Looking Back: The 2001 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. Eddy Curry: Curry went pro out of college and played his first four seasons with Chicago. His best year came in 2006-2007 when he averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 boards for the Knicks. He’s played 26 games in the NBA the last four years as conditioning and motivation issues continually pop up.

2. Kelvin Torbert: Torbert had a good-but-underwhelming four-year career at Michigan State, but he wasn’t even a full-time starter on the 2005 Final Four team. Torbert went undrafted in 2005 and has bounced around Europe since then.

3. Dajuan Wagner: Wagner spent a season at Memphis after a legendary high school career. He averaged 13.4 points as a rookie in Cleveland after getting picked sixth in the 2002 Draft, but injuries ended his hoops career way too early. He left Cleveland after 2005, and played just one more game in the NBA.

4. Tyson Chandler: Chandler skipped college and has developed into one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. He’s been an all-star, a Defensive Player of the Year, an NBA champion and an Olympic champion.

5. Ousmane Cisse: Cisse skipped college and was the 46th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. He never played in the NBA, bouncing around basketball’s minor leagues and international leagues.

6. Kwame Brown: Brown was the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft after skipping college. He’s never lived up to the hype, but he’s been in the NBA for 12 years and made more than $60 million in his career. Not bad.

7. Julius Hodge: Hodge had a solid four-year career with NC State, eventually getting picked 20th in the first round of the 2005 draft. He lasted all of 23 games before heading overseas.

8. DeSagana Diop: Diop never made it to college, going straight from high school to the No. 8 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Diop made the Finals with the Mavericks in 2006 and has been in the NBA for 12 years despite the fact that he’s never averaged more than 2.9 points in a season.

9. Rick Rickert: Rickert played for two seasons at Minnesota, where he earned all-Big Ten first team honors, but entered the draft after his sophomore season. He was picked 55th in the 2003 draft, but has never played in the NBA and lasted just three seasons in the NBDL.

10. David Lee: Lee played four years at Florida, averaging 13.6 points and 9.0 boards as a senior. He was the 30th pick in the 2005 draft, playing five years in New York and the past three seasons in Golden State. He’s become a consistent double-double threat, a two-time all-star and one of the more valuable big men in the league.

11. Jawad Williams: Williams played four seasons at North Carolina and averaged 13.1 points as a senior on the 2005 national title team. Williams bounced around Europe, but did play three years in the NBA with Cleveland.

12. Carlos Hurt: Hurt played just 14 games at Louisville before getting hurt and, eventually, kicked off the team. He ended up at Robert Morris, an NAIA school in Illinois. He played all of one seasn in the NBDL.

13. Jonathan Hargett: Hargett played one season at West Virginia, was arrested for selling weed and transferred to Virginia Union but couldn’t get eligible. He’s been locked up since.

14. David Harrison: Colorado played at Colorado for three seasons, averaging 17.1 points and 8.8 boards as a junior before entering the NBA Draft. Harrison went in the first round, 29th overall, to Indiana in the 2004 NBA Draft and lasted with the Pacers for four seasons. He played for three years in China afterwards. He’s perhaps best known for either partaking in the Pistons-Pacers brawl in Auburn Hills or an appearance on Real World: Philadelphia.

15. Aaron Miles: Miles had a terrific four-year career at Kansas, but he wasn’t picked in the 2005 NBA Draft. He latched on with the Warriors for 19 games in the 2005-2006 season, but hasn’t been back to the league since, instead bouncing around overseas.

16. Mo Williams: Williams went to Alabama and lasted with the Crimson Tide for two seasons, averaging 16.4 points and 3.9 assists as a senior. He went pro and was picked 47th in the 2003 NBA Draft. He’s been a starter in the league since his second season with Milwaukee, and played with Utah last season. Williams was an all-star in 2009.

17. TJ Ford: Ford had two wildly successful seasons at Texas, earning Freshman of the Year honors before leading the Longhorns to the Final Four as a sophomore while being named National Player of the Year. Ford was the No. 8 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and was one of the best young point guards in the NBA before spinal cord injuries derailed his career. Ford was most recently on the Spurs roster in 2011-2012.

18. Josh Childress: Childress played three seasons in college and was an All-American as a junior before becoming the sixth pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He had four successful years in Atlanta, but he accepted a more valuable contract to play in Greece over a five-year deal in the NBA. He lasted two seasons in the Greek League before returning to the NBA. Childress played with Brooklyn last season.

19. Cedric Bozeman: Bozeman played out his eligibility at UCLA, but he only managed to stay healthy for three full seasons. He ended his career as a fifth-year senior, but only lasted 23 games in the NBA during the 2006-2007 season.

20. Wayne Simien: Simien was a two-time All-American at Kansas and was a first round pick, 29th overall, of the Miami Heat in the 2005 NBA Draft. He won oa rin in 2006, but only lasted two seasons in the league. Simien retired from basketball in 2009.

OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • 22. James White
  • 32. Jason Maxiell
  • 32. Pierre Pierce
  • 36. Billy Edelin
  • 40. Travis Diener
  • 41. Ben Gordon
  • 46. Chuck Hayes
  • 53. Will Bynum
  • 65. Josh Powell
  • 87. Channing Frye
  • 87. Lawrence Roberts
  • 91. Keith Langford
  • 99. Emeka Okafor
  • UR. Luther Head
  • UR. Hakim Warrick

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.