Top 10 D2 and D3 Players in NBA History

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By Michael Aleksandrov Summer Staff Writer

Hall of Fame Caliber

SF Scottie Pippen- Central Arkansas

Source: inthescore.com

 Scottie Pippen began his college career as a 6’1” equipment manager at Central Arkansas University. He was only allowed to practice with the team, until a few of the players quit and the coach gave him an opportunity. In his first year at the NAIA level, Pippen averaged 4.3 points, 3 rebounds, and 0.7 assists. A seven inch growth spurt his college years gave Pippen a 6’8” frame and he took advantage of it. Pippen became a two-time NAIA All American in 1986 and 1987. As a senior, he averaged 23.6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.3 assists. This was enough for him to get picked up at #5 by the Seattle Supersonics in 1987. Scottie Pippen was traded on draft night for Olden Polynice and future draft considerations to the Chicago Bulls. With the Bulls, Pippen would become one of the best players in the league and a perfect complement to Michael Jordan. Throughout his career, Pippen was a six-time NBA champion, a seven-time All Star, and 8-time All NBA Defensive First Teamer. He was named to the 1992 Dream Team and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

PF/C Ben Wallace- Virginia Union University

Source: News.cgtn.com

After becoming an All State athlete in 3 sports at Central High School in Alabama, Wallace went to Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio for two years. He averaged 17 rebounds and 6.9 blocks per game during his tenure there. With a personal recommendation from Charles Oakley, Wallace played at Virginia Union University. Ben Wallace finished his tenure at Virginia Union with averages of 13.4 points and 10 rebounds and was named a Division II All-American as well as First Team in his division. Wallace went undrafted in 1996. After 4 quiet seasons in Washington and Orlando, he was dealt to the Detroit Pistons. Wallace established defensive dominance in Detroit and was a key piece in the 2004 Finals championship team that upset the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games. Wallace ended up winning 4 Defensive Player of the Year Awards, was named to 5 All-NBA teams,and 6 NBA All-Defensive Teams in a sixteen year career.

PF Dennis Rodman- Northeastern Oklahoma State University

Source: Rollingstone.com

Rodman, a current NBA Hall of Famer, was not even the most athletic in his family growing up. He began high school as a 5’6” freshman and spent the majority of high school getting cut from the football and basketball team. Rodman’s basketball inclinations would reemerge after an 8 inch growth spurt shot him from 5 foot 11 to 6 foot 7. At 20 years old, he quit his job as an airport janitor and played one semester at Cooke County Junior College in Northeastern Texas. He found his way to Northeastern Oklahoma State University, an NAIA school. Rodman finished his 3 year career with averages of 25.7 points, 15.7 rebounds, and .6 assists. Rodman was drafted #27 in the second round of the 1986 NBA Draft. Rodman became one of the best rebounders and hustle players in the game. He won back to back NBA Championships with the Bad Boy Pistons and was a part of the second Bulls 3-peat. He was a seven-time All Defensive First Team player and was Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991. He played in the league a total of 14 years with averages of 7.3 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 1.8 assists. “The Worm” was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011

C Jack Sikma- Illinois Wesleyan

Source: NBA.com

Unlike many players on this list, Sikma was on many D1 radars coming out of high school. However, he signed with Wesleyan’s NAIA team to get immediate playing time. In his freshman year, coach Dennie Bridges helped him perfect the “Sikma move”, a reverse pivot face-up shot. In his career there from 1973-1977, Sikma averaged 21.2 points and 13.1 rebounds. “The Witchert Wonder” was picked up at #8 in the 1977 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. He became a 7-time All Star and NBA Champion with the team. Over a 14 year career with the Sonics and Milwaukee Bucks, he averaged 15.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, and .9 blocks per game. Sikma was enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2019 and has his #43 retired by the OKC Thunder/Seattle Supersonics.

Solid Careers

PG Terry Porter- UW- Stevens Point

Source: NPR.com

Porter attended the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point for 4 years. While there, Porter averaged 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists. He was the only NAIA player to be given a tryout with the USA Basketball Olympic team and made it into the top 20 roster before being cut. Porter was drafted 24th by the Trail Blazers in 1985. He went on to have a 17 year career highlighted by two All Star appearances . Porter created a formidable backcourt with Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler and the two went to the Finals in 1990 and 1992. For his career, Terry Porter averaged 12.2 points, 3 rebounds, and 5.6 assists. Porter’s number 30 was retired by the Trail Blazers.

