Why Are the Best College Players NBA Busts?

Nik Stauskus and Trey Burke were the Big Ten players of the year and huge disappointments in the NBA. The list of Big Ten players of the year has a lot of NBA busts. What accounts for a player being so exceptional in college and so marginal in the NBA? I’m also curious about who ended up being the best NBA prospect from each of those Big Ten classes.

Year Player(s) School(s)
1985 Roy Tarpley Michigan
1986 Scott Skiles Michigan State
1987 Dennis Hopson Ohio State
1988 Gary Grant Michigan (2)
1989 Jay Edwards Indiana
Glen Rice Michigan (3)
1990 Steve Scheffler Purdue
1991 Jim Jackson Ohio State (2)
1992 Jim Jackson (2) Ohio State (3)
1993 Calbert Cheaney Indiana (2)
1994 Glenn Robinson Purdue (2)
1995 Shawn Respert Michigan State(2)
1996 Brian Evans Indiana (3)
*1997 ** *Bobby Jackson ** *Minnesota **
1998 Mateen Cleaves Michigan State(3)
1999 Mateen Cleaves (2) Michigan State(4)
Scoonie Penn Ohio State (4)
2000 A. J. Guyton Indiana (4)
Morris Peterson Michigan State(5)
2001 Frank Williams Illinois
2002 Jared Jeffries Indiana (5)
2003 Brian Cook Illinois (2)
2004 Devin Harris Wisconsin
2005 Dee Brown Illinois (3)
2006 Terence Dials Ohio State (5)
2007 Alando Tucker Wisconsin (2)
2008 D. J. White Indiana (6)
2009 Kalin Lucas Michigan State(6)
2010 Evan Turner Ohio State (6)
2011 JaJuan Johnson Purdue (3)
2012 Draymond Green Michigan State(7)
2013 Trey Burke Michigan (4)
2014 Nik Stauskas Michigan (5)
2015 Frank Kaminsky Wisconsin (3)
2016 Denzel Valentine Michigan State(8)
2017 Caleb Swanigan Purdue (4)
2018 Keita Bates-Diop Ohio State (7)
2019 Cassius Winston Michigan State(9)
2020 Luka Garza Iowa
2021 Luka Garza (2) Iowa (2)
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Because the true elite talent leaves early the last 15 years. Most of the guys who won player of the year wouldn’t have won it if the true top talent had stayed 3-4 years,

I’d add the only guy on there I was surprised failed was turner


I think in the B10 a lot of those guys were scoring veterans and while the conference has done well to develop good teams it went thru a long drought of getting elite NBA players. Plus, the voters love to reward savvy veterans more than young guys. Look at the early 90s…were those winners better than Chris Webber? Was Mateen Cleeves an incredible talent or just a great veteran leader?


Yep. Just to pick a year, in 2007, Alando Tucker won the award – that was the year that Oden and Conley (both freshmen) went 1 and 4 in the NBA draft.


Primary reason is that experience makes you a much better college basketball player but college basketball experience doesn’t make you a better pro. Guys who are going to be great pros don’t get as much experience in college hoops.

Also the Big Ten hasn’t really recruited OADs well since Matta