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. Next up on our list is No. 9: Texas A&M's DeAndre Jordan.
DeAndre Jordan has yet to fulfill his immense potential in the NBA, but the powerful 7-footer is a lot closer with the Los Angeles Clippers than he ever came during an underwhelming stint at Texas A&M.
In two seasons backing up all-star center Chris Kaman, Jordan has made strides on defense, as a low-post scorer and in his ability to respond to a bad performance. In one season as the most highly touted freshman ever to sign with Texas A&M, it often seemed as if his career was stuck in quicksand.
Expectations were sky-high for Jordan at Texas A&M because of his NBA-ready physique and McDonald's All-American pedigree, but Aggies coach Mark Turgeon never managed to bring out the best in him. A frustrated Turgeon described Jordan before the 2007-08 season as "18 going on 12," a reference to his tendency to get down on himself after a rough game or a bad practice.
Unfortunately for Jordan, rough games and bad practices weren't exactly rare during his lone season at Texas A&M.
Jordan came off the bench to average 7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds for an Aggies team that advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, but his playing time and production dwindled as the season went along. In two Big 12 tourney games and two NCAA tourney games, Jordan produced a combined seven points and five rebounds.
"You have to keep a level head, stay on the path, and I didn't do that," Jordan told ESPN.com after the season. "I was inconsistent because I'd get down on myself. I think if I went back to college, people would see a different player."
Jordan, a projected lottery pick since high school, didn't go back to school. He slipped all the way to the 35th pick, but the slide may have been a blessing in disguise because it has removed any external pressure on him and allowed the Clippers to bring him along slowly.
Although Jordan's pick-and-roll rotations are still slow and his 34 percent foul shooting is an embarrassment, he showed signs of potentially becoming the Clippers' center of the future late last season. Rewarded with increased playing time after the team sent Zach Randolph to Memphis and Marcus Camby to Portland, Jordan averaged 8.1 points and 10.0 rebounds during the final 11 games of last season.
It's probably premature to label Jordan an NBA success story considering he's yet to sign his second contract or entrench himself as a starter, but the Clippers are pleased with his performance thus far.
"He's a 21-year-old kid and he's going to be up and down," former interim coach Kim Hughes told ESPN Los Angeles in March. "I fully expect DeAndre's progress to be not in a straight line up. He'll have peaks and valleys, and you've got to live with that."
NCAA underachiever, NBA success story countdown:
No. 10: Jrue Holiday