Missouri Basketball: Ranking the Tigers' All-Time Best NBA Players

Corey Rudd@CoreyRuddContributor IIIDecember 7, 2012

Missouri Basketball: Ranking the Tigers' All-Time Best NBA Players

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    The Missouri Tigers basketball program is one that is rich in tradition.  

    Going back to the good ol' days of legendary coach Norm Stewart, Mizzou has consistently put a high-quality team on the floor with a bevy of talented players.  

    As current head coach Frank Haith looks to prepare Mizzou to compete with the likes of Kentucky and Florida in the SEC, he will need to recruit players capable of developing into future NBA stars. 

    Mizzou's current roster has at least two NBA prospects in Phil Pressey and Alex Oriakhi. 

    But who have been the best former Tigers to play in the NBA? Whose footsteps will Pressey and Oriakhi follow?

    Here is a look at the 10 best players to wear the Mizzou uniform and compete in the NBA. 

10. Kim English

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    Kim English is the most recent Mizzou player to make it to the NBA.  

    After helping lead Missouri to a 30-win season in 2011-12, English was selected in the second round of the NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons this past spring. 

    Though early in his career, English has exceeded expectations thus far with the Pistons.  

    Thought of as a long shot to make the Pistons roster, English is averaging 3.2 points per game in 10 games with Detroit this season. 

    English figures to stick around in the NBA for awhile thanks to his 6'6'' frame and his ability to shoot from the outside.  

    English left Mizzou as the school's 13th leading scorer of all time, averaging 11.1 points per game during his four-year career. He was a fan favorite because of his charismatic personality off the floor and his ability to make outstanding plays on it.

9. DeMarre Carroll

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    DeMarre Carroll has bounced around already in his short NBA career, but has settled in with the Utah Jazz this season as a valuable member of the bench.

    Carroll came to Mizzou as a transfer from Vanderbilt in 2007 in order to play for his uncle, former Missouri coach Mike Anderson. During his time at Mizzou, Carroll was named Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year in 2007-08 and the Big 12 Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2009. 

    Known as the "Junkyard Dog" to Mizzou fans for his aggressive nature on the offensive glass, Carroll has brought that same attitude with him to the NBA. 

    Drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, Carroll has found a home in Utah after playing for the Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets.

    In three seasons, Carroll has appeared in 122 games and averaged 3.4 points per game.  

    Carroll is currently having the best season of his young career, averaging over 17 minutes and 5.8 points per game with the Jazz.

    His motor, size, speed and grit should allow him to continue his NBA career for years to come. 

8. Derrick Chievous

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    Derrick Chievous, who was a Mizzou forward in the late 1980s, had a solid three-year NBA career after being drafted by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the NBA draft in 1988.

    Chievous averaged 9.3 points in 81 games played with the Rockets during his rookie campaign.  

    The 6'7'' forward also played with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his brief NBA career. Chievous also spent a few seasons in the CBA. 

    To this day, Chievous is Mizzou's all-time leading scorer. He poured in 2,580 points during his four-year career in Columbia and averaged an impressive 19.9 points per game. 

    Chievous also helped lead Mizzou to Big 8 regular-season and conference tournament titles during his career and was recently inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame located in Springfield, Mo. 

7. Kareem Rush

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    During his time at Mizzou, forward Kareem Rush displayed an ability to score from anywhere on the court thanks to his silky smooth left-handed stroke from the outside. 

    Rush carried that stroke with him to the NBA. He was drafted in the first round of the 2002 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors. Rush never played a game for the Raptors because he was quickly traded to the Los Angeles Lakers and played with stars Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant.

    Rush bounced around a lot during his NBA career, which ended in 2010. The small forward has struggled to land on an NBA roster since and is currently playing in the NBA D-League.

    Rush spent time with the Lakers, Charlotte Bobcats, Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Clippers during his seven-year NBA career. 

    Rush's best season was in 2007-08 with the Pacers. Rush played in 71 games for Indiana, averaging 8.3 points per game while serving as an outside threat off the bench. 

    Rush played just two seasons while at Mizzou, and as a sophomore, led the Big 12 in scoring, averaging 21.1 points per game for the Tigers. 

    Despite playing just two seasons in Columbia, Rush is fifth all-time in three-pointers made with 226 in his career. Rush is considered one of the best long-range shooters in the school's history.

6. Jon Sundvold

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    Speaking of outside shooters, former Mizzou guard Jon Sundvold was an absolute assassin from the outside.  

    Sundvold was a first-round pick of the Seattle Supersonics in the 1983 draft after helping the Tigers to four consecutive Big 8 Conference titles. 

    Sundvold played nine seasons in the NBA, playing for the Supersonics, San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat. 

    After playing his entire collegiate career without a three-point stripe, Sundvold became a specialist during his NBA career and shot 52.2 percent from behind the arc during the 1988-89 season with the Heat.

    His best season came in the 1986-87 season when he started 42 games for the San Antonio Spurs and averaged 11.2 points per game. 

    Sundvold's college career in Columbia has made him a Mizzou legend. The guard from Blue Springs, Mo., is 11th in school history with 1,597 career points.  

