Looking Back: The 2002 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. Amar’e Stoudemire: Stoudemire, a Memphis commit, never set foot on a college campus as he immediately entered the 2002 NBA Draft. Drafted 9th overall by Phoenix, Stoudemire won Rookie of the Year honors in 2003 and played eight seasons in the Valley of the Sun before making the move to New York. In 11 seasons as a pro, Stoudemire has been to five All-Star games and is averaging 21.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

2. Carmelo Anthony: Anthony may have spent just one year in college but it was an impactful one, as he helped lead Syracuse to the school’s only national title. In ten years as a pro in Denver and New York, Anthony is averaging 25.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game with six All-Star Game appearances.

3. Raymond Felton: Felton spent three seasons (12.5 ppg, 6.9 apg) at North Carolina, winning a national title in 2005 while also earning first team All-ACC and third team AP All-America honors as a junior. Picked in the lottery by Charlotte in 2005, Felton has played eight seasons in the NBA (13.5 ppg, 6.6 apg) for four different franchises.

4. Rashad McCants: A teammate of Felton’s at North Carolina, McCants averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in three seasons as a Tar Heel. His professional career wasn’t smooth by any means, as the 14th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft hasn’t played in the NBA since 2009. McCants played for the Texas Legends in the D-League, this past season, and he’s even dabbled in some acting.

5. Chris Bosh: From a professional hardware standpoint Bosh, who spent one season at Georgia Tech (15.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg), has been the most successful member of the 2002 class as he’s won back-to-back NBA titles with the Miami Heat. Bosh is averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in ten seasons as a pro, spending the first seven in Toronto.

6. Jason Fraser: Fraser had a tough time eluding the injury bug during his four years at Villanova, Fraser averaged 5.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in four seasons at Villanova, followed by some professional basketball overseas and even a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters as “Apollo” Fraser.

7. Paul Davis: Davis played four seasons at Michigan State, averaging 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a Spartan. Selected by the Clippers in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, Davis has played in three different leagues overseas since 2010 and most recently played for BC Khimki in Russia.

8. Shelden Williams: Williams was incredibly productive in four years at Duke, averaging 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a Blue Devil. A lottery pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2006, Williams played for seven different NBA teams before spending last season with Élan Chalon in France. Oh, his wife is pretty good at basketball as well.

9. Sean May: May teamed up with Felton and McCants to win a national title in 2005, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in the process. In three seasons as a Tar Heel, May averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and was picked 13th overall by Charlotte in the 2005 NBA Draft. After four seasons in Charlotte and Sacramento, May has played overseas since 2010 with his most recent action coming in France with Paris-Levallois Basket.

10. DeAngelo Collins: Collins attempted to jump straight from high school to the pros, and with teams voicing concerns about off-court issues he went undrafted. Collins has since played in multiple leagues around the world, playing in China last summer (20.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg).

11. J.J. Redick: Redick teamed up with Williams at Duke, where they helped lead the Blue Devils to a Final Four appearance in 2004 and three ACC titles. Redick won multiple national Player of the Year honors as a senior, and he left Duke as college basketball’s all-time leaded in made three-pointers. Drafted by Orlando with the 11th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Redick (who was traded to Milwaukee during the 2012-13 season) has averaged 9.4 points per game in seven seasons as a pro.

12. Bracey Wright: In three seasons at Indiana, Wright averaged 17.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and earned first team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore. Drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft, Wright spent two seasons with the franchise before moving on to play in multiple leagues in Europe (most recently playing for Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia).

13. Evan Burns: Burns played one year at San Diego State, posting averages of 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Originally a UCLA commit (academics led to his ending up at SDSU), Burns would be dismissed from the program by head coach Steve Fisher during the summer of 2003 for failing to “meet his academic responsibilities” three months after suffering a torn ACL. Burns last played professionally with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League in 2008.

14. Shavlik Randolph: Randolph spent three nondescript seasons at Duke (6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) before entering the 2005 NBA Draft, going undrafted. But he managed to play 57 games for the 76ers in 2005-06 and he’s been in the NBA ever since (albeit with minimal playing time), averaging 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in seven seasons as a pro.

15. Daniel Horton: In four years at Michigan the 6-3 Texan averaged 14.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. Horton wasn’t drafted in 2006, and outside of stints with Los Angeles and Albuquerque in the D-League (he also spent one game with the Miami Heat in 2006) he’s played overseas for his entire pro career. Horton last played with Korihait in Finland.

