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. 3: Michigan State's Zach Randolph.
In a media poll conducted by the Lansing State Journal in 2007, 32 reporters who regularly covered Michigan State basketball were asked to name their top 10 Spartans of the previous decade.
Believe it or not, Zach Randolph placed a distant 13th, directly in between the likes of Chris Hill and Kelvin Torbert.
Granted Randolph's decision to turn pro after his freshman year affected the voting, but the fact that Michigan State's most successful NBA player of the decade placed that low speaks to the limited impact he made during his lone year in East Lansing.
Randolph logged just 19.8 minutes a game in 2000-01 as a part-time starter and averaged 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds, drawing criticism for not working hard enough and not being in good enough shape. Projected as a near-certain lottery pick after earning MVP honors in the McDonald's All-American game the previous spring, Randolph fell to Portland with the 19th pick in the 2001 draft.
"He's fat and everyone's concerned it could be an ongoing problem," a scout told ESPN.com's Chad Ford before the draft. "He's a very talented big man who could have a great future in the league. But he may be the second coming of Tractor Traylor and that has teams running for the hills."
Randolph's off-court behavior has remained an issue throughout his career, but the Robert "Tractor" Traylor comparisons disappeared in a hurry. By his third season with the Blazers, Randolph averaged 20.1 points and 10.5 rebounds, the first of six times that he's eclipsed the 20-10 milestone in his career.
In an interview with Hoopshype.com in 2004, Randolph was asked where he would have gone in the draft if it was redone three years later.
"One," he responded confidently. "It motivated me (being snubbed). It definitely motivated me. But I love playing the game. I thought I should have been drafted higher; I should have been drafted higher. But I'm happy where I'm at."
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