What Went Wrong with These Can't-Miss Stars

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2013

What Went Wrong with These Can't-Miss Stars

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    As sports fans, we often get fed a ton of different analysis and stats from an athlete who is a so-called, "can't-miss star" in the making.

    But as we've seen from various players, they don't always have the wherewithal to necessarily live up to all of the praise.

    For every LeBron James, Bryce Harper and Andrew Luck, there are hundreds of guys like Darko Milicic, Mark Prior and JaMarcus Russell, who failed to live up to the hype many gave them.

    And these are just a few of those "stars" who weren't able to succeed—hopefully I don't bring back any bad memories.

Charles Rogers

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    As one of the most accomplished wide receivers in college football history, former Michigan State Spartan Charles Rogers had scouts drooling with his combo of size, speed and strength before the 2003 NFL Draft.

    The Detroit Lions took the freak wideout No. 2 overall, expecting him to be what current receiver Calvin Johnson is to the team now—unstoppable.

    Unfortunately, Rogers played just 15 career games, posting terrible career numbers—36 receptions, 440 yards and four touchdowns—in three seasons.

    What Happened? He was suspended for off-the-field problems more than he was standing in the end zone, ultimately leading to his release from the Lions in 2006.

    Though he failed to catch many footballs, he has proven to continue to catch a lot of trouble with the cops, collecting another warrant as recently as three months ago.

    Shining Moment: Starring in this Madden '03 commercial as a featured rookie.

Rick DiPietro

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    Poor former NHL goaltender Rick DiPietro has the distinction of not only failing as a former No. 1 pick, but also falling flat on his face following a record-setting contract, too.

    With a career NHL record of 130-136-8 and a 2.87 GAA, DiPietro failed to live up to the expectations that a top pick carries, and has since found himself on hard times.

    What Happened? He just lost whatever mojo he had that earned him the recognition of being the top overall selection in the first place back in 2000.

    Winning just an astonishing 72 games in the seven years since signing his record deal, the Islanders realized they weren't getting the return on their investment, and released their former starting net-minder last season, eating the remainder of his contract.

    DiPietro is currently still trying to latch on with some team, anywhere, even being released by the AHL's Charlotte Checkers last season.

    Shining Moment: The record, 15-year, $67.5 million deal he signed prior to the 2006 season.

Elijah Dukes

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    A four-sport star in high school, Elijah Dukes had insane athleticism that led him to get a scholarship to play football at North Carolina State.

    Dukes bypassed the opportunity after being drafted in the third round of the 2002 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, and jettisoned his way through the minors, even jacking two homers in his first ever MLB game—making the bar raise just a little bit higher.

    What Happened? It's pretty difficult to become a star on a baseball field—or any sport—when a guy continually gets arrested.

    That was the problem for Dukes, as he found himself getting busted more times than he needed to, ultimately leading to his release from the Washington Nationals in 2010, with career numbers of 31 homers, 123 RBI and a .242 average.

    Dukes currently just got arrested, again, after violating his probation from one of his previous arrests.

    Shining Moment: Hitting two home runs in his major league debut.

Chris Leak

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    Featured on the cover of USA Today and profiled on ESPN, former Florida Gator signal-caller Chris Leak had the squeaky clean image and game that made him one of the top recruits in the country back in 2003.

    Hell, the guy even received a scholarship offer from Wake Forest in eighth grade because he was so wanted.

    What Happened? He just never got an opportunity—though, honestly, he probably just lacked the necessary skills to make it in the NFL.

    Standing just 6'1", Leak was never to overcome the height deficiency or lack of arm strength that guys like Drew Brees and Russell Wilson have overcome.

    A four-year starter with the Gators, his football knowledge has led him to a current role as a Quality Control coach with the school.

    Shining Moment: Being the starting quarterback of the 2006 Florida Gators national title team.

Patrik Stefan

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    As the first overall pick in the 1999 NHL Draft, Patrik Stefan was looked at as the savior for the Atlanta Thrashers—yet all he ended up being was a complete bust.

    What Happened? Well for starters, how about him missing an empty-netter that resulted in the opposing team scoring to send a game to overtime?

    If that's not enough, than, like most other players on this list, Stefan's inconsistency led to his demise, as he played eight NHL seasons, totaling 188 points and scoring just 64 career goals.

    He is currently retired, as he called it quits from the NHL in 2007.

