When it comes to signing players, college basketball coaches often resemble recruiting experts. Sometimes, they just miss.
For every highly ranked prospect who becomes an NBA millionaire like so many people predicted, there are a handful of athletes who never live up to their expectations coming out of high school.
It’s never too late to turn things around. Heck, some guys simply blossom later than others. For now, though, here is a list of the biggest underachievers in each of the six major conferences.
Ty Walker, Wake Forest, senior – The 6-foot-11 Walker was the nation’s second-ranked center coming out of high school in 2008. But he played in just 19 games during his first two seasons under Dino Gaudio, averaging only 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds. Walker hoped things would improve when the school hired Jeff Bzdelik prior to last season, but he averaged just 3.6 points and 3.5 boards in 18 minutes per game. That Walker couldn’t earn more court time for a team that finished 8-24 overall and 1-15 in the ACC is not an encouraging sign.
Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh, junior – The only McDonald’s All-American on the Panthers’ roster the past two seasons averaged a combined 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 67 games. Taylor has had some solid players such as Gary McGhee and Nasir Robinson ahead of him in the pecking order. Still, considering the hype surrounding his signing, it’s a tad surprising Taylor hasn’t had a bigger impact on one of the Big East’s best teams. Five-star prospect Khem Birch will provide even more competition for Taylor in 2011-12.
Delvon Roe, Michigan State, senior – Roe was the nation’s 24th-ranked player coming out of high school in 2008, but he’s hardly been a star at Michigan State, where he’s never averaged more than 6.4 points in three seasons. Knee and ankle injuries and resulting surgeries have hampered Roe’s progress. Roe played 23 minutes a game last year and worked hard on the glass, as evidenced by his five boards per contest. And he’s certainly been around good players in a program that went to the Final Four when Roe was a freshman and sophomore. Still, the Spartans’ staff was expecting Roe to eventually make a quantum leap. It hasn’t happened. Not yet, at least.
J’mison Morgan, Baylor, senior – Morgan was one of the country’s most-heavily recruited players coming out of high school. He eventually picked UCLA over Kansas and LSU but lasted just two seasons with the Bruins before transferring to Baylor. Not many players look as good getting off the bus as the 6-11, 255-pound center. Morgan, though, averaged just 3.0 points and 2.4 rebounds for the Bears last season. This year he’ll struggle to get minutes in a loaded frontcourt that includes Perry Jones, Quincy Acy and Quincy Miller.
Jerime Anderson, UCLA, senior – An Anaheim native, Anderson was the nation’s seventh-ranked point guard prospect as a high school senior. But Anderson averaged just 5.1 points and 2.6 assists as a junior in 2010-11. Bruins coach Ben Howland had so little faith in Anderson that he signed a junior college point guard (Lazeric Jones) prior to the season. Howland has suspended Anderson from UCLA’s season-opener following his arrest for stealing a laptop.
Reginald Buckner, Ole Miss, junior – Buckner was one of the country’s top-ranked power forwards coming out of high school in 2009. But inconsistency and nagging injuries have plagued his career with the Rebels thus far. Buckner made the All-SEC defensive team as a sophomore last season. Still, as a starter, he averaged just 6.8 points for a program that continues to underachieve. The Rebels are counting on Buckner to take a significant step this season.
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