Winning players from college basketball who kept winning in the NBA

BY MATTY D.

Winning is contagious. And if you watch the NBA, you notice that losing is also contagious. There are many franchises that continue to trust the process about drafting gaudy measurable individual skills and attributes. They lose because they don’t take for account the winning pedigree. The players on this list are the total opposite.

This list is being published at a time when Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts just led his team to the #1 overall seed in the NFC and a first round bye. Sports fans who watch college games weren’t surprised by this. Hursts is a winner. He won at Alabama and at Oklahoma. Yet, he lost his college job to Tua Tagovailoa. Tua is a flashy arm talent but cannot stay on the field. Hurst just continues winning with every opportunity he gets. This is the basketball list filled with those guys.

9 non-lottery picks who won in college, continued winning in the NBA

These are players who proved that they were winners in NCAA basketball, but somehow find themselves again needing to prove their value in the NBA. And they delivered. Here are nine non-lottery picks who carried their winning ways from the NCAA to the NBA.

9.  Javale McGee, Nevada: 18th overall pick in 2008

Save your jokes.  Javale McGee has only one less NBA Championship than Shaquille O’Neal. 

Who’s Shaqtin’ a Fool, now?  

McGee was the butt of many jokes by Shaq and the NBA on TNT team, but the former Nevada Wolfpacks career has seen mostly winning.  

Nevada doesn’t make it to the NCAA Tournament on very often.  Between 1985 and the present, the Wolf Pack have only made it to eight tournaments.  McGee saw himself at the center of one of those appearances in 2007.

Later, he would win two NBA championships with the Golden State Warriors and one with the bubble victor LA Lakers.  

The University of Nevada will also be quick to remind you that he became the first Nevada Wolf Pack alum to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal.

8. Alex Caruso, Texas A&M: Undrafted in 2016

Since reaching the Elite 8 in 1969, Texas A&M basketball has only made it to the Sweet 16 four times. Senior Alex Caruso ran point guard for the Aggies in 2016 during one of those magical seasons. The former homegrown College Station ball boy not only saw success in Aggieville, but would also win a championship with the Lakers in bubbleville (during COVID-19). Caruso was a 1,000 point scorer in college and averaged 5 assists per game. He is a big game performer, scoring 8 points in the opening 7 minutes in his NCAA Tournament debut. He has an all-around game where he also registered 276 steals in his NCAA career.

It’s important to note that Texas A&M team had other NBA talent. Caruso played with Robert Williams and DJ House.

Despite not being drafted, Caruso saw success in the rotation with the Lakers and later bagged a nice free agency deal with the Chicago Bulls.

Alex Caruso bursted on the national scene in the first minutes of his tourney debut.

7. Jose Alvarado, Georgia Tech: undrafted in 2021

Despite his tenacious defensive attitude and winning ways at Georgia Tech, Jose Alvarado slipped off the radar and wasn’t drafted in 2021. However, like his patented defensive move where he pretends he’s not on the court and then steals an inbounds pass, Alvardo snuck back into basketball’s limelight. Now he is a mainstay in a playoff-good New Orleans Pelicans team. When college basketball returned from its COVID-19 year off, Jose Alvarado and his Yellow Jackets stole an ACC Championship and NCAA tournament bid.

Now sporting the nickname Jose “Grand Theft” Alvarado, his NBA highlight reel shines in an unconventional way. His steals epitomize how hustle plays can win basketball games.

6. Grant Williams, Tennessee: 22nd overall pick in 2019

Forward Grant Williams might have slipped out of the NBA lottery because he is a hair shorter than his peers at the position. However, his stock as an NBA contributor has grown ever since. Having starred at Tennessee with back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, Williams brings a football-like tenacity to the NBA. His nose for the ball and great hands pair perfectly on the court with another NFL safety lookalike, teammate Marcus Smart. The young Boston Celtics made it to the NBA Finals in 2021 thanks in large part to role players who had a large sample size of success on the NCAA stage (see Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams, etc). According to Volswire.com, Grant Williams was the first player to win the SEC Player of the Year award in back-to-back seasons since 1995.

5. Georges Niang, Iowa State: 50th overall pick in 2016

Georges Niang has made the playoffs all six of his NBA seasons. This year his Philadelphia 76ers will ultimately make it for his seventh consecutive year. Niang also led his Iowa State Cyclones to four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances.

