The 2014 NBA roster of underclassmen busts
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The 2014 NBA roster of underclassmen busts

None of the rookie first rounders made the NBA All-Star Game

Photo: Phoenix draft picks TJ Warren of NC State and Tyler Ennis of Syracuse

The NBA All-Star game is less than two weeks away. That means it’s time to look at the deluded players who declared early for the NBA draft only to find a seat on the bench or a ticket to the D League.

With the exception of No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, they are all busts or on their way to becoming busts. Wiggins, who left Kansas after his freshman year, is averaging 18.2 points a game with Minnesota, but he didn’t make the All-Star Game roster.

There was a time when rookies brought new blood to competitive All-Star games but no more. No wonder it has been reduced to exhibition not worth watching.

The two youngest players in the All-Star Game are New Orleans third-year pro Anthony Davis (Kentucky) and Cleveland fourth-year pro Kyrie Irving (Duke). Davis turns 22 in March and should be a senior at Kentucky Irving turns 23 in March and should be a rookie. Davis is in his second All-Star Game and Irving his third.

Of the 18 underclassmen drafted in the 2014 first round, only Wiggins, Duke’s Jabari Parker with Milwaukee and Louisiana Lafayette’s Elfrid Payton with Philadelphia have been regular starters. Parker’s season, though, ended after only 25 games with a knee injury.

Players such as North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren (Phoenix), Syracuse's Tyler Ennis (Phoenix), UCLA’s Jordan Adams (Memphis) and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson (San Antonio) have bounced around between the D-League.

Hmm, D-League or facing Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, North Carolina in the Dean Dome and establishing a Wolfpack legacy at PNC Arena that lasts decades?

As a one-hit wonder that left after his sensational sophomore year, Warren will soon be forgotten in NC State's lore.

If you’re Michigan’s Nik Stauskas (Sacramento), you’re on your way to becoming the next Adam Morrison – a three-point shooter who can’t get his shot off against NBA defenders.

Of those 18 underclassmen drafted in the first round, those with zero starts halfway through the season are Stauskas, Indiana’s Noah Vonleh (Charlotte), Kentucky’s James Young (Boston), Syracuse’s Tyler Ennis (Phoenix), Michigan State’s Gary Harris (Denver), Adams and Anderson.

If you're Vonleh, you have the added curse of having been drafted by Michael Jordan, a poor talent judge who once took Kwami Brown No. 1 overall with the Washington Wizards. Jordan also drafted Adam Morrison as Charlotte's owner.

Harris was smart enough to listen to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's message when he returned for his sophomore year. Izzo stresses it's not making the NBA, it's staying in the NBA. Harris had Izzo's blessing after his sophomore year, but it's clear he needed another year in college to develop his game for the jump to the NBA. He is sitting on a Denver bench instead of finishing a legacy that could have resulted in having his number retired. The legacy will mean more to him when his hair turns gray.

NC State coach Mark Gottfried also gave Warren his blessing to turn pro. There was a time when Duke Mike Kryzyzewski criticized Cory Maggette for declaring early for the draft in 1999. Eventually, coaches realized it will hurt recruiting to appear to stand in the way of players declaring early.

Only a couple of the 2014 underclassmen will work diligently enough on their game to eventually emerge as an NBA All-Star. Some won't recover from the loss of confidence. Some just weren't good enough.

NBA 2014 first-round underclassmen

1MinnesotaAndrew WigginsKansas
2MilwaukeeJabari ParkerDuke
*suffered season-ending injury
3PhiladelphiaJoel EmbiidKansas
*injured and has not played this season
4OrlandoAaron GordonArizona
*limited playing time due to foot fracture and surgery
6BostonMarcus SmartOklahoma State
7Los Angeles LakersJulius RandleKentucky
*injured in season opener and out for season
8SacramentoNik StauskasMichigan
9CharlotteNoah VonlehIndiana
*season limited by sports hernia and surgery
10PhiladelphiaElfrid PaytonLouisiana Lafayette
*traded to Orlando
13MinnesotaZach LaVineUCLA
14PhoenixT.J. WarrenNorth Carolina State
*sent down to D League
17BostonJames YoungKentucky
18PhoenixTyler EnnisSyracuse
19ChicagoGary HarrisMichigan State
*traded to Denver
21Oklahoma CityMitch McGaryMichigan
22MemphisJordan AdamsUCLA
*he has been back and forth between the D-League and Grizzlies
23UtahRodney HoodDuke
30San AntonioKyle AndersonUCLA
*he has been back and forth between the D League and Spurs.
Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer,, and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."