa after being redshirted his freshman year. He did not make much of an impact at Iowa until his junior year when he was named to the third team All-Big Ten after averaging 12 points and six rebounds a game. The next season Uthoff became the leader of the Iowa Hawkeyes and led them to an NCAA tournament bid. Uthoff was named a first team All-American after his senior year which ended with a loss to eventual national champion Villanova.
Uthoff played in the NBA summer league and preseason before being cut by the Toronto Raptors.
1. Yogi Ferrell
Yogi Ferrell had an uphill battle at making it in the NBA just due to his small figure, but he made a case during his college career to have a shot at making it into the best basketball league in the world. He was one of the best high school basketball players in the country and chose to play his college basketball for the Indiana Hoosiers. He started every game of his four-year career at Indiana. He was honored as a member of the first team all-Big Ten in 2015 and 2016, and in 2016 was named a third team All-American.
After averaging 13 points and four assists a game at Indiana he entered the 2016 NBA draft but went undrafted. He failed to make an NBA roster after being cut by the Brooklyn Nets during the preseason.
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