C Manute Bol- Bridgeport University

Source: BBC.com

Bol, one of the tallest players in NBA history at 7 foot 6, was discovered by coach Dan Feely in Sudan in 1982. Because he already had basketball experience and was undeniably big enough for the league ; Feely sought to find a college to refine Bol’s abilities. Due to the language barrier and questionable age provided on his passport, Bol was unable to be admitted into Cleveland State University. Regardless, Bol was selected in the 5th round of the 1983 NBA Draft. However, the pick was declared invalid because Bol had declared for the draft too late. Manute Bol ended up attending Bridgeport University, a D2 program. Bol became a star on the small campus. He averaged 22.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 7.1 blocks per game. Bol was picked #31 in the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft by the Washington Bullets. In his 10 year NBA career, Bol had 2.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks per game. His height proved to be his biggest asset in his tenure, as he finished his career with more blocks than points. Bol died in 2010. His son, Bol Bol, plays for the Denver Nuggets.

SF Devean George- Augsburg University

Source: StarTribune.com

George played at D3 Augsburg University in Minneapolis, MN. He averaged 23.5 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.6 assists and was named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference MVP in 1998 and 1999. George was selected in the first round by the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. He won 3 NBA Championships with the Lakers. George started 7 games for the team in the 2003 playoffs and averaged 8 points. He carved out an eleven -year career in the league with the Lakers, Mavericks, and Warriors.

Current Players

SF Duncan Robinson- Williams College

Source: Mlive.com

Duncan Robinson committed to Division III Williams College in 2012 with only one scholarship offer from DII Merrimack College. He immediately made an impact on the team, as they went 28-5 as Robinson led the team in nearly every major statistical category. In his one year at Williams, he averaged 17.1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. His groundbreaking season attracted the attention of many D1 teams, including the University of Michigan. U of M  initially only wanted Robinson as a walk-on, but coach John Beilein eventually decided to offer the 6 foot 7 sharpshooter a scholarship. He became the first player in history to transition from Division 3 to Division 1 basketball on a full scholarship. In his time at Michigan, he appeared in a Final Four Championship and won two Big Ten Tournaments. Robinson’s averages of 9.3 points and 2.5 rebounds on 45.5% shooting were not enough to get him drafted in 2018. However, he was picked up by the Miami Heat and eventually earned a starting spot in 2019. Robinson drained two hundred and forty three 3-pointers in 65 games. He tied the Heat 3 point record with 10 in a game and broke the Heat record for 3 pointers in a season. He made valuable contributions to a Heat team that surprised the league with a 41-24 record. Robinson also participated in the 2020 NBA 3 Point Contest – most importantly he is a steadfast Blitzer

PG Anfernee Simons- IMG Academy

Source: Oregonlive.com

Simons came out of Edgewater High School in Orlando in 2017. He had averages of 23.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in his senior year. Simons took a postgraduate year at the famed IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. While there, his stock skyrocketed and he became the 8th best player in the 2018 recruiting class. He ultimately decided on turning pro and skipped college entirely. Simons was selected 24th to the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2018 NBA Draft. Simons spent most of the 2018-2019 season in the G League, but dropped 37 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists in the final game of the year. In the 2019-2020 season, Simons has averaged 8.8 points and 1.5 assists in 65 games.

PG Josh Magette- UA-Huntsville

Source: NBA.com

Magette attended the University of Alabama-Huntsville where he averaged 12.7 points and 8.9 assists as a senior in 2011-12. He holds the school and conference record in assists. Magette also contributed to 3 Gulf South Conference championships and helped the team to two Elite Eight spots in the DII National Championship. Magette went undrafted in 2012 and bounced around overseas and in the G-League. He made his NBA debut and scored his first points against the Dallas Mavericks on October 18th, 2017. In 18 games that season, Magette averaged 2.6 points and 3.2 assists. Magette signed a two-way contract in 2019 with the Orlando Magic and appeared in 8 games with averages of 1.5 points and .6 assists per game. He is currently with the Lakeland Magic, the team’s G-League affiliate.

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One Reply to “Top 10 D2 and D3 Players in NBA History”

  1. Very well written. I liked how the author brought recognition to the NBA players that weren’t your typical “D1 picks”. It’s evident that this is a demonstration as to what dedication can really amount to.

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