Top 15 Great College Players Who Failed In The NBA

While it's the same sport, college basketball is different than NBA basketball. The feel of the game and lifestyle around it is different between the two, as we as fans have seen some very talented college players not be able to perform once they finally get paid to play the game they love. Whether it be the big lights of the NBA or any other reason, it does take a skill to transfer talent on the college court to the professional court. That's what makes the NBA Draft so interesting because teams need to project if their prospect will be able to succeed in the likes of the NBA, as we have seen many guys prosper in college but not be able to make a significant impact once they are drafted into the league.

In this article, we will be looking at the top 15 greatest college players who completely failed in the NBA. These guys could have been much more than they turned out to be, as they were the creme of the crop during their college days, however they couldn't seem to get the ball rolling during their insignificant time in the NBA.

As always, feel free to leave any comments you have on this article in the comment section below, for we would love to hear your thoughts.

Here are the top 15 great college players who failed in the NBA.


15 Sam Bowie


If you’re a basketball fan, you probably have heard of Sam Bowie. If you don’t know who he is, well in the legendary 1984 NBA Draft, he was drafted with the second pick to the Portland Trail Blazers. The pick back then wasn't seen as anything obscure, as Bowie was great in college as he showed his talent during his time with Kentucky. Okay big deal, he was drafted with the second pick and didn’t turn out to be a superstar.

14 Pervis Ellison


Pervis Ellison made a nice name for himself immediately at Louisville. A four-year starter, Ellison led the Cardinals to their second national championship and became the second freshman ever to be the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament. Drafted first overall in 1989 to the Sacramento Kings, Pervis Ellison never lived up to the hype of being the number one pick. His stats were not terrible, as he averaged 9.5 points and 6.7 rebounds in his 11 seasons in the NBA.

13 Dennis Hopson


12 Michael Olowokandi


Michael Olowokandi led the University of Pacific to two straight NCAA Tournaments as he averaged 22 points per game and 11 rebounds over the course of his college career. Michael Olowokandi was drafted with the first overall pick in 1998 by the Los Angeles Clippers. Poised to be one of the most dominant NBA players ever, he never lived up to his potential seen by many. He averaged 8.3 points and 6.8 rebounds during his decade-long NBA career. Drafted before some of the biggest names in NBA history such as Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, and Paul Pierce, Olowokandi was a total bust. Olowokandi was great in college, however didn't have what it took to be successful in the league.

11 Chris Washburn


In only one year at North Carolina State, Chris Washburn managed to prove himself with a 17.6 point, 6.7 rebound average and lead the Wolfpack to the Elite Eight. Washburn was drafted in 1986 with the third overall pick to the Golden State Warriors. He only played three seasons in the NBA averaging 3.1 points and 2.4 rebounds for his career averages. He was banned from the NBA for life in 1989, because he failed three drug tests in three years.

He was drafted in front of players such as Mark Price and Dennis Rodman. Chris just looked bored throughout his NBA career, and it's a shame substance abuse ruined what could have been a nice career for Chris Washburn.

10 LaRue Martin


In only three seasons, Martin became Loyola University's all-time rebound leader and averaged 18.7 points and 17.6 rebounds per game in his sophomore season. LaRue Martin is considered to be one of the worst first overall draft picks of all-time. Drafted by the Trail Blazers in 1972, in front of Hall of Fame players Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo, Martin was a total bust. He averaged a measly 5.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in his short four season career for the Blazers.

9 Adam Morrison

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Adam Morrison led Gonzaga to some of the school's greatest success. In the 2005-06 season, Morrison shared the Naismith Player of the Year honors with J.J. Redick and led the nation in scoring with 28.1 points per game. Adam Morrison had a great college career at Gonzaga University, in fact he played so well in college, he was drafted third overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.

8 Greg Oden

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7 Jimmer Fredette

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmer Fredette was the 2011 Wooden Award winner and was the talk of the basketball world during his final season at BYU. He was a great scorer who continuously hit bomb three-pointers on his opponents from deep behind the arc. "Jimmer-Mania" was a nightly SportsCenter staple, with his off-the-dribble shooting following in the footsteps of Stephen Curry years earlier. With a healthy 28.9 points per game, Fredette led the NCAA in scoring and won the hearts of millions of fans before entering the draft.

6 Hasheem Thabeet


5 Shawn Bradley

Ronald Martinez /Allsport

4 Michael Beasley

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Michael Beasley had easily one of the most dominant freshman seasons in college history. At the University of Kansas, Beasley averaged 26.2 points per game and 12.4 rebounds per game as he ended up being one of the finalists for Player of the Year. It looked as though Michael Beasley was the correct selection by the Heat with the second pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, but now, the Heat definitely would have gone with someone else if they knew what type of career Beasley would have.

3 Jonny Flynn


Jonny Flynn had an excellent college career at Syracuse, which is why the Timberwolves drafted him with a top 10 draft pick in 2009. He averaged about 17 points per game and 7 assists throughout his sophomore season at Syracuse, as he racked up multiple college awards before declaring for the draft. Jonny Flynn was one of several players selected before Steph Curry in the 2009 draft as the Timberwolves became one of six teams to make that mistake.

2 Marvin Williams

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Williams was once of the best players in college  in 2004, as he could score from anywhere on the court and rebounded nicely. Picked with the second pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, the Atlanta Hawks went with the wing scorer from North Carolina in Marvin Williams. Expectations were high for Williams, but he never turned out to be the player the Hawks thought he would be. The Hawks are kicking themselves over this one, as they could have went with Chris Paul instead of Williams. He has since found some new life with the Charlotte Hornets, but Williams definitely has never put up any numbers during his career that resembled the likes of a number two pick.

1 Anthony Bennett

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

The reason Bennett was drafted with the first pick in the 2013 NBA Draft by the Cavaliers was because he did actually show some serious talent at UNLV. He averaged about 16 points per game and 8 rebounds per game during his one year in college. The Cavaliers selected Bennett with the number one overall pick, and he has yet to prove he deserved being picked first. The Cavaliers were a miserable team during LeBron’s absence between 2010 and 2014, and picking Bennett sure didn’t help matters.

It’s quite remarkable how quickly Bennett became universally known as a draft bust. Bennett was most recently on the Brooklyn Nets and even the league's worst team decided he wasn't good enough, as they waived him earlier this month. Bennett is now overseas playing in Turkey for Fenerbahçe. I think it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing any Anthony Bennett highlight tapes coming out again.

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Top 15 Great College Players Who Failed In The NBA