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Anyone follow college ball closely?


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#1 KnicksSeasonTix23

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:00 PM

I had a question since I generally never follow college ball that closely.

Has there ever been a top "prospect" drafted high in the draft that experts claimed was a very raw prospect that amounted to super star status?

I ask because most GMs draft based on potential and take very high a guy who is deemed a project who due to lack of proper coaching or starting the game very, very late seems totally unpolished, but they believe given time and coaching can be a superstar.

Drafts are almost always about potential, the flashes a guy shows who GMs hope can go from flashes to regular occurrences. But if you look at guys coming out of college such as Ewing, DRob, Barkley, Duncan, MJ, Bird, Magic, etc. all of the all time top guys, not 1 was a "project."

So anyone who knows college ball and the history of it, any instances of a major "project" turning into a superstar? Anyone with a subpar to poor 1st year who then exploded into superstardom?
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#2 mbroo5880i

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:16 PM

I know what you are saying and agree that generally "project" players drafted high don't pan out.

The closest that I can think of are players drafted out of high school...Jermaine O'Neal, Tracy McGrady and, possibly, Kobe. None had outstanding rookie seasons. In O'Neal's case, he was several years into his career before he became a starter.

#3 KnicksSeasonTix23

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:30 PM

Id like to exclude high school players because each one of those guys decimated their respective competition, so it is understandable that there would be a transition period.

I am specifically looking at a Nerlens Noel type. Great in high school, played in college/overseas and deemed raw, and then went on to become a superstar.

I cant think of a single non high school to pro kid who was a project that became a superstar. I also can't think of any team that drafted a guy, stashed him overseas, and then he became a superstar too.
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#4 tremixt

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:33 PM

I had a question since I generally never follow college ball that closely.

Has there ever been a top "prospect" drafted high in the draft that experts claimed was a very raw prospect that amounted to super star status?

I ask because most GMs draft based on potential and take very high a guy who is deemed a project who due to lack of proper coaching or starting the game very, very late seems totally unpolished, but they believe given time and coaching can be a superstar.

Drafts are almost always about potential, the flashes a guy shows who GMs hope can go from flashes to regular occurrences. But if you look at guys coming out of college such as Ewing, DRob, Barkley, Duncan, MJ, Bird, Magic, etc. all of the all time top guys, not 1 was a "project."

So anyone who knows college ball and the history of it, any instances of a major "project" turning into a superstar? Anyone with a subpar to poor 1st year who then exploded into superstardom?


I think it's also important to consider to what extent is a player a project. Most of recent projects, the tall athletic guys, are drafted because they're expected to be solid to great on defense, with the hope that they will improve offensively. Coming out of Georgetown, Ewing was a defensive monster, but was extremely raw on offense. I don't think many people would have envisioned Patrick becoming one of the better jump shooting centers in the game.

I can't think of a player, outside of the Europeon prospects, that are considered to be complete projects, on both sides of the ball. Maybe Robert Swift?

#5 tremixt

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:35 PM

It'll be gradual, but i can name a few. Pippen is one who may have been considered a project. No offensive game out of college. Pretty raw. Good defensive instincts, long and athletic are the comments I remember about him.

Edited by tremixt, 01 July 2013 - 06:35 PM.


#6 nickalero99

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:36 PM

I can't think of a whole lot of guys who came from colleges in the USA that were thought of as projects and then turned out to be a star. I can think of guys that were projects that have been solid players. However, anyone that I can think of as a star over the last 20 years that played college ball in the states was a very good or great college player. More often than not if they aren't good enough by 18-20 years old to be clearly better than their competition, they probably never will be.

That said, with your example of Noel, he's raw, but would fit the bill as a good college player. The guy was right around a double-double with DPOY type defensive numbers. I wouldn't label him as a guy that's a project. He and Shabazz Muhammad were the top two rated guys coming into this year.

Not a lot of guys leave college as "projects." You do see teams taking guys like Beal, McLemore, Noel, and others who are not as proven at the college level but have the raw tools to be All-Stars. That's also been a phenomenon more related to making guys come to college for one year.

#7 gsw

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 06:52 PM

Russel Westbrook comes to mind.

#8 krupocin

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 08:04 AM

I totally get what you're saying, and going just based off of memory it seems like you're right, but at the same time there's that phenomenon we go through as humans where we remember things based on how they turn out, not what we originally thought - in addition to the fact that guys used to stay in college longer, 3-4 yrs was the norm for the longest time. There's a name for that memory principle (it's pretty much the "confirmation bias" with an added twist) but I can't remember exactly what it is, but basically the jist of it is if a guy like Ewing was very similar to Noel coming out of college skill-set wise, but then developed into an all-star level offensive talent, your brain kind of tricks itself into believing that he was always like that based on the outcome of his career that you already know. Same goes for the opposite, when a player is a bust.
I mean just look at:
Patrick Ewing's senior year; 30.6mpg 14ppg 9.4rb 1.3ast 1.1st 3.6blk 2.4to on 62%FG/63%FT shooting;
compared to Nerlens Noel's freshman year of 31.5mpg 10.5ppg 9.5rb 1.6ast 2.1st 4.4blk 1.9to on 59%FG/53%FT shooting.
We're calling one a project and one a sure thing, but after 4 years in college Ewing's numbers really didn't change much and Noel is not that far off after 1 year in. If Ewing and Noel were in the same draft after 1 year of college 9/10 teams would take Noel (Ewing's freshman year stats were 29mpg 12.7ppg 7.5reb 0.6ast 1.1st 3blk 2.2to on 63%FG/60%FT) over Ewing. I know that's just one example, but I think alot of this thinking is selective memory and bias.
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#9 sya

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:23 AM

On top of my head. Not necessarily very high picks
Jennings - considered very raw as he struggled in Europe but became starter in year 1
Paul George was a project
Kawhi Leonard was very raw too
Russ westbrook
Rubio

Projects with high upside who were busts
Bargs. Marvin Williams. Tyrus.

