College Basketball Nation: B.J. Mullens

In the weeks leading up to the June 27 NBA draft, we’ll be taking a look at the 20 schools that have produced the best pros in the modern draft era (since 1989, when the draft went from seven to two rounds). Click here to read Eamonn Brennan’s explanation of the series, which will be featured in the Nation blog each morning as we count down the programs from 20 to 1.

Top Five NBA Draftees Since 1989

1. Michael Redd (2000)
2. Mike Conley (2007)
3. Jim Jackson (1992)
4. Evan Turner (2010)
5. Jared Sullinger (2012)

Sixth man: Daequan Cook (2007)

The rest: Jon Diebler, Byron Mullens, Kosta Koufos, Greg Oden, Ken Johnson, Scoonie Penn, Lawrence Funderburke

Why they're ranked where they are: Because this is a solid, albeit not particularly inspiring, list of former NBA draftees? Let's start with that.

If you're young enough to have just started watching professional basketball in the past few years, and have only seen an aging, slightly paunchy Redd chucking 3s for the Phoenix Suns, you might not be aware of just how good of a pro he was for almost all of the aughts. Or maybe you just aren't aware the Milwaukee Bucks exist. (Sorry, Myron.) But they do, and Redd is easily their best player of the past decade-plus. From 2003-04 to 2008-09, he averaged 21.7, 23.0, 25.4, 26.7, 22.7, and 21.2 points per game, respectively; he was one of the purest perimeter scorers in the NBA, an NBA All-Star in 2004 and a member of the U.S. Men's Olympic "Redeem Team" in 2008. Basketball-Reference's Elo Fan Ratings list Redd as the No. 207th-ranked player of all time, ahead of Allan Houston and behind Steve Francis. That sounds about right, and it's not too shabby for a guy drafted 43rd in 2000. Redd was a good pro.

[+] EnlargeMichael Redd
Jonathan Daniel/AllsportMichael Redd filled it up during his three seasons at Ohio State, then averaged 19.6 points in a 12-year NBA career.
Conley currently is a good pro -- an intelligent do-everything-well point guard lynchpin for a very good Memphis Grizzlies team, which was just eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals this week. Conley struggled early in the NBA but has improved dramatically since, making the much-derided $45 million contract extension he signed in 2010 look more like a steal than a boondoggle.

Meanwhile, don't sleep on Jackson, either. The former Buckeyes guard played for 12 mostly bad teams in his 14-year career, so it's easy to forget how productive he was. But a 14-year career is impressive in and of itself, even before you see Jackson's 14.3 points/4.7 rebounds/3.2 assists per-game splits.

Those three guys are good enough to get Ohio State on this list and good enough to bump the Buckeyes above No. 20 Syracuse. But the rest of the list -- with the possible exception of Turner, who is clearly talented but reportedly not the easiest person to play with -- makes it hard to go beyond that.

Why they could be ranked higher: Conley, Redd and Jackson are really a solid group of pros whose careers all began at disparate times; that speaks to at least some consistency with the production of NBA talent even before Thad Matta made the Buckeyes a national title contention stalwart. Redd's heights were high; his averages of 25.4 and 26.7 points in consecutive seasons is no joke, nor is membership on a hyper-talented national team that won a symbolically redemptive gold medal in Beijing. Conley might still be underrated in general; many of the things he gives the Grizzlies (control, smarts, great perimeter defense) don't show up in box scores. Jackson, as we've already laid out, is definitely underrated as a pro.

Really, the thought that OSU could potentially go higher comes down to exactly that: potential. Turner could yet morph into a very good NBA player. Sullinger is just getting started but proved he can rebound in the league as a rookie. Mullens averaged double figures in Charlotte this season. Even Oden, whose NBA career has been such a massive disappointment, is still just 25 years old. If he can get to a team on which he can get healthy this summer (and ifs don't get bigger than this, I realize), there's no reason he couldn't change course on what has thus far been a tragic career arc.

Also, if you're the type of person to award extra points for awesome names, Lawrence Funderburke is a big-time asset.

Why they could be ranked lower: Because, with the exception of Conley, almost all of the players on this list have produced what they've produced on bad teams. Sure, Mullens made a nice little jump this season, but he was playing for the worst franchise in the sport. Oden is less a basketball player than a cautionary tale about the fallibility of irregular human biology. Sullinger has a ton to prove. Turner is trending upward, but he still shot 41.9 percent in his first featured season in Philadelphia.

Cook played a solid bench sharpshooter role for the Oklahoma City Thunder in their emergence in recent years (though he was weirdly buried by mad basketball genius Tom Thibodeau for the Chicago Bulls this season), and he gets some credit for maximizing that all-important one NBA skill. But when Cook is your sixth man, you're not going to be near the top of this list.

What’s ahead? We've already discussed the varying futures on the table for Turner, Sullinger, Mullens, as well as the unlikely-but-still-possible resurrection of Oden, so let's focus on the prospects. Deshaun Thomas is Ohio State's one draft entrant this season, and he isn't particularly highly regarded by NBA scouts. Thomas is seen as a tweener who isn't athletic enough or a good enough shooter to play guard and not big enough to score over taller defenders in the post. I'm more bullish; when you're a born scorer like DT, you find a way to get those buckets.

