NCAA underachiever, NBA success story is The Dagger's countdown of players who didn't live up to expectations in college yet are currently flourishing in the NBA. For an explanation of the criteria used in compiling this list, check out our introductory entry. Up next on our list is No. 2: Duke's Corey Maggette.
When Corey Maggette decided he was entering the NBA draft after an underwhelming freshman year at Duke, neither he nor coach Mike Krzyzewski held a formal news conference to announce his departure.
In fact, the only acknowledgement at all from Duke of Maggette's decision was a terse news release that contained no comment from Krzyzewski.
That Krzyzewski refused to speak publicly about Maggette was a sign he didn't have anything nice to say about the young forward's hasty exit. Maggette averaged 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds coming off the bench behind Chris Carrawell in his lone season at Duke, turning pro afterward against the advice of his family, the coaching staff and even mentor Michael Jordan.
"I saw him play twice. I didn't notice him," Marty Blake, the head of NBA scouting, said before the draft.
Maggette's high school career certainly portended a long, successful NBA career far more than his lone year at Duke did. A two-time all-state honoree at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill., Maggette averaged 23 points and 10 rebounds and was considered one of the five best recruits in his class.
"In my 18 years of coaching, he's the best player to come out of Illinois, and that's not just because he's our player," high school coach John Quinn told the Duke Chronicle when Maggette signed with the Blue Devils in 1997. "Antoine Walker is arguably the best player to come out of this league, and Corey at the same age is far ahead of where he was. [Walker's] coach from high school, Mike Curta, would tell you the same thing."
Maggette arrived at Duke with an NBA-ready body, but he didn't consistently produce. His defense was atrocious, he tended to dribble too much and he'd often alternate between spectacular highlight-worthy dunks and inexplicable turnovers or poor decisions.
"He is the epitome of a world of potential," Sacramento Kings scout Scott Drum said before the draft. "He is a great athlete and is an explosive jumper. Now he just has to bring the game together. Right now he more athlete than basketball player."
Although Maggette has never become the NBA superstar some thought he'd be during high school, he's also enjoyed a far more successful pro career than many thought after Orlando selected him 13th in the 1999 draft.
It took him only two NBA seasons to better his scoring and rebounding numbers from college. He's since scored at least 16.8 points a game for the past eight seasons, eclipsing 20 points a night in three years during that stretch.
"He's tough and he has played through injuries," Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond said after trading for the former Duke star this week. "We feel confident he's going to be able to help us not only this year but through the remainder of his contract."
NCAA underachiever, NBA success story countdown:
No. 10: Jrue Holiday
No. 9: DeAndre Jordan
No. 8: Andre Iguodala
No. 7: John Salmons
No. 6: Trevor Ariza
No. 5: Ben Wallace
No. 4: Gerald Wallace
No. 3: Zach Randolph