The NBA has implemented its one and done rule since the 2006 draft. That rule ensures that a potential prospect must at least complete one year in college before heading to the pros. Athletes used to be able to go straight from high school (LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard), but that isn’t the case anymore. Since 2006, there’s been some incredible talent that could have started playing right after high school, but rules are rules. Here are the best players to have spent one year in college.
Simmons, The Australian Product
The Australian product who attended LSU created a ton of hype around his name during the 2015-16 college season. Ben Simmons started to get comparisons to LeBron James and Magic Johnson thanks to his stellar vision and height (6’8″).
The point guard averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists for the LSU Tigers. The team might’ve missed the NCAA Tournament, but that didn’t stop Simmons from going number one overall. He’s currently one of the best in the league, playing for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Brow Makes A Statement
Many can argue that Anthony Davis is the best one and done player in the history of college basketball. There’s still some more names we’re going to reveal coming up, but Davis makes a strong case for himself.
“The Brow” averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, and led the nation with 4.7 blocks per game. He even set a freshman single-season record with 186 blocks. He helped the Kentucky Wildcats secure their most recent national title and earned Most Outstanding Player honors as well.
Trae Young Lives In Curry Land
“Curry Land” is the range in which NBA superstar Steph Curry shoots from. It’s well beyond the three-point line and borderline right near half-court. Not many players can consistently knock down shots from that distance in the NBA, let alone college. Trae Young does it with ease.
The former Oklahoma Sooner led the nation in scoring (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.7 apg) during the 2017-18 year. Most of his points came from Curry Land, which made him nearly impossible to guard.
Only An Injury Can Slow Irving
Kyrie Irving possessed so much talent, that he only needed 11 games to become the number one pick after he finished his time at Duke (2010-11). If his pro career is any indication of what he would have accomplished in college, opposing teams would have dreaded playing him.
In his 11 games as a Blue Devil, the prolific guard averaged 17.5 points per game. A serious toe injury kept fans from seeing his college glory, but NBA fans haven’t had to miss much.
Kevin Loves UCLA
For UCLA, Kevin Love couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Joining the squad for the 2007-2008 season, Love teamed up with the ultra-athletic Russell Westbrook and helped the team reach the Final Four for the second straight year.
His father was an Oregon Duck, but Love opted for Los Angeles. As a Bruin, he averaged 17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in his lone year. He upped that scoring average to 19.8 in the NCAA Tournament.
Deng Changes Things
In the early 2000s, legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski prided himself on building rosters containing players who grew into stars after a few years. Some might’ve left early, but none left after one year until Luol Deng did it in 2004.
Deng’s single-season as a Blue Devil proved his worth. Duke made it to the Final Four that year, behind Deng’s 15.1 points per game and 6.9 rebounds average. He was a player that did all the little things and more.
A Rose In Memphis
Derrick Rose anchored a Memphis Tigers team in 2007-2008 that would finish as a runner up in the NCAA Tournament. Had it not been for poor free-throw shooting, the Tigers could have won that game.
Rose averaged 14.9 points per game and 4.7 assists a night as well. The highlight plays the point guard showcased in college were an appetizer for what fans would witness in the NBA. After landing on the Chicago Bulls, he would go on to become the youngest MVP in league history.
The Second Coming
When scouts see Brandon Ingram, they see a different NBA superstar in the league – Kevin Durant. The two have blatant similarities, such as their length and body type.
Many believe Ingram is the second coming of Durant, but we’re still waiting on that to come to fruition. At Duke (2015-2016), Ingram averaged 17.3 points per game and 6.8 rebounds very easily. His long arms and soft touch around the rim make him a tough guard.
Lucky Lefty Russell
D’Angelo Russell was a one-man show during his stint at Ohio State in 2014-2015. Russell could put up points in a hurry and efficiently, averaging 19.3 points per game to go along with five assists a night.
There was only one other player on his Buckeye team the put up more than ten points per game. As a left-handed guard, he made life difficult for defenders who aren’t used to sticking ball handlers of that nature.
The Towering Greg Oden
Many only remember the (short) NBA career Greg Oden had, but they have convenient amnesia when it comes to his college days at Ohio State. The former Buckeye played the center position for them during the 2006-2007 season.
While there, he was a dominant force. Oden led the Buckeye’s to the National Championship game, but they would lose. He averaged 15.7 points, 3.3 blocks, and 9.6 rebounds per game at Ohio State. He played so well, that he edged out Kevin Durant for the number one pick.
