The dream of college basketball players is to make it to the NBA. Few do. There are those who reached great heights in their college basketball careers, making it to the Final Four with their respective teams and being named the Most Outstanding Player in the NCAA Tournament. However, not every player given that accolade goes on to have an illustrious NBA career… What has become of the past 20 Most Outstanding Players?
2000: Mateen Cleaves, Michigan State
Cleaves was drafted 14th overall by the Detroit Pistons. He played for a total of six years with the Detroit Pistons, Sacramento Kings, Cleveland Cavaliers and Seattle Supersonics. He averaged 3.6 points, 1.9 assists and 1 rebound.
2001: Shane Battier, Duke
He was drafted sixth by the Memphis Grizzlies for whom he played five seasons before being traded to the Houston Rockets. Battier played 4 1/2 more seasons for Houston before returning to the Grizzlies again in a midseason trade. He played there for the remainder of the 2010-11 season. Battier’s final three seasons were with the Miami Heat, where he won 2 championships, before he retired after the 2013-14 season. During his career, Battier was a member of the US National Team and averaged 8.6 points, 1.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds.
2002: Juan Dixon, Maryland
Dixon was drafted 17th by the Washington Wizards and spent nine years in the NBA. He was with Washington, the Portland Trail Blazers, Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons and Washington again, with his longest time being spent with the Wizards at the start of his career, three seasons. Dixon averaged 8.4 points, 1.8 assists and 1.9 rebounds. He now coaches the men’s basketball team at Coppin State.
2003: Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse
Drafted third by the Denver Nuggets, Anthony led the Nuggets to the playoffs from 2004-10. He was traded to the New York Knicks in 2011, where he played for six seasons before he went to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a season. The next year, Anthony signed with the Houston Rockets and played for a short time before he was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, where he stayed for two seasons. Anthony signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2021, where he remains. Anthony has played in the Olympics four times, has been named an All-Star 10 times and named to the All-NBA Team six times, while averaging 23 points, 2.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds.
2004: Emeka Okafor, Connecticut
Okafor was drafted second overall by the Charlotte Bobcats and immediately joined the U.S. team to play in the 2004 Olympics. He was also NBA Rookie of the Year. During his 10 seasons, Okafor played for the Charlotte Bobcats, New Orleans Hornets, Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers G-league team, the Delaware 87ers, and the New Orleans Pelicans. Okafor had to take three years off from 2014-17 between his time with the Wizards and his return to the 87ers due to a herniated disc in his neck, and in November 2019, he signed with a team in the Korean Basketball League and still plays there. Okafor averaged 12 points, 9.7 rebounds and .8 assists in the NBA.
2005: Sean May, North Carolina
Drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, May played four seasons in the NBA, three for the Bobcats and one for the Sacramento Kings. In November 2010, May went overseas and spent four years in Turkey, Croatia, Italy and France playing internationally. May averaged 6.9 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist in the NBA. In the fall of 2015, he was hired as the director of player development at North Carolina. May then moved to the director of basketball operations in fall 2017 and is now an assistant coach for UNC head coach Hubert Davis.
2006: Joakim Noah, Florida
Noah was drafted ninth by the Chicago Bulls in 2007 and played 13 seasons for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers. Most of his time was with the Bulls, where Noah spent nine years. He averaged 8.8 points, 9 rebounds and 2.8 assists during his career and was named an NBA All-Star twice and to the All-NBA First Team in 2014. He was also the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
2007: Corey Brewer, Florida
Brewer was drafted seventh by the Minnesota Timberwolves and went on to play 13 seasons. He played for the Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, where he won a championship, Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, LA Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings. Brewerer averaged 8.7 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 rebounds and is now a player development coach for New Orleans Pelicans.
2008: Mario Chalmers, Kansas
Though he was drafted 34th by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Chalmers was traded to the Miami Heat soon after. In South Beach, he played seven seasons and won two championships. Chalmers was traded in November 2015 to the Memphis Grizzlies, where he played two seasons before going overseas. He averaged 8.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists in the NBA. In March 2019, he went to play in Bologna for one year, then moved to the Greek Basketball League for two years before going back to play in the G League, where he now plays for the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
2009: Wayne Ellington, North Carolina
Drafted 28th overall by the Wolves, Ellington played three seasons for the Wolves. Ellington then hopped around a bit, as he was traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for half a season then traded to Cleveland for the second half. He then signed with Dallas for one season, and the next season signed with the Lakers for a season, before sticking with the Nets for a season. Ellington then found stability with the Heat, where he played for three seasons before he signed with the Pistons, then to the Knicks and back to the Pistons within a year. Ellington is with the Lakers, and in his career is averaging 8.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists.
