It's a longshot for anyone - anyone under 7 feet tall, anyway - to make it to the NBA, even for a minute. And for players at the community college level the chances of making it to the NBA are extremely remote.
But a few guys have made it - some for a few games, a few for longer, and there are a handful just getting started.
At the suggestion of Bakesfield Associate Head Coach Aaron Chavez, I've put together a list of players who played at a California JC and also played in the NBA (or the original ABA).
If I've missed anyone - and I probably have - let me know who and I'll add them to the list.
Rafer Alston, Ventura/Fresno. Led Ventura to the state championship in 1995 and Fresno to the state semifinals two years later before transferring to Fresno State to play for legendary JC and college coach Jerry Tarkanian. Known for his slick ballhandling - he was "Skip 2 My Lou" on the And-1 Streetball circuit - he played in the NBA for a half-dozen teams over the course of a decade, highlighted by a stint as the starting point guard for the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Ron Anderson, Santa Barbara. Played 664 games over 10 years in the NBA, highlighted by 1988-89 with Philadelphia when he averaged 16.2 pts/game playing alongside Charles Barkley, Maurice Cheeks and a rookie named Scott Brooks.
Isaac Austin, Kings River. After playing at the JC now known as Reedley College, he played 2 seasons at Arizona State, briefly in the NBA and overseas in Turkey. Upon returning to the US, starred alongside Alonzo Mourning & Tim Hardaway for the Miami Heat in 1996-97, winning the NBA's Most Improved Player award.
Don Barksdale, Marin. After playing at Marin and Cal, he joined the NBA for four seasons beginning in 1951-52.
John Block, Glendale. After playing at UCLA, he played 597 games over all or part of 10 NBA seasons, his best years coming as a member of the San Diego Rockets.
Corie Blount, Rancho Santiago. Was a dominant force at Rancho Santiago (now Santa Ana), leading the team to state championships in 1990 & 1991, before transferring to Cincinnati and playing 11 years in the NBA.
Torraye Braggs, San Jose. After playing at San Jose CC in 1995-96, he headed to Xavier (OH) and eventually played 22 games for Washington and Houston in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
Mike Bratz, Allan Hancock. Transferred to Stanford, then played 586 games for 6 teams over 9 NBA seasons, starting in 1977-78 for Phoenix.
Scott Brooks, San Joaquin Delta. Long before he became coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Brooks played 680 games in 10 NBA seasons, averaging 12.9 pts/game and earning a championship ring with the 1993-94 Houston Rockets.
Mack Calvin, Long Beach. One of the best players in the old ABA, Calvin averaged 19.9 pts and 5.8 asts in 523 ABA contests between 1969 and the merger in 1976. He was a 5-time ABA All-Star and in 1997 he was named to the ABA All-Time team as the 10th-highest vote-getter. He also played 222 NBA games over 4 seasons, including a 12-game stint with the Lakers in 1976-77.
Anthony Carter, Saddleback. Journeyman guard who played 623 NBA games with 6 teams over 13 seasons, highlighted by a 2008-09 season in which he played 78 games and helped the Nuggets reach the Western Conference finals. Nowadays he's an assistant coach with Austin of the NBDL.
Sam Cash, Imperial Valley. After playing at UC Riverside, he played in 7 games for the Memphis Tams of the ABA, averaging 2.9 pts per contest. (most of this information comes from reader George Foster)
Cedric Ceballos, Ventura. One of the most explosive scorers in the NBA in the 1990s, he averaged over 21 pts per game in consecutive seasons with the Lakers at one point. Overall he averaged 14.3 pts per game in 609 NBA contests, and was selected to play in the 1995 NBA All-Star game (he couldn't actually play due to a thumb injury).
Lester Conner, Los Medanos/Chabot. Played 687 games with 7 NBA teams over a 13-year stretch after he was a first-round draft pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1982. He was an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets until Brian Shaw got fired in March.