Looking ahead, the clearest NBA prospect on the Buckeyes' 2013-14 roster is LaQuinton Ross, an immensely gifted 6-foot-8 wing with an NBA body, who can handle and hit 3s, among other skills. Ross blossomed in the NCAA tournament in March, and he'll be expected to take on a larger scoring load next season. Whether he maximizes it is yet to be seen. Likewise, Sam Thompson doesn't get much NBA love, but he's a great defender with good size, and that should hold up if he gets a shot at the league.

Final thoughts: Ohio State always has been, and probably always will be, a football school. Matta has changed that reputation more than any other coach in OSU history; he's spent the better part of the past decade recruiting top talent and fashioning it into tough, defensive-minded teams that challenge for national titles. Redd and Jackson prove that NBA talent at OSU isn't limited to the Matta era.

If Matta keeps moving at his current pace, Ohio State could climb much higher in this list in a decade's time. Right now? It's worthy of inclusion … but only just.

The one-and-dones who fizzled out

June, 26, 2012
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Everyone knows about the one-and-dones who went on to star in the NBA, but there are also the more unfortunate ones who are either struggling in the NBA or are out of the league altogether.

(Editor's Note: For Part 1 of Myron Medcalf's in-depth look at the NBA's minimum age requirement, click here.)

Omar Cook, St. John’s: Cook played just 17 games in the NBA after being drafted in the second round in 2001. Since then, he’s spent time in the D-League and has played for seven teams overseas.

Javaris Crittenton, Georgia Tech: Crittenton averaged just 5.3 points in 113 NBA games and couldn’t stay out of trouble off the court. He was suspended for the remainder of the 2010 season after he and teammate Gilbert Arenas drew guns on each other in the Washington Wizards' locker room. Crittenton is awaiting trial on murder charges after the shooting death of a 22-year-old Atlanta woman last year.

Eddie Griffin, Seton Hall: Griffin was the No. 7 overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft after averaging 17.8 points and 10.7 rebounds as a freshman at Seton Hall. But a poor work ethic and issues with alcohol kept Griffin from flourishing in the NBA. He died when his car struck a moving train in 2007. An autopsy discovered that his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was more than three times the legal limit.

Donte Greene, Syracuse: The 28th overall pick in 2008 has averaged 6.1 points the past four seasons with the Sacramento Kings. Greene has a career field goal percentage of 40.6 percent -- and he’s made only 30.6 percent of his 3-point attempts.

Kosta Koufos, Ohio State: The 23rd overall pick in the 2008 draft has averaged 3.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 182 games. His best season came in 2011-12, when he averaged career highs in points (5.5) and rebounds (5.4) for the Denver Nuggets.

Byron “B.J.” Mullens, Ohio State: The 24th overall pick in the 2009 draft hardly saw the court in two seasons with Oklahoma City. Mullens, though, appears to have found new life in Charlotte, where he averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds last season.

Jamal Sampson, Cal: Sampson was selected in the second round (47th overall pick) of the 2002 draft. He played in just 72 NBA games from 2002 to 2007 and averaged just two points and 3.4 rebounds. He has since spent time in the D-League and overseas.

Dajuan Wagner, Memphis: Wagner -- who scored 100 points during a single high school game -- averaged 13.4 points as a rookie in 2002-03 but was hampered with health issues from that point forward. He was hospitalized for ulcerative colitis the following season and eventually had to have his entire colon removed, essentially ending his NBA career.

Rodney White, Charlotte: White was regarded as the top freshman in the country when Detroit selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2001. He was traded to Denver after one season and averaged 7.7 points in 186 games. He since has played for 10 teams overseas.

Brandan Wright, North Carolina: The eighth overall pick in 2007, Wright has averaged just 5.9 points in four NBA seasons. He scored 6.9 points a game for the Dallas Mavericks in 2011-12.

*Note: Injuries have kept former Ohio State star Greg Oden from living up to expectations with the Portland Trailblazers, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in 2006. Oden has performed admirably when healthy, providing hope that he still has a chance to be an impact player in the NBA.

More: Jason King has a list of one-and-dones who became stars, like Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh.

Pregame notes at the 76 Classic tonight

November, 26, 2010
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ANAHEIM, Calif. -- UNLV guard Tre'Von Willis is only 50 points shy of 1,000 for his career, so it's conceivable he could receive enough playing time to reach the mark by the end of the tournament. His minutes have increased after coming off a four-game-suspension, and it will be interesting to see if he returns to the starting lineup at some point.
  • Murray State guard Donte Poole went to Mojave High School in North Las Vegas with UNLV guard Anthony Marshall, and the matchup holds meaning for the two, according to the Las Vegas Sun. "He was kind of my big brother my freshman year up until he left," Marshall told the paper. "We've played a lot against each other in the summer in pick-up games, but never in a real game."
  • Stanford guard Jeremy Green was held scoreless until the final minute in yesterday's game against Murray State, and there might have been some reason for his struggles. According to ESPN broadcasters, Green was ill. The Cardinal did get a good game out of freshman Dwight Powell, and he'll be one to watch this evening against Tulsa.

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