16. Anthony Roberson: Roberson and Matt Walsh arrived at Florida with high expectations, but it would be the group that came in after them (Joakim Noah and co.) that would lead the program to two national titles. In three seasons at Florida Roberson averaged 15.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, and he’s played with 11 professional teams (four in the NBA) since going undrafted in 2005.

17. Chris Rodgers: The Portland native failed to live up to the hype that preceded his arrival at Arizona, as he averaged just 6.3 points per game in four seasons in Tucson. Rodgers was suspended halfway through his senior campaign, only to return later in the season. Now known as Mahmoud Abdul-Awwel, he most recently played professionally in Mexico.

18. Antoine Wright: Wright played three seasons at Texas A&M (15.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) before being selected 15th overall by the Nets in the 2005 NBA Draft. Wright played seven seasons in the NBA for four different teams, most recently playing with Sacramento in 2010. Since then, Wright has played in China, Spain, Venezuela and the D-League.

19. Dee Brown: Brown played four seasons at Illinois, averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists per game in his college career and earning second team AP All-America honors as a senior. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft by Utah, Brown played in 49 games as a rookie before making the move overseas. He most recently played for Türk Telekom in Turkey.

20. Hassan Adams: Adams was an incredible leaper during his career at Arizona, in which he averaged 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Nets, Adams spent one season in New Jersey and part of another in Toronto (2008-09) with the majority of his action coming in various international leagues. Adams most recently played for Guaros de Lara in Venezuela.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES 

  • 25. Lenny Cooke
  • 27. Andre Iguodala
  • 38. Gerry McNamara
  • 45. Brandon Roy
  • 46. Jarrett Jack
  • 48. Deron Williams
  • 56. Randy Foye
  • 57. Steve Novak
  • 65. Taquan Dean
  • 71. Francisco Garcia
  • 86. C.J. Watson
  • 95. Nik Caner-Medley
  • UR: Quincy Douby
  • UR: Marcedes Lewis
  • UR: Nate Robinson
  • UR: Al Thornton

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Texas fans helped raise over $100,000 for Andrew Jones and Family Support Fund

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Texas fans have helped raise over six figures in support of the Andrew Jones and Family Support Fund after the sophomore guard was diagnosed with leukemia last week.

The University of Texas helped launch the fund, with all donations heading towards the medical and necessary family-related expenses for Jones that are allowed within NCAA rules.

Although Jones’ diagnosis was tough for many around college basketball, the fund has helped raise over $104,000 in just over five days.  Over 1,300 people have donated towards the fund, which is the only family-approved way to help Jones and his family with medical costs.

The website for the Andrew Jones and Family Support Fund can be found right here.

A former McDonald’s All-American, Jones was in the midst of a solid sophomore season with the Longhorns before the public announcement last week. Jones averaged 13.5 points and 2.0 assists per game in 10 games this season.

Without Jones in the lineup, Texas won an emotional double-overtime thriller over TCU at home. After the win, Texas coaches and players honored Jones with signs of support. The Longhorns lost their lost Big 12 game by a point on the road at Oklahoma State as the Cowboys honored Jones before the game with special shooting shirts in his honor.

TCU’s Fisher out indefinitely with knee injury

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TCU announced on Wednesday that point guard Jaylen Fisher, one of the most important players on their roster, will be out indefinitely after suffering a knee injury in practice on Tuesday.

Fisher is the team’s third-leading scorer at 12.3 points and leads the team with 5.4 assists per game.

Nothing will be official until after an MRI, but a source told NBC Sports that the injury is not thought to be to the ACL but still may end Fisher’s season.

TCU has had a brutal run of luck this year, becoming the first casualty of the depth of the Big 12. They’re 1-4 in the league this season, but those four losses have come by a combined eight points in a combined three overtimes as TCU missed a combined two game-winning shots at the buzzer.

We discussed the Horned Frogs on the most recent CBT Podcast.

Kentucky’s loss to South Carolina isn’t surprising, it’s just who they are

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It happens all the time.

A good team will go on the road in league play, take a loss to a team they probably shouldn’t lose to and suddenly we all will starting talking about why this team stinks and how we knew it all along.

It happened with Duke when they lost at Boston College. It happened with Villanova when they lost at Butler. It happened with Michigan State when they lost at Ohio State. It happened with Arizona when they lost at Colorado.

And it happened last night when Kentucky lost at a rebuilding South Carolina team.

The only truly surprising part of Kentucky’s 76-68 loss to the Gamecocks was that it came after Kentucky held a 14-point second half lead. South Carolina has never exactly been known as an offensive juggernaut and, this year, they are still adapting to playing without Sindarius Thornwell and P.J. Dozier. They closed the game on a 36-14 run just three days after winning a game where they shot 27.1 percent from the field.

