Looking Back: The 1999 Recruiting Class

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Next week, the first session of July’s live recruiting period will begin, and high school hoopers around the country will take their talents to tournaments across the country, looking to impress coaches enough to earn a spot on a team at some level.

Those that are good enough will be playing for a scholarship. The best of the best will have a spot in all of the top 100 recruiting rankings on the line.

Over the course of this week, we will be looking back at the RSCI — a composite index for top 100 lists — to reinforce a point: recruiting rankings are not a guarantee. Top ten recruits flame out and unranked players make the NBA. The only thing that is a given is that hard work will be talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Keep that in mind while tracking where a kid is ranked and who is recruiting him.

We’ll be looking at the Class of 1999-2008, the last 10 classes that have finished the five years they are allowed to use their four seasons of eligibility.

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

THE TOP 20

1. Donnell Harvey: Harvey enrolled at Florida where he averaged 10.2 points and 7.0 boards as a freshman, helping the Gators make the the 2000 national title game, losing to Michigan State. Harvey would enter the 2000 NBA Draft and was selected by the Knicks with the 22nd pick. He started all of 39 games in the NBA and has been out of the league since 2005.

2. Keith Bogans: Bogans, who was a high school teammate of Joe Forte, would go on to have a stellar four-year career at Kentucky, averaging 17.0 points as a sophomore and getting named an All-American as a senior. Bogans was the 43rd pick in the 2003 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks and has hung around the league ever since.

3. Jason Williams: Now known as Jay, Williams was one of the best college players of the last 20 years. He won a National Title and National Player of the Year award. The second pick in the 2002 NBA Draft, Williams’ hoops career came to an end in a motorcycle accident after his rookie year.

4. Joseph Forte: Forte ended up going to North Carolina where he had two great years. He went pro after being named an All-American as a sophomore and was picked 21st in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Celtics, but last all of 25 games in the league.

5. Marvin Stone: Stone joined Keith Bogans at Kentucky, but in two-and-a-half seasons with the Wildcats, Stone averaged just 5.3 points and 4.2 boards. He ended up transferring to Louisville in 2002-2003, where he averaged 10.3 points, 7.1 boards and 1.5 blocks. Stone went undrafted, bouncing around Europe’s professional leagues. He passed away in 2008 after suffering a heart attack at halftime of a game in Saudi Arabia.

6. LaVell Blanchard: Blanchard led Michigan in scoring and rebounding in all four seasons in college and was a four-time all-Big Ten performer. But Blanchard, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward, went undrafted in 2003 and has played in pro leagues Europe and South America since.

7. Brett Nelson: Nelson joined Harvey at Florida, where he helped lead the Gators to the National Title game in 2000. Nelson was an all-league player, but he had a disappointing senior season. He spent a couple years playing professionally in Europe, but has been coaching since 2005. He’s now at Ball State.

8. Jonathan Bender: The Picayune, MS, native skipped college and was the fifth pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. He never lived up to those expectations, however, starting just 28 games in his NBA career. Bender’s best season came in 2001-2002, but knee issues limited him to just nine games total from 2004-2006. He played 25 games with the Knicks in 2009-2010.

8. Carlos Boozer: Boozer was a member of one of the best college teams of all-time and is now one of the best power forwards in the NBA.

10. Jason Kapono: Kapono became the first UCLA player to earn first-team all-Pac 10 honors and lead the team in scoring for four straight years. Kapono was eventually picked in the second round of the 2003 NBA Draft, going 31st to Cleveland. He’s played for six NBA teams, twice leading the league in three-point percentage and winning an NBA title in 2006, but spent last season in Greece.

11. Damien Wilkins: The son of Gerald Wilkins and the nephew of Dominique Wilkins, Damien played his first two college seasons at NC State before transferring to Georgia. Wilkins went undrafted in 2004, but he latched on with the Sonics and has been a rotation player for the last nine seasons.

12. Leon Smith: Smith skipped college and entered the draft, but his career was a disaster. He was the last pick of the first round in 1999, but didn’t play a minute in the NBA until the 2001-2002 season. He was cut by Dallas as a rookie after spending time in a psychiatric ward because he threw a rock threw a window and swallowed 250 aspirin. Smith was signed by Seattle in 2003-2004, but only played one game. He most recently played with the Chicago Fury of the ABA.

13. Kenny Satterfield: Satterfield spent two seasons playing for Bobby Huggins at Cincinnati, averaging 14.4 points, 4.7 boards and 5.1 assists as a sophomore before entering the NBA Draft. He lasted for two years in the NBA, where his claim to fame was coining the ‘Birdman’ nickname for Chris Anderson in Denver. Satterfield is now known Sirius Satellite in the New York streetball circuit.

