Ranking the 5 biggest Texas basketball NBA Draft busts of all-time

Texas has a few dozen players in program history who have played at least one NBA game.
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Only a small group of top-tier college hoops programs have more active NBA players than Texas basketball as of the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. Texas is one of just 10 programs with a double-digit number of active NBA players this year.

Texas basketball's long list of NBA Draft picks has its ups and downs in program history

Texas is tied with the Arizona Wildcats, Villanova Wildcats, and Gonzaga Bulldogs for the seventh-most players in the NBA currently with 10 each.

The lengthy list of NBA standouts Texas has produced includes some of the top stars in the last decade in the pros. Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Jarrett Allen have all been selected to All-Star teams in the NBA in the last decade among Texas Exes.

Tristan Thompson, P.J. Tucker, and Durant have also won rings within the last decade from Texas.

It's clear that the Longhorns have recruited and developed talent at one of the highest levels of any college hoops program in the nation in the last decade, and even before that. Texas's 40 players who have played in multiple NBA games in the history of the league ranks in the top 20 among college programs.

With the successes of Texas Exes in the NBA in the last few decades have also meant shortcomings were likely from various careers in the pros. Here's a look at five of the biggest Texas NBA Draft busts of all-time.

SF. No. 24 pick in 2010 NBA Draft. Damion James. Damion James. player. . Damion James. . 125. 5

Small forward Damion James had one of the most decorated four-year careers in the last two decades for the Longhorns basketball program. As a three-time All-Big 12 selection and a Wooden Award semifinalist in the 2009-10 season, James was a major contributor to Texas teams that won NCAA Tournament games in three of his four years on campus.

He was an instrumental part of the 2007-08 Texas team that made it to the Elite Eight and won the Big 12 regular season title alongside All-American point guard DJ Augustin. James also played with future NBA stars and veterans at Texas, like Durant, Augustin, and Avery Bradley, between 2006 and 2010.

After averaging an insane 18 points per game and 10 rebounds during his senior campaign when he was a Wooden Award semifinalist, James was selected 24th overall in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He was traded on draft night 2010 by the Hawks to the New Jersey Nets for a package that included guard Jordan Crawford.

A combination of persistent injury issues and a lack of opportunities for meaningful minutes in the Nets backcourt rotation on some bad teams in the early 2010s in New Jersey limited James' upside in early in his NBA career.

After floating between the NBA and the D-League for the first couple of years of his career, James, unfortunately, suffered a major setback when he missed the rest of 2012 due to a foot procedure from a lingering foot injury.

In the couple of years following his foot injury, James only played a handful of games in 2013 and 2014 with the Nets and San Antonio Spurs. He at least did get a championship ring with the Spurs title team for the 2013-14 season after playing five games with the organization (one of which he started).

If not for a string of unfortunate lower-body injury issues, James likely could've had a decent NBA career in the 2010s. Forwards who can score, rebound, and defend at his level are usually valued in the NBA. But he was never able to get settled with one team or organization for long enough to make a sustained impact in the league.