Here at The Fat Lady, we find it fun to hark back to the days of yore and wonder, “Yo, whatever happened to…?” The answer is almost always, “Ah man, yeah. Whatever did happen to that fool?” If you’re a basketball fan like me, then you take pleasure in the seeing the pine riders who played with swagger and panache in college crash and burn once turning pro. Admittedly, I have a sadistic streak but this is its absolute limit. The list includes both retired and active players. Why include active? Because when you’re asking “whatever happened to…” and they’re still “playing” in the NBA, then it becomes a special kind of insult. The criteria is such: Players listed below had good, even great, college careers, but never amounted to jack squat in the NBA meaning they did little or nothing. By that criteria, I’m sad to say that Christian Laettner didn’t make the cut. We’ve only chosen five but there are just sooooo many more. So, without further ado, I present to you, “Where are they now? College basketball stars to NBA duds Edition.”
Adam “I wore this mustache and lived to tell about it” Morrison
College Stats: 19.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, .503 FG% | NBA Stats: 7.5 PPG, 2.1 RBP, .373 FG%
Perhaps Morrison’s most indelible image came after his final college basketball game. To the left, you’ll see why. My theory? He knew what was coming. This was going to be the best he’d ever have it because seriously, dude plays worse than he looks. What’ve ya done for me, lately? Well, he was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats, played less and less with each season then wound up on the LA Lakers and became an NBA champion in no part thanks to him. I literally could have done as much as he did for those championship teams. Also, Morrison suffers from Type I diabetes and routinely speaks to crowds to raise awareness.
Khalid “Minnesota Fats” El-Amin
College Stats: 15.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, 3.0 RPG | NBA Stats: 6.3 PPG, 2.9 APG, 1.0 RPG
After winning the national championship in 1999 and leading UConn in scoring
and cheeseburgers eaten in 2000, El-Amin made himself eligible for the NBA draft. He spent a total of one year on the Chicago Bulls active regular season roster and … that was it. What’ve ya done for me, lately? El-Amin has had quite a bit of success playing in the European leagues winning multiple awards. Part of me wants to say, “Oh, good for him!” But the rest of me just doesn’t care. That’s what you get when you burn out after one season on my favorite team, MF (see what I did there?).
Steve “Who?” Alford
College Stats: 19.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.8 RPG | NBA Stats: 4.4 PPG, 1.0 APG, 0.9 RPG
Few young’ins know Steve Alford but I can tell you one thing: Indiana knows one and Texas knows another. Alford was a two-time first team All-America for the Indiana Hoosiers. During his junior and senior years, the man was a scoring machine putting up 22.5 PPG and 22.0 PPG in his junior and senior years, respectively. However, Alford’s scoring prowess would not translate to the professional game, but his hair definitely did. What’ve ya done for me lately? As the old adage goes, “Those who can’t do, try to keep doing then give up and coach.” He’s actually had a very successful career as a coach which supports the notion that the worst players are the best coaches. His New Mexico Lobos earned a #3 seed in last season’s NCAA tournament. So, we’re happy for … wait, who were we talking about?
Ed “Would you like to take a test drive?” O’Bannon
College Stats: 15.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, .513 FG% | NBA Stats: 5.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG, .367 FG%
I remember watching Ed O’Bannon when I was younger and I loved it. A slashing swingman who caused mismatches everywhere. I even had some college basketball video game and would only play with UCLA because of O’Bannon. Plus, I always thought he had a dope last name. He won the John R. Wooden Award for the 1994-’95 season for being the best collegiate baller in the game. Dude was legit. What’ve ya done for me, lately? Starting in 2006, O’Bannon was selling cars. Wait a minute, what? Yes, selling cars. However, he became the marketing director for the auto dealership in 2009 then coached high school basketball. This summer, he’s finishing his bachelor’s degree. Lastly, he’s the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the NCAA which contends that former NCAA athletes should be paid post-college. Also in his corner? None other than the Big O, Oscar Robertson.
Chris “Biggest draft bust ever” Washburn
College Stats: 16.4 PPG, 6.6 RPG, .562 FG% | NBA Stats: 3.1 PPG, 2.4 RPG, .412 FG%
Chris Washburn was an athletic freak. He drew comparisons to many of the great NBA leapers and greatly improved his game between his freshman and sophomore years in college enough to become the 3rd pick in the 1986 NBA draft. Sadly, his career would be cut short after only two years mostly due to his drug addiction. After watching Len Bias die, you would think the young kids in the 80s would smarten up but alas, they did not. What’ve ya done for me, lately? For years, Washburn struggled eventually ending up on the streets. In 2000, he found the courage to do what so many men and women fail to do; he sought help for his addictions. Now, he’s clean and sober and making concerted efforts to repair the relationships he destroyed and speaking publicly about his struggles.
If you noticed a trend, it was intentional. Each of us these current and former professional basketball players have made significant strides in their personal lives to help others. While it may be fun to poke fun at them because they are or were bums in the NBA, we should also applaud their off-the-court efforts and initiatives. I would do almost anything for the opportunities they’ve been afforded but part of me would also probably not do it if I was going to be called a ‘bum’ for eternity.