For Those Who Never Made It | Wizards Blog Truth About

For Those Who Never Made It

Updated: February 16, 2011

The lead from a New York Times article published on April 15, 2005:

Five years ago, Andray Blatche was a laughingstock as a basketball player. Today he is considered a probable first-round draft choice in the National Basketball Association.

‘Late Bloomer Is Ready to Join N.B.A. Early’ by Mitch Abramson continues:

Blatche did not play organized basketball until he was in high school, and he was on the junior varsity until midway through his sophomore year at Henninger High in Syracuse.

Unlike wunderkinds like LeBron James and Sebastian Telfair, who were labeled prodigies almost from the moment they picked up a ball, Blatche failed miserably at first.

“He wasn’t very good as a ninth grader; I’ll be honest,” said Tom Atkins, his junior varsity coach. “He didn’t take adversity very well. He was pretty emotional, just a tall clumsy kid who didn’t know how to play the game yet – very raw.”

Sensing Blatche had talent but no direction, Atkins pulled him aside and worked with him after practice. Atkins saw quick results.

Blatche ended up being selected with the 19th pick, of the second round (49th overall) by the Wizards in the 2005 NBA Draft.

The whole article should be read, but this key excerpt makes you wonder, is Blatche the same struggling kid today, or must he go through a similar growth struggle at every level (including various levels within the NBA) and just needs a better life coach?

And you also wonder, why do talented guys like Blatche just happen to make it when others don’t? The answer lies deep within case-by-case studies and can never be painted with a broad brush. Although, it’s often easy to see what separates NBA champions from the rest, even though we can’t exactly describe that either.

This post is for those who didn’t make it. Recently, I asked several Washington Wizards — Andray Blatche, Hilton Armstrong, Trevor Booker, Al Thornton, Cartier Martin and Nick Young — who was the best player they came across in high school or college who never made it to the NBA. Talent comes and goes, but it’s not always forgotten.

Kyle Weidie on EmailKyle Weidie on GoogleKyle Weidie on InstagramKyle Weidie on LinkedinKyle Weidie on TwitterKyle Weidie on Youtube
Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.

  • ERIC

    articles like this are why I love this blog so stuff out there about the League, period.

    ps. Hilton Armstrong and Al Thornton were really nice and friendly for the Season Ticket-Holder Autograph session after the Bucks game earlier this month. Al gave me a shout out (we’re both Florida State grads) and that was very cool.

  • rick

    Blatche is another on the long list of players who came out too soon in the early 2000s. Much like Sabby Telfair, he has the physical gifts but lacks the basketball IQ and effort needed by most to reach their full potential. He’s certainly much better than Kwame, but he’s not gold gold either. Trade him for whatever he’s worth and surround Wall with better players

  • Jeremy

    Great article and video!

  • What is frustrating about Andray Blatche, even more than Telfair is he has nights where he looks unstoppable.

    He just plays with so much “I don’t give a crap” flair to his game.

  • Cool post. For me, growing up in Dallas, it’s got to be Bryan Hopkins. He was a McDonald’s All-American, played at the same high school as Chris Bosh.

    The crazy thing is that he was the bigger star all through HS; that Lincoln team went 40-0 and was the #1 team in the country. Was recruited all over the country, but went to SMU so that his twin brother Ryan could get a scholly too.

  • John

    Jason Fraser played for the Globetrotters in 09 as Apollo Fraser. There is still a facebook for Apollo but I’m not sure if it’s the same guy.

  • JJ

    I think a big reason why Fraser never made it was because of injuries. He had multiple surgeries on both knees almost every year he was at Villanova and played with an enormous knee brace. He also fractured his foot one time too. He never had the chance to play to his high school