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NCAA Basketball March Madness

The 10 Greatest NBA Players to Never Play in the NCAA Tournament

NCAA Tournament: 10 Greatest Players Who Missed It

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The NCAA Tournament is the apex of college basketball, but in this era of players having gone straight from high school to the NBA or coming to the NBA from Europe, there are many great NBA players past and present who never played in the Big Dance. One can imagine what LeBron James (Ohio State) or Kobe Bryant (Duke) might have done in March Madness, but they are part of these, the 10 greatest NBA players never to play in the NCAA Tournament.

10. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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10. Tony Parker, San Antonio Spurs

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Born in Belgium, Parker never played college basketball in the United States. But he is a six-time All-Star and has been a fixture for the Spurs over the last 13 years.

9. George Gervin, San Antonio Spurs

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9. George Gervin, San Antonio Spurs

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The "Ice Man" could finger roll, but he never played in the Division I NCAA Tournament. The Detroit native attended Eastern Michigan in the early 1970s when the school was in Division II. Gervin is a Hall of Famer who scored 26,595 career points.

8. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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8. Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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With his low-post height and his three-point range, Nowitzki has revolutionized the forward position in the NBA. But he never played college basketball. Nowitzki grew up in Germany, was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, and -- get this -- was traded to Dallas for Robert Traylor. Oops.

7. Moses Malone, Multiple Teams

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7. Moses Malone, Multiple Teams

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Malone, a 12-time NBA All-Star who played for a combination of nine ABA and NBA teams, is most famous for being part of the 1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers team that won the league title. Malone went to Petersburg High School in Virginia and then straight to the ABA. Malone averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per game in his NBA career.

6. Kevin Garnett, Mulitple Teams

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6. Kevin Garnett, Multiple Teams

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A veteran of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Boston Celtics and now the Brooklyn Nets, Garnett came straight out of Chicago's Farragut Academy and into the NBA, skipping college. It proved to be the right decision as Garnett is a 15-time NBA All-Star and won a championship with Boston in 2008.

5. Dennis Rodman, Multiple Teams

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5. Dennis Rodman, Multiple Teams

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Now known for Rodman Diplomacy in North Korea, Rodman was once the NBA's best rebounder in Chicago and Detroit, later playing for San Antonio, the L.A. Lakers and Dallas. Rodman won a handful of NBA titles, but he played college ball at Southeast Oklahoma, which wasn't in Division I.

4. Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers

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4. Julius Erving, Philadelphia 76ers

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The good doctor played his college ball at Massachusetts where he averaged an insane 32 points and 20 rebounds per game in his career. But UMass never made the NCAA Tournament while Dr. J was there. Erving went on to a legendary pro career both in the ABA and NBA anyway.

3. Pistol Pete Maravich, Multiple Teams

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3. Pistol Pete Maravich, Multiple Teams

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Maravich was one of the legends of the game, especially for what he did in college while at LSU. There, he averaged 44 points per game for his career without the benefit of a three-point line. But in a day when only conference champions made the NCAA Tournament, LSU never got over the hump and Pistol Pete never appeared in the Big Dance.

2. LeBron James, Miami Heat & Cleveland Cavaliers

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2. LeBron James, Miami Heat & Cleveland Cavaliers

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James is likely the best player in the NBA right now, and he didn't need any college to achieve that. James came into the NBA out of high school in Ohio, playing for the Cavaliers before taking his talents to South Beach where he's won two NBA championships. Ohio State lost the national final in 2007, in what would have been James' senior year.

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers

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Though he is hurt right now and the Lakers have cratered in the standings, Bryant is the greatest player never to appear in an NCAA Tournament. Like James, Malone and Garnett, Bryant never played in college, instead being drafted out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets and then immediately being traded to Los Angeles. Bryant has won five NBA titles in L.A.