If there is a concern here, it’s that Kentucky collapsed.

“This looked like a bunch of freshman playing,” John Calipari said afterward. “First time this year,” later adding that, “there’s an unwarranted arrogance that when we get up, we look really good. ‘I’m really good. I’m going to do what I’m choosing to do and I’m not going to listen.’ That’s what happened. It started rolling and all of a sudden we couldn’t stop it.”

Coach Cal is notorious for speaking to his players through press conferences. He knows that everything is said is going to get plastered all over social media and every Kentucky website, particularly after a loss like this. He knows it will pop up on his players’ twitter feed or when they are watching Sportscenter, so taking what he says publicly with that in mind is important.

And while there is some merit to what he’s saying, it’s also important to remember these three things:

  1. Kentucky is not only the youngest team in America, they were playing without their starting point guard (Quade Green) while trying to acclimate yet another freshman (Jarred Vanderbilt) into the rotation. Vanderbilt saw minutes at the point last night. Brad Calipari saw minutes, too.
  2. All of that happened against a team that just so happens to be one of the nation’s toughest and most physical defenses. South Carolina may lack some of the talent they had last season but they are still tough, strong kids that play for Frank Martin and are never going to back down. I guarantee there is nothing the kids on that roster love more than landing a shot against a team full of cocky future lottery picks.
  3. I’m going to say it slowly, so pay attention: Kentucky. Is. Not. That Good. We know this. They are ranked 21st in the AP Poll. They are rated 29th on KenPom. They don’t have a star. The only reason anyone is freaking out about this game is because of the name on the front of the jersey. If Auburn or Tennessee or Clemson blew a 14-point lead on the road against South Carolina we would chalk it up to a pretty good team falling victim to that home court advantage that is so prevalent in college hoops.

We will all save ourselves quite a bit of time and energy if we just accept what has become obvious: This is not a typical Kentucky team in the Cal era.

There is still Final Four upside should Cal figure this thing out, and with the way things are going in the SEC, a conference title is certainly still within reach.

But Kentucky is going to take some more lumps in league play. They’re going to end up getting a seed somewhere in that 5-7 range. Getting to a Sweet 16 would be good for them. A Final Four isn’t an impossibility, not with the upside on this roster, but dropping out of the dance before the final weekend certainly wouldn’t be a massive disappointment.

That’s just who they are.

What can KenPom’s efficiency rankings tell us about this year’s title contenders?

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Yesterday, we took a look at whether or not Duke’s issues on the defense end of the floor will affect whether or not they can win a national title, and barring a dramatic turnaround over the final three months of the season, the answer appears to be yes.

No one with a defense that ranks lower than Duke’s currently does has ever reached the national title game, and only two that are in the same vicinity have even played on the final Monday of the season.

That’s concerning.

But Duke is far from the only good team with major red flags this season, so today we are going to take a look which of the other national title contenders compare favorably with past Final Four teams.

(All the data in these charts come from KenPom.com. They are the adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings for each team, from prior to the start of the NCAA tournament as well as from the end of the season. We cannot use the adjusted efficiency margin because that data does not translate across seasons. KenPom’s database only goes back to the 2001-2002 season.)

Since 2002, just 13 of the 64 Final Four teams have had an offensive efficiency ranking outside the top 30 when the NCAA tournament began. Only four of those teams reached the national title game, while 2014 UConn is the only one to win a ring with an offense that wasn’t among the best in the country:

This season, there are a handful of top ten teams – teams that are largely considered among the best in the country – that are ranked outside the top 30 in adjusted offensive efficiency, including a pair of Big 12 title challengers.

Some of these teams you would expect to be on here. Virginia hasn’t lost a step defensively this year, but without a killer like Joe Harris or Malcolm Brogdon, they aren’t among the elite on the offensive side of the ball. The same can be said for Cincinnati, Texas Tech and West Virginia. We know they win with their defense.

The surprise is Michigan.

John Beilein is widely regarded as one of college basketball’s best offensive tacticians, and to see him put together a team that is winning with their defense is … well, it is weird. He and Brad Stevens are the only two coaches to take teams to a title game with a defense that ranked outside of the top 40.

I know that the saying is “defense wins championships,” but that doesn’t hold water in the college basketball realm. While there have only been 11 Final Four teams that ranked outside the top 30 in defensive efficiency prior to the start of the tournament, three of them won the national title and three more reached the title game.

