While researching potential Top 10 Busts Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross, I learned an interesting sports trivia fact. Specifically, only three college basketball coaches have taken two different schools to the Final Four within four years. First, Gene Barlow took Memphis in 1973 and UCLA in 1976. Second, Lee Rose took UNC-Charlotte in 1977 and Purdue in 1980. Third, Roy Williams took Kansas in 2003 and North Carolina in 2005. Of note, North Carolina (18), UCLA (17) and Kansas (14) have been to 49 Final Fours between them. In contrast, UNC-Charlotte and Purdue have combined to reach only three (i.e. one without Rose). As such, Rose’s achievement should be viewed as the most impressive. Overlooked on every elite coaching list, Lee Rose may deserve special recognition.
After decorated college basketball careers at Purdue in the early 1980s, both Keith Edmonson and Russell Cross were taken with top 10 overall picks in the NBA Draft. Specifically, Edmonson was the 10th pick in 1982 after earning All-American honors while Cross was the 6th pick in 1983 after being named First-Team All-Big Ten. Despite their pedigrees, the former Boilermakers had difficulty transitioning to the NBA. Of note, Edmonson scored 522 points in 87 career games while Cross scored 166 points in 45 career games. Given their lack of production as early first round picks, both are recognized as all-time busts. On the margin, Cross was worse because he was drafted before the most productive players from the 1983 Draft (i.e., Clyde Drexler, Derek Harper, and Dale Ellis) whereas Edmonson was drafted after the most productive players from the 1982 Draft (i.e. Dominique Wilkins, Terry Cummings, and James Worthy). As such, Edmonson received an Honorable Mention as a Top 10 Bust while Cross earned the #9 spot.