Have you ever wondered what happened to the heroes of previous NCAA tournaments? Many of these players were the big men on campus and received national attention because of their performances during March Madness. Some of these college stars went onto NBA careers that sizzled while others had short-lived careers that fizzled. Here are the careers of a few of the former players voted Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament over the past 30 years.
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As a freshman, Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse to the 2003 national championship by scoring 33 points in the semifinals against Texas and 20 points against Kansas in the final. Melo left for the NBA after his freshman season and was the third pick in the NBA Draft. Carmelo exploded onto the NBA scene averaging over 21 points per game as a rookie.
He has made three All Star Teams and led the Denver Nuggets to the playoffs in each of his first six seasons. Carmelo's stellar play was rewarded with a five-year $80 million dollar contract in 2006. (Colleges experience an uptick in giving when their teams compete well, and increased ticket, apparel and memorabilia sales boost the bottom line. Learn more in The March Madness Effect.)
In 1999, Connecticut shooting guard Richard Hamilton scored 27 points to lead the Huskies to a 3 point win over Duke in the NCAA championship game. The number seven pick in the 1999 draft has been one of the best shooting guards in the NBA for the past 11 seasons. Hamilton is the model of consistency averaging 18 points per game throughout his career.
He has led the Pistons to six Eastern Conference Finals appearances and one NBA title. Hamilton's consistent play has earned him over $70 million dollars during his playing career.
Glen Rice made a name for himself during the 1989 NCAA championship tournament, setting a tournament record by scoring 184 points during the Wolverines march to the championship. His performance in the NCAA performance vaulted him to the number four pick in the draft. Rice's pure shooting style made him a star during his playing days with the Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets and the Los Angeles Lakers.
During his 15-year career Glen Rice made three All Star teams and won one NBA championship. He is the all time leading scorer in Hornets history and is in the top 10 in NBA history in three point field goals made.
In 1979, Earvin "Magic" Johnson led Michigan State to their first NCAA championship against Larry Bird and Indiana State. Magic led the Spartans with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the championship game to win the NCAA's Most Outstanding Player award. Magic's Final Four performance catapulted him to the number one pick in the 1979 NBA Draft. Magic proceeded to win five NBA championships, three NBA MVP awards and an Olympic gold medal.
He was selected as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history and voted into the Hall of Fame in 2002. Johnson is a minority owner of the Lakers and has a number of business ventures including Magic Johnson theatres, Burger King Restaurants and Starbucks.
Look up the word "bust" in the dictionary and you might see a picture of Ed O'Bannon next to it. After scoring 30 points and grabbing 17 rebounds to lead UCLA to the 1995 NCAA championship, O'Bannon was selected with the ninth pick in the NBA Draft. (If you had placed these wagers, you would be very rich in 2010. Read Sports Bets That Would Have Made You Rich In 2009.)
His career fizzled out in the NBA with O'Bannon only playing two seasons and averaging just five points a game. O'Bannon was too slow to defend quick guards and too small to defend taller forwards. After washing out of the NBA he began selling cars at a Las Vegas dealership until recently getting a job as a high school basketball coach.
Christian Laettner is famous for his performances in Final Fours. He scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the 1991 championship game win over Kansas. Laettner finished his career at Duke winning two NCAA titles and being considered as one of the best college basketball players of all time.
But in the NBA career was mediocre at best. He never came close to achieving the same level of success that he enjoyed in college. Laettner retired in 2005 and now co-owns a community development company, Blue Devil Ventures.
Manning did everything but sell popcorn at the 1988 championship game with 31 points, 18 rebounds, five steals, and two blocked shots. His championship game performance against Oklahoma led to the former Jayhawk being taken with the number one pick in the 1989 draft.
Unfortunately, Manning blew out his knee as a rookie and was never the same player. He did manage to make two All Star Teams and win one Sixth Man of The Year award before seeing his career ended by knee problems. Manning played 15 seasons in the NBA and is now an assistant coach for the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team.
Pervis Ellison led the Louisville Cardinals to the 1986 championship by defeating the Duke Blue Devils. "Never Nervous Pervis" had a monster game scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the 72-69 win. He was the first freshman to ever win the Most Outstanding Player award. Ellison went onto be drafted with the number one pick by the Sacramento Kings. (New sports continue to enter the market, but will they push out the traditional stalwarts? Find out more in The "Next Big Thing" In Pro Sports.)
He turned out to be a decent NBA player but never lived up to the hype from his Louisville days due to injuries. Ellison missed so many games to injuries that his new nickname became "Out of Service Pervis." Ellison now coaches and works with underprivileged youth.
The Bottom Line
As you can see being the best player in the NCAA tournament doesn't always mean hitting the jackpot. The Most Outstanding Player award should come with the following caveat: "Winning this award is no guarantee of future success."
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