Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wednesday Where Are They Now?: Ed O'Bannon

Ever wonder what happened to those college stars that couldn't catch on in the NBA? The guys that put up the great numbers or the guys that left early, and were never heard from again? Every Wednesday, we at BIAH will take a look at a former college star that never made it in the NBA, and we will update you on where he is playing or what he is doing. We're guessing the results will surprise you. To request a player, leave a comment in the comments section.

Ed O'Bannon, UCLA

Ed O'Bannon was a big time recruit, graduating from Artesia High School in Southern California as a McDonald's all-american. He originally committed to UNLV, but once the program came under probation as a result of Jerry Tarkanian's NCAA violations, he decided to attend UCLA. He joined the Bruins with huge expectations, but had to redshirt during the 1990-91 season after undergoing knee surgery for a torn acl. He came back the next year, but only averaged 12 minutes and thus put up mediocre numbers. The Bruins had a great season, however, going 28-5, winning the Pac-10, and advancing to the Elite 8.

But he exploded during his sophomore year and never looked back, averaging 16.7 ppg and 7.0 rpg, improving those numbers to 18.4 ppg and 8.8 rpg his junior campaign. The Bruins did not experience the same team success during those two years, getting knocked out in the second and first rounds, respectively. His senior year was his best, when he averaged 20.4 ppg and 8.3 rpg, as UCLA went 32-1 en route to a Pac-10 title, number 1 seed, and national title, UCLA's first since the days of John Wooden. O'Bannon was not only named most outstanding player in the Final Four (which included a 30 point and 17 rebound performance in the finals), but he was named NCAA Player of the year by multiple sources, including winning the Wooden Award.

O'Bannon slid to the ninth pick in the draft, mainly because of concerns over his knee, his size, and the fact that he was 23 years old when he graduated. Those concerns would prove to be warranted. O'Bannon's surgically reconstructed knee meant that he no longer had the athleticism to be a small forward at the NBA level, and he was too small and slender to be an NBA power forward, which means he was stuck with the dreaded "tweener" label. He hung around the league for two years, averaging 6.2 ppg and 4.2 rpg for the Nets in 1995-96 and 3.7 ppg and 2.3 rpg in 1996-97 for the Nets and the Mavs. During that season, O'Bannon was traded to the Magic, who promptly waived him.

Over the next seven years, O'Bannon bounced around the lesser international leagues. He played in Spain, Italy, Greece, Argentina, and Poland, where he once had to leave the court as the teams were pelted with snowballs. In 2002, at the age of 30 and coming off another knee surgery, O'Bannon decided to retire. He was trying out in Portland for a new league in China when he realized that no one there knew who he was.

O'Bannon moved with his wife and three kids to Las Vegas, where he completed his degree at UNLV and now sells cars for a living. As he told Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, "I always wanted to make a living as something other than a basketball player. I wanted my life to go into another direction. People see me and remember me, and I’m proud to tell them — ‘No, I don’t play. No, I don’t coach. Yes, I sell cars.'"


Danny said...

love ed o'bannon...also no love on the blog roll?

dan said...

How cool is this? Go to Vegas for the first four days of "the dance"
and on Monday buy a car from Ed and talk about our first two games and our sweet 16 matchup before easing back and driving west.