Was Durant The Best One And Done Player?
Before Anthony Davis, there was Kevin Durant. The former Texas Longhorn was the first freshman to take home the Naismith Player of the Year and Wooden Award honors prior to Davis doing it.
Durant was a scoring legend, averaging 25.8 points per game and grabbing 11.1 rebounds as well. If the coach needed a bucket, Durant would get it via three-pointer, driving to the rim, or drawing a foul. There’s nothing he couldn’t do on the court.
No Hype Needed For Bosh
Chris Bosh didn’t have a ton of hype following him into college as some of these other players had. That didn’t stop him from going to Georgia Tech and giving the Yellow Jackets the boost they needed.
Bosh averaged 15.6 points and nine rebounds per game in his 2002-2003 season with Georgia Tech. He would declare for the draft, which turned out to be one of the most iconic classes ever, featuring LeBron James, and Dwyane Wade.
The Wildcat KAT
Karl Anthony-Towns or “KAT” was nearly unstoppable in his 2014-2015 season with the Kentucky Wildcats. He helped the team go undefeated, a squad that featured six players declare for the draft that year as well. Even with all that talent, KAT was the star.
His 10.3 points and 6.7 rebounds per game don’t reflect his dominance. The team was so stacked that it was hard to showcase everything, but that didn’t prevent KAT from going number one in that draft.
Joel Embiid Did What He Needed To
During the 2013-2014 season at Kansas University, Andrew Wiggins (more on him later) was the real star of the show. They still had freshman talent Joel Embiid, who won the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and landed on the All-Defense team.
Embiid was nothing like he is now in the NBA, but that’s not to say he didn’t provide tremendous value. As a Jayhawk, the big man averaged 11.2 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
It’s Wall’s World
John Wall had the honors of playing alongside DeMarcus Cousins during the 2009-2010 season at Kentucky and he didn’t disappoint. The speedy point guard averaged 16.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game as a Wildcat.
His talent was undeniable and every scout knew his skills would translate perfectly to the NBA. That’s why he went number one overall when the Washington Wizards chose him in 2010. He hasn’t played much recently thanks to an Achilles injury, but fans can’t wait until he’s back on the court.
Another Steller Buck Eye
Mike Conely attended Ohio State University the same year Greg Oden did, and the two were a lot to handle. Conley is a classic point guard, a player that can bring value to any team.
During his stint with the Buck Eyes, Conely averaged 6.1 assists and 11.3 points per game on his way to earning All-Big Ten honors. Conely turned out to be a perfect NBA player with little flaws in his well-rounded game.
Wiggins The Menace
Andrew Wiggins went against the grain by choosing to play at Kansas. He was the top prospect in his draft-class and drew a ton of media attention. Wiggins had and still has insane athleticism that makes him a menace on the fast break.
Wiggins had Joel Embiid as a teammate and the Jayhawks looked like they might’ve won the whole NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, Embiid went down with a foot injury at the end of the season and Kansas lost in the second round of the tournament.
Cousins Was A Man Amongst Boys
After successfully luring DeMarcus Cousins away from his initial commitment to Memphis, John Calipari had himself a sensational team in 2009-2010. Cousins teamed up with John Wall and the two would lead the team to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
Cousins is a big guy. Not only is he tall, but he has the mass to match. Don’t let that confuse you, however, as Cousins has a ton of finesse moves in his game. He averaged 15.1 points per game along with 9.8 rebounds as a Kentucky Wildcat.
Zion Williamson. Enough Said
After LeBron James, there hasn’t been anyone to garner media attention in the way that Zion Williamson did during his time at Duke. His hype dates to high school days, where he has highlights of doing 360 windmill dunks in a game!
While at Duke, if Williamson played, there was no room in the stands and tickets were pricey. He led the Blue Devils in scoring at 22.6 points per game and grabbed 8.9 rebounds per game as well. The best is still to come for this man-child.
NCAA Champion Carmelo Anthony
Jim Boeheim always has solid talent on his roster for the Syracuse Orange, but in 2002-2003, he had a special player. Carmelo Anthony stepped into the program and completely took over during the NCAA tournament.
In the Final Four, Anthony had totals of 53 points and 24 rebounds on his way to cutting down the nets. During the regular season, he averaged 22.2 points per game with ten rebounds per contest as well. Anthony was as lethal as they came.