The List: Biggest phenom flops
While phenoms like LeBron James and Sidney Crosby have lived up to the hype, others have met the cruel reality of professional sports: It's not always a sure thing. Some of the top phenoms who failed to reach star status:
1. Todd Van Poppel
The Atlanta Braves wanted to draft him No. 1 overall in 1990, but were wary of the bonus demands of a pitcher many scouts called the best high school prospect they'd ever seen. (Atlanta instead drafted Chipper Jones.) As for Van Poppel, he was drafted by Oakland, and Baseball America rated him the best prospect in 1991, second-best in 1992, seventh-best in 1993 see the trend there?
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2. David Clyde
The Texas Rangers drafted the Texas schoolboy legend (five no-hitters his senior year) with the first pick in the 1973 draft and, desperate for an attendance boost, promoted him straight to the majors. Clyde won his debut before 37,000 fans and remained in the rotation the rest of the year, but his major league career was over by 1979, with just 18 wins.
3. Todd Marinovich
Trained from birth to be a quarterback by his father, Marv (a former lineman with the Oakland Raiders), Marinovich was the 1987 USA Today Offensive Player of the Year. After a lackluster college career at USC, the Raiders made him a surprise first-round pick in 1991, but he was out of the NFL after two years after failing a drug test, and in 2001 pleaded no contest to heroin possession.
4. Sebastian Telfair
When there is a documentary made about you while you're still in high school, your coronation to awesomeness should be a sure thing. Portland drafted him 13th overall in the first round in 2004, and Telfair is now a role player with Minnesota, averaging 9.3 points per game while shooting just 36.7 percent from the field.
5. Marcus Dupree
Dupree was such a highly recruited running back out of Philadelphia, Miss., that novelist Willie Morris wrote a book called "The Courtship of Marcus Dupree," published in 1983. Dupree had an impressive freshman year with Oklahoma in 1982, running for 239 yards in the Fiesta Bowl, but a rift with coach Barry Switzer made him leave school. He eventually joined the USFL, but knee injuries soon ended his career.
6. Darko Milicic
How does a player get drafted ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade? Because of hype. The Serbian Sensation is in his sixth season in the NBA and has started only 98 games. He has, however, made nearly $30 million in salary.
7. Chris Washburn
He was a 7-foot man-child who was supposed to lead North Carolina State to another hoops title in the mid-'80s, but was caught stealing a stereo, rarely (if ever) attended class, and left early for the NBA. His talent made him the third pick in the draft by the Golden State Warriors, but he was out of the league in three years following three positive drug tests.
8. Brien Taylor
The third pitcher to make our list (it's a risky profession), Taylor was the first overall pick by the Yankees in 1991, and signed with a $1.55 million bonus -- even though the previous bonus high had been $575,000. Taylor appeared to be living up to his potential as a flamethrowing left-hander until injuring his shoulder in a fight. He never reached the majors.
9. Ron Powlus
Sometimes the hype machine is unfair to the player. The USA Today Offensive Player of the Year while at Berwick (Pa.) High School, Powlus was predicted by one pundit to win three Heisman Trophies while quarterbacking Notre Dame. The expectations may have been unfair, and Powlus did start 46 games at Notre Dame and threw for over 7,000 yards, but he never came close to achieving Heisman status.
10. Alexandre Daigle
He broke some of Mario Lemieux's scoring records in juniors and was hailed as, well, the next Lemieux when Ottawa made him the first pick in the 1993 draft. But he never tallied more than 51 points in a season, and eventually played himself out of the NHL.
Editor's Note: This list originally ran on Dec. 12, 2002.