Michael Cooper, Pasadena. Known locally for his role as 6th man on the Lakers' Showtime teams of the 1980s and for his defense and the alley-oop play known as a "Coop-a-Loop". After an NBA career that included 873 regular season and 168 playoff games - and 5 championships - he entered the coaching ranks and won back-to-back championships with the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks. Nowadays he coaches the WNBA Atlanta Dream.
Lloyd Daniels, Mt. San Antonio. The most infamous player in UNLV history - though he never actually played for the Runnin' Rebels - he played exactly 200 NBA games in the 1990s including a few for Jerry Tarkanian (with the Spurs).
Dewayne Dedmon, Antelope Valley. The 7-footer played one season at AVC and two at USC before turning pro. He joined the Golden State Warriors in 2013-14 and also played with the Philadelphia 76ers that season before joining his current team, the Orlando Magic.
Chuck Dykema, Long Beach. Played 32 games with the 1981-82 Phoenix Suns, scoring 43 points.
Mark Eaton, Cypress. Discovered while working on cars, Eaton became an inspiring success story as he progressed from Cypress to UCLA to an 11-year career alongside Stockton & Malone with the Utah Jazz. He averaged 6.0 pts, 7.9 rebs and 3.5 blocked shots per game over his career. His being 7-feet-4 helped a litle.
James Ennis, Oxnard/Ventura. After playing in Australia in 2013-14, the 2013 second-round draft pick joined the Miami Heat for 2014-15 and played in 62 games, averaging 5.0 pts and 2.8 rebs per game.
Don Ford, Santa Barbara. Born in Santa Barbara, played at SBCC and UC Santa Barbara and spent the first 4-1/2 years of a 7-year NBA career with the Lakers before finishing up with Cleveland in 1981-82.
Anthony Frederick, Santa Monica. Played 147 games with Indiana, Sacramento and the Charlotte Hornets between 1988 and 1992, averaging 4.9 pts per game.
Hiram Fuller, Modesto. The East St. Louis native played one season for MJC and 4 games for the Atlanta Hawks in 2004, scoring 8 points.
Dean Garrett, San Francisco. After helping Indiana to the 1987 NCAA championship, he played 8 seasons in Europe before returning to join the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996. He ended up playing 359 games with Minnesota, Denver and Golden State.
Evric Gray, Riverside. Played 5 games for the 1996-97 New Jersey Nets, scoring 13 points.
Greg Griffin, Pasadena. Played 36 games for Phoenix in 1977-78.
Bob Gross, LA Harbor. After playing at Long Beach State, he played 8 seasons in the NBA, highlighted by winning a championship with the 1976-77 Portland Trailblazers.
Jack Haley, Golden West. Known mainly for his association with Dennis Rodman and his presence as an enthusiastic supporter while on the bench for the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls that won an NBA record 72 games and the championship, he played 341 games over the course of a decade in the NBA following a 3-year stay at UCLA. The likeable Haley was a studio host on Time Warner Cable for the Lakers until his untimely death due to heart problems in March, 2015.
Shaler Halimon, Imperial Valley College. A 6-5 guard/forward, he played in 170 games for the 76ers, Trail Blazers and Hawks of the NBA and 94 for the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA, averaging 6.2 pts and 3.1 rebs per contest. (most of this information comes from reader George Foster)
Bill Hewitt, Mt. San Antonio. Played 361 NBA games for 4 teams over 7 seasons beginning in 1968-69 with the Lakers.
Othyus Jeffers, LA Southwest. Attended Illinois-Chicago and Robert Morris University after his season at Southwest, followed by a journeyman career in the NBDL and overseas. He was named 2014 NBDL Most Valuable Player, and has latched onto 4 NBA rosters long enough to play in 37 games.
