The Final Four is coming up on Saturday night and there appears to be a ton of NBA talent on the rosters involved. There are lots of names we’ll probably be hearing for years after this weekend’s games.
But last year’s Final Four was special because the teams that reached the national semifinals weren’t necessarily loaded with future NBA stars.
With that in mind we thought we would take a look at where the stars from last year’s Final Four teams are now.
Kemba Walker authored one of the greatest six-game performances in NCAA Tournament history last year. What's he up to now? (Photo By Kevin Scheller, The Daily Campus via Wikimedia Commons)Matt Howard, Butler
The 6’8″ Howard was a big part of Butler’s back-to-back championship game runs, as the team’s primary post threat. He averaged career-highs in points (16.4), rebounds (7.7) and assists (1.4) during his senior season in 2011.
He was named first-team All-Horizon League and won the 2011 Lou Henson Award as the Mid-Major Player of the Year. He was also named to the All-Southeast Region and All-Tournament teams during the NCAA tournament.
Howard graduated and went undrafted, but quickly signed with Greek League powerhouse Olympiakos. But after playing in just eight games he was released in February. He has since signed with EnBW Ludwigsburg of the Basketball Bundisliga in Germany and is averaging 10.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists in seven games.Shelvin Mack, Butler
Mack was Mr. Clutch for the Bulldogs during their improbable run to a second-straight berth in the national championship game. During his senior season he averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
The 6’3″ point guard was a second-team All-Horizon League pick, but was the MVP of the Southeast Region, before being named to the All-Tournament team during the NCAA tournament.
Mack decided to forgo his final year of college eligibility and jump into the 2011 NBA Draft. He was selected by the Washington Wizards in the second round with the 34th overall pick. So far in his rookie season Mack has played in 47 games, averaging 3.2 points, 1.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists in 11.4 minutes per game.Jamie Skeen, VCU
Skeen’s fifth college season was by far his best. In 39 games the 6’8″ power forward averaged 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 assists. The transfer from Wake Forest was named to the Colonial Athletic Association’s second team.
Skeen was a rock for the Rams in the NCAA tournament and was named the MVP of the Southwest Region, and was a member of the All-Tournament team.
He was not selected in the 2011 NBA Draft and instead was drafted by ASVEL Basket in Lyon, France. He has since moved on to Ironi Ashkelon in the Israeli Super League, where he is averaging 9.4 pounds, 4.6 rebounds in 26.9 minutes per game in 11 contests.Joey Rodriguez, VCU
While Skeen put up the most points for VCU during its incredible run to the Final Four, Rodriguez was probably the team’s MVP. During his final season with the Rams, Rodriguez averaged 10.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.2 assists in 33.6 minutes per game. He was named to the CAA’s third team.
Rodriguez led the team’s “havoc” system perfectly and in the tournament he averaged 9.0 points and 7.7 assists, and did an incredible job finding open teammates. Rodriguez was selected as a member of the All-Southwest Region team.
The 5’10″ point guard went undrafted and is currently playing in Puerto Rico for San German. In 13 contests so far he has averaged 4.3 points, 3.2 assists and 1.9 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game.Brandon Knight, Kentucky
As a freshman point guard last season Knight led his team to the Final Four and they were just one point shy of reaching the national title game. A 56-55 loss to UConn derailed the team’s championship dreams but Knight played well leading the Wildcats.
The 6’3″ Florida native averaged 17.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.2 assists during his freshman season. He was named first-team All-SEC and was a finalist for the 2011 Bob Cousy Award, given to the best point guard in college basketball each year. In the tournament Knight was named the MVP of the East Region.
Knight decided to enter the 2011 NBA Draft and the Detroit Pistons selected him with the No. 8 overall pick. He has played in 50 games as a rookie for the Pistons, starting 44. He is currently averaging 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 32.5 minutes per game.Josh Harrellson, Kentucky
Other guys may have garnered more headlines than him, but no one was as valuable to the Wildcats in the NCAA tournament than senior center Josh Harrellson. The Missouri native came out of nowhere during his final season of college eligibility and averaged 7.6 points while leading the SEC in rebounding at 8.7 per game.
In five games during the NCAA tournament Harrellson averaged 13.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 34.4 minutes per game. He was named to the All-East Region team.
Harrellson was then drafted by the New Orleans Hornets with the 45th overall pick (second round) before being traded to the New York Knicks. As a rookie this season, Harrellson has gotten into 27 games (three starts). He is averaging 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.7 minutes per game.Jeremy Lamb, Connecticut
As a freshman during the 2010-11 season, Lamb developed into a force late in the season. He averaged 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game during his first year in college. Fittingly, he was named to the Big East’s All-Rookie Team.
But Lamb shined in the Big East and NCAA tournaments. In the Big East tourney he averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. In the NCAA tournament he continued his rise, averaging 16.2 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. He was named to the All-West Region and All-Tournament teams as he helped UConn win a national championship.
Lamb resisted the urge to jump to the NBA and returned to Connecticut for his sophomore season. This year he avearged 17.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He was named first-team All-Big East and is considered likely to declare for the 2012 NBA Draft.Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Walker had an incredible run for UConn during the 2010-11 season. He was a consensus first-team All-American and was named first-team All-Big East after averaging 23.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game as a junior.
Walker led the Huskies to a Big East tournament championship, then spearheaded their run to an NCAA championship. He was named the MVP of the West Region, and the Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA Tournament.
He made himself available for the 2011 NBA Draft and was selected by the Charlotte Bobcats with the No. 9 overall pick. Walker has played in 48 games as a rookie (17 starts) and is averaging 12.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 26.9 minutes per game.
Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on Ryan’s site Rumors and Rants. Follow Ryan on Twitter here and also catch him after IU basketball games on The Assembly Call.
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