For college-seasoned NBA hopefuls, timing is everything. The right balance of skill, drive, work ethic and projectability will vault players into the league. But picking the right time to make that jump determines whether players are ready for the challenges once they arrive. It’s an inexact science, one that’s begotten as many failures as success stories.
Because of the low-demand, high-supply nature of the NBA, most college players have no choice with regards to their NBA aspirations. Lacking the requisite skill or projectability to enter the draft as an underclassmen, these players fulfill their four years of college, earn a diploma and, no longer with anything to lose, throw their name into the draft thereafter.
Not all NBA hopefuls are so lucky.
Some college talents leave school early and sign with agents, only to find out that NBA teams don’t think as highly of them as they think of themselves. These players end up playing for teams they don’t wish to play for or for contracts they deem unbefitting of their talent level. In extreme, not-too-uncommon cases, some early departures don’t get drafted at all.
Other college stars ready for the league stay in school for too long, owing to a reluctance to leave school, a desire to make a Final Four or the confidence–bordering on arrogance–that they can improve their draft stock. When this approach works, we champion their patience, extol their commitment to the college game and marvel at how amateur athletes can be so mature. When it backfires, we wonder in hindsight what the hell were they thinking.
Busting Brackets is offering a look at a group of former college notables that left school for the NBA Draft a year too soon. These three players, of varying situations, each jumped the gun and would have benefited from another season in college. Let’s meet them.