Dennis Johnson, LA Harbor. The lone Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member on this list, "D.J." won a championship with the Seattle Supersonics in 1979 and two more with the Boston Celtics in 1984 and 1986, and was considered one of the top defensive guards in the NBA throughout his 14-year NBA career. He played in 1100 regular season games (averaging 14.1 pts & 5.0 asts per game) and 180 playoff games (averaging 17.3 pts and 5.6 asts per game). He was a 5-time NBA all-star and was named to the All-Defensive first or second team 9 times. He died of a heart attack in 2007 while coaching the Austin Toros of the NBDL, and the NBDL Coach of the Year award is named in his honor.
Ivan Johnson, LA Southwest. Played a year at Cisco JC in Texas before playing for LA Southwest in 2004-05 and then Oregon. After playing overseas and in the NBDL, he joined the Atlanta Hawks for 125 games in 2011-12 and 2012-13, averaging 6.5 pts and 3.9 rebs per game.
Reggie Jordan, Southwestern. Played 186 games for 5 NBA teams over 6 seasons, finishing in 2000 with Washington.
Mark Landsberger, Allan Hancock. Started his career with the Chicago Bulls but was known mainly for his time as a reserve with the Showtime LA Lakers of the early 1980s.
Chris McNealy, Santa Barbara. After a college career at San Jose State, he played 108 games with the New York Knicks between 1985 and 1988, averaging 4.3 pts and 4.6 rebs per game.
Eric McWilliams, Pasadena. Played 44 games for the 1972-73 Houston Rockets, scoring 86 points.
DeWitt Menyard, Allan Hancock. Played 71 games for the Houston Mavericks of the ABA in 1967-68.
Swen Nater, Cypress. Famously known as Bill Walton's back-up at UCLA, Nater was drafted by the Bucks and played 11 years in the NBA & ABA. And he actually ended up playing more NBA games (489) than the chronically-injured Walton (468).
Desmond Penigar, Ventura. Played 10 games and scored 32 points for the Orlando Magic during the 2003-04 season. (thanks to Chaffey assistant coach Jon Keller for pointing him out!).
Charles Pittman, Merced. Played 234 games for the Phoenix Suns between 1982 and 1986, averging 4.5 pts and 3.1 rebs per game.
George Reynolds, Imperial Valley. This 6-4 guard was the second leading scorer (behind Elvin Hayes) for Houston in the Cougars' famous upset over Lew Alcindor and UCLA in 1968. He later played 10 games with the Detroit Pistons in 1970. (most of this information comes from reader George Foster)
Isaiah (JR) Rider, Antelope Valley. Of all the players on this list, he might have been the most dominant at the JC level when he averaged 33.6 points per game in his lone season (1990-91) at AVC. After two seasons at UNLV, he had a star-crossed NBA career in which he averaged 16.7 pts per game in 563 games over 8-plus seasons.
Sam Robinson, Pasadena. Played 134 games for the Floridians of the old ABA in 1970-71 and 1971-72.
Lorenzo Romar, Cerritos. Before embarking on his very successful coaching career, Romar played 291 games over 5 seasons in the early 1980s, mostly with the Golden State Warriors. He averaged 5.9 pts and 3.5 asts per game.
John Rudometken, Allan Hancock. Played with the Knicks and the Warriors in the mid 1960s.
Bob Rule, Riverside. He was a 6-9 center - the game was a little different then - who averaged more than 21 points and 10 rebounds in four-plus seasons with the Seattle Supersonics, starting in 1967-68, and played in 403 NBA games in all, the last in 1974.
Andre Spencer, Bakersfield. After playing at Northern Arizona, he played 48 games for 3 NBA teams in the early 1990s, averaging 7.2 pts and 3.2 rebs per game.
Chuck Terry, Long Beach. Played for Lute Olson with the Vikings, then played at Long Beach State (before Olson arrived there) and 341 games in the NBA & ABA, averaging 3.8 pts and 2.4 rebs per game.
