After writing an article focusing on the biggest draft busts to come out of UConn, we decided to turn things around and look from a positive standpoint. This is about the three biggest success stories of players that once stepped foot in Gampel Pavilion, and used that experience to get themselves into the NBA. Even just by entering Gampel Pavilion you can see who UConn has produced, and will keep producing some high level talent whether its the four championship banners hanging down from the rafters or the many names hanging of the Huskies Wall of Honor. UConn has produced many big names that have made it and flourished in the big leagues meaning lowering this list to just three was difficult, but we tried to pick the three we best felt suited this description.
No UConn player has come close to the type of success Ray Allen has achieved. Recruited by Karl Hobbs and Jim Calhoun, Ray took Connecticut by storm. During his 3 year career at UConn he scored over 1900 points and won Big East player of the Year award. That was only the start for Allen, after his junior year he entered the 1996 draft, he was drafted 5th by the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was the start of something special. Although currently not on a roster, Ray Allen is still a very prominent name.You could refer to him as a two time champion, winning one in 2008 alongside Paul Pierce or in 2013 alongside Lebron James. You could call him one of the best three-point shooters if not the best. Steph Curry makes a case but either way, no matter what you call him it all started at UConn. Without his experience and all took away from his time at Storrs, who knows what could have happened. He has played for 4 NBA teams averaging just under 20ppg for his career. That is more than many current players can say. No matter how you look at it Ray has achieved some pretty phenomenal things in his life and is extremely successful. Oh, and did i mention he hit one of the greatest, most clutch shots in NBA finals history?
Whenever you think of Kemba Walker you imagine plays from that miraculous NCAA tournament run, which ended with him cutting the nets. You may also recall having a terrific season at UConn, or probably the most thought of moment, when he hit one of the dirtiest step backs of all time in the Big East Tournament, sealing a Huskies win versus the number three team in the country. If you back track a little, Kemba didn't always have it so great. A small kid from the Bronx had his doubters with many saying he was too small to achieve anything. After two mediocre seasons at UConn he knew he had to change things up if he wanted to make it to the big time, and that is exactly what he did. He took a team of freshman and sophomores and turned them into a winner by practically taking the whole university on his shoulders and pushing them through the season. He averaging close to 24ppg and won nearly every award. Although Kemba did get ripped off for the supreme award, the Player of the Year award (yes, still a little salty about it). Whatever went down at UConn shaped him into the man he is now, and set him up for a successful NBA career, something he is certainly taking advantage of. After being selected 9th in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Hornets he hoped to become the franchise point guard. He has become exactly that, flourishing and becoming a top 10 point guard in the NBA right now. It all began at UConn, proving going to Storrs can lead to to great success in life.
Very few people have seen/believe the life story and turnaround Caron Butler had. This includes going from drug dealer and often getting arrested in his teen years, to a solid, off the bench rotation player in the NBA since 2002. A troubled childhood which included stealing and drug dealing made the future look bleak for a kid in Wisconsin. But after starting to get his life back together, Jim Calhoun saw something special in him and offered him to play at UConn. Even though he only stayed in Connecticut for his freshman and sophomore seasons, he put up incredible numbers averaging just over 15ppg his freshman year, and scoring roughly 20ppg his sophomore year. The hard work payed off as he was the 10th overall selection by the Miami Heat back in 2002. Having played for 9 teams so far in a 14 year NBA career he has averaged around 14ppg. Butler is not ready to call it quits yet, as yesterday he exercised his player option for the upcoming season. He won a championship ring with the Dallas Mavericks and enjoyed an All-Star game appearance in 2007, his best season to date. His story is inspiring and moving to anyone who hears it. He had one of the most unexpected life turnarounds and it definitely changed for the better. The chance UConn gave him is what he needed to prove himself and used it as a stepping stone to a successful life.