Top 10 college players who failed in the NBA

Jimmer Fredette is all the rage in college basketball right now. The Brigham Young senior sharpshooter seems to have unlimited range and an uncanny ability to cut to the basket. He may take the Cougars to their first appearance in the Final Four.

But the question is, can he make it at the next level?

The opinion on Fredette’s potential as an NBA player is rather mixed. Some compare him to 2009 first-round pick Stephen Curry(notes), others to another BYU great of 30 years ago, Danny Ainge. But there are those who think Fredette will at best resemble J.J. Redick(notes), a serviceable shooter who would never be a star in the league. At worst? Redick’s 2006 co-national player of the year and draft-mate Adam Morrison(notes) (who, for the record, does own two NBA championship rings for keeping the end of the bench warm for Kobe Bryant(notes) & Co.).

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Slideshow: College stars who flopped in the NBA

Just like the NFL Draft, the NBA Draft is also very much an inexact science. The history of NBA’s draft lottery is littered with college glitterati who utterly bombed in the league, and these cautionary tales stretch even as far back as the 1970s. And we’re not talking about guys who were injury prone (Sam Bowie, Greg Oden(notes)) and had their careers cut short. Or those who lasted 10 years in the league mostly as a journeyman backup. Or even those who were clearly affected by the drug culture of the NBA in the ’70s and ’80s and snorted their way on to the streets (Chris Washburn, Roy Tarpley).

We’re talking about guys who couldn’t play because, well, they got no game.

It’s one thing for a second-round pick to not pan out. It’s quite another for your national player of the year, first-round draft pick, the future-face-of-franchise college superstar to be merely practice court fodder, as Morrison was.

While at Gonzaga, Morrison was considered a can’t-miss prospect, a shooter with a great repertoire and pure scoring touch. After foregoing his senior season, Michael Jordan took him with the third overall pick in the draft for the Charlotte Bobcats, only to see him lose his starting spot halfway through his rookie season. His inability to play defense or create his own shots turned out to be a huge liability. After two seasons with the Lakers (in which he appeared in a total of 39 games, all in garbage time), Morrison is looking for a job after being cut by the Washington Wizards during training camp.

Morrison is hardly alone. Just as there are quarterbacks who can win the Heisman in college but will never be considered pro prospects (Eric Crouch, anyone?), there are college players whose game is ill-suited for the much faster-paced, more physical and defense-oriented NBA.

So if you’re an NBA scout or GM, pay attention. Here are our Top 10 College Basketball Players Who Failed as Pros.

The “top” five:

1. Adam Morrison
2. Ed O’Bannon
3. Steve Alford
4. LaRue Martin
5. Walter Berry
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Slideshow: College stars who flopped in the NBA


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Updated Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011