    Shining Moment: Being the first overall pick in 1999.

Daisuke Matsuzaka

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    With a posting fee of $51.1 million to even negotiate with the pitching ace from Japan, the Boston Red Sox had hoped that Daisuke Matsuzaka would give them more than just a few good years.

    He was arguably the most publicized player to come from the Japanese League when he made the leap to the Big Leagues in 2007.

    What Happened? Inconsistency and injuries—two things no pitcher ever wants to have happen.

    After coming out of the gates and compiling a 33-15 record and a 3.65 ERA his first two years combined, "Dice-K" has slipped considerably.

    Making just 56 starts in the next four seasons in Boston, Matsuzaka appeared lost on the hill, actually getting demoted to a bullpen role.

    He managed to catch on with the New York Mets in 2013, going 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA, but at 33, it's safe to say his best years are behind him.

    Shining Moment: Starting—and winning—Game 3 of the 2007 World Series to help win a championship for the Red Sox.

O.J. Mayo

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    It's not that O.J. Mayo has been a bust—as he has proven to be a more than solid role player since entering the league.

    But seeing how he was both hyped more than the normal high school baller was while still back at Huntington Prep, along with the fanfare that went with him during his only year at Southern Cal, it's safe to say that the No. 3 pick in the 2008 draft hasn't become the dual-threat, All-Star many thought he'd be.

    What Happened? I'm not really sure what has gone wrong with Mayo's NBA career thus far, because he has the skills to put up solid stats.

    It could be that he has yet to find a real home—playing for three teams in six years—as well as struggling with a specific role.

    He's not a star, but he's not a bust, either, as a team could do a hell of a lot worse than having this guy play third tomato on a playoff team—he just hasn't found himself in that position yet.

    Mayo is currently playing for the Milwaukee Bucks, enjoying a decent season thus far.

    Shining Moment: Being named to the All-Rookie team following his first year.

Mitch Mustain

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    As the No. 1-rated quarterback in the class of 2006 after earning a number of high school All-American awards and the PARADE magazine Player of the Year that same year, Mitch Mustain seemed to have all the goods not only a high-profile college would want, but, at some point, an NFL team does as well.

    What Happened? He just couldn't make up his mind.

    After playing for current Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn in high school, Mustain followed the offensive guru to Arkansas for his freshman season in Fayetteville.

    He was able to start a few games—playing alongside future NFL running backs Darren McFadden, Felix Jones and Peyton Hillis—but decided to transfer to Southern Cal following the resignation of Malzahn.

    At SC, life wasn't as easy, as he was forced to compete with other top recruits, and slipping in confidence, as well as on the depth chart, tossing just 16 passes for the Trojans.

    He is currently playing in the Arena Football League for the San Jose SaberCats.

    Shining Moment: Earning every national player of the year award his senior year in high school.

Michelle Wie

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    Essentially dubbed the female version of Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie would have trouble even caddying for Tiger seeing how her career has played out thus far.

    Still just 24 years old, Wie could potentially turn herself into something of a player on the LPGA tour, yet I'd be against the resurrection of her career.

    What Happened? To be blunt—she just couldn't win.

    Try as she might, Wie only has two pro wins after playing on tour for nearly a decade, and has yet to win a Major title—though she has a top-3 finish in all four of the events.

    For a golfer who had hoped to have the influence that Woods had on the women's game, earning lucrative deals with Nike and Sony, her career has been a disappointment—though she did earn her degree from Stanford University, so that's something to be proud of.

    Shining Moment: Becoming the youngest golfer—age 10—to ever qualify for the USGA Amateur Championship.

Kellen Winslow Jr.

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    When a team trades a few picks to move up just one slot to grab the son of a Hall of Fame tight end—as the Cleveland Browns did in 2004 to draft Kellen Winslow Jr.—that franchise is putting a lot of faith in that player.

    Sadly, Winslow couldn't be trusted, as he injured himself his rookie season while performing motorcycle tricks in a vacant parking lot, costing him his entire rookie season, along with subsequent seasons after from the lasting effects.

    What Happened? Besides the aforementioned motorcycle accident, K2 could just never return to full health, making what could have been a career in the same footprint of his dad, on halt.

    Winslow has bounced around with a few different teams since entering the league, running his mouth as if he's still the player he used to be, while setting high expectations for himself at the same time.

    He is currently playing for the New York Jets.