    One can only imagine how many points Sundvold would have scored if there was a three-point line during his time as a Tiger. 

    Sundvold now serves as a college basketball color analyst, specializing in Big 12 games and can often be found doing Mizzou nonconference games for local television. 

5. Keyon Dooling

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    Former Mizzou point guard Keyon Dooling spent only two seasons in a Tigers uniform before bolting for the NBA. 

    The point guard from Florida was having a very successful NBA career before cutting his playing days short. Dooling retired from the NBA before this season, citing personal issues that stem from past abuse. 

    Dooling was the 10th overall pick of the 2000 NBA Draft and played 12 solid seasons in the NBA with several franchises. 

    Dooling spent most of his career as a very solid reserve. He started only 86 of the 721 games he played in the NBA.  

    Dooling averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists per game during his career. He was best known for his flexibility and versatility and was often asked to fill-in at both the point and shooting guard positions. 

    An explosive scorer during his days at Mizzou, Dooling was a solid NBA defender that could be counted on in many capacities.  

4. Linas Kleiza

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    Toronto Raptors power forward Linas Kleiza played at Mizzou under Quinn Snyder and has become a very good NBA player.  

    After two outstanding seasons in Columbia, Kleiza was drafted late in the first round of the 2005 NBA Draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. 

    Kleiza never played a game with the Trail Blazers, as he was sent to the Denver Nuggets in a draft-day deal. 

    Kleiza has played seven seasons in the NBA with the Nuggets and most recently the Raptors. He has averaged 8.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as a very good reserve. 

    While Kleiza is a decent NBA reserve, he stars as a member of the feisty Lithuania national team. 

    Kleiza put together an incredible performance against Team USA in the 2012 London Olympic Games, scoring 25 points against the Americans while nearly leading Lithuania to a thrilling upset win. 

3. Steve Stipanovich

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    Possibly the most talented post-player in Mizzou's illustrious history, St. Louis native Steve Stipanovich played just five seasons in the NBA.

    While his NBA career was short, Stipanovich was a force to be reckoned with during his days with the Indiana Pacers.

    After the Pacers selected Stipanovich second overall in the 1983 NBA Draft, the 6'11" center averaged 15.2 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game during his career. 

    Stipanovich's career was cut short due to chronic knee problems, but the man could dominate the paint with the best of them.  

    If Stipanovich would have been able to play longer, he easily would have ranked higher on this list.

    Stipanovich was a star during his time at Mizzou as well, partnering with Sunvold to lead the Tigers to four consecutive Big 8 regular-season and tournament championships. 

    Stipanovich is Mizzou's fourth all-time leading scorer. The big man netted 1,836 points during his four-year career. Stipanovich, who was named a first team All-American during his senior season, also ranks third all-time in rebounds and second in school history in blocked shots. 

    Stipanovich currently lives in the St. Louis area and is in his third season as the head girls' basketball coach at Westminster High School. 

2. Larry Drew

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    Larry Drew is currently in his third season as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks. Before he started his coaching career, Drew starred at Mizzou and had himself a solid NBA career as well. 

    Drew played 10 seasons in the NBA, averaging 11.2 points, 5.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game while playing for the Detroit Pistons, Kansas City and Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. 

    The Kansas City, Mo., native was the 17th pick in the 1980 NBA Draft, and his best year came during his third season in the NBA when he averaged 20.1 points and 8.1 assists per game for the Kings. 

    Drew is third all-time in school history with 433 assists and scored 1,401 points in his Mizzou career.  

    Drew's ranking is partly aided by his success as an NBA coach thus far as he has led the Hawks to the playoffs during each of his first two seasons on the bench. 

1. Anthony Peeler

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    Anthony Peeler left Mizzou as one of the most heralded players in school history and went on to have a long and successful NBA career.  

    After being selected 15th overall in the 1992 NBA Draft, Peeler played 13 seasons in the NBA, wearing multiple uniforms.  Peeler spent time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Vancouver Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards during his very good NBA career. 

    The guard averaged just 9.7 points per game during the extent of his NBA career, but had multiple high-quality seasons. 

    In his second season while playing with the Lakers, Peeler averaged 14.1 points in 30 games. 

    After four seasons with the Lakers, Peeler moved on to Vancouver and averaged 14.5 points per game while starting 57 of 72 games played for the Grizzlies. 

    Overall, Peeler averaged more than 10 points per game seven different times while spending most of his time as a reserve that could make plays and knock down shots from the outside.  

    Peeler, when healthy, was one of the best sixth men of his time.

    All of this came after an outstanding career at Mizzou.  

    Peeler is third all-time in points scored in Mizzou history with 1,970 points and is currently the school record holder in steals and assists. 

    The former 1992 Big 8 Conference Player of the Year may not have been an NBA All-Star, but he is the best NBA player Mizzou has ever had wear the black and gold. 

Conclusion: Frank Haith Must Find More NBA Talent

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    In all, Mizzou has not really had an NBA star wear a Tigers' uniform, but the school has produced a number of high-quality NBA players throughout its history. 

    If Haith wants to compete with Kentucky coach John Calipari on the court and on the recruiting trail, he must find talent that can not only play within his system, but can also move on to star in the NBA at some point.  

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