March Madness isn’t just a time to cement one’s legacy in the college game, but it can become a launching pad for a career in the pros. Pay attention to who dominates the NCAA Tournament, because here are five current players who won the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player Award before carving out a spot in the NBA, whether it be as a star or a role player.
Carmelo Anthony - Syracuse, 2003
The Knicks superstar went for 20.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game in carrying the Orange to their only national championship.
Shane Battier - Duke, 2001
The Heat forward wasn’t always just a pest. Battier put up 22.5 points and 10.2 rebounds, while of course playing his trademark defense.
Kemba Walker - UConn, 2011
Averaged 26 points per game in the Big East Tournament before averaging 23.5 per game in the Big Dance for a Huskies team that probably could have given his current Bobcats squad a run.
Joakim Noah, Florida 2006
The Bulls certainly knew what they were getting with the ninth pick of the 2007 Draft. Noah holds the single-tournament blocks record (29) in his first of back-to-back titles.
Emeka Okafor - UConn, 2003
He might have not reached NBA expectations, but how’s this for clutch? In a 1-point win over Duke in the semifinals, Okafor scored all 18 of his points after halftime.