As often as an extra year of NCAA exposure helps an athlete's draft stock, there are just as many tales of players who spurn the NBA Draft for another year and don't reap the benefits they were hoping too. Here are a few players who began their college careers as some of the top-rated high school recruits in the nation but never really lived up to the high expectations in college.
If you look at the Rivals top 150 recruits for 2010, there is one pretty consistent thing there -- most of those recruits ended up in the NBA. Outside of Reggie Bullock, Leslie is the highest-rated recruit to not make it to the NBA yet. The differences still hound Leslie. Bullock is projected as a first-rounder, Leslie at the moment is not.
Scouts are still intrigued by Leslie as a hypothetical package. At 6'9, 209 pounds, Leslie appears to have the physical tools to make it as a combo forward/guard in the NBA. But after a promising sophomore year, Leslie didn't make the leap that a lot of people were expecting in his junior year for the North Carolina State Wolfpack. His stats fell across the board on a per minute rate, and his PER fell from 23.5 to 20.1.
Leslie hasn't exactly fallen from grace, however. He doesn't have character issues, just is dogged by inconsistency in his playing. Many scouts say he has the physical tools to succeed in the NBA, but he needs to improve his three-point shooting (he has 13 total in his college career) to be effective on the wing.
Kabongo was the fifth-ranked point guard in 2011 according to Rivals, but the NCAA cut his college career short after he was suspended at the start of his sophomore season for receiving impermissible benefits. The NCAA originally gave Kabongo a year-long ban, but it was later reduced to 23 games.
He entered life as a Texas Longhorn with rather high expectations placed on his shoulders. His freshman year, he didn't come close to meeting them, averaging just 9.6 points (although his 5.2 assists were good for fourth in the Big 12). Kabongo is more of a pass-first point guard with solid court vision, but he wasn't able to demonstrate this too well.
He brought his stats up in a reduced sophomore season where he averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 assists and two steals a game. But he only played in 11 games due to the suspension and the Longhorns missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999. Kabongo is still turnover prone and watched his draft stock drop with every passing game he spent on the Longhorn's bench.
Few players might have hurt their draft stock by returning to play another college year than Arkansas guard Young. Young was stellar as a freshman in the SEC, averaging 15.3 points while shooting a shade over 50 percent from the floor. Although the Razorbacks missed out on the NCAA Tournament, they finished with a 18-14 record and on paper looked like they might make a berth in 2013.
Things started out well his in the preseason of his sophomore year when SI.com named Young the top player in the SEC. But then the basketball season actually started. He was suspended in November for violating team rules and was benched later in the season for disciplinary reasons. His problems off the court seemed to reflect on the court as well. After shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc, his three-point percentage dropped to 22 percent his sophomore year.
The Razorbacks would've made the NCAA Tournament if they never had to leave the home arena, but Arkansas went just 1-12 on the road last year, and Young's struggled played a part. He shot 48 percent at home and just 39 percent on the road, where his scoring average was 12.3 points a game. Young averaged 19.4 points a game at home.
As Draft Express points out, Young was one of the better transition scorers in college basketball. But his inconsistency throughout his sophomore year really was a shot in the stomach to his draft hopes. Young hoped to make himself a household name after his freshman year, but now there is a solid chance he won't even get drafted.