Oladipo from the UNLV greets NBA Commissioner Stern on stage after being selected by the Magic as the second overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft in Brooklyn

Looking Back: An Introduction

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Starting on July 10th, the first of three five-day live-recruiting periods kicks off.

What that means is that from July 10th-14th, the 17th-21st and the 24th-28th, anywhere that a high school-level basketball event is taking place, Division I head coaches are allowed to be in attendance scouting. Since all the coaches are allowed to be out on the road, the companies that run AAU tournaments and exposure camps load those 15 days up with as much basketball in as many places as possible. And the media entities that cover recruiting, as well as the ones that cover college basketball, will be forced to be there as well.

What does that all mean?

That 19-day stretch in the middle of July is one of the most important months for hoopers in the Class of 2014. If you want to play college ball, that’s as good of a time as any to get yourself noticed and convince programs to track your progress throughout your senior year. If you want a scholarship, that is when they are earned.

It’s also when the top 100 lists for the Class of 2014 will more or less be finalized.

To read through the rest of our Looking Back posts, click here.

I respect the amount of work that goes into crafting those lists. I know most of the guys that put them together, and, generally speaking, they have a pretty good grasp of what those players can do and can’t do. They put in the hours in the gym and travel across the country to watch these kids grow and develop over the course of their high school careers. They know the players, their coaches and, in a lot of cases, their parents or guardians.

But it’s also important to remember that those top 100 lists are based in large part on long-term potential and not necessarily on who they would take on their team to try and win Peach Jam.

And here’s the tricky thing about potential: players don’t always live up to it.

Which is why the only thing that these players should be concerned about it where they’ll be getting their next workout in, not where they’re ranked in Rivals top 150.

Case in point?

Victor Oladipo was unranked when he graduated high school. He went No. 2 in last Thursday’s NBA Draft. Otto Porter wasn’t ranked until his senior season, largely because he was unknown due to the fact that he didn’t play AAU. He went No. 3 on Thursday. Alex Len was an afterthought when Maryland brought him in from the Ukraine in August of 2011. In June of 2013, he was the No. 5 pick in the draft. Trey Burke, a Columbus native and AAU teammate of Jared Sullinger, was passed over by Ohio State for Shannon Scott and nearly ended up at Penn State before being brought in by Michigan as a safety net in case Darius Morris went pro. He was the No. 9 pick on Thursday after being the consensus 2013 National Player of the Year.

The best story is that of CJ McCollum, who was a non-entity as a recruit, ending up at Lehigh before he grew a couple inches and developed into an All-American and the No. 10 pick in the 2013 Draft.

I could keep going. Kelly Olynyk, the No. 13 pick, redshirted as a junior in 2011-2012 because he wasn’t good enough to get minutes. Shane Larkin, the No. 18 pick, decommitted from DePaul and went to Miami instead, neither of which is a basketball powerhouse. Tony Snell, the No. 20 pick, played at New Mexico. Andre Roberson, the No. 30 pick, was a three-star recruit from Texas that would up at Colorado. They all have guaranteed contracts.

But Myck Kabongo? CJ Leslie? They were McDonald’s All-Americans. They went undrafted on Thursday night.

This isn’t the only season where this happened, either.

Over the course of the next week, we’ll be taking a look at each recruiting class from 1999-2008, doing our best to show that your recruiting ranking is not a guarantee.

Nothing is a guarantee when it comes to making the NBA.

You can bookmark this link to read through each recruiting class breakdown when it is posted.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

rp_primary_Linder_Jeff_Action_vs_Dayton_031815_2_
Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.