Photo Courtesy: Cyclones.com

The stocky small forward might have one of the shortest vertical leaps in the Easter Conference. However, his body positioning, court-awareness, and ability to knock down an open shot has remained consistent since college. At Iowa State he become on of the Cyclone’s first-ever players to receive votes for individual player of the year honors, such as being a Karl Malone nominee. Like Malone, he can slowly and methodically power defenders down low with post moves that can embarrass an undisciplined defender. Unlike Malone, he can knock down the three pointer more consistently with a 40.7% career 3 point percentage. His Iowa State Cyclones lost in the elite 8 in 2016 to #1 seed Virginia. We saw a coming attraction in that game and throughout his collegiate career to what he’d bring to NBA clubs for years to come.

4. Jalen Brunson, Villlanova: 33rd overall pick in 2018

It’s no coincidence that the New York Knicks would return to the NBA playoffs if the NBA season ended today. Jalen Brunson is a winner. He won two national titles at Villanova, was the starting point guard as the Dallas Mavericks made a surprise “Final 4” run, and is now leading a resurgent Knicks team. Brunson is leading with his offensive efficiency and his vocal approach. Teammates like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett are clearly better with a proven point guard at the helm. The Knicks might have the best starting point guard since another veteran departed Dallas for MSG. Can you name him?

It’s hard to believe that Brunson wasn’t even a first round pick in the NBA draft. He was the NCAA Player of the Year in 2018 before leaving college after his junior year. However, he went 33 overall in the NBA draft. Bruson is the best example on this list that winning isn’t valued enough by NBA executives.

Jalen Brunson won two national titles and earned player of the year, but was picked 33 overall.

Jalen Bruson also joins a long line of players to follow in their NBA dad’s footsteps.

Click here for our updated list of sons of NBA players currently playing NCAA hoops.

3.  Fred VanVleet, Wichita State: Undrafted in 2016

Fred Van Fleet came out of high school barely ranked in the top 100 as number 87 on ESPN’s list, finished his college career in the final four, and has one NBA Championship ring (2019 Toronto Raptors).

How is that for a career trajectory?

Fred VanVleet helped lead the Shockers to three MVC titles, three Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles, and nine NCAA Tournament wins in four trips.

When the Wichita State Shockers made a shocking run to the Final Four in 2014, you probably couldn’t guess who from that roster would excel in the NBA. They had three players from that team play some time in the league. However, Fred VanVleet is far-and-away the best current player in the NBA from Wichita State. In fact, he might even be a player sought after during this season’s trade deadline.

2. Draymond Green, Michigan State: 35th overall pick in 2012

Draymond Green epitomizes the Tom Izzo era in East Lansing. To call Green the “ultimate glue guy” probably undervalues his skill. Green was a Final 4 player with the 2010 Michigan State Spartans.

He is now a four time NBA Champion. Green was appropriately inducted into the MSU Hall of Fame in 2022. He is probably just 5 short years after his NBA career away from a Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Before his fourth NBA Finals tipped off, Michigan’s “The State News” took a look back at his Michigan State career.

If you want to check out another great related article, click here to see the Sporting News top 10 2nd round picks in the NBA.

1.  Kawhi Leonard, San Diego State: 15th overall pick in 2011.

Just on the outside cusp of being considered a lottery pick, needless to say NBA GM’s weren’t watching enough San Diego State basketball in 2011. Kawhi Leonard left the Aztecs after his sophomore season.

San Diego State was disrespected as an 11 seed in 2010 during Leonard’s freshman year.
In 2011, San Diego State was more appropriately ranked as a 2 seed.
Later that year, Leonard dropped to the 15th overall pick.
In 2014, Leonard became the NBA Finals MVP defeating LeBron James and the Heat.
In 2019, Leonard won another NBA Finals in a surprising single year with the Toronto Raptors.

Today, the NBA has finally got the memo that Kawhi Leonard is great. He continues to be one of the NBA’s most sought after free agents after reaching a max deal with the LA Clippers.

Did we miss anyone? Tweet us at CBBEyeTest and join the debate!


Sons of NBA Players in College Basketball 2022-2023

Here’s list of sons of NBA dads we’ve spotted in college basketball for the 2022-23 season.

If we have missed any, please tweet us at CBBEyeTest.

CLICK BELOW FOR PAST YEAR’S ROSTERS OF SONS OF NBA PLAYERS:
2020-2021
2021-2022

Mike Miller had serious game over his 17 year NBA career including 41% from 3pt. His son Mason Miller is a freshman at Creighton and could be a dangerous sharpshooter off the bench.

