Many athletes who want to be NBA players go through what’s called the ‘one and done’ system. In short, this means you play for a single year in college before entering the NBA draft. Why do players do this? Well, because all players selected in the draft must be 19. Meanwhile, international players can’t enter the draft until at least a year after they graduate high school.
This gave rise to the ‘one and done’ system where elite prospects play college basketball for a year. To sum up, they’re biding their time until they’re finally eligible to enter the draft. The draft rules changed in 2005 and is common practice ever since. Today, we’re going to take a look at 25 of the best players to come through this system. We’re going to base their success on how they performed in both college and the NBA. Check out the list below.
25. Zach Randolph
A two-time All-Star, Randolph spent an outstanding 18 seasons in the NBA, where he played for five different teams. His longest spells were with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies. After three years in Portland, he won the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award.
Randolph played for Michigan State University. In his single season at Michigan State, he averaged 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game over 33 games. Finally, he won the McDonald’s All-American MVP award. Now 38, Randolph’s time as an NBA player may finally be up.
When he was just 22, Holiday became the youngest All-Star in NBA history. The New Orleans Pelicans point guard was also a member of the 2018 NBA Defensive Team of the Year. In short, he’s very good at what he does. After four years with the Philadelphia 78ers, he moved to The Big Easy in 2013.
Holiday went to UCLA, where he started all 35 games for the Bruins. A McDonald’s All-American, he won the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. Married to Lauren Cheney, a legendary US soccer player, Holiday has succeeded off the court as well. There are some crazy genetics in that family.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Simmons isn’t from the heartlands of basketball country. But his father was also a professional player. This helped to give Simmons a grounding in the sport and he spent a year as a freshman in LSU where he won the league’s Freshman of the Year award.
Simmons has been with the Philidelphia 76ers since 2016. However, he missed the entirety of his first season through injury. But Simmons bounced back in style to win the Rookie of the Year award. He one-upped this in 2019 by getting his first All-Star pick. The Ozzie has shown the world exactly what he’s capable of.
The Cleveland Cavaliers power forward is a five-time All-Star. He also won a single NBA Championship with Cavaliers in 2016. One of the best players of his generation, Love is also an Olympic Gold medalist and a FIBA World Champion. Basketball is in his blood.
In college, Love chose to play for UCLA over his father Stan’s alma mater Oregon. As his father is an Oregon legend, this sparked outrage. Love received death threats and had literal garbage thrown at him. The first-team All-American Pac-10 Player of the Year was born to play in the NBA.
This 26-year-old Missouri native is a quality player. Beal was a back-to-back NBA All-Star in 2018 and 2019. Then add in the fact that he made the All-Rookie First Team in 2013. In short, he’s been on a fast-track to the top of the game for a long time. That all started out in college too.
Beal accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida. During his time playing for the Gators, he won six NEC Freshman of the Week awards. Also, he was a first-team SEC All-Freshman selection. To sum up, some players just have it all laid out in front of them.
After a long and distinguished career, Wallace retired in 2015. He played for teams like the Charlotte Bobcats, the Portland Trailblazers, and the Boston Celtics. Wallace was an All-Star in 2010 and led the league in steals in 2006. Wallace also made the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2010.
He came through the University of Alabama where he played for one season. Then he declared himself eligible for the 2001 NBA Draft. Known for his reckless style of play, ‘Crash’ had an atrocious injury record but was extremely entertaining when he was on the court.
Oladip only spent a single year at Indiana University but he was absolutely stellar. He won several awards including National Co-Defensive Player of the Year. The Big Ten Player of the Year averaged 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 2.17 steals in 36 games. In short, he was absolutely magnificent.
Despite standing only 6′ 4″, Oladipo has a prodigious leap. Described as one of the most complete athletes in the league, he’s also a two-time All-Star. Currently playing for the Indiana Pacers, he made the NBA All-Defensive Team in 2018. This shooting guard also achieved the most steals the same year.
At the age of 27, Irving is living the dream. He should be entering his prime very soon. But that should be terrifying for NBA defenses because he has already achieved so much in the sport. An NBA champion in 2016, Irving is also a six-time All-Star. He even won the MVP award for the 2014 All-Star game.
Irving is yet another man to come through the ‘one-and-done’ system. He played for Duke in 2009 and was a contender for NCAA Freshman of the Year until a ligament injury ended his chances. The Brooklyn Nets point guard averaged 17.4 points per game on 53.2% shooting, 5.1 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
Canada’s Wiggins had a stellar college career with the University of Kansas. Even though it was just one year, he represented the Jayhawks with esteem. Wiggins averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.9 rebounds per game. He also made 34.1% of his three-pointers in his freshman year at Kansas.