    Shining Moment: His 2007 season with the Browns, recording 82 catches, 1,106 yards, five touchdowns and earning his only Pro Bowl visit—or his "soldier" rant.

Matt Bush

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    Assuming you have a heart, I'd hope that you have some sympathy for the sad case of former No. 1 overall pick, Matt Bush.

    Drafted by his hometown San Diego Padres in 2004, Bush was a stud shortstop and pitcher—choosing the middle infield—during his high school days at Mission Bay, and received the second-largest signing bonus ever given to a Padres draft pick, inking a $3.15 million deal.

    What Happened? Before the ink had even dried on the contract San Diego tossed his way, Bush was in trouble with the law, getting arrested for fighting security while getting kicked out of a club.

    A few years later, he was released following an incident caught on film when he beat up a high school lacrosse player with a golf club—ultimately leading to his release from the Padres.

    He has since been arrested a few other times for DUI and is currently in prison because he has seemed to deem himself unfit for society.

    Shining Moment: Sadly, just being the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft.

Sebastian Telfair

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    For a few of the younger readers out there, the name Sebastian Telfair might not even mean a single thing to you.

    But for anyone in their mid-20s, I'm sure his name is synonymous with being a major bust.

    Hyped more than guys like John Wall and Derrick Rose in high school, the point guard not only appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, but he became the first point guard to jump from high school to the pros, getting drafted No. 13 overall by the Portland Trailblazers in the 2004 draft.

    What Happened? Seemingly the perfect storm of a bad system, a disgruntled, entitled attitude and a lack of drive, Telfair showed some glimpses of what he could be by having a few big games in the Association, but never found the consistency to become the All-Star many projected him to be.

    In his nine seasons in the NBA, he played for seven teams, averaged 7.4 points and 3.5 assists, and is currently playing in China with the Tianjin Ronggang Golden Lions.

    Shining Moment: Becoming the first eighth grader to be invited to participate in the esteemed Adidas ABCD basketball camp—and snagging that SI cover.

Vince Young

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    To put it frank—while in college, Vince Young may have made a case to be the best quarterback to ever play in the 2000s.

    That might be extremely high-praise for a guy who didn't work out in the NFL, but for anyone who watched him at the University of Texas, they understand why he tossed his name in the argument.

    Drafted No. 3 overall in the quarterback-heavy 2006 draft by the Tennessee Titans, Young had some solid seasons in Nashville, but has ultimately lacked the focus to become as great as he could have been.

    What Happened? Not that it had much to do with his play on the field—though it did show his lack of maturity and priorities—Young reportedly spent as much as $5,000/week at the Cheesecake Factory, as per USA Today.

    When he wasn't dropping dough like crazy, he was clashing with his then coach, Jeff Fisher, even going as far as getting the cops called on him for fear of his safety after being benched due to injury.

    Though he bounced around to some other teams, Young is currently a free agent.

    Shining Moment: Besides winning the national title game at Texas in 2006—and earning the game's MVP—he did capture the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in his first season.

Freddy Adu

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    Looked at as the savior and the kick—pun intended—that the sport of soccer needed in the United States, Freddy Adu signed his first pro contract at the ripe young age of 14, joining the MLS' D.C. United back in 2004.

    What Happened? It might be hard to call a current 24-year-old soccer player over-the-hill, but for Adu, I think it's the only way to describe his career thus far.

    He has bounced from the MLS to Europe, back to the States and now Brazil, lacking any semblance of the player every pundit had believed he would become.

    To be honest, his biggest impact on U.S. soccer has been negative—as people still wonder if and when he'll ever even become a regular on the national team.

    He currently plays for Brazilian club team, Bahia.

    Shining Moment: Becoming the youngest player—age 14—to score a goal in an MLS match.

Darko Milicic

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    In the history of overhyped athletes, does it get any worse than Darko Milicic?

    Coming into the league as an in-demand prospect from Serbia, the guy not only became a part of the greatest NBA draft class in the past couple decades—and, arguably, ever—but he heard his name called before the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

    What Happened? A lack of maturity in his transition to the United States was a pretty difficult one, as he found himself riding the pine for a title-contending team.

    Lacking the consistency or work ethic to get on the court with more consistency, Darko earned the nickname, "The Human Victory Cigar" for his limited playing time coming during blowouts in which the score was all but locked up.

    He is currently out of the league and playing overseas.

    Shining Moment: Being a member of the 2004 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons.