Posted Apr 1 2011 9:52AM
The winner of the Most Outstanding Player award Monday at the Final Four will enjoy his One Shining Moment, maybe because it might be his last big basketball moment, period.
Nobody quite understands why the award is so cursed. But it's true: A sparkling weekend in college basketball doesn't necessarily translate into living large in the NBA. It rarely does.
If it did, we'd be pushing Ed O'Bannon for the Hall of Fame. Instead, the 1995 winner was last seen pushing cars at a Las Vegas dealership, his NBA career hardly as long as the time it took to lead UCLA to the '95 championship.
There was a stretch in the 1990s where MOP winners disappeared faster than a one-and-done freshman. Anderson Hunt (UNLV), Miles Simon (Arizona), Donald Williams (North Carolina), Jeff Sheppard (Kentucky) -- all good college players who were forced to put their degree to work. And they weren't alone. Most of the MOP winners over the last two decades saw their basketball careers end at the buzzer.
The hard facts:
Since 1990, only three of 20 MOP winners made the NBA's All-Rookie First Team: Carmelo Anthony, Emeka Okafor and Shane Battier.
Only two became All-Stars: 'Melo and Rip Hamilton.
Only one has an NBA title: Hamilton.
Six lasted five seasons or less in the league, and three never cashed an NBA paycheck.
Sense a trend? Good luck, then, to Butler, Virginia Commonweath, Kentucky and Connecticut ... especially the happiest player on the floor come Monday night.
Here's the basketball report card for the Outstanding Players of the 2000s:
Drafted: No. 14 overall by Detroit
The buzz: The exuberant kid from Flint and the heart and soul of Michigan State was elated to get drafted by Detroit. But his time with the Pistons was short, only one season, and Cleaves wasn't athletic enough to stick around the league much longer. His final stat line: four teams, six seasons, 10 games started.
Drafted: No. 6 overall by Memphis
The buzz: Still playing, mainly because he's a wise defensive player and reliable 3-point shooter. He's in his second tour of duty with Memphis, where they love him. He's not quite the star he was at Duke, and never will be, but he'll make a great NBA commissioner someday.
Drafted: No. 17 overall by Washington
The buzz: He finished as the all-time leading scorer at Maryland, but never came close to leading any NBA team in points. Dixon's highlight was getting 35 for the Wizards against the Bulls in a playoff game. He was a tweener guard who bounced around four teams over seven seasons before going overseas. At least his college backcourt mate, Lakers guard Steve Blake, is still representing.
Drafted: No. 3 overall by Denver
The buzz: Starting with the 2006 Draft, the NBA mandated at least one year of college ball for high school players. Their role model in this regard is 'Melo, who cashed in after winning an NCAA title as a freshman at Syracuse. As expected, 'Melo became a star and dangerous scorer in the NBA. Not quite the winner he was in college, though. He's now back in New York state, with the Knicks, looking for the NBA trophy.
Drafted: No. 2 overall by Charlotte
The buzz: He was easily the premier big man in college basketball for Connecticut, but NBA scouts knew better. The best big man was still in high school. Dwight Howard was drafted first overall and has made the Magic into a title contender. As for Okafor ... well, he's made a lot of money, but the Bobcats traded him to the Hornets two seasons ago.
Drafted: No. 13 overall by Charlotte
The buzz: He missed only one shot in the championship game, but once in the NBA, missed out on a career largely because of microfracture surgery in his rookie season. He became a rare mid-first-round pick to fail to get a qualifying offer from his team when Charlotte pulled the plug on May after three seasons. For the second straight draft, the Bobcats went 0-for-2 in Most Outstanding Players.
Drafted: No. 9 overall by Chicago in 2007 Draft
The buzz: A borderline All-Star for the Bulls, who are enjoying the fruits of labor from a more sane version of Dennis Rodman. Noah might win an Ugliest Jumper Contest in the NBA, where the ball almost spins sideways on release, but his rebounding (11 per) and defense are dead-eye.
Drafted: No. 7 overall by Minnesota
The buzz: He enjoyed a standout tournament but as a tweener forward, wasn't as valued by NBA scouts as much as fellow Florida teammates (and future first-round picks) Noah and Al Horford. Brewer failed to find a role in four lost seasons with the Timberwolves, and now hopes to have a future with the Mavericks as a defensive stopper.
Drafted: No. 34 overall by Minnesota (later traded to Miami)
The buzz: Along with Keith Smart, he owns one of the biggest shots in championship game history, forcing overtime at the buzzer. Somewhat of an overachiever at Kansas, Chalmers has found a comfortable spot on the Heat roster, but received somewhat of a no-faith vote when Miami signed aging Mike Bibby to handle the major point guard minutes.
Drafted: No. 28 overall by Minnesota
The buzz: One of the more unlikely Most Outstanding Players in recent tournaments, Ellington struggles for rotation minutes in Minnesota, where he's caught in a numbers game. He's yet another prime candidate for Most Outstanding Player obscurity.
Drafted: Not yet
The buzz: He reconsidered throwing himself in last summer's Draft, and his value didn't improve much after a productive but not outstanding senior season. Put it this way: two Duke teammates, Nolan Smith and especially Kyrie Irving (if he declares, as expected), are projected to go higher this summer
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