Malcolm Thomas, San Diego City. Following his freshman season at Pepperdine, Malcolm elected to play at SDCC rather than sit out as a redshirt before transferring to San Diego State and led the Knights to the state tournament. Since 2011 he's been on the fringes of the NBA, playing 40 games with 5 NBA teams.
Jamaal Tinsley, Mt. San Jacinto. The Inspiration. After making his way out from Brooklyn to MSJC and then Iowa State, he was the Indiana Pacers' starting point guard for most of seven seasons. Dozens of NYC natives followed his path to California in the ensuing decade, and while none of them made the NBA many found their way to 4-year schools and several played professionally overseas. Tinsley played 547 NBA games in all, averaging 8.5 pts and 6.1 asts per game.
Tom Tolbert, Cerritos. Played at Arizona and 7 years as a journeyman in the NBA, mostly with the Warriors. Nowadays he's a popular host on KNBR's afternoon radio show in San Francisco.
George Trapp, Pasadena. Played in 379 games over five-plus seasons with the Hawks and the Pistons between 1971 and 1977, averaging 8.8 pts & 3.9 rebs per game.
John Trapp, Pasadena. The elder of the two Trapp brothers, John played 303 NBA & ABA games between 1968 and 1973, averaging 7.2 pts & 4.4 rebs per game.
Jerome Whitehead, Riverside. The veteran big man played 679 games over 11 seasons, starting in 1978, with a half-dozen NBA teams. His best seasons came with the San Diego Clippers (13.8 pts, 9.2 rebs in 1981-82) and the Golden State Warriors (13.0 pts, 7.9 rebs in 1984-85). He passed away in 2012 at the age of 56.
Sidney Wicks, Santa Monica. Played 760 games in 10 NBA seasons, the best of which were his first five when he averaged 22.3 pts, 10.3 rebs and 4.1 asts per game for Portland. He played just one season at SMC before heading to UCLA and then the NBA. He also had an incidental role in the Lakers Showtime teams of the 1980s. After the 1975-76 season, Gail Goodrich signed with Utah as a free agent. At that time, a team losing a free agent was entitled to compensation from the team that signed him, and Jack Kent Cooke asked the Jazz for Wicks. Jazz owner Sam Battistone declined, having promised Portland (Wicks' previous team) that he would not trade him to a team in the Blazers' division. So the Lakers got three Jazz' draft picks instead, one of which was used to select Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
Sam Williams, Pasadena. Played 257 games for the Warriors & the 76ers in the first half of the 1980s, averaging 6.3 pts & 4.5 rebs per game.
Delon Wright, Toronto. After attending Leuzinger HS, City College of San Francisco and Utah, Delon was the 20th overall pick of the 2015 NBA draft. He made his NBA debut for the Raptors on November 1st vs. Milwaukee.
Several other JC alumni have come close to making it to the NBA. Here are a few of their stories...
Jerel Blassingame. Played two seasons for LA City, helping the Cubs to the 2003 state championship and capturing state tourney MVP honors before heading to UNLV and overseas. Nowadays he's playing professionally in Poland.
Bennett Davison. After leading West Valley to the state championship game twice in a row, he helped Arizona win the 1997 NCAA championship (and, famously, mussed coach Lute Olson's hair in the postgame celebration). He played in the NBDL and was in the Lakers' training camp and played professionally overseas for about a dozen years.
DeAndre Hulett. After playing at College of the Sequoias, he was drafted by the Toronto Raptors 46th overall in 2000.
Tony Key. The big man from Russellville KY declared for the NBA draft (he wasn't selected) before playing at LA City. He's probably the most talented JC player I've seen, and he was an absolute beast his second year at LACC. He has played professionally but not in the NBA.
Julian Sensley. The multi-dimensional forward played at LA City as part of their 2002-03 team (the best JC team I've seen) and then Hawaii and the NBDL. Nowadays he plays professionally in Germany.
Sources: Wikipedia, nba-reference.com and the COA championship weekend program from a few years back. And my recollections from the last two decades of following JC basketball in California and being a fan of the NBA.