Selected Over Kevin Durant, 2x NBA Champ Flop, Warriors’ O’Bryant – Top 5 March Madness Sensations Who Failed to Shine in the NBA

Published 03/13/2023, 3:34 PM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

March Madness is one of the most viewed college tournaments ever and not without any reason. In the exciting tournament, future NBA stars and prospects battle it out to win the NCAA title in the short span of a month. Also, since the games are played in a knockout format, it is not a given that the favorites will always come out on top. Over the years, there have been many underdog stories, which is a huge reason behind the success of the tournament. Also, many players have risen to the occasion to lead their teams to historic wins and memorable runs. However, some of these players did not live up to the expectations in the NBA.

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As the first round of March Madness is all set to start on March 14, let us look at some of the highly touted college stars who ended up as flops in the league.

Greg Oden: The next Bill Russell


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Greg Oden has arguably had one of the most unfortunate NBA careers ever. The towering center had all the right ingredients to be a superstar and was touted as a generational talent. In his one-and-done with Ohio State in the 2006-07 NCAA season, he averaged 15.7 points and 9.6 rebounds.

In the NCAA tournament, Oden led his team to the championship game against the Florida Gators. He erupted for 25 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 blocks in the Finals, even though Ohio State lost the title.


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Subsequently, he declared for the 2007 NBA draft and the Portland Trail Blazers selected him as the first overall pick, ahead of NBA superstar Kevin Durant. Many believed Oden could transform the franchise. However, injuries ruined his career. After missing his rookie season completely, Oden played two seasons with the Trail Blazers in his five years with them.

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In 2013, he signed a one-year deal with the Miami Heat and reached the NBA Finals. But the Heat lost the title to the San Antonio Spurs. He then played one year of overseas basketball before retiring. Oden now has the role of director of basketball operations at Butler University.

Adam Morrison: March Madness legend

Adam Morrison is the only player on this list to have won not one but two NBA titles. However, he did not play a huge part in the title runs and did not live up to the expectation throughout his career.

Morrison was a college superstar for Gonzaga University. He scored 24 points in the 2006 Sweet Sixteen matchup against UCLA. However, UCLA cut a 17-point first-half deficit to win the game in the final seconds of regulation. He shared the National Player of the Year award with NBA veteran JJ Reddick.

The Charlotte Bobcats selected Morrison as the third overall pick of the 2006 NBA draft, well ahead of NBA champions Rajon Rondo (21) and Kyle Lowry (24). He had a decent rookie season averaging 11.8 points and earned himself a place in the All-Rookie Second Team. But the forward missed out on his sophomore season completely because of a knee injury.

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His third season was not very impressive as well. Subsequently, he joined the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. He was part of the Lakers team that won two-straight titles led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. After this, Morrison played overseas basketball for two years before calling it quits.

Patrick O’Bryant: The Warriors’ draft mistake

Patrick O’Bryant was another 2006 draft bust. He was not considered a major prospect initially. However, his performances in the NCAA tournament caught the eyes of many. The 7′ center led the Bradley Braves to the Sweet Sixteen and had massive performances against the Kansas Jayhawks and the Pittsburgh Panthers. Against the Panthers, O’Bryant went on a scoring onslaught, ending up with 28 points.

With this, his draft stock went up. He declared for the 2006 NBA draft and the Golden State Warriors selected him as the ninth overall pick, again, ahead of Rajon Rondo (21) and Kyle Lowry (24). His first two seasons in the league with the Warriors were filled with trips to the D-League. He then played for the Boston Celtics and the Toronto Raptors in the next two seasons before leaving the NBA and moving to overseas basketball.

Kent Benson led the Hoosiers to a national title

Kent Benson was another #1 pick who did not fulfill his potential. Benson played college basketball for Indiana University under legendary head coach Bobby Knight from 1973 to 77. The 6’11” center was a phenom, who led his team to the 1976 national championship. He was also voted as the Most Outstanding Player of the 1976 NCAA tournament for his massive performances.


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The Milwaukee Bucks selected him as the first overall pick of the 1977 NBA draft, ahead of Hall of Famers Bernard King (7) and Jack Sikma (8). Two minutes into his debut, Benson elbowed NBA All-Time Great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The legendary center retaliated and punched the rookie. Benson can’t be deemed a flop, however, he did not have a great career as well. Unlike other players on this list, he went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA. However, his 9-point average is nothing special for a #1 pick.

The Marcus Fizer decision sums up the Bulls after Michael Jordan

Marcus Fizer was a superstar for the Iowa State Cyclones and won many accolades during his three-year stint. In his junior year, he led the Cyclones to an Elite Eight finish after impressive wins over Central Connecticut State, Auburn, and UCLA. It was Iowa State’s deepest run ever. With this, the forward’s stock skyrocketed.


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The 2000 NBA draft was another disappointing draft class. The Chicago Bulls selected Fizer as the fourth overall pick. He had a decent first two seasons with the Bulls, but injuries marred his career. After four years in Chicago, he played for two teams in the next two seasons before bowing out of the league. He then played nine years of overseas basketball.



Written by:

Bagavathi Eswaran


One take at a time

Bagavathi Eswaran is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been playing the game of basketball for more than 20 years now and has also been following the NBA for more than 10 years. After not being able to go pro, this former college player decided to join the IT industry.
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Edited by:

Satagni Sikder




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