14. Jason Richardson: Richardson played two productive seasons at Michigan State before becoming the fifth pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. He’s been an above-average two-guard for a decade.

15. Jason Parker: Parker ended up spending the 1999-2000 season at prep school, but he averaged 8.6 points and 4.7 boards as a freshman at Kentucky. But that the end of his college career, as knee injuries ended seasons at Kentucky and South Carolina before a torn Achilles’ tendon cost him the 2003-2004 season at Chipola JC. He’s since dropped off the map.

16. Casey Sanders: Sanders played four unimpressive seasons at Duke, averaging career-highs of 4.6 points and 5.2 boards in 17.8 minutes as a senior.

17. DerMarr Johnson: Johnson was the sixth pick in the draft after spending one season at Cincinnati, but he was nearly paralyzed in a car accident near Atlanta after the 2001-2001 season. His return to the NBA was miraculous, as he managed to play in parts of five more seasons before heading overseas.

18. Jason Gardner: Gardner spent four years playing the point for Arizona, earning All-
American honors as a senior, but never found success in the NBA. In 2011, he retired as a pro playing overseas and got into coaching. He’s currently on the bench at Memphis.

18. Casey Jacobsen: Jacobsen was a two-time all-american in his three years at Stanford before getting picked 22nd in the 2002 NBA Draft. Jacobsen was in the NBA for four years before heading overseas.

20. Brian Cook: Cook had a great four-year career at Illinois, averaging 20.0 points as a senior, before getting picked 24th in the 2003 NBA Draft. He never averaged more than 7.9 points in a season, but he lasted in the NBA until 2012.

OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • 21. Drew Gooden
  • 22. Nick Collison
  • 25. Joe Johnson
  • 26. Mike Dunleavy Jr.
  • 29. Samuel Dalembert
  • 34. Kareem Rush
  • 36. Steven Hunter
  • 37. Roger Mason Jr.
  • 38. Matt Bonner
  • 40. Matt Carroll
  • 46. Jamal Crawford
  • 55. Steve Blake
  • 60. Caron Butler
  • 62. Kirk Hinrich
  • 77. Rodney White
  • 84. Marquis Daniels
  • 99. Gilbert Arenas
  • UR: Josh Howard

Wichita State getting more national respect with non-conference scheduling

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Wichita State is starting to gain more national respect with regards to its non-conference schedule.

Since moving to the American Athletic Conference this spring, the Shockers have not only gained the benefit of being in a multi-bid league every year, but they’re also getting better teams to play them outside of conference play.

According to a report from Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle, the Shockers now have non-conference games scheduled with Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this season. With Wichita State also playing in the Maui Invitational, it gives the Shockers plenty of opportunities to schedule quality opponents and improve its NCAA tournament seeding. And that’s before Wichita State starts conference play.

Although Wichita State was getting invited regularly to prestigious non-conference tournaments such as Maui or the Battle 4 Atlantis, they were having a tough time getting certain schools to book home-and-home series. The Baylor series signifies a small, but significant, change to how Wichita State might be able to do things now.

USC forward Bennie Boatwright returning for junior year

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USC has a chance to be really good next season as forward Bennie Boatwright announced that he’s returning for his junior season.

The 6-foot-10 forward put up 15.1 points and 4.5 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range as his return means that the Trojans should be a major contender in the Pac-12 next season. Elijah Stewart also announced this week that he is returning as USC could start Jordan McLaughlin, De’Anthony Melton, Stewart, Boatwright and Chimezie Metu next season.

With Duke transfer Derryck Thornton Jr. also becoming eligible and McDonald’s All-American guard Charles O’Bannon Jr. entering the program, the Trojans are a potential top-10 team.

Following decommitment, four-star recruit makes eye-opening remarks about Ohio State

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Ohio State lost a four-star recruit on Wednesday when in-state Class of 2018 wing Darius Bazley opted to open up his recruitment.

As a rising senior who is just finishing his junior season of high school, Bazley’s decommitment isn’t going to immediately hurt the Buckeyes next season. But the 6-foot-7 wing’s comments about why he opted to open up his recruitment are pretty jarring.

In a story with Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch, Bazley opened up about why he decommitted from Ohio State. Bazley’s eye-opening remarks include how the Buckeyes might not get him ideal NBA exposure and how Ohio State might miss the NCAA tournament in his freshman year.

