26. College basketball stars who flamed out in NBA: Ed O’Bannon
Most people today are familiar with Ed O’Bannon due to his involvement in a lawsuit against the NCAA that has paved the way for reform in the area of NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) legislation for college athletes. O’Bannon was also a very good basketball player for UCLA, serving as one of the stars on the Bruins’ 1995 National Championship Team.
Everything peaked for O’Bannon in his senior year, where he averaged 20.4 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game to earn the Wooden Award for most outstanding player of the year. O’Bannon was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four after scoring 30 points and 17 rebounds to help the Bruins knock off Arkansas to win the National Championship.
That performance helped O’Bannon skyrocket up draft boards and he was picked ninth overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 1995 draft. O’Bannon quickly flopped in the NBA as he failed to make an impact right away, washing out after just two years with the Nets and Dallas Mavericks.
The impact of knee injuries in college and simply being homesick hurt O’Bannon’s chances in the NBA, although he did carve out a nice career overseas until 2004. The impact of the class-action lawsuit that O’Bannon attached his name to will have far more consequence to his legacy than any stats O’Bannon accumulated on the court.