#10 sya

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:33 AM

Kanter and favors were also considered very raw prospects

#11 sya

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 09:53 AM

KyRie played only very few games in college because of injury. I am not sure if he can be considered raw because he was already very polished though

#12 Denbo32

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 11:06 AM

Wasnt Dwight Howard considered a project when he was drafted? I remember a debate going on who should go #1 that year, the unproven Howard or the 4 year stud of Emeka.

Edited by Denbo32, 02 July 2013 - 11:09 AM.


#13 nickalero99

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 12:31 PM

Howard came straight out of HS.

#14 Tarheels_2433

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 12:52 PM

Russel Westbrook comes to mind.


Under the confines of the OP guidelines, this is the only real one I can think of, especially recently. However Westbrook did play 2 years at UCLA, but his freshman year he didn't really play (averaged only 9 minutes per game). I think most people would be shocked to see how pedestrian his stats were in his sophomore year when he played 30+ minutes. He played SG exclusively at UCLA while Darren Collison was the unquestioned PG and leader of the team. I'm pretty sure when the Thunder drafted Westbrook at 4th overall it was a pretty big surprise as many questioned whether he could make the transition to PG or just be another undersized combo guard that college often produces.
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#15 Patrick Bateman

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 01:01 PM

To have a substantial conversation, you need to do a better job of defining your question. You don't want to include HS players, but Internationals count? What does "high in the draft" mean? Define "raw"? I mean there were all sorts of questions about a guy like Dirk Nowitzki and he did okay. Same with a guy like Pau Gasol. Probably need to define the question better.
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#16 tremixt

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 01:03 PM

On top of my head. Not necessarily very high picks
Jennings - considered very raw as he struggled in Europe but became starter in year 1
Paul George was a project
Kawhi Leonard was very raw too
Russ westbrook
Rubio

Projects with high upside who were busts
Bargs. Marvin Williams. Tyrus.


Most of the guys you are listing werent projects. Paul George was a skilled player at Fresno. The knock on him was he was too passive and disappeared a lot. Kawhi wasn't raw. Neither was Jennings.

I think we all may have a different definition of raw. When I think of raw, I think supremely athletic player with no particular strengths, usually on the offensive end. Westbrook would fit that bill.

#17 Patrick Bateman

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 01:12 PM


On top of my head. Not necessarily very high picks
Jennings - considered very raw as he struggled in Europe but became starter in year 1
Paul George was a project
Kawhi Leonard was very raw too
Russ westbrook
Rubio

Projects with high upside who were busts
Bargs. Marvin Williams. Tyrus.


Most of the guys you are listing werent projects. Paul George was a skilled player at Fresno. The knock on him was he was too passive and disappeared a lot. Kawhi wasn't raw. Neither was Jennings.

I think we all may have a different definition of raw. When I think of raw, I think supremely athletic player with no particular strengths, usually on the offensive end. Westbrook would fit that bill.


I agree with your overall point. Kawhi played a lot of PF coming out and wasn't a very good outside shooter so there were questions about how his game would translate over to the perimeter. I mean, John Wall was very raw coming out, he's just insanely talented and that talent was so great that he dominated even in college, but he still didn't play the position of PG very well.

Vince Carter wasn't the best player on his own team. Scottie Pippen was considered extremely raw, as was Rajon Rondo. Rondo still can't shoot....
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#18 parrothead

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 01:55 PM

I had a question since I generally never follow college ball that closely.

Has there ever been a top "prospect" drafted high in the draft that experts claimed was a very raw prospect that amounted to super star status?

I ask because most GMs draft based on potential and take very high a guy who is deemed a project who due to lack of proper coaching or starting the game very, very late seems totally unpolished, but they believe given time and coaching can be a superstar.

Drafts are almost always about potential, the flashes a guy shows who GMs hope can go from flashes to regular occurrences. But if you look at guys coming out of college such as Ewing, DRob, Barkley, Duncan, MJ, Bird, Magic, etc. all of the all time top guys, not 1 was a "project."

So anyone who knows college ball and the history of it, any instances of a major "project" turning into a superstar? Anyone with a subpar to poor 1st year who then exploded into superstardom?

There just arent that many elite elite stars, because its usually about titles and with such small rosters and the ultimate star having big impact, you just dont see it.

The reality is that teams swung and missed just as often when guys stayed in college a while, which made them less of a "project" because you had a longer look at them playing high level competition.

Most everyone taken out of High School would have to be considered a "project" so would most of the guys who are drafted out of Europe.
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#19 SenatorSpaceman

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 05:11 PM

Projects with high upside who were busts
Bargs. Marvin Williams. Tyrus.


You forgot Stromile Swift.

#20 nickalero99

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Posted 02 July 2013 - 05:24 PM

There's tons that didn't work out. Michael Olowokandi is the famous project that completely blew up in a team's face. Based on upside he was taken over Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, and some other pretty solid NBA contributors.