Path to the Draft: Top 10 from the Big Ten

June, 17, 2013
6/17/13
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The Big Ten ranks last among the six power conferences in active NBA players (25) and first-round NBA draft picks (28) since 2000 -- the last year a Big Ten team won an NCAA title.

Still, a large chunk of Big Ten standouts who have entered the professional ranks have fared quite well.

Here’s a look at the 10 Big Ten products who have enjoyed the most successful pro careers since 1989, the year the NBA draft was whittled down to two rounds.

[+] EnlargeChris Webber
US PresswireEx-Michigan star Chris Webber used his power around the rim to average over 20 points per game in his 14-year NBA career.
1. Chris Webber, Michigan: Webber played 14 full seasons in the NBA and averaged more than 17 points in all but one of them. For his career, he averaged 20.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest, earning first-team All-NBA honors after scoring 27.1 points and grabbing 11.1 rebounds in 2000-01. Webber, who led Michigan to the NCAA title game in 1992 and 1993, was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1993 NBA draft and went on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors. A five-time All-Star, Webber retired in 2008.

2. Deron Williams, Illinois: Currently one of the NBA’s top point guards, Williams has averaged a double-double in four of his seven NBA seasons and boasts career marks of 17.8 points and nine assists per contest. His numbers are even more impressive in the postseason, when he has stepped up to average 21 points and 9.4 assists in 51 playoff games with Utah and Brooklyn. Williams has been on three All-Star squads and was named second-team all-league in 2008 and 2010. He also was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic squad that won a gold medal.

3. Zach Randolph, Michigan State: With career averages of 17.2 points and 9.3 rebounds, Randolph is currently one of the top power forwards in the NBA. This season, he led Memphis to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. Randolph was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2004 and was named third-team All-NBA in 2011. Randolph has averaged a double-double in seven of his 11 NBA seasons, and he’s averaged more than 20 points five times. In his one season at Michigan State in 2000-01, Randolph led the Spartans to the Final Four.

4. Glenn Robinson, Purdue: In his junior year at Purdue, “The Big Dog” averaged 30.3 points and 11.2 rebounds, making him the first Big Ten player since 1978 to lead the league in both categories. The No. 1 pick in the 1994 NBA draft averaged 20.7 points and 6.1 rebounds in 11 NBA seasons. He made the All-Star team in 2000 and 2001 and made four playoff appearances with Milwaukee (three times) and San Antonio (once). Robinson’s best year came in 1997-98 when he averaged 23.4 points for the Bucks. He played his last NBA game in 2005.

5. Glen Rice, Michigan: By the time he retired in 2004, Rice had played 846 games for six teams in 15 NBA seasons. The forward averaged 18.9 points during that span and shot 85 percent from the foul stripe. The fourth overall pick in the 1989 draft played in three All-Star games and earned the game's MVP honors in 1997 -- the same year that he was named second-team All-NBA. That was also the year Rice averaged a career-high 26.8 points. Known for his long-range prowess, Rice was a 40 percent career 3-point shooter.

6. Michael Redd, Ohio State: After proving himself against top players such as Ray Allen and Glenn Robinson in practice, Redd became a star for the Milwaukee Bucks. He averaged more than 21 points for six straight seasons (2003-2009) and was a third-team all-league selection in 2004. Redd also was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. He’s currently the NBA record holder for 3-pointers made in one quarter (eight). Redd averaged 19 points in 12 NBA seasons.

7. Juwan Howard, Michigan: Howard has had the longest career of any member of “The Fab Five.” He’s played in 1,257 games in 18 NBA seasons and boasts career averages of 13.4 points and 6.1 rebounds. Howard’s best season came in 1995-96 when he averaged 22.2 points and 8.1 boards. Following that season, he was named third-team All-NBA. Last season, as a seldom-used reserve, he earned an NBA title as a member of the Miami Heat.

8. Jason Richardson, Michigan State: The current Philadelphia 76er has posted a double-digit scoring average in each of his 12 NBA seasons. His best year came in 2005-06 when he scored 23.2 points a game for Golden State. Richardson is averaging 17.3 points for his career and 17.1 points in the playoffs. Known as one of the NBA’s top high-flyers, Richardson won the NBA Slam Dunk title in 2002 and 2003. Richardson was the fifth overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft.

9. Michael Finley, Wisconsin: A small forward, Finley averaged 15.7 points during his 15 NBA seasons. Nine of those were spent with the Dallas Mavericks, including his best season in 1999-2000 when posted career highs in both scoring (22.6) and rebounding (6.3). Finley was selected to the NBA All-Star team in 2000 and 2001, and he won an NBA title in 2007 as a member of the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged 11.2 points in the playoffs that season. Finley retired in 2010.

10. Steve Smith, Michigan State: The standout guard averaged 14.3 points in 14 NBA seasons, including 20.1 points in both 1996-97 and 1997-98. He was strong in the postseason, where he averaged 14.9 points in 90 games. Smith played in the 1998 All-Star game and was a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team. He won an NBA title with the Spurs in 2003, though he received little playing time that season. He is one of just three players in league history to drain seven 3-pointers in a single quarter.

Ten more notables: All of these players have excelled in the NBA, including a few who almost cracked the top 10 and/or could be there soon (names in alphabetical order).

Nick Anderson, Illinois
Mike Conley, Ohio State
Jamal Crawford, Michigan
Ricky Davis, Iowa
Kendall Gill, Illinois
Eric Gordon, Indiana
Devin Harris, Wisconsin
Jim Jackson, Ohio State
Brad Miller, Purdue
Jalen Rose, Michigan

Too soon to tell: These guys haven’t been in the league long enough to make the top 10, but all appear to have bright futures (names in alphabetical order).

Draymond Green, Michigan State
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
E’Twaun Moore, Purdue
Jared Sullinger, Ohio State
Evan Turner, Ohio State

*Note: Of the 25 names on these lists, five are from Michigan, five are from Ohio State, four are from Illinois, four are from Michigan State, three are from Purdue and two are from Wisconsin. Indiana and Iowa boast one player each.

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