Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/2/12
The NBA's lousiest teams are hoping Anthony Davis becomes an exception to what certainly smells like an unofficial rule. Having been named Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 Final Four, the Kentucky freshman now is expected to enter the NBA Draft and become the first player selected this June. That hasn't happened since Danny Manning led Kansas to the national championship and was chosen first overall by the Los Angeles Clippers in 1988. Those teams currently losing their hearts out during what has become the Davis Sweepstakes are hoping the 6-foot-10 shot eraser has a more distinguished career than Manning, whose legitimate approach to stardom was stunted by a severe knee injury. The candidates to employ young Mr. Davis also are hoping he doesn't settle comfortably into another -- and disturbingly crowded -- fraternity. That would be the Fraternal Order of Final Four MOPs Who Didn't Exactly Become Great NBA Players. For the record, great can be a subjective consideration, so let's define the terms. One appearance in the NBA All-Star Game. That's it. Sure, greatness manifests itself in various ways, but rather than getting bogged down in nuance or even metrics, let's keep this simple. So, going by the measly requirement of a single All-Star appearance, we find that only four (4!) former Final Four MOPs have reached this elite NBA status in the last ... drum roll ... 27 years. That makes attaining this collegiate honor (perhaps) even more difficult to convert into professional stardom than the Heisman Trophy. By the way, the four MOPs to land in the All-Star Game during this span are Carmelo Anthony, Rip Hamilton, Glen Rice and Manning. Even though 'Melo is considered a superstar with limited portfolio, this hardly qualifies as the fast track to Springfield. Before we look at what might serve as explanations for this situation, let's take a look at why we're cutting off our harkening back at an uneven 27 years. Well, that's easy. One year before Villanova's Ed Pinckney went from Georgetown-shocking 1985 MOP to NBA journeyman, the MOP was Hoya center Patrick Ewing. Yeah, Patrick had a pretty great NBA career that really could have been spectacular if Michael Jordan hadn't been invented. Ewing was preceded on the MOP list by Hakeem (then Akeem) Olajuwon, James Worthy, Isiah Thomas, a pretty decent pro (and cuckoo leaper) named Darrell Griffith and some cat named Magic Johnson. For assistance in digging for the truth (or excuses) behind this 27-year, MOP-NBA march through mediocrity, I checked in with some NBA-employed personnel guys. These are some of the same sharpies I normally bother when seeking insights into various talent-related issues. Unfortunately, they weren't much help this time. Aside from pointing out that the really talented players spend little time in college -- thereby reducing the opportunity to become MOP -- they hadn't spent much time considering this phenomenon and were unable to muster much concern about it. They weren't wrong, of course, by leaning on the lack of time spent in college by big-time talent. A check of rosters for the NBA's 2012 All-Star Game reveals that 13 participants spent one or fewer seasons as a college basketball player. But we also should note that players didn't just recently start leaving college early for the NBA. Magic, for gosh sakes, was a wee sophomore when he led Michigan State to the title and opted to become a pro in 1979. There is, however, another superstar whose career arc may have something to do with the diminished amount of time elite talent spends in college. That would be Kevin Garnett, who -- thanks to academic issues -- went from Chicago's Farragut Academy to the NBA Draft in 1995. Although his ability seemed off the charts to witnesses with high picks, KG remained on the board until the Minnesota Timberwolves nabbed him with the fifth pick. Garnett was the first player to make such a jump in the 20 years since Darryl Dawkins and Bill "Poodles" Willoughby went from high school to the NBA with disparate levels of success. He more than held his own as a T-Wolves rookie, and was followed from the prom-to-pros list by Kobe Bryant in 1996. The subsequent flood of high schoolers to David Stern's green room continued until 2005. During this span, the MOP list included the names of future NBA slouches such as Miles Simon, Jeff Shepherd, Mateen Cleaves, Juan Dixon and Sean May. In 2005, the NBA stamped an age requirement on draft-eligible players, which became the prevailing one-and-done predicament we've all come to (cough) embrace. Anyway, with KG and Kobe reminding NBA talent evaluators that it's not a bad idea to snag extremely-talented players despite their level of professional readiness, the truly gifted prospects began spending less time in college than ever before. As for tactical explanations, it has been suggested that team play is more often rewarded in college than in the NBA. Well, that may only be relative to how offenses are structured at these different levels of basketball. Thanks to rules that prevent lane-clogging and a 24-second shot clock, NBA teams spend more time giving the ball to their superstars and ordering everyone else to get out of the way. In recent years, these isolations strategies have been somewhat compromised by the screaming return to prominence of the pick-and-roll. College teams have more time (11 big seconds) to spend probing defenses and -- with rules that allow the clogging of lanes -- have more reason to lean on ball movement, player movement and, well, sharing of the rock to create scoring opportunities. It should be noted that, due to the copycat nature of our planet, a crazy amount of NBA-style pick-and-rolling is prevalent on a college basketball landscape with defensive rules that make these tactics less wise. Perhaps that's why so many college games have less flow (and scoring) these days. Although college basketball isn't completely without elite talent (beyond its freshman class each year), domination of top players is easier to mitigate through the use of defensive alignments that wouldn't be allowed in the NBA. This makes it more difficult for the stars to flourish in a lose-and-your-out event such as the NCAA Tournament, giving rise to the complimentary-player-as-hero situations. Beyond those explanations, we have circumstance. For example, Larry "Grandmama" Johnson was the superstar of the 1990 UNLV Runnin' Rebels, but Anderson Hunt had a better two-game stretch in the Final Four. Donald Williams barely scratched in the NBA, but was MOP among future pro teammates for the 1993 North Carolina Tar Heels. Before an ankle injury (and other physical concerns) Grant Hill was a legit NBA superstar, but Christian Laettner and Bobby Hurley were the MOPs for Duke in 1991 and 1992. Al Horford was the Florida Gator who would put up the best NBA numbers, but teammates Joaquim Noah and Corey Brewer were two-game stars in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The latest MOP to hit the NBA is UConn guard Kemba Walker. With any Ping-Pong ball fortune, Kemba would become a Charlotte Bobcats teammate of Anthony Davis. That might be a good start toward burning this MOPNBA fraternity to the ground.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Odell Beckham pretends to pee like a dog after scoring TD

Jerry Jones explains why he opposes national anthem protests

Marcus Cooper pulls a Leon Lett after blocked field goal

Jadeveon Clowney does the Gronk spike after defensive touchdown

LeGarrette Blount tramples Giants defenders on first-down run

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Whitney Mercilus sacks Tom Brady, Jadeveon Clowney recovers for TD

Aldon Smith reaches plea deal in DUI case, avoids jail time

WATCH: Duke Johnson scores on brilliant 19-yard run

He's back! Jamaal Charles scores first Broncos TD

LeSean McCoy stretched during national anthem

Patriots fans booed, yelled ‘stand up!’ at kneeling players

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

College football 2017 Week 4 predictions

10 teams that can unseat the Warriors in 2018

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

After a decade in the WNBA, MVP Sylvia Fowles is ready for the spotlight

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker