There have been several high-profile NBA players who never participated in the NCAA March Madness tournament. Some of them include:
Kobe Bryant – Kobe went straight to the NBA after graduating from Lower Merion High School in 1996.
LeBron James – LeBron also went straight to the NBA after graduating from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in 2003.
Kevin Garnett – Garnett also went straight to the NBA after graduating from Farragut Academy in 1995.
Moses Malone – Moses went straight from high school to the ABA and then to the NBA in 1976, well before the age limit was put in place.
Tracy McGrady – McGrady went straight to the NBA after graduating from Mount Zion Christian Academy in 1997.
Dwight Howard – Howard also went straight to the NBA after graduating from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy in 2004.
Amar’e Stoudemire – Stoudemire went straight to the NBA after graduating from Cypress Creek High School in 2002.
Tyson Chandler – Chandler went straight to the NBA after graduating from Dominguez High School in 2001.
It’s important to note that some of these players entered the NBA before the “one-and-done” rule was put in place, which requires players to be at least one year removed from high school before being eligible for the NBA draft.
There are several NBA players who have expressed regret or mentioned that they wished they had the opportunity to play in the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Anthony Davis, who played one year of college basketball at the University of Kentucky before being selected first overall in the 2012 NBA draft. Although he won an NCAA championship with Kentucky, Davis has stated that he wishes he could have experienced the excitement and pressure of the March Madness tournament.
Another example is Paul George, who played two years of college basketball at Fresno State before being selected 10th overall in the 2010 NBA draft. Despite his success in college, George has expressed regret over not making it to the NCAA tournament during his time at Fresno State.
Other NBA players who have mentioned their desire to play in the March Madness tournament include Bradley Beal, De’Aaron Fox, and Devin Booker, all of whom went straight from high school to the NBA and missed out on the college experience.
In closing there have been several NBA players who had successful college careers but did not quite replicate that success in the NBA.
Jimmer Fredette – Fredette was a prolific scorer at Brigham Young University, where he led the nation in scoring during the 2010-11 season and was named the National Player of the Year. However, he struggled to find consistent success in the NBA and eventually played overseas.
Adam Morrison – Morrison was a two-time All-American at Gonzaga University and led the nation in scoring during the 2005-06 season. However, he was unable to translate that success to the NBA and played just four seasons in the league.
Christian Laettner – Laettner is one of the most decorated college basketball players of all time, having won two national championships at Duke University and being named the National Player of the Year in 1992. However, his NBA career was relatively underwhelming, as he bounced around the league and played for several teams over a 13-year span.
It’s worth noting that success in college doesn’t always guarantee success in the NBA, as the two levels of play are quite different. Additionally, injuries, team fit, and a variety of other factors can impact a player’s performance at the professional level.
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