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.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.