Every year, the NBA holds the draft. It’s a chance for various NBA teams to bolster their roster with the top basketball prospects around the world. As of late, we’ve seen international prospects come from professional leagues. On the other hand, 90% of the draft is still composed of players from the NCAA, particularly Division I.

While the annual NBA Draft is dominated by players from Division I, it’s definitely much harder to get your name called if you’re from Division II or lower. Nevertheless, some notable players were still able to achieve their dreams of playing in the NBA. For this piece, let’s take a look at 10 NBA players who played in Division II or lower.

Ben Wallace

After playing for Cuyahoga Community College, Ben Wallace transferred to Virginia Union and played Div II basketball. Although he averaged a double-double, Wallace's name never got called in the 1996 NBA Draft. Moreover, he had to take his talents to Italy before getting a call-up from the Washington Wizards. The rest we know is history as Wallace would carve out a Hall of Fame-worthy career by becoming a champion, four-time Defensive Player of the Year, and four-time NBA All-Star.

Manute Bol

Despite having great size and potential, Manute Bol was denied to play NCAA Division I Basketball due to eligibility issues. Nevertheless, Bol still dominated for the University of Bridgeport. Thus, he was drafted by the Washington Bullets in the second round of the 1985 NBA Draft. Bol would go on to lead the NBA in blocks twice and became an All-Defensive team member.

Walt Frazier

Before Southern Illinois University played Division I basketball, Walt Frazier starred for the Salukis in Division II. Despite playing mostly in Division II during college, Frazier was selected with the fifth overall pick in the 1967 draft. He would go on to win two championships and make seven All-Star game appearances.

Charles Oakley

Playing for Virginia Union of Division II, Charles Oakley starred for the Panthers. Aside from leading them to a championship, Oakley led the league in rebounds and was named NABC Division II Player of the Year. His performance was enough to get noticed by the Cavaliers, drafting him with the ninth overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft. Oakley would go on to become an All-Star and made two All-Defensive team selections.

Devean George

Playing in Division II is much harder to get the attention of pro scouts. However, the difficulty is much harder when you’re playing in Division III. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop Devean George from chasing his NBA dreams. George played at Augsburg College and became a back-to-back MVP. Because of this, the Lakers drafted him with the 23rd overall pick, making him one of the few Div. III players to get selected in the first round. George would go on to help the Lakers achieve a three-peat.

Freddie Gillespie

Freddie Gillespie was a walking double-double when he played for Carleton College in Division III. With his potential, Gillespie made the transfer to Baylor University. However, Gillespie failed to get his name called at the 2020 NBA Draft. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop him from making the NBA. Entering through the back door, Gillespie played for the Memphis Hustle of the NBA G-League. Eventually, Gillespie received a call-up from the Toronto Raptors. Aside from the Raptors, Gillespie also suited up for the Orlando Magic.

Duncan Robinson

When it comes to shooting, Duncan Robinson is one of the best. However, none of the NBA teams took a chance on him during the 2018 NBA Draft. Robinson initially played for Williams College in Division III before making the jump to Division I by playing for University of Michigan. Fortunately, after a solid showing in the NBA Summer League, Robinson was signed by the Miami Heat. He eventually led them to an NBA Finals appearance in the 2020 NBA Bubble before signing a lucrative five-year, $90 million contract.

Derrick White

Before making his mark in the Association, Derrick White started his college basketball career with UCCS of the NCAA Division II. He starred for the Mountain Lions for three years before making the jump to University of Colorado in Division I. After a solid lone season for the Buffaloes, White did enough to get drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2017 NBA Draft with the 27th overall pick. About five years later, White helped the Boston Celtics reach the Finals, dropping 21 points in a Game One victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Jaylen Morris

Despite being a defensive star in high school, Jaylen Morris never received any calls from major colleges. As a result, he decided to enroll at Molloy College and starred for the Lions. However, it wasn’t enough to get selected in the 2017 NBA Draft. But unfazed by his non-selection, Morris went through the G-League route, even paying $150 to showcase his skills with the Long Island Nets. Morris would eventually get called up in the NBA, having stopovers with the Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, and the San Antonio Spurs.

Max Strus

Although Max Strus was offered to play Division I basketball in Chicago State, he turned that down and decided to play at Lewis University of the NCAA Division II. After starring there for two seasons, Strus made the transfer to DePaul University and played Division I basketball. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to get picked in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Strus’ NBA journey was already rough before it started. After going undrafted, Strus impressed in the NBA Summer League to earn a contract with the Boston Celtics. Unfortunately, he was cut by the team before the regular season started. He was able to earn a roster spot with the Chicago Bulls. It was only in 2020 that Strus finally found an NBA home with the Miami Heat after impressing in the NBA Summer League and the team’s training camp.