“I was excited when I first got the offer,” Bazley said to Jardy. “Ohio State is still a great place. It’s nothing against the school or anything, but my one ultimate goal is to get to the NBA and I just didn’t feel as confident as I did when I first committed that Ohio State was one of those schools that could get me there. At the end of the day I’ve got to perform no matter where I go, but I think there’s other schools out there that could put me on a bigger stage and in a better position to show those NBA scouts when I get to college what I can do.”

Bazley also didn’t appear to be pleased at the recruiting class coming into Ohio State for the Class of 2017, which is the class that is coming in this season. Remember, Bazley is a Class of 2018 recruit who still has to finish his senior season.

“Ohio State, they didn’t make the NCAA Tournament this year,” Bazley said to Jardy. “They didn’t even make the NIT, which is unfortunate, but I looked into the recruits they have coming into next year, they didn’t look too good for the future. So I felt like when my class came in, yeah, we would’ve been OK, but good enough to make the tournament? I don’t know. I just felt as if I was to de-commit, actually take my time, figure everything out it would just be a lot better.”

Ohio State was once one of the major destinations for one-and-done players a decade ago so these remarks are very surprising. D’Angelo Russell was a top-five pick in the NBA Draft only two years ago, and while the Buckeyes might not be as successful in recent years as they once were, they still get plenty of national exposure with regards to producing NBA talent.

The NCAA tournament comments might carry some more weight though. The Buckeyes have missed the NCAA tournament in two consecutive seasons and things are also looking difficult for them to reach the Big Dance for next season. If Bazley wants to play in the NCAA tournament, then I could understand him wanting to open things up and explore more options.

Still, you don’t often see a player make comments like this about a school after decommitting–especially a program with as much national exposure as Ohio State. Bazley is likely going to face some heat for his remarks, but if those are his true feelings about a future life decision, then he should explore what else is out there.

Nevada gets transfer commitment from Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman

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Nevada continues to build its roster through transfers as the Wolf Pack added Omaha forward Tre’Shawn Thurman on Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Thurman will have to sit out one season before playing his senior season but he is coming off of a very good campaign for the Mavericks. The versatile forward put up 13.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.

One of the Summit League’s better players the last two seasons, Thurman should be a solid rotation forward for Nevada as he has a chance to be a breakout player with one more year of development. If Thurman can improve his 25 percent three-point shooting then he could be a major factor for Nevada.

D-League salaries, two-way contracts increase NBA Draft early entries

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Yesterday, I wrote a piece about how it’s dumb to criticize players for entering the NBA Draft without costing themselves their collegiate eligibility when the NCAA’s new NBA Draft rules are specifically designed for said players to be able to do that.

In that column, I mentioned that D-League salaries are on the rise and that the NBA’s new CBA instituted something called “two-way contracts,” and I wanted a chance to elaborate and clarify a couple of the points that I made.

Let’s start with the “two-way contracts,” which NBA teams each get two of. They are essentially a retainer that those teams can place on younger players they want to be the 16th and 17th men on their roster, holding their rights as they bounce between the D-League — where they will likely spend the majority of the year — and the NBA. The catch is that those players have to have less than three years service as a professional, and the point of it is to provide a financial incentive for younger players with the potential to reach the NBA to remain stateside while allowing those NBA teams to develop them.

That financial incentive is fairly large, as well: Two-way players will make $75,000 guaranteed and will be able to make up to $275,000, depending on the amount of time they spend with the NBA team.

That means there are an extra 60 jobs this season that can end up paying players with less than three years of professional basketball experience upwards of a quarter-of-a-million dollars.

That’s not a bad starting salary.

The other point that I wanted to address is the rising D-League salaries which, technically, will not be rising. There are still going to be Tier A and Tier B players, who make $26,000 and $20,000 respectively. But the NBA has something called affiliate players, which each of the now-25 NBA teams with a D-League affiliate can pay up to $50,000 for training camp. NBA teams are allowed a maximum of four affiliate players, who will still make their $26,000 salary from their D-League team.

In other words, that’s 100 more jobs available in the United States where a professional basketball player can make $76,000, and that’s before you consider that the five NBA teams that do not yet have a D-League affiliate will still have to play players to get them into training camp.

That $76,000 is not a life-changing amount of money. Neither is the $275,000 that a two-way contract can pay. But it’s a pretty damn good paycheck to make for an entry-level job into the industry that you always dreamed of being in.

Athletes have an unbelievably small window where they can capitalize monetarily on their gifts.

If a 21-year old sophomore decides that he wants to continue to develop his game and chase his NBA dream by making $76,000 as a D-League player, is that really all that crazy?

After all, 135 of the 450 players, or 30 percent of the roster spots, on NBA’s opening night were taken by guys that had spent time in the D-League.

There’s more than one way to make a dream come true.