By JERRY TAPP
A Final Four ‘MOP’ Award does not always equal NBA stardom
Back in the 1950s, future Hall of Famers like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West were recipients of the NCAA basketball tournament most valuable player award, now known as the Most Outstanding Player (MOP) honor. In the 80s, the MOP award went to eventual NBA stars like Isiah Thomas, James Worthy, Akeem Olajuwon and Patrick Ewing.
Being selected the MOP of a NCAA Final Four, however, does not always translate into an outstanding NBA career. In fact, I would be willing to bet that of the last 20 players to be chosen as the MOP of the Final Four, only two, maybe three, will eventually make basketball’s Hall of Fame.
Carmelo Anthony was the 2003 MOP and will likely find a way into the Hall of Fame. Anthony Davis, the 2012 MOP, is another solid Hall candidate, as is Kemba Walker, the 2011 MOP from UConn.
But “great” NBA careers have not followed every MOP honoree. While 18 of the last 20 MOP players have played in the NBA, two have not. The 2013 MOP, Louisville’s Luke Hancock, was undrafted and retired from basketball in 2014 after tearing a calf muscle playing over in Greece. Joel Berry II, the 2017 MOP from North Carolina, was also undrafted. He did, however, find a spot on the Lakers G League team, but was waived on March 2.
Here’s a look at the past 20 MOPs and how many career NBA points they amassed and how many NBA games they have played in (stats are through NBA games of March 19).
MOP player, Year NBA games NBA career points
*Carmelo Anthony-2003 (Syracuse) 1,064 25,551
Richard Hamilton-1999 (UConn) 921 15,708
*Kemba Walker-2011 (UConn) 593 11,651
*Anthony Davis-2012 (Kentucky) 465 11,047
Shane Battier-2001 (Duke) 977 8,408
Emeka Okafor-2004 (UConn) 616 7,370
*Corey Brewer-2007 (Florida) 802 7,053
*Joakim Noah-2006 (Florida) 665 5,853
Mario Chalmers-2008 (Kansas) 646 5,743
*Wayne Ellington-2009 (North Carolina) 633 5,112
Juan Dixon-2002 (Maryland) 436 3,678
Kyle Singler-2010 (Duke) 356 2,326
*Shabazz Napier-2014 (UConn) 287 1,833
*Tyus Jones-2015 (Duke) 236 1,119
Sean May-2005 (North Carolina) 119 821
Mateen Cleaves-2000 (Mich. St.) 167 609
*Ryan Arcidiacono-2016 (Villanova) 95 488
*Donte DiVincenzo-2018 (Villanova) 27 131
Luke Hancock-2013 (Louisville) 0 0
Joel Berry II-2017 (North Carolina) 0 0
Of the 20 players listed above, exactly half (10) played/or are still playing in the NBA this season. They are listed with an * before their name in the above list.
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