Photo courtesy Creighton Athletics

Sons of former Chicago Bulls Ron Harper and Scottie Pippen have graduated from the college basketball landscape, but there are still some Windy City remnants.

DJ Rodman is a junior with Washington State.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim is the son of former lottery pick and Grizzlies great, Shareef Adbur-Rahim.

Penny Hardaway is actually coaching his son with the Memphis Tigers. Jayden Hardaway has earned his minutes over the years and is now a regular rotation player with the Tigers.

Juwan Howard has two of his kids on the Michigan Wolverines squad.

Junior Jace Howard rocks number 25, a number his father sported in the NBA.

Juwan Howard’s younger son, freshman Jett Howard lit it up in his NCAA debut.

The 1990s Eastern Conference is well represented in this list. Dikembe Mutombo’s son Ryan Mutombo continues a big man family legacy at Georgetown.

Former Indiana Pacers guard Harold Workman’s son Bryce plays D1 ball.

Jameer Nelson Jr. is a junior guard and plays guard for Delaware.

Photo courtesy bluehens.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster

Jamal Mashburn’s son is following in his footsteps, in more ways than one. Jamal Mashburn Jr. has also followed a Pitino coach.

In fact, Mashburn Jr. played for Rick Pitino’s son Richard at both Minnesota and now with New Mexico.

New Mexico basketball has two sons of NBA players in the rotation. Eddie House’s son Jaelen House is another scoring guard on the team.

Here’s another random, 1990s sir name, nostalgic, NBA nugget: Marčiulionis.

Do you remember that name?

Photo courtesy smcgaels.com/sports

The second generation NBA talent discussion has an international flair as the son of Sarunas Marciulionis has been imported from Lithuania to St. Mary’s basketball. Augustus Marciulionis is a 6-4 freshman with the Gaels.

Pete Nance has transferred to UNC to join head coach, and former NBA player, Hubert Davis.

According to IUHoosiers.com, Trayce Jackson-Davis is the “son of for Indiana Pacers standout Dale Davis and Ray and Karla Jackson.”

Photo courtesy iuhoosiers.com

https://iuhoosiers.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster/trayce-jackson-davis/15620

The Fab 5 even makes a cameo on this list. Juwan Howard is another former NBA player who is coaching his son currently.

Jace Howard is a sophomore at Michigan University. Photo courtesy: mgoblue.com

JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER…

NBA Rankings: Top 5 Value Picks of the 2022 NBA Draft

BY MATTY D.

NCAA Observer Weighs in on NBA Draft Night Steals

If you watch college basketball religiously, you saw a lot of sleeper picks in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here are 5 players to keep an eye on during their NBA career.

5. Blake Wesley, #25 Overall Pick for the San Antonio Spurs

If you’re an NBA fan, you might be curious why San Antonio is shedding so much young talent. They traded Derrick White mid-season. He proved to be a pivotal piece for the Eastern Conference Champion Celtics. Then, the Spurs traded Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks. Murray had become a prime example of how the San Antonio organization continues to draft and develop young talent to reach their potential. They were patient with the thin, raw Murray early in his career and it paid off. Now, the national consensus might be how the Spurs are throwing in the towel. One SB Nation article says the Spurs are setting their “relevancy back years.”

However, if you look at the three first round picks in 2022, you’ll realize that the silver spurs are just re-loading their firearms down in the Alamo.

Blake Wesley is a supremely athletic wing who can contribute minutes immediately to an NBA club. He led Notre Dame to an NCAA Tournament berth last season, taking possessions coast to coast and leading the Fighting Irish to a first round victory over Rutgers. He is listed at 6-4, but easily slices down to lane getting to where he wants. He should develop his three-point-jumper, as every NBA ball player needs to. However, he is a great value as the #25 overall pick.

In fact, the Spurs can benefit from some in-house competition at the swingman position right away. At the 20th pick, the Spurs picked up 6-5 shooting guard Malaki Branham from Ohio State. He showed great flashes of scoring ability late in his short tenure with the Buckeyes. In the top 10, San Antonio also looked to re-kindle the spirit of their former funky Spur, Dennis Rodman, by picking Baylor’s slippery defender/rebounder Jeremy Sochan. NCAA obversers have to give the Spurs draft an A+.

