You might be wondering where some NCAA basketball stars disappeared to after their college careers.
The truth is that many of them couldn’t make it to the NBA and went to play overseas.
BasketNews will take a look at the NCAA stars who went on to pursue their careers in Europe.
When President Barrack Obama has this to say about you: “Top scorer in the nation, great talent,” you know you have a great college career, to say the least.
During his 4 years at BYU, Jimmer Fredette broke an insane number of records and became a national phenomenon. Although his NBA career didn’t pan out, he re-established himself as a star in China, reminding everyone of Jimmermania with his multiple 70+ point performances.
Fredette eventually landed in Europe, joining Greek powerhouse Panathinaikos Athens for a year and averaging 13 EuroLeague points.
Fredette did not find the small role appealing and became a star again in China the following season, where he continues to act to this day.
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Former Kentucky Wildcat Alex Poythress played with current NBA stars such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker and Jamal Murray. Yet despite his strong freshman and senior seasons, the forward failed to impress NBA teams enough in 2016 and went undrafted.
After a few years trying to make it to the NBA, Poythress decided to follow in Fredette’s footsteps and joined the Chinese Basketball Association.
After a year in China, Poythress moved to Europe, where he established himself as a desirable asset to many EuroLeague teams.
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After winning the NCAA Championship in 2012 as a rookie but not getting enough playing time, Kyle Wiltjer joined Gonzaga, where he instantly became the team’s go-to option.
After graduating, Wiltjer didn’t establish himself as another NBA Canadian and instead decided to move to Europe.
So far, the EuroLeague has proven to be too big of a challenge for Wiltjer, where in his first season he scored just under 5 points per game.
Currently, he is playing in the Spanish ACB league averaging 10 points and enjoying the good weather in Tenerife.
Credit Vangelis Stolis
While Peyton Siva’s college stat line doesn’t stand out (8.4 PTS, 2.4 REB, 4.7 AST), the playmaker has become a staple for the Louisville Cardinals during his time there. through 2013, collecting two Big East Tournament MVP trophies and assisting the Cardinals. win the championship.
Late 2nd-round draft pick Siva tried his hand at the NBA but found much more success across the Atlantic.
The 31-year-old guard has moved to Germany, becoming the main playmaker for German powerhouse ALBA Berlin.
He made a short detour to New Zealand in 2021 but returned to Europe’s top competition to represent Panathinaikos Athens at the end of the season.
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Let’s go back to the 90s when Trajan Langdon was a college star at Duke, averaging 14.5 points per game.
Langdon was one of the top prospects in the 1999 NBA Draft, being selected 11th overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Unfortunately, the first NBA player from Alaska could not adapt to the league and continued his journey abroad. Most notably with CSKA Moscow, where during his 5-year stint he won 2 EuroLeague Championships and a Final Four MVP award.
Currently, the American works in the Pelicans’ front office as a general manager.
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Harrison and his twin brother Andrew were teammates with Poythress at Kentucky. Perhaps it’s the fact that they became the first twins to play for Kentucky, and that’s why the pair has garnered some public interest.
As we saw later, the hype was only between the fans but not the NBA scouts. Both Harrison brothers went undrafted, and shortly after a few attempts to get into the league via the G-League, Aaron decided to play overseas, joining Galatasaray Istanbul for two years.
So far the EuroLeague has proven to be too much of a challenge for him as his stats at Olympiacos Piraeus have dropped (6.5 PTS) so he came back to EuroCup and played well at new in Turkey (16.0 PTS).
Europeans who follow the EuroLeague might be surprised to see Nick Calathes on this list.
He became a real star in Europe and was the face of Panathinaikos for many years before joining Barcelona in 2020.
Many forget that the Greek-American had two great years with the Florida Gators, amassing 16 points and 6 assists per game. He led the Billy Donovan-coached team in scoring while leading the conference in assists per game.
Calathes’ vision and ability to create for others worked much better in Europe than in the NBA, so the former Gator became one of the best playmakers in the EuroLeague, leading the league in assists all-time decisive.
Luke Maye’s career in North Carolina is probably best remembered by his winning hat-trick against Kentucky.
He was far from the most important on this team, but without his 3-point shot at the buzzer, UNC would not have progressed to Final 4 and then won the championship.
Maye had very good junior and senior seasons after the win in 2017 (9.9 PTS, 6.7 REB) but was not drafted in 2019.
For some years he has been trying his luck in Europe and, from 2022, is finishing his 2nd year in a Spanish club ACB BAXI Manresa, reaching the final of the Basketball Champions League.
Credit Vangelis Stolis
Let’s talk about the No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft – Derrick Williams. It’s safe to say that Williams had a decent stint in the NBA, obviously failing to meet expectations but playing 428 games in the league.
The reason Williams was drafted so high was his 2 years at Arizona, where he averaged 18 points and 8 rebounds, but perhaps his biggest advantage was the speed and skill of a 6 forward. ‘8,240 pounds. He even drew comparisons to LeBron James.
As we know today, Williams couldn’t break into the Timberwolves, bouncing around the league for a few years and eventually ending up in Europe.
Derrick Williams’ athleticism and style of play have worked well in the EuroLeague, where he has been a solid fixture for Valencia, Bayern Munich and, more recently, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Credit Getty Images-Craig Jones
There’s a reason why LeBron picked Ed Cota as his all-time favorite UNC point guard.
Cota became the first player to reach 1,000 points, 1,000 assists and 500 rebounds. He also led the NCAA in assists for 4 consecutive seasons, finishing 3rd overall in NCAA all-time assists.
After being drafted, Cota moved abroad and played there for 8 years, including with Zalgiris Kaunas in the EuroLeague.
Similar to his college days playing for Tar Heels, the point guard became a fan favorite in Kaunas and left a mark in the history of the team (10.0 PTS, 3.5 REB, 4.8 AST).
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