SB Nation's Syracuse site, Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, had what I thought was a pretty good idea in identifying the school's top NBA players of all time.
Pitt's NBA lineage isn't quite as large as that of many programs, but the Panthers did/do have about 20 players that logged game time in the league. Last year during the offeason, Aron ranked the careers of Pitt players in the Jamie Dixon era. I thought it would be fun to do the same for the guys that reached the NBA or ABA.
Over the next five days, I'll reveal two guys on the list each day. My criteria for this is pretty simple - I'm factoring in only what they did in the pros. Any Pitt stuff is irrelevant here. Things I'll be looking at include stats, championships, awards, etc. I'm also only factoring in NBA or ABA careers. Pitt has had a lot of players make out very well professionally in other leagues in Europe or the CBA, but for the purposes of this, we're only looking at careers at the highest level.
Finally, I'll also give the standard disclaimer for these sorts of things that this is all opinion stuff. There's no way to create a list that will be universally accepted by everyone, but that's part of the fun. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what I got right/wrong.
No. 8 - Sam Young
Super Sam Young starred at Pitt and despite a chance to go in the first round, fell to the second in the NBA Draft. Going 36th overall to the Memphis Grizzlies, he produced a quality rookie campaign, scoring 7.4 points on 45% shooting, while averaging 2.5 rebounds per game. His sophomore year in the NBA was equally as solid as he scored only a tick less (7.3 points per game) and improved his shooting to nearly 49% from the field. Just as importantly, Young was factoring in as a key player of the team, starting in more of half of their games.
By the third season, though, Young had fallen out of favor and saw less minutes. He was soon traded to the Philadelphia 76ers and his promising NBA future was fading. He struggled through a season there before signing with the Indiana Pacers. Young didn't play much more there, despite seeing time in 56 games, and his NBA career was over.
In 249 games, he averaged 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest, shooting 44% from the field.
No. 7 - Jerome Lane
I know, I get it. Lane's career-defining moment was the backboard-breaking dunk he had with the Panthers. But Lane went on to have a decent career as a professional, too. He was drafted 23rd overall in the first round of the 1989 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets and while he wasn't a star, he was a solid player in the league.
Lane shot 44% from the field in five NBA seasons while scoring 5.3 points per game, but his real work was done on the glass. In 3 1/2 seasons primarily with the Nuggets, he averaged 6.2 rebounds per game and in 1990-91, he had a career-best 9.3 boards per contest in getting the most playing time of his career. In addition to that time in Denver, he played a few games with the Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks, and Cleveland Cavaliers to finish out his career.
In 218 games spanning five NBA seasons, he averaged 5.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Lane also started more than 1/3 of his games, making the starting lineup 79 times.