Kentucky's Daniel Orton averaged only 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds a game. West Virginia's Devin Ebanks disappeared for stretches of the season. UTEP's Derrick Caracter battled weight and attitude problems throughout his college career.
All three fell short of expectations as college players. All three are likely to be drafted anyway on Thursday.
If there's one law of the NBA draft that college basketball fans often have trouble grasping, it's that a prospect's past performance is not necessarily indicative of their future success. Productive four-year players like Scottie Reynolds and Luke Harangody may go undrafted because they lack NBA size or quickness, yet guys who were too raw or undisciplined to be dominant in college may have the long-term potential to flourish as pros.
With the 2010 draft fast approaching and an unusually large crop of underachievers among this year's NBA hopefuls, The Dagger thought it was a good time to celebrate past disappointing college players who are succeeding in the NBA. As a result, we've ranked our top 10, with a new entry coming twice a day until we unveil the top 2 on draft day.
This isn't a list of NBA draft surprises necessarily because some hidden gems were superb in college and some unproductive college players were still taken in the lottery. Second-round success stories Michael Redd or Carlos Boozer wouldn't be candidates for this series since they excelled in college, but someone like Orton would be in the future even though he's likely to go mid-first-round.
Here's what we decided on for the remainder of the criteria for this list:
• We're only considering players currently in the NBA
• Underachievement in college doesn't necessarily have to be all the player's fault. Some talented players don't produce the way they should in part because there's a logjam in front of them in the rotation, they're forced to play out of position or a coach doesn't recognize their ability.
• Success in the NBA is relative to a player's tenure and talent. It's unfair to define success for a 2008 second-round pick the same way you would for a lottery pick from 1998.
The first entry on this list will be posted later Sunday morning, but feel free to offer your suggestions. We welcome all nominations and of course we reserve the right to alter our list if a reader has a suggestion we should have thought of but didn't.