Many high school basketball players across the country dream of playing at a Division I school.
But, being able to play at a school with a rich sports history, such as the University of Memphis, is not enough for many players. They want to reach their ultimate goal: the NBA.
Currently, four former Tigers are playing in the NBA and three are playing overseas.
Most noteworthy among them is Derrick Rose, who played one season in Memphis under the coaching of John Calipari — but it was a memorable season. The Tigers reached the NCAA Championship game and lost in overtime to the Kansas Jayhawks. The 2007-08 season record was 38-2, but an NCAA investigation of Rose’s ineligibility left the team with an asterisk by their record in the history books.
The Chicago Bulls selected Rose with the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft. He won the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 2009 with averages of 16.8 points, 6.3 assists, and 3.9 rebounds per game.
Two years later, the Bulls finished the 2010-11 NBA regular season with the league’s best record at 62-20 and Rose won the league’s MVP award. Rose only played in 39 games for the Bulls in the 2011-12 season due to injuries. In game one of the playoffs that season, he suffered a torn ACL, which caused him to miss the rest of the playoffs and the entire 2012-13 season.
Rose looked to make his comeback in the 2013-14 season, but suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee ending his season just 10 games in.
Last season, Rose looked like he was getting his form back until February when he suffered another knee injury, which required more surgery. He missed 20 games, and returned to action just before the playoffs began, where the Bulls lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in six games.
Although suffering an orbital bone fracture in the preseason that required surgery, Rose is back this season – hoping to stay healthy and lead the Bulls back to the playoffs.
Tyreke Evans, who replaced Rose at the U of M, is currently a guard/forward for the New Orleans Pelicans. Evans was the fourth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Sacramento Kings. Evans’ best season came in his rookie year where he averaged 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Memphis became one of two colleges with back-to-back Rookies of the Year when Evans won the honor in the 2009-10 season.
However, Evans, like Rose, has suffered injuries throughout his career.
He missed 19 games in the 2010-11 season when he suffer from plantar fasciitis, and 16 games in 2012-13 when he injured his left knee. Evans was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans on July 2013. But, inconsistent play and injuries have continued to hurt the once promising talent.
Former Tigers Tarik Black and Will Barton played together under Memphis Basketball Coach Josh Pastner, but each had very different routes into the NBA.
Black, a native Memphian, played at the U of M from 2010 to 2013 and then at the University of Kansas in the 2013-14 season. He went undrafted in 2014, but played with the Houston Rockets NBA Summer League and later signed with them. The Rockets waived him on Dec. 26 after playing in 25 games. The Lakers claimed him off waivers on Dec. 28. He was assigned to the Lakers D-league Jan. 3, but that only lasted one day before he was recalled to Los Angeles. The Lakers resigned Black for the 2015-16 season.
Barton, who played in Memphis in the 2010-12 season, is currently playing with the Denver Nuggets. He led the Tigers in scoring with an average of 18 points and 8 rebounds and won Conference USA Player of the Year during his sophomore season.
After the 2012 season, the Portland Trailblazers drafted Barton with the 10th pick in the second round. He jumped from Portland to the Idaho Stampede of the NBA D-league several times before landing a permanent spot in Jan. 2013.
Last season, Barton was traded from Portland to the Denver Nuggets. He averaged his most points-per-game with 11 during 28 games with Denver. Barton resigned with Denver for the 2015-16 season.
Some former Tigers haven’t been lucky enough to get into the NBA, but are making a living playing professionally overseas in both Europe and Asia.
One of Rose’s teammates from the 2007-08 season, Joey Dorsey, played in 69 games for the Rockets in the 2014-15 season, averaging 2.7 points and 4.0 rebounds. He was traded to the Nuggets during the summer, but was later waived. On Aug. 29, Dorsey signed a one-year $650,000 contract with Galatasaray Liv Hospital of the Turkish Basketball League.
Native Memphians, Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson each went undrafted in 2014. They are both finding their ways overseas, but on different continents.
Crawford spent the 2014-15 season playing with the Cavaliers D-League team Canton Charge. He averaged 8.9 points and 3.4 assists in 49 games. On July 28, he signed with Rouen Metropole Basket of the French LNB Pro A.
Jackson played for the Suns D-league team Bakersfield Jam and averaged 13.9 points and 4.9 assists. In July, the Goyang Orion Orions in the Korean Basketball League drafted him as the fourteenth pick.
Four Tigers, who have bounced around the NBA and overseas in the past season, were all waived on Oct. 23, the last day of the NBA preseason.
Adonis Thomas spent his first two professional seasons bouncing around the NBA on 10-day contracts and in the D-League. In July, Thomas signed with the Detroit Pistons after averaging 8.6 points and 4 rebounds during five summer league games, but was waived after aggravating a calf injury.
D.J. Stephens, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Elliot Williams were cut by the Cavaliers, Pelicans and Hornets, respectively. Stephens spent the 2014-15 season playing for Zenit Saint Petersburg of Russia. CDR split time between the Clippers and Celtics, but only appeared in 12 games. During the 2014-15 season, Williams signed 10-day contracts with the Jazz and Hornets and twice with the Pelicans. He also spent much of the season playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the D-League.
Former Tigers' guard Tyreke Evans faces off against the Memphis Grizzlies during his stint with the Sacramento Kings.