Here are just a few winners of this prestigious award: Alonzo Mourning, Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett, Jonathan Bender, Lebron James, Dwight Howard, Kevin Durant, and Tyreke Evans.
You can see that a couple are HOF bound, while the others are well on their way to making a name for themselves in the NBA. However, stuck right in between KG and Prince James is the recipient of the 1999 McDonald's All-American MVP award: Mr. Jonathan Bender.
Before the draft, Mr. Bender was compared to Kevin Garnett because of his athleticism, size, and all around game. He ended up being drafted with the 5th pick in the 1999 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors, who immediately shipped him off to Indiana for veteran forward Antonio Davis.
Right out of the gate, Mr. Bender became the first high school draftee to score double digits in his first game. In 2001, he participated in the NBA Slam Dunk contest, but didn't qualify for the finals. He played 237 games over a 7 year span for the Pacers. Unfortunately knee injuries forced him to retire.
He made a short comeback last season with the New York Knicks. During this short stint, he played 25 games, averaging 4.7 ppg. In the end, Mr. Bender only started a total of 28 games in his career, while averaging a miniscule 5.5 ppg/3.3 rpg/0.6 apg.
If you type "NBA draft busts of all-time" into Google, you'll find several lists with Jonathan Bender's name on it. Back in 1999, I was really into basketball cards... and I bought a ton of his stuff. Here... take a little peek at my purchases (which I'm sure I paid top $ for):
On the court, he may have been a huge draft bust. However off the court, it's a different story. In 2006, he established the Jonathan Bender Foundation to empower the children in his community after the suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina.
Okay... now for today's question of the day: Do you think anyone from the 1999 NBA Draft will make it into the NBA HOF?
After checking out the 1999 NBA draft, I noticed that there are a lot of GOOD players, but there aren't aren't any GREAT players. Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Shawn Marion, Baron Davis, Manu Ginobili, Ron Artest, Richard Hamilton, and Lamar Odom were all drafted that year. Can you see any of these guys in the HOF?
Well everyone... have a great week.