He went on to earn NBA Rookie of the Year honors for the 2014–15 season. Of course, that meant he was in the All-Rookie First Team too. Wiggins needs to establish consistency though because he’s very much a streaky player. Hopefully, that will soon come. Then he will be unstoppable.
Hailing from Cameroon, Embiid stands a monstrous seven feet tall. A Philidelphia 76ers star since 2014, Embiid is a two-time All-Star. As you can see by the pictures of him, he’s a huge hulk of a man. In short, you would not want to mess with the 280-pound center. Inspired by the legendary Hakeem Olajuwon, Embiid chose to play basketball.
Embiid played college basketball for the University of Kansas. He was on the 30-man shortlist for the Naismith College Player of the Year. In 2013–14, he played 28 games, averaging 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists, and 2.6 blocks in 23.1 minutes per game. Despite being unlucky with injuries, Embiid is an outstanding player.
A 2019 All-Star, Russell has lit up the NBA. He came to the division after a season with the Ohio Buckeyes. In a 2015 win over Rutgers, Russell recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. This was the first triple-double ever by an Ohio State freshman.
Russell earned the Oscar Robertson Trophy, Wayman Tisdale Award and Jerry West Award. Touted as one one of the best prospects in the 2015 draft, the young man is under a lot of pressure. Now playing for the Golden State Warriors, it’s up to Russell to continue living up to his incredible potential.
‘Reef’ is an Olympic gold medallist and an NBA All-Star. He starred for the Vancouver Grizzlies for five years. Then he moved to the Atlanta Hawks and the Portland Trailblazers. Abdur-Rahim made the All-NBA All-Rookie first team in his debut season as a professional. That came after success in college with Cal.
The Georgia native was the first freshman in PAC-10 history to win the Conference Player of the Year Award. Abdur-Rahim also set single-season freshman records for points, scoring average, field goals, and free throws. What a one-year college career that was. He entered the draft in 1996.
A four-time NBA All-Star with the Toronto Raptors, it’s almost cruel that the Canadian side won the championship the season after he left. But make no mistake, he’s still an excellent player, now representing the San Antonio Spurs. He also helped Team USA to Olympic gold in Rio De Janeiro.
DeRozan chose USC as his college despite offers from Arizona State and North Carolina. He started all 35 season games for the Trojans, scoring in double figures 28 times and posting four double-doubles. The shooting guard considered completing his degree but chose to enter the draft to raise money for his money who suffers from lupus.
Bosh has played for two NBA franchises, representing the Toronto Raptors and the Miami Heat. Moving to Florida proved to be an inspired decision for him because he became a two-time NBA champion. Not only that, but he also extended his run of All-Star selections to 11.
As a freshman, he starred for Georgia Tech in the NCAA. He led the Yellow Jackets in averaging 15.6 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 31 games. Unlike many future NBA stars, Bosh originally intended to complete his degree but ended up entering the draft. However, he still plans to fulfill a promise to his mother and graduate in the future.
Despite the fact that the Arizona Wildcats had a poor season during Bayless’s year, the NBA star still performed well. He led the Wildcats in scoring with an average of 19.7, while he also averaged 4.0 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. Finally, he was the first freshman in history to lead Arizona in scoring.
Standing out in a weak team can make you look very good. Bayless played in the NBA for 11 years for eight different teams. But he finally moved to China where he currently plays for the Sichuan Blue Wings. Perhaps he never truly lived up to his early potential but he still had a solid career.
A four-time All-Star, Cousins has received the honor for each season since 2014. He’s also a two-time All-NBA second-teamer and a two-time Olympic gold medal winner. It’s fair to say that this man is very good at basketball. Currently playing for the Lakers, Cousins spent seven seasons with the Sacramento Kings.
Cousins played college basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats. He was an All-American during his brief time there. The Alabama native helped lead Kentucky to the Elite Eight of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. With John Wall on his team, the Wildcats were always going to be a force.
Bizarrely popular in China, Marbury is the fifth former NBA player to get a green card for the country. He’s a two-time All-Star with the Phoenix Suns as well as being part of the 1997 All-Rookie First Team. A three-time CBA Championship winner with the Beijing Ducks, he’s currently a team manager in the Middle Kingdom.