Put another way, it’s easier to win in March with a great offense and future NBA players than it is to win with a great defense that can sometimes struggle to score.

The one difference here is that the floor is not as low.

North Carolina’s 2009 team is the lowest-rated defense at 39th to win a title and they had four players still in NBA rotations today and two more than saw time on an NBA roster as some point.

Where this discussion gets really interesting is when looking at the teams that do not have great defenses this season.

Duke, who currently ranks 72nd in adjusted defensive efficiency, is the team that we always talk about, but there are nine teams that have been ranked in the top five of the AP Poll at some point this season are currently outside the top 25 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric: Wichita State, Kansas, Kentucky, Villanova, Oklahoma, Xavier, Duke, Arizona and Arizona State:

So who can actually win a title this season?

Of the last 16 national champs, 12 have ranked in the top ten of either offensive or defensive efficiency and 15 of the 16 have ranked in the top 20. The only team to win a national title while entering the NCAA tournament ranked outside the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency was Kemba Walker’s 2011 UConn team, and they ranked 22nd and 25th, respectively.

Remember, this can all change rather quickly. If you look at the difference in the pre-tournament ratings vs. the post-tournament ratings below, you can see how much getting hot for a six-game stretch can change things, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

So this is a snapshot of how things stand today. In a two week’s time, these numbers could end up being irrelevant.

With that in mind, here are the six teams that – as of today – ranks in the top 25 of both offensive and defensive efficiency.

 

For reference, here are the rankings for every national champion of the last 16 years.

Trae Young’s turnover-plagued night costs No. 4 Oklahoma at Kansas State

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When Stephen Curry was a freshman at Davidson, in one of the first games of his college career, he turned the ball over eight times in the first half of a game at Eastern Michigan. Head coach Bob McKillop toyed with the idea of benching his star freshman, instead opting to turn him loose again in the second half.

Curry scored 13 second half points – to go along with five turnovers – and then went out and dropped 32 in his next game.

Those 15 points and 13 turnovers were his first career double-double, and I’m not sure that he’s slowed down since.

I say all that to say this: It is a minor miracle that the first time that Trae Young looked mortal came on January 16th.

No. 4 Oklahoma went into Manhattan on Tuesday night and got worked over by Kansas State. The Sooners ended up losing 87-69. They trailed by 14 points within the first 10 minutes of the game. Young finished with 20 points and six assists – numbers that would be phenomenal for literally any other point guard on the road in conference play – but he shot just 8-for-21 from the floor, finished 2-for-10 from three and turned the ball over 12 times.

12!

In a vacuum, this performance really wouldn’t be anything to worry about. Young is Oklahoma’s offense. When he has a bad game, the team is going to struggle. That’s the risk of relying this much on one player. It is that simple, and the idea that we should expect a freshman point guard to make it the entirety of conference play in a league as difficult as the Big 12 is ludicrous. He’s going to throw up a dud every now and again, and that’s what happened on Tuesday.

“I played terrible,” Young said. “I blame a lot of this loss on me.”

Where this becomes a concern for the Sooners is that the turnover problem that Young dealt with on Tuesday is not exactly an isolated incident. Young is leading the nation averaging 5.2 turnovers per game, and while that number is inflated by opportunity – Young plays in the nation’s third-fastest offense with the highest-usage rate we’ve ever seen in the KenPom era – his turnover rate of 19.2 is somewhat concerning. For comparison’s sake, Jalen Brunson’s turnover rate is 10.5. Joel Berry II’s is 11.7. Devonte’ Graham’s is 17.0.

The biggest worry is that the number keeps rising. Young has set a career-high in turnovers in each of the last two games, three of the last four games and four times total since the start of Big 12 play. There are a lot of good coaches, good teams and great point guards in the Big 12. Teams may have started to solve the riddle, which means that Lon Kruger and Young are going to have to start making some adjustments.

And that will come.

Kruger is one of the best pure basketball coaches in the business.

He’ll find an answer.

Which is why the most disappointing part about this loss is that it puts Oklahoma in a tough spot in regards to an outright Big 12 regular season title. With how strong the top of the conference is, losing games against anyone outside of the top four is a major disadvantage, and Oklahoma is now the only team amongst that group – West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas included – that has lost one.

But credit where credit is due: Bruce Weber put together a game-plan to stymie Young, got 24 points and five assists out of Barry Brown and 21 points, seven boards and seven assists out of Dean Wade.

The Wildcats kicked Sooner tail on Tuesday, and in the process, earned themselves a win that is going to carry quite a bit of weight on Selection Sunday.