Overlooked college players that went on to become NBA All-Stars

It’s fascinating to witness the journey of an uncut diamond growing out of its shell to become one of the great players in history. 

But not every basketball player’s journey goes noticed, which is why we love a good story of an underdog here at justallstar.com. Many NBA All-Stars were deemed underrated when they played college basketball. Therefore, we have chosen to highlight some of them in this article. 

Let’s take a look at some of these unnoticed college players. 

Jimmy Butler

The swingman for Miami Heat didn’t have the easiest childhood. He was abandoned by his father when he was just an infant. At the age of 13, he got kicked out of the house. But he is an example of how to overcome struggles. In the summer before his senior year, he was noticed by a fellow schoolmate Jordan Leslie, whose family took Butler in. From there, he started playing college basketball at Tyler JC and Marquette in the NCAA. 

Known for his hard work, he became the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2015. In the 2022-23 season for Miami Heat, he had a season-high of 15 rebounds and has become one of the leading players for the team and the hope of the team.

Malcolm Brogdon

Playing for the Boston Celtics, Malcolm Brogdon is a point guard to keep an eye on. He began his career for the Virginia Cavaliers, even though he got offers from Arkansas, Georgia, and Notre Dame. He was selected as the ACC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year which was the first time a player earned both honors in the same season. 


Not many expected much of him in the NBA when he got drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks. But to the surprise of many, he won Rookie of the Year in 2017. Today, he is one of the players to go for in NBA betting when the Celtics play against their rivals, the Lakers. 

Kawhi Leonard

Also known as “Claw”, as he is skilled at ball-hawking, he headed to San Diego State to play for the Aztecs. In the Mountain West Conference, he was named Freshman of the Year, First Team All-MWC, and MVP of the tournament in 2010. The well-known “Coach Pop” said that Leonard would become the face of the Spurs because he wants it so badly. Part of the reason why Leonard is doing good is because of his work ethic. He is one of those players who arrives early and stays late. As a small forward for the Los Angeles Clippers, he has been selected as an All-Star five times. 

Rajon Rondo

Rajon Rondo is an underrated player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who first played for the Kentucky Wildcats. He was drafted by the Phoenix Suns in 2006 and was traded to the Celtics afterwards. In his college years, he set several records. Rondo had his breakthrough in the 2008-09 season, even though he also received criticism for his shooting. In this season, the Celtics had their best starting record in NBA history. His career has not been linear, but his previous achievements prove why he is one of the more underrated players in the NBA.