2010: Kyle Singler, Duke
After he was drafted 33rd by the Detroit Pistons, Singler played for Lucentum Alicante and Real Madrid, both of Liga ACB in Spain, during the NBA lockout. Once the lockout ended, Singler played three seasons with Detroit before he was traded to OKC, where he played for 3 1/2 seasons. Singler averaged 6.5 points, 2.9 rebounds and .8 assists in the NBA before he returned to play in Spain in 2018 for one year before retiring.
2011: Kemba Walker, Connecticut
Walker was drafted ninth by the Charlotte Bobcats and played eight seasons for Charlotte, which was renamed the Hornets in the 2014-15 season. Walker then signed with the Boston Celtics in 2019, where he played for two seasons before signing with the Knicks in 2021, where he now plays. Walker averages 19.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists and is a four-time NBA All-Star.
2012: Anthony Davis, Kentucky
Davis was the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, then played in the 2012 Summer Olympics for the U.S.. His first season in the league, Davis was named to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He played seven seasons for the Pelicans then was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019, where he plays now and who he won the championship with in the 2019-2020 season. Davis averages 23.8 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists and is an eight-time NBA All-Star, has been named to four All-NBA First Teams and four NBA All-Defensive Teams. In 2021. He was named one of the 75 greatest players in NBA history and was also a member of the 2014 national team that won gold in the FIBA World Cup.
2013: Luke Hancock, Louisville
Hancock went undrafted out of college. However he signed on to play with the Orlando Magic in the Orlando Summer League and the Houston Rockets in the Las Vegas Summer League. After that, Hancock signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, but was waived. He then signed to play with the Greek Basketball League and played six games before he tore a muscle in his calf and subsequently retired. Hancock is now an ESPN basketball analyst with the ACC Network and a financial advisor as well.
2014: Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
Napier was drafted 24th by the Charlotte Hornets and traded on draft night to the Heat, with whom he played a year. He was then traded to the Orlando Magic for a year before he was traded again to Portland, where he stayed for two years. Napier then signed with Brooklyn for a year, then was traded to Minnesota for half a year before he went to the Washington Wizards. In July 2021, Napier signed a one-year deal with a St. Petersburg (Russia) club. In the NBA, he averaged 7.1 points, 1.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
2015: Tyus Jones, Duke
Jones was the 24th draft pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who traded his draft rights to Minnesota, where played four seasons. He then signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, where he currently plays. Jones averages 5.7 points, 1.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
2016: Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
After going undrafted in 2016, Arcidiacono played for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2016 NBA Summer League, and was then acquired by the Austin Spurs of the NBA Development League. Arcidiacono then signed a two-way contract in 2017 with Chicago, who he played with in the 2017 Summer League. He played mostly with Windy City. In 2018 he signed a regular contract with Chicago and played three more seasons. In 2021, Arcidiacono signed with the Maine Celtics as an affiliate for half a season, then was signed by the New York Knicks for the remainder of the season. He averages 4.8 points, 2 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
2017: Joel Berry II, North Carolina
After Berry returned for his senior season, he went undrafted in 2018. He then played with the Lakers Summer League team and was signed to their G league affiliate, the South Bay Lakers, for a season. Berry was then traded to the Greensboro Swarm for the 2019-20 season and in November 2020 signed to a team in the Turkish league. Berry averaged 9.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He is now a basketball analyst for ACC Network.
2018: Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova
DiVincenzo was drafted 17th by the Milwaukee Bucks, however he missed most of his rookie year due to a foot injury. He played 3 1/2 seasons with the Bucks, where he won a championship, before he was traded to the Sacramento Kings in a four-team trade in 2022. DiVincenzo averages 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists in the NBA.
2019: Kyle Guy, Virginia
After getting drafted 55th by the Knicks and getting traded to Sacramento, Guy signed a two-way contract with the Kings for two seasons. In August 2021, he played with Golden State in the 2021 Summer League, then signed with the Cleveland Charge in October as an affiliate. In January 2022, Guy signed a two-way contract with the Miami Heat. So far in his career, Guy averages 3.3 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist.
No NCAA tournament
2021: Jared Butler, Baylor
Butler first had to get cleared by the fitness-to-play panel by the NBA. After he was cleared, Butler was drafted 40th by the New Orleans Pelicans and traded to the Utah Jazz. He averages 3.4 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists.