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.

Like his career, Frank Martin has built South Carolina from the ground up

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NEW YORK — It was after he finished watching South Carolina cut down the Madison Square Garden nets, after he had spent the better part of 30 minutes giving interviews on the court, after he was spotted by the CBS cameras, with a fist raised and tears pooling under his eyes, that the enormity of what he had just witnessed hit Darius Rucker.

“Gosh,” he said to everyone and no one in particular as he left the arena floor and made his way through the bowels of the Garden, “I can’t believe that just happened.”

The ‘that’ that Rucker, South Carolina’s most famous and, quite possibly, biggest fan, was referring to was a 77-70, come-from behind win over No. 4 seed Florida that jettisoned the seventh-seeded Gamecocks through the Elite 8 and into the Final Four. Prior to this season, the Gamecocks hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in 13 years. They had been to four NCAA tournaments in the previous 43 seasons, and they had never won back-to-back tournament game.

As in not ever.

“We’re in the Garden, watching the Gamecocks play to go to the Final Four,” Rucker said. “If you’d have told me that ten years ago I’d have told you that you were on crack.”

That’s the program that Frank Martin inherited in 2012, when he left Kansas State following a falling out with his athletic director, John Currie. Like South Carolina, Kansas State was hardly considered a destination job when Martin was at the helm, but he was able to build off of a foundation created by Bob Huggins. Martin had been to four NCAA tournaments in five years with Kansas State when he made the decision to leave. Nothing is more important to Martin than loyalty. “He’s always had a core group of people that he’s counted on,” his agent, Bret Just, said, and Currie was not one of those people.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came during the 2012 NCAA tournament. Kansas State was a No. 8 seed, squaring off with No. 1 seed Syracuse when Martin was informed by Currie that Jamar Samuels, one of his best players, would not be allowed to suit up. The school had stumbled upon information that Samuels had received a wire transfer for $200 from his AAU coach, and he was going to be suspended.

And that was that.

Martin was off to South Carolina.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

“It was a situation where we had to go,” associate head coach Matt Figger, who has been with Martin for the last decade, said, and it wasn’t exactly the easiest or smartest decision to leave. Most understood why Martin had to make the change that he made — he was offered a hefty raise and he had the chance to leave a place of employment where he did not get along with his boss — but it wasn’t as if Martin was climbing the ladder. If anything, South Carolina was a step backwards, as Martin took over a program with less pedigree and with a significant building job in front of them.

“I didn’t really know until I got into it. It was a much different deal. It looked easier on the surface than what it really was,” Figger said. “The best players transferred. Bruce Ellington, he’s with the 49ers now, he was the one guy that we could trust and he played football half the year. Couple of the guys that were the holdovers, I don’t think they believed in what our vision was. After a year, some of them left.”

“We had to start this from scratch.”

The process was slow in the early stages. Martin replaced Darrin Horn, who had won just 10 games and finished dead last in the SEC in his final season on campus, and didn’t post a .500 record until his third season in Columbia. Even then, that team went just 17-16. He won 15 SEC games in his first three years combined. After a late season swoon cost South Carolina a shot at the 2016 NCAA tournament, there was speculation that another year without a trip to the Big Dance could spell the end of Martin’s time with the Gamecocks.

“It was hard!” Martin’s wife, Anya, said. “You see he’s losing his hair. It’s all turning white. It was tough in the beginning. I had to ask him a couple of times, ‘Why here?’”

The easy answer is that it wasn’t Kansas State, but the truth is more complicated than that.

Martin is not a man that is afraid of a challenge. He’s not intimidated by a job that isn’t easy to do, not when you come from where he’s come from, when you’ve coached on the path that he has coached.

Martin got his first job when he was 12 years old, working at a Dairy Queen to help his mom pay the bills when his dad walked out on them. His coaching career started a year after he graduated high school, when he was just 19 years old.

“I tore my ACL the year before,” Martin said, “and my high school coach asked me to come help him, because the kids in the neighborhood respected me so much.”

He was nothing more than an assistant with the team at Miami Senior High School, helping out when and where he could, when the head coach of the JV team didn’t show up for work one day. Shakey Rodriguez, a legend in the Miami High School basketball community, told Martin he would be coaching that day, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“By his second season,” Martin’s mother, Lourdes, beaming as she held back tears of joy, said, “he was 22-0.”

Even as Martin was coaching, he was still working on the side, most famously as a bouncer in Miami’s nightclub scene. He needed a degree, so he took night classes at Miami-Dade College before enrolling part-time at FIU. His future was capped if he didn’t graduate.

“He made it out,” she added, holding on to her grandson to steady herself as the moment washed over her. “He had many, many jobs, and then God was up there and blessed him.”

Martin would go from the high school ranks to Northeastern, taking a paycut just to get his foot in the door. He spent four years as an assistant and met his wife — “My wife turned me down seven times to go out on a date,” he said. “Seven. Seven. And the day she made the mistake of going out on a date with me, I never let her go.” — before moving on to Cincinnati, where he joined forces with Bob Huggins, spending two seasons with the Bearcats before following Huggins to Kansas State. He replaced Huggins as Kansas State’s head coach a year after joining the program and just seven years after he joined the collegiate coaching ranks. He would take the Wildcats to more NCAA tournaments in his five seasons at the helm than they had been to in the previous two decades combined.

“Frank’s never steered away from a challenge as long as I’ve known him,” Anya said. “He’s overcome any obstacle in his way, just ‘I’m going to make it work.'”

“He’s a builder,” Just said.

And he’s done just that at South Carolina.

“I’m happy as any mom could be,” Lourdes said. “Speechless, but not all the way. I have to talk to him about my air ticket.”

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Martin spoke many times about the dream of leading this team to this moment, but he didn’t always believe that the dream of taking the Gamecocks to the Final Four was a realistic possibility.

“When we beat Duke, Frank said ‘Why not us?’” Figgers said, a motto that had become something of a rallying cry for the Gamecocks during the East Regional. “That’s the first time we really talked about [winning a title].”

The team and the coaching staff weren’t the only ones that never really gave this possibility much thought. College basketball at large — the fans, the media, opposing coaches — all had the same thought: “South Carolina in the Final Four? The same team that put up 86 points in four overtimes against Alabama? Lulz.”

They showed us.

Over and over again.

South Carolina’s star guard Sindarius Thornwell, who was named Most Outstanding Player in the East Region, mentioned in every press conference this weekend that no one paid attention to or respected the program prior to this run. Martin ranted earlier this year about the lack of local media coverage his team gets, particularly when they play on the road.

At this point in the season, most players get burned out of the media attention they get, answering the same questions over and over and over again.

I don’t blame them.

On Sunday evening, after spending 25 minutes up on the dais for a postgame press conference, Thornwell was finally en route back to the locker room to celebrate with his team when he was pulled aside by a television reporter that needed just a couple more minutes of his time.

Thornwell, decked out in a East Regional Champs shirt and hat with the remnants of a net dangling around his neck, didn’t mind.

“You gotta talk a lot,” Thornwell said, “when you win.”

Drake hires Furman’s Niko Medved to be new head coach

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Drake has hired Furman head coach Niko Medved to the same position, the school announced on Sunday.

The 43-year-old Medved has led the Paladins to back-to-back CIT appearances as he’s been the head coach there for four seasons. Also an assistant coach at Minnesota and Colorado State, Medved is a noted recruiter.

“I am ecstatic about the opportunity to be the next men’s basketball coach at Drake University,” Medved said in the release. “Drake University’s tremendous reputation partnered with its strong leadership and the thriving Des Moines community make this a special place.  I was born and raised in the Midwest and have so many strong roots in this part of the country.  My family and I can’t wait to get started.”

Medved was named the Southern Conference’s 2017 Coach of the Year for helping lead Furman to the regular-season title in the league.

The Bulldogs are coming off a last-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference as former head coach Ray Giacoletti was relieved of his duties in January. Drake only has one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971 (coming in 2008) as the Bulldogs have struggled to remain relevant in a tough league.

VIDEO: North Carolina and Roy Williams dance in locker room after advancing to Final Four

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Watching Roy Williams dance never gets old.

The North Carolina head coach is taking his team back to the Final Four next weekend after the Tar Heels outlasted Kentucky in a thrilling South Regional final.

North Carolina is making its 20th appearance in the Final Four as they are going for the second consecutive season.

2017 NCAA Tournament Final Four schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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National Semifinals– Saturday, April 1

6:09 p.m. EST, CBS, Glendale
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Approximately 40 minutes after conclusion of first game, CBS, Glendale
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 3 Oregon (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

VIDEO: The insane final 10 seconds of North Carolina’s win over Kentucky

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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North Carolina and Kentucky ended in legendary fashion on Sunday.

After freshman Malik Monk buried a heavily-contested three-pointer to tie the game at 73-all for Kentucky with under 10 seconds left the Tar Heels didn’t use a timeout as Theo Pinson found forward Luke Maye for the game-winning jumper.

These 10 seconds will go down as one of the greatest finishes in NCAA Tournament history.