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

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.