Yahoo Sports has a feature running on the top ten great NCAA players who became incredible busts in the NBA. Coming in at #8 is former Tar Heel J.R. Reid who was equally incredible to watch and frustrating at the same time.
The most amazing part about J.R. Reid's career at North Carolina is also the reason he isn't regarded as highly as he deserves. In his three seasons in Chapel Hill, Reid never made a Final Four. That makes him a rarity among Tar Heel greats like Ford, Jordan, Perkins, Worthy, Montross, Wallace, Carter, Stackhouse, McCants, May, Hansbrough, Lawson and Ellington, guys who played in one, if not more, Final Fours. Don't let that fool you though. J.R. Reid was one bad dude in college.
He was 6-foot-9, 240 pounds before 6-foot-9, 240 pounds was the norm. He was a freshman star when that was the exception, not the rule. And, oh, that hi-top fade.
Reid's first three seasons were fairly impressive. Not Tyler Hansbrough impressive but still a good three year run. He was a three time All-ACC player and named All-American. His prowess as a post threat were undeniable but at the same time he had penchant for not always getting along with Dean Smith. In fact, the urban legend is that Dean was tired of Reid after three seasons and received assurances that the Charlotte Hornets would take Reid at #5 in the 1989 NBA Draft. Reid left Chapel Hill and the next season was a struggle for UNC. The NBA never really panned out for Reid. The article states he played for seven different teams and never had a real impact. Like Danny Ferry and Adam Morrison(also on the list) college greatness never translated to NBA greatness. That is what makes the draft and GM decisions so maddening. Even players who appear to be the best college players for that season for some reason are busts in the NBA. Of course this is also the tag everyone has tried to put on Hansbrough and so far folks have been wrong.
The fact Reid never made a Final Four tends to cast a certain light on him. The same can be said of Kenny Smith, Joe Wolf, Jeff Lebo and Brad Daughtery. All these guys were great Tar Heels but their failure to make a Final Four slots them behind the guys like Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, Vince Carter, Antawn Jamison and even Hubert Davis to some extent. As fans we remember the guys who played in Final Fours more than the ones who did not. Such is the fickle nature of the fan.