4. Kennedy Chandler, #38 Overall Pick for the Memphis Grizzlies

Ironically, this pick was made by the San Antonio Spurs as well…

Kennedy Chandler was regarded as one of the best incoming freshman for last year’s college basketball season, but he got off to a slow start in SEC conference play. The SEC is tough. And he had a few 5 and 6 turnover games. His backcourt mate Zakai Zeigler out-shined him at teams in the rotation. Still, the point guard progressed to finish by averaging nearly 14 points and 4.7 assists per game in his freshman campaign. Now the Grizzlies get a potential perfect counterpart to Ja Morant in the backcourt. Mike Conley spent years swirling around defenses with his dizzying speed in Memphis. Chandler’s low-to-the ground, solid handle can have the same type of impact. He is not a high-flyer like Morant is (nobody is), but his speed and handles could balance out the offense.

The Memphis Grizzlies also nabbed another high quality value pick late in the second half of the draft. They added VCU’s Vince Williams Jr. Injuries nagged his last season as a Ram, but Williams Jr. is an all-around mature player. He is a 6-7 forward who can handle, assist, and defend.

3. EJ Liddell, #41 Overall Pick for the New Orleans Pelicans

This could actually be the steal of the draft. If the Pelicans actually see Zion Williamson play in the 2022-2023 campaign, New Orleans could have the all-linebacker squad for the NBA. There’d be some serious muscle inside. Liddell is built similarly to Williamson, listed at 6-7 and 243 lbs. However Liddell is probably actually a more skilled basketball player at this juncture. He can operate in the post and around the perimeter. His strong base gives him great positioning around taller players in the post. He has been an impact player for Ohio State since he stepped on campus. The Pelicans keep piecing together a winning roster with winning players. Liddell fits the mold of someone who could thrive in the Bayou.

2. Isaiah Mobley, #49 Overall Pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers

This was a no-brainer for the Cavs, re-uniting Isaiah with his younger brother Evan Mobley in Cleveland. The two played together for a year at USC when they lead the Trojans to the Elite 8. There could be a Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol type of tandem here. Isaiah Mobley would be the more burley of the two. Evan Mobley nearly won the NBA Rookie of the Year with his great touch around the rim and quick spring to the glass. Isaiah Mobley is a super skilled big man. Both brothers have exceptional hands. At 6-10, Isaiah Mobley is one of the best perimeter shooters for his size in the draft. After Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr.’s three point efficiency of 39 and 42 percent respectively, Mobley registered a 36% 3PT percentage in his USC days. Oddly enough, he shot 44% from 3PT during his second year at USC.

This billboard in downtown Cleveland needs a 6 foot 10 addition. Photo Courtesy ABC News 5

The Mobley brothers could be a handful as a high-low option with the Cavs. I am surprised every other NBA franchise let this happen. It’s like when your buddy has a second tier running back that you know he loves in fantasy football. He’s firmly on the record loving that RB. But you let him pick that dude up in your snake draft on his quick second turnaround pick in the 7th round. This could be both marketing and basketball gold for the Cavaliers.

1. Ben Mathurin, #6 Overall Pick for the Indiana Pacers

This honor comes straight out of the college basketball eye test playbook. Bennedict Mathurin was a man amongst boys in so many of the clutch games that Arizona played last year. He chewed up the talented Illinois backcourt for 30 points in a high profile, early season non-conference showdown. In March Madness, he served up a serious facial against TCU to rescue his Wildcats from a hard-fought upset loss. He dropped 30 again in this thrilling overtime win. Mathurin has a little Russell Westbrook in his game. He is simply relentless. However, he has a smooth stroke around the perimeter. Watch the dunk below and pay close attention to the killer instinct demeanor. Mathurin is of Haitian decent and grew up in Montreal. He attended the NBA Academy Latin America in Mexico City, Mexico. His diverse skills and killer instinct will win him international appeal.

Honorable Mention: Trevor Keels, #42 Overall Pick for the New York Knicks

Keels seeks out contact as he rushes to the rim. He doesn’t have the same ups that Derrick Rose had at his age, but it could be interesting to watch these guys play together. They both have the running back mentality. They share the mentality launching over the goal-line in order to score. Keels got lost at times at Duke with what his role is, whether a facilitator, off-ball shooter, or Alpha male scorer. The Knicks would be wise to assign Keels a role and see it blossom.

Trevor Keels enters an NBA Summer League game for the NY Knicks. Photo: Courtesy ESPN

Agree or disagree with my list? Join the debate and follow me on Twitter. Thanks for reading!