In a program with as much tradition in basketball as the University of Kansas, sensationalized sports media outlets and rabid fans are going to brand certain players as the second coming before they ever accomplish anything.
This has been true throughout the last couple decades, but much more so lately with the emergence of “one and dones” on Campanile Hill. With this much hype, there are going to be players who leave Rock Chalkers disappointed.
These former Jayhawks top the list of hype not transitioning to hoops.
Interesting side note: KU has not reached a Final Four with a one and done on the roster. However, only two one-year “phenoms” have made this list.
5. Lester Earl: To buffer the lack of NBA basketball in Louisiana between the New Orleans Jazz and the New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans), Dale Brown brought professional basketball to Baton Rouge as the head coach at Louisiana State University. One of his blue chip recruits was Baton Rouge post player Lester Earl.
However, Earl left the Tigers for Lawrence after a mere 11 games. Brown, of course, accused Roy Williams of poaching Earl from LSU, but the big man’s Jayhawk career never panned out.
Defensively, Earl played a role for the Jayhawks, but he struggled offensively. Off the court problems (DUI) and injuries led to a lackluster college career and he never saw the NBA.
4. Cliff Alexander: For the second straight year, KU fans thought they had a dominant big man who could help the Jayhawks make a run in the NCAA Tournament. But instead of sustaining injury like Joel Embiid the year before, Alexander was sidelined by the NCAA for his family receiving improper benefits in the form of a loan.
Without Alexander, KU won another Big 12 title, but forgot to show up for the Big 12 Tournament and fell in the round of 32 to in-state, non-rival Wichita State University in the NCAA Tournament. With no real choice, the undersized power forward declared for the NBA Draft and has a long career in the NBDL to look forward to.
3. Luke Axtell: This transfer from the University of Texas appeared to be someone every wheat-fed, Kansas white boy could look up to. The floppy haired blonde, sharp shooting guard who wore No. 33 stood at 6’ 10” and gave the Jayhawks another outside threat on an already-loaded team.
However, during his junior season, Axtell sat out a big portion due to an undisclosed illness and ended his career in his senior season due to a nagging back injury.
Axtell transferred to Kansas after some of his grades at Texas were released to the media. He tried to sue the University of Texas and the athletic director but the case was dismissed. The once can’t-miss-prospect missed the NBA or any professional basketball and was last in the press for coaching a small Christian high school in Texas.
2. JR Giddens: A highly touted freshman for Roy Williams, JR Giddens fell in love with the guarded fade-away three-point shot and the Lawrence night life. Neither of which worked out for him very well.
The athletic swingman never knew the definition of shot selection or the dribble drive and, like a certain Chanute Tribune sports editor, was way too overconfident in the guarded, off-balance three - something he was highly criticized for.
Giddens will always be remembered most by Jayhawk fans for being the victim of violence though. One night in the sleazy Moon Bar near 9th and Iowa in Lawrence, Giddens got into an altercation and was stabbed. Later, Giddens transferred to the University of New Mexico after playing a season for Bill Self, and salvaged his college career. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics, but now plays overseas.
1. Josh Selby: The second ever one and done for KU was more like a ½-a year and done. Selby was deemed ineligible for the first semester as a Jayhawk because of academics. When he finally got to play, Selby lit up the University of Southern California for 21 points and hit the go-ahead three late in the contest. That was about the only highlight for the young player as a Jayhawk. Ignoring pleas from several experts, Selby entered the NBA draft anyway after about 15 games in college and has been in the D-League ever since. He has become an argument against the one and done rule and is the perfect example of how not every blue-chip freshman is ready for the NBA.