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A look at last year's biggest college stars left off NBA rosters

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Opening Day in the NBA is Tuesday, which means each of the league's teams has set its roster for the upcoming season. Here's a look at the five biggest stars from last year's college basketball season who failed to land a spot on an opening-day roster for an NBA team.

1. Da'Sean Butler, F, West Virginia

What happened: A severe knee injury sustained during last year's Final Four loss to Duke wasn't the only bad luck to hamper Butler's quest to make the NBA. The former West Virginia star fell from first-round lock to No. 42 in the draft but seemed to have a spot in Miami locked up before Mike Miller's thumb injury forced the Heat to sign veteran Jerry Stackhouse, leaving no room on the roster for Butler.

What's next: The good news for Butler is that NBA scouts remember his good intangibles and the plethora of game-winning shots he hit at West Virginia. If he can fully rehab his knee and prove he has the same explosiveness, he should either get a 10-day contract later this season or a long look in training camp from someone next year.

Chances of one day playing in the NBA: 70 percent

2. Scottie Reynolds, G, Villanova

What happened: Reynolds was the best player in college basketball's most competitive conference as a senior, yet NBA teams were convinced he doesn't have the physical tools to succeed at the next level. The 6-foot-1 senior turned down a training-camp invite from the Suns and signed with a second-division Italian team after becoming the first first-team all-American to ever go undrafted.

What's next: A homesick Reynolds reportedly left his Italian team this week after just four games, a curious move considering NBA training camp is over and it will be difficult for him to latch on to a team in the middle of the season. Unless he returns to Europe, his best chance now is to play in the D-League and attempt to prove scouts wrong who say he lacks the size or length of a prototypical NBA shooting guard and the explosiveness or distribution skills necessary to play point.

Chances of one day playing in the NBA: 15 percent

3. Jon Scheyer, G, Duke

What happened: Undrafted despite earning second-team All-American honors as a senior and leading Duke to the national title, Scheyer played with Miami's summer league team and then attempted to catch on with the Clippers this preseason. The Clippers cut Scheyer on Oct. 9, a sign that his outside-shooting prowess probably isn't enough to make up for his inability to create his own shot and lack of lateral quickness.

What's next: Scheyer is definitely an NBA-level perimeter shooter, but his physical limitations will make it difficult for him to earn a roster spot. The logical thing for him to do would be to sign with a top European team, where his lack of NBA-caliber size or quickness won't be so much of an issue.

Chances of one day playing in the NBA: 5 percent

4. Jarvis Varnado, C, Mississippi State

What happened: Of the ex-college players who failed to make an NBA roster, Varnado was the highest draft pick. The No. 41 pick opted to sign with a second-division Italian pro team in August, apparently convinced that the Miami Heat had little need for a shot-blocking big man with Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Udonis Haslem, Juwan Howard and Jamaal Magloire already on the roster.

What's next: College basketball's all-time leading shot-blocker's hopes of earning a second chance in the NBA depend on his ability to develop other facets of his game during his tenure in Italy. The 6-foot-9 big man needs to get stronger, develop an offensive game and build on the impressive rebounding numbers he put up as a senior at Mississippi State.

Chances of one day playing in the NBA: 20 percent

5. Keith "Tiny" Gallon, C, Oklahoma

What happened: Gallon would have benefited greatly from another year or two in college, but a pending NCAA investigation into extra benefits allegations forced him to leave Oklahoma after his freshman season. The young big man fell to No. 47 in the draft and got waived by both Milwaukee and Boston earlier this month after an unremarkable performance for both teams.

What's next: Questions about Gallon's rebounding and conditioning prevented him from sticking with either Milwaukee or Boston, but he reportedly may yet land with the Celtics' D-League affiliate in Maine. That's as good a place as any for a 19-year-old with NBA size but unrefined skills.

Chances of one day playing in the NBA: 20 percent

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