Monday May 4th, 2015

We recently listed our most surprisingly good players of the 2014-15 season, but not every surprise is sweet. Some of the players listed below entered the season with unfair expectations, but some just weren’t as good as everyone thought they were. Here’s our list of the most disappointing players in college basketball (ordered alphabetically):

Cliff Alexander, Kansas

Year: Freshman
Position: Forward
Stats: 7.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 0.4 apg

Alexander’s lone season at Kansas will be remembered as a disappointment not just because the highly touted freshman—No. 4 in the RSCI composite top 100 rankings for the Class of 2014—played worse than expected, but also because he didn’t play much at all. He finished his short tenure with the Jayhawks without ever having played more than 27 minutes in a game. In fact, he played fewer than 20 minutes in 16 of his 28 games. He then missed Kansas’s final eight games while facing an NCAA inquiry. While he was on the floor, he proved to be a potent rebounder and a developing scorer. But his early departure to the NBA (which makes sense given that he had yet to be cleared by the NCAA) will leave Kansas fans wondering what might have been.

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Deonte Burton, Marquette

Year: Sophomore
Position: Guard
Stats: 6.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 0.3 apg

A consensus top-100 recruit in the class of 2013 and a member of the Big East All-Rookie team in 2014, Burton was a surprising mid-year transfer out of Marquette in early December. (Burton didn't give a reason for his departure, instead opting to post this message on Twitter: "I have decided to transfer from Marquette University I want to thank the school, coaches, teammates, and fans for all their support​".) He left the program at the same time as sophomore John Dawson, who hadn’t played more than four minutes in any game to that point in the season. Burton, on the other hand, was averaging 16.1 minutes per game. Their decisions left the Golden Eagles with just eight scholarship players. We will soon be able to learn if Burton is ready to take on a bigger role, as he’s opted to transfer to Iowa State. Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg has made excellent use of transfers during his Cyclones tenure, and Burton could be the next big one—or he could prove to be a bust.

Marcus Foster, Kansas State

Year: Sophomore
Position: Guard
Stats: 12.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.9 apg

Foster’s time in Manhattan was schizophrenic, to put it mildly. He was an eye-popping talent as a freshman, leading the Wildcats in scoring with 15.5 points per game. He was selected to the preseason All-Big 12 team as a sophomore but ended up being benched by early January and suspended for three games in early February for a violation of team rules. At the end of March, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber booted Foster from the team, reportedly because of a photo he posted—and then deleted—during spring break. Foster always had the talent to be an excellent college player, but his off-court issues sidelined his potential. He has transferred to Creighton, where he’ll have a year off to prove how important basketball really is to him.

Rich Barnes/Getty

Kaleb Joseph, Syracuse

Year: Freshman
Position: Guard
Stats: 5.9 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.8 apg

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It was always going to be difficult for Joseph to step out of the giant shadows of the men who came before him for the Orange. Tyler Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams were his immediate predecessors as Syracuse point guards, and both were stars before leaving school early to become first-round NBA draft picks. Joseph had been the fourth-ranked point guard in his class, but he struggled to find his groove offensively. He led the Orange with 3.8 assists per game, but offset that with 2.3 turnovers per outing. He only scored in double figures three times during ACC play. Syracuse will need a breakout sophomore season from Joseph to get back to the NCAA tournament in 2016.

Charles Mann, Georgia

Year: Junior
Position: Guard
Stats: 11.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.6 apg

Before the season, SI projected Mann to be a top-50 scorer in college basketball. As a sophomore the season prior (2013-14), Mann had used 29.5% of Georgia’s possessions with an offensive rating of 97.3. This season, we expected him to have a similar usage rate and to be more efficient. The prediction looked promising when the Bulldogs played another group of Bulldogs, Gonzaga, in November. Against the then-No. 10 team in the country, Mann put up 23 points on 13 shots. But he never scored doubled figures against a ranked opponent again. He went from a 30.9% three-point shooter as a sophomore to 27.5% as a junior. And although he played about a minute more per game, his scoring fell from a 13.9 average to 11.2 a game. 

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Myles Mack, Rutgers

Year: Senior
Position: Guard
Stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.2 apg

Mack was probably asked to do too much for a team that had too little talent. After a strong junior season in which he played 30.5 minutes per game, Mack rarely left the court as a senior, averaging 35.4 minutes on the floor. But despite the increased playing time, his points per game, three-point percentage, field goal percentage and assists per game all dropped. His offensive rating suffered as a result, sliding from 107.6 as a junior to 102.6 as a senior. Still, Mack was the most efficient Scarlet Knight by a good margin. He did everything for his team, but he didn't have nearly enough help, as Rutgers finished 10-22.

Terran Petteway, Nebraska

Year: Junior
Position: Forward
Stats: 18.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.8 apg

At first glance, Petteway’s raw numbers seem impressive, not disappointing. But consider what it took for Petteway to barely top his sophomore year scoring output of 18.1 points per game: He used 32.3% of his team’s possessions this past season, good for ninth in the country and top among Power 5 programs. His effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage declined, as did his ability to draw fouls and connect at the line, where he went from 81.9% as a sophomore to 71.1% as a junior. If you’re a Cornhuskers fan, you had to wonder at times this season if the team wouldn’t have been better off with more touches for players like Tarin Smith and Walter Pitchford than with the one-man show Petteway was often putting on.

Chris Covatta/Getty

Myles Turner, Texas

Year: Freshman
Position: Forward
Stats: 10.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 0.6 apg

Turner was the gem of then-Texas coach Rick Barne’s 2014 recruiting class, and he was always expected to be a one-and-done talent. Yet he only ended up starting seven games all season. Turner was fine when he was on the court, with an offensive rating of 108.7 and an impressive 24.9 defensive rebounding percentage, but he never emerged as a team-changing talent. Turner’s case is a good reminder that not ever player—not even every top-10 player—is able to have an immediate and sizable impact as a freshman. Now the 6'11" Turner moves onto the NBA, where a team will likely select him in the lottery in hopes that his size and talent will translate better in the pros than it did in college.

Chris Walker, Florida

Year: Sophomore
Position: Forward
Stats: 4.7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.1 apg

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The last player on our list was could be the most disappointing in the entire country. Walker entered Florida two years ago as one of Billy Donovan’s most touted recruits in his 17 seasons at Florida. As a freshman, he ran into NCAA eligibility issues and couldn’t play until Jan. 29; when he did become eligible, he couldn’t find major minutes on a senior-laden team that went to the Final Four. With the Gators losing their top five players before last season, Walker was expected to have a breakout sophomore campaign. In fact, we projected that he’d be the top breakout player in the country in October—and that he’d score 10.8 points per game. He ended up scoring 4.7 points and collecting just 3.5 rebounds a night. He also managed only 14.6 minutes per game. Despite his lack of on-court success, Walker declared for the NBA draft. He’ll be a divisive prospect among scouts, but could still end up being taken in the second round based on his potential.

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