A top-five recruit in 1995, Marbury’s future was always going to be bright. Georgia Tech heavily pursued him and he signed up for a year. He averaged 18.9 ppg and 4.5 assists, with the end result being a place on the All-American Third Team. Then he signed up for the 1996 NBA draft.
Odom is a two-time NBA champion with the LA Lakers. He was also the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2011, but his exploits in college could have cost him his career. The University of Nevada rescinded his scholarship after he solicited a prostitute. But Rhode Island took him on instead.
This turned out to be an inspired decision. Odom led Rhode Island to the NCAA Championship and he earned First-Team All-Conference Honours. Then he went on to win the Atlantic 10 MVP award. Of course, his struggles with cocaine have been well-documented, but his time in college was well-spent.
This 10-Time NBA All-Star just returned to the league with Portland. Now 35, he’s coming towards the end of his career, but what a time he has had. Anthony is an excellent player and a brilliant forward. He was the 2013 scoring champion, so that should show how prolific he can be. A former Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks star, Anthony was very effective.
It all started in college when he played for Syracuse University. In short, he helped Syracuse to their first-ever NCAA title. Because of his good form, he won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. Later that year, his coach Jim Boeheim described him as ‘by far the best player in college basketball.’
Beasley’s college career is a thing of legend. The Kansas State alumn holds 30 records, as he made a massive impact for the Wildcats. He dominated the NCAA over the course of a single incredible season. His 26.2 points and nation-leading 12.4 rebounds were the most by a Big 12 player in any season.
In short, his shooting made him an almost unstoppable force. However, it’s fair to say that his NBA career hasn’t soared to the same heights. Despite his brilliance in college he’s had a nomadic career and is currently playing in China. But he did make the NBA All-Rookie First Team in 2009.
This 32-year-old veteran is a Memphis Grizzlies icon. He holds several records for the Tenessee side including points scored, (11,733), assist (4,509), steals, 1,161, and most three-pointers made (1,086). However, the Utah Jazz signed him in a 2019 trade. But it’s highly likely his jersey will be retired by the Grizzlies in a few years.
Conley is also a ‘one-and-done’ player. He committed to Ohio State in 2006. The point guard averaged 11.3 points and led the Big Ten Conference in assists, with 6.1 per game. Finally, he ended the season with totals of 441 points and 238 assists. Conley’s great performances saw him attract the eyes of NBA scouts.
Lakers star Davis is truly a top player. He spent seven seasons with the New Orleans Hornets before moving to the Los Angeles Lakers. Davis is a three-time All-NBA First Teamer and three-time NBA All-Defensive Teamer. But of course, it all truly fell into place when he was playing in college for the University of Kentucky.
In short, his college career was outstanding. In the Wildcats’ six NCAA Tournament games, Davis averaged 15.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per game, and led the team to its eighth NCAA championship. Then he won a whole host of individual awards including the NCAA Basketball Tournament MOP award. It was an epic season.
The Washington Wizards point guard had a very tough childhood, so it’s amazing his life stabilized the way it did. After the incarceration of his father for murder, Wall went down a dark path. But he was able to come back and went on to become a University of Kentucky Athletics Hall-of-Famer. That’s how good he was in college.
Wall chose to forgo his remaining three years of college eligibility. The Wizards drafted him in 2010, which has worked out well for both parties. A five-time All-Star, Wall’s consistency has been remarkable. Unfortunately, he ruptured his Achilles at the end of 2018, ruling him out for at least 12 months. Let’s hope he makes a full recovery.
Williamson is one of the most exciting basketball players on the planet right now. In short, his potential seems limitless. As the likes of Lebron James and Kevin Durant edge nearer towards the ends of their careers, Williamson’s time to be the NBA’s biggest star will soon be here. It all started at Duke University.
Possessing incredible physical gifts, he dominated college basketball. Consequently, he won the ACC Player of the Year, ACC Athlete of the Year and ACC Rookie of the Year awards. Drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans, Williamson is one of the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award this season.
One of the greatest basketball players of his generation, Durant is the epitome of success. First of all, he enjoyed tremendous form during his time as a freshman at the University of Texas. However, the Longhorns lost out to USC in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament. But Durant was brilliant despite this.
A ten-time NBA All-Star, Durant has also won two championships. The Brooklyn Nets star has a single NBA MVP award and four NBA scoring titles. During his single year with the Longhorns, he averaged 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. To sum up, he started as he intended to go on.