Joe Johnson

Looking Back: The 1999 Recruiting Class


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.


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.


  • 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

VIDEO: Bill Simmons talks Ben Simmons on DP Show

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Ben Simmons will likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, and possibly end up with the Celtics, making Boston sports junkie Bill Simmons very happy. Bill jokes about sharing a last name with a future NBA star.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Kris Dunn still tops a strong list

Kris Dunn, D'Angelo Harrison
AP Photo
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1. Kris Dunn, Providence: I had Kris Dunn as the Preseason Player of the Year, and while he probably hasn’t been the best player in the country through four games — he hasn’t yet had a statement game on national television — he is averaging 18.8 points, 7.8 boards, 6.8 assists and 5.3 steals.

And while his shooting splits are down from a season ago, he only has eight turnovers through four games. I’m not going to drop my guy when he does that just because he hasn’t gotten into the meat of his schedule yet. No way.

I’ve charted the four games that Dunn has played to determine how much of Providence’s offensive runs through him, a stat I’m going to call, for lack of a better word, possessions “ended”.

When he’s on the floor, how many of Providence’s possessions ended with Dunn shooting, getting to the free throw line, turning the ball over, assisting on a bucket, assisting on free throws or assisting on a missed shot.

Through four games, 62.6 percent of Providence’s offense runs through Dunn, which is an insanely high number and a reason that his efficiency, and shooting percentages, are going to be lower than ideal.

Defenses know this.

Illinois had all five defenders in the paint trying to stop Dunn’s ball-screen actions:

(Screengrab via Synergy)
(Screengrab via Synergy)

His defender went over the screen while the man guarding the screener stayed with Dunn. The weak-side defender is in the lane helping on Ben Bentil’s role to the rim while the strong-side defender is helping on Dunn’s drive. Here’s video of the entire action:

2. Denzel Valentine, Michigan State: Valentine is almost averaging a triple-double this season. Seriously. He’s at 15.3 points, 9.8 assists and 9.0 boards through four games. That won’t last, but we can celebrate it while it does. He also is the own of the most impressive performance of the young season, going for 29 points, 12 boards and 12 assists in MSU’s come-from-behind win over Kansas in the Champions Classic.

And just to put Dunn’s numbers in perspective, Valentine “ended” 60.6 percent of Michigan State’s possessions against Kansas.

3. Ben Simmons, LSU: Since we keep talking about whether or not Ben Simmons is overrated, I think this is worth mentioning: He’s currently the leading rebounder in college basketball, averaging 14.5 boards to go along with his 19.3 points, 5.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks. Oh, and he has just six turnovers in four games.

I’m not going to sit here trying to convince he’s not a great player. He is. Unquestionably. But there are a few things you need to understand when analysts and scouts try to temper the comparisons to LeBron James.

MORE: Transcendent? Overhyped? The shame is if Ben Simmons is irrevelant

Simmons spends a lot of time at the five for LSU, meaning that he is quite often guarded by guys like Luke Fischer, a 7-footer that doesn’t have a prayer of trying to slow down a player that big and that skilled in transition or in a half court setting:

He’s also a terrific passer, one that is so skilled at making defenses pay when the help defenders are too focused on him. Look at Traci Carter when Simmons throws this lob:

(Image via ESPN)
(Screengrab via ESPN)

That’s a direct result of the mismatches that he gets at the college level.

There are layers to this, too. The numbers you don’t hear with Simmons: he hasn’t even attempted a three-pointer this season. Through his first three games, he only shot five jump shots and missed all five. (Synergy’s logs haven’t been updated with last night’s games yet.) He’s shooting 81 percent from the line, so the stroke is there, but it has yet to manifest itself as part of his offensive repertoire.

Put it all together: NBA teams have guys that are big enough and quick enough to guard Simmons — especially if he doesn’t become a consistent shooter from the NBA three-point line — and while his passing ability rivals LeBron’s, he’s not as quick, explosive or athletic.

In simpler terms, Simmons won’t be exploiting mismatches in the NBA the way he can in college, and defenses won’t have to sellout to slow him down. That’s why I would rather see him compared to Lamar Odom, who, by the way, averaged 13.3 points, 8.4 boards and 3.7 assists in a 15-year career that produced two NBA titles and an appearance on a U.S. Olympic team.

He was damn good.

Comparing him to Odom is a compliment.

4. Tyler Ulis, Kentucky: The latest argument that seems to be clogging by mentions is whether or not Ulis or Dunn is the best point guard in the country. My take: Dunn is the best player in the country while Ulis is the best point guard in the country. While the two technically play the same position, the role they play is entirely different. Ulis is a facilitator, a pure point guard. Dunn is the prototype new-age lead guard, a guy built in the mold of Russell Westbrook, John Wall and MVP-era Derrick Rose.

Ulis has been OK in three of Kentucky’s four games, but his performance in the win over Duke — 18 points, six assists, four rebounds, two steals, no turnovers — is what got him this high on this list.

5. Grayson Allen, Duke: Allen has been unbelievable in four of the five games he’s played this season, including back-to-back 30-burgers as the Blue Devils beat VCU and Georgetown in the 2K Classic. Even with that putrid performance against Kentucky, his numbers look like this: 24.4 ppg, 4.4 rg, 3.2 apg and shooting splits of 52.2/53.6/89.7.

6. Tyrone Wallace, Cal: Only one player in college basketball averaged more than 20 points, five boards and five assists last season. This year, Wallace is averaging 20.3 points, 5.8 boards and 5.3 assists for a Cal team that could end up winning the Pac-12. He’ll climb this list if his numbers look as good when the competition gets tougher.

7. Sheldon McClellan, Miami: Picking a player on Miami for this spot was tough, but I decided to go with McClellan for a couple of reason. One: He’s Miami’s leading scorer at 17.4 points. Two: his shooting splits are outrageous (61.7/52.4/94.7) meaning his efficiency numbers are outrageous as well. Three: he’s the guy on that Miami roster that, if I was an opposing coach, I would build a game-plan around stopping.

8. Buddy Hield, Oklahoma: Hield was a first-team all-american entering the season and has scored 54 points in two games this year. He went for 30 in a win at Memphis. Not bad.

9. Domantas Sabonis, Gonzaga: Kyle Wiltjer was the guy that was on all the preseason all-american lists, but through two (And a half? Does Pitt still count?) games this season, Sabonis has been Gonzaga’s best player. He’s averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 boards, scoring on post-ups and offensive boards and shooting a robust 82.6 percent from the floor.

10. Evan Bradds, Belmont: There are a number of guys deserving consideration for this spot — Demetrius Jackson, Melo Trimble, Shaq Harrison, Josh Hart — but I’m going to give Bradds a little love here. Through five games, he’s averaging 21.3 points, 8.6 boards and 2.4 assists while shooting 76.2 percent from the floor. He had 24 points and nine rebounds in Belmont’s win at Marquette and, in his last two games, is averaging 29 points and 10 boards while shooting 27-for-28 from the field. A run like that can’t last, but while he’s in the middle of it, we’re going acknowledge it.