The List: Top Phenom Flops
Page 2 staff

Let's hope LeBron James never makes this list ...

1. Todd Van Poppel
The Atlanta Braves wanted to draft him No. 1 overall in 1990, but were wary of the bonus demands of a pitcher many scouts called the best high school prospect they'd ever seen. (Atlanta instead drafted Chipper Jones.) As for Van Poppel, he was drafted by Oakland and Baseball America rated him the best prospect in 1991, second-best in 1992, seventh-best in 1993 ... (see the trend there?)

Todd Van Poppel
Todd Van Poppel was never able to turn his ability into a productive big-league career.

2. David Clyde
The Texas Rangers drafted the Texas schoolboy legend (five no-hitters his senior year) with the first pick in the 1973 draft and, desperate for an attendance boost, promoted him straight to the majors. Clyde won his debut before 37,000 and remained in the rotation the rest of the year, but his major-league career was over by 1979, with just 18 wins.

3. Todd Marinovich
Trained from birth to be a quarterback by his father, Marv (a former lineman with the Oakland Raiders), Marinovich was the 1987 USA Today Offensive Player of the Year. After a lackluster college career at USC, the Raiders made him a surprise first-round pick in 1991, but he was out of the NFL after two years after failing a drug test. In March 2001, Marinovich pleaded no contest to heroin possession.

4. Brian Bosworth
An All-America linebacker at Oklahoma, the "Boz" left college early after failing a drug test. He had his autobiography out after his rookie year with the Seattle Seahawks, but his career flamed out quicker than you can say "Bo Jackson."

Brian Bosworth
By the time he joined the Seahawks, the "Boz" became known more for his wild hair than his football ability.

5. Chris Washburn
He was a seven-foot man-child who was supposed to lead North Carolina State to another hoops title in the mid'-'80s, but was caught stealing a stereo, rarely (if ever) attended class and left early for the NBA. His talent made him the third pick in the draft, but he was out of the league in three years following three positive drug tests.

6. Brien Taylor
The third pitcher to make our list (it's a risky profession), Taylor was the first overall pick by the Yankees in 1991, and signed to a $1.55 million bonus -- even though the previous bonus high had been $575,000. Taylor appeared to be living up to his potential as a flamethrowing left-hander until injuring his shoulder in a fight. He never reached the majors.

7. Marcus Dupree
Dupree was such a highly-recruited running back out of Philadelphia, Miss., that novelist Willie Morris wrote a book called, "The Courtship of Marcus Dupree," published in 1983. Dupree had an impressive freshman year with Oklahoma in 1982, running for 239 yards in the Fiesta Bowl, but a rift with coach Barry Switzer made him leave school. He eventually joined the USFL but knee injuries soon ended his career.

8. Felipe Lopez
The New York City high school star's future appeared so bright that even The New Yorker wrote a long profile on him before he had started college. His career at St. John's was unspectacular, although he deserves credit for accepting a journeyman's role in the NBA.

9. Ron Powlus
Sometimes the hype machine is unfair to the player. One pundit predicted Powlus would win three Heisman trophies while quarterbacking Notre Dame. The expectations may have been unfair, but Powlus never came close to achieving Heisman status.

10. Alexandre Daigle
He broke some of Mario Lemieux's scoring records in juniors and was hailed as, well, the next Lemieux when Ottawa made him the first pick in the 1993 draft. But he never scored more than 51 points in a season and eventually played himself out of the NHL (he's back with the Penguins this season).

Others receiving votes
Josh Booty, Damon Bailey, Toe Nash, Ryan Leaf, Tony Mandarich, Marcus Liberty, LaRue Martin, Ben McDonald.


The List: Most Hyped Phenoms

Neel: The Legend of LeBron

Shanoff: The Ballad of LeBron

Whitlock: Double-team standard

Email story
Most sent
Print story

espn Page 2 index