Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who is UGA's SECOND-Best NBA Player Ever?

While I was watching the Atlanta Hawks upset the Bulls last night in Game 1 of the NBA's Eastern Semi-Finals, the surprising play of former UGA Hoopster, Damien Wilkins, led me to a simple question: Who is Georgia's second-best NBA player of all-time? I mean, obviously Nique is Numero Uno, but the list for "2nd best" is up for grabs. To answer my own question, I decided to make a list of candidates and look at the numbers:
(Candidates listed as they appeared in my head):
  1. Vern Fleming (guard) -- played 12 seasons in the NBA from '84 to '96. Averaged 11.3 PPG (10,125 total), 4.8 APG, and 3.4 RPG. Also played in 37 playoff games. Not too shabby.
  2. Willie Anderson (G/F) -- played 9 seasons in the NBA from '88 to '97. Averaged 12.2 PPG (6771 total), 3.8 APG, and 3.8 RPG. Played in 52 playoff games.
  3. Shandon Anderson (F) -- played 10 seasons in the NBA from '96 to '06. Averaged 7.4 PPG (5327 total), 3.1 RPG, and 1.8 APG. Played in 74 playoff games including the '98 Finals w/ Utah against the Bulls, and won a Championship with the Heat in '06 (granted at the tail-end of his career.)
Honestly, I can't make a compelling argument for anyone other than the three listed above. Sure, Litterial Green, Jarvis Hayes, Jumaine Jones, and the aforementioned Damien Wilkins have put in some good years, but their overall numbers are largely underwhelming.

I guess the fact that we could have two players drafted this year should be a bigger deal based on our history (or lack thereof) of NBA talent. This is probably one of the reasons UGA has had trouble with consistently recruiting top in-state talent; that is, we just don't put a ton of guys in the NBA. With two guys probably getting drafted this year, and a near certainly that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will one day get his chance, there is hope that SOME of these top recruits in the coming years will view UGA as an adequate, career building (in a pure basketball sense) stepping stone.


  1. Vern Fleming may still be my favorite player ever at UGA. Of course part of that has to do with the fact I was attending UGA at the time he played. He was unguardable in college...especially when his shot was on. He would be my easy choice for #2

  2. Willie and Vern were both pretty good NBA Players, but it doesn't say much for the program when those guys are the 2nd and 3rd best players we've ever had in the pro's. That's a huge problem in terms of recruiting high level players. Our historical ineptitude(better than only Ole Miss all-time in the SEC...and its close with the Rebels) goes hand-in-hand with that...a history of bad players on bad teams. More Administrative support has led to significant facilities improvements over the past few years(practice facility and Stegeman), but it's a long-term project to make UGA a legit hoops program. The best players in GA(or anywhere else for that matter) generally want to play at places that have a proud hoops history, put a lot of guys in the pro's and have a large and passionate fan base. The reality is that our chances of getting a highly rated hoops player, even if he's from Georgia, aren't much better than Vandy getting a prized local football recruit.

    I think Fox will build a program if he stays here long enough, but it won't be easy considering our dreadful history in the sport.