Looking Back: The 2003 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. LeBron James: Duh.

2. Luol Deng: The Dengs are Sudanese basketball royalty, and Luol is the best of the bunch. After one season at Duke where he averaged 15.1 points and helped Duke to the Final Four, Deng was the seventh pick in the 2004 Draft. He’s spent his entire career in Chicago, making the all-star game each of the past two seasons.

3. Shannon Brown: Brown ended up enrolling at Michigan State, where he played for three seasons. After a junior year where he averaged 17.2 points, Brown entered the draft and went 25th to Cleveland. In the NBA, Brown bounced around for a couple of seasons before breaking out with the Lakers in the 2009 playoffs. He’s been a double-figure scorer with the Lakers and the Suns since then.

4. Ndudi Ebi: Ebi was one of the guys that ushered in the one-and-done era. He skipped college and went pro, getting picked 26th by Minnesota in the 2003 Draft. He played 19 games in two seasons, spent a year in the D-League and has been overseas ever since.

5. Kendrick Perkins: Perkins was supposed to be a package deal to Memphis with high school teammate Keena Young, but he went pro instead, getting picked 27th by the Grizzlies in 2003. Perkins has carved out a lucrative career as a paint enforcer without a postgame. He won a ring with Boston in 2008 and is now playing with Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City.

6. Chris Paul: Paul was an all-american at Wake Forest and has gone on to be one of the best point guards in the NBA.

7. Brian Butch: Butch redshirted his first season, but never quite developed into the player he was expected to be. He eventually would up averaging 12.4 points and 6.6 boards as a senior, but went undrafted. He’s been with the same D-League team since 2009.

7. David Padgett: Padgett spent his freshman season at Kansas before transferring to Louisville. With the Cardinals, Padgett never put up huge numbers, but he developed into arguably the Cardinals most important piece. He went undrafted and went into coaching after two years of pro ball. He’s currently on staff at IUPUI.

9. Leon Powe: Powe overcame a tough upbringing to make it to Cal, where he played two seasons, which sandwiched a year he took off because of a knee injury. Powe was the 49th pick in the 2006 Draft and had a successful start to his career in Boston, but blew out his knee again after the 2009 season. He’s been out of the league since 2011.

10. Kris Humphries: I could try to tell you Humphries was the 14th pick in the 2004 Draft after one season at Minnesota, and that he became a consistent double-double threat with the Nets the last could of years, but we all know that he’s the dude that Kanye stole Kim from.

11. Von Wafer: After two seasons at Florida State, Wafer has been an NBA journeyman since getting picked 39th in the 2005 Draft. He’s played for seven NBA teams and a trio of teams abroad.

12. Brandon Bass: Bass played two seasons at LSU before going pro, averaging 17.3 points and 9.1 boards as a sophomore. He was the 33rd pick in the 2005 Draft, and has carved out a career for himself as a hard-working, scrappy power forward. He’s played for Dallas, Orlando and, most recently, Boston.

13. Olu Famutimi: Famutimi played for two seasons at Arkansas before questionably entering the 2005 NBA Draft. He wasn’t picked, and has played in Turkey, France and Germany since.

14. J.R. Giddens: Giddens began his career at Kansas, but a stabbing incident forced a transfer to New Mexico after two seasons with the Jayhawks. He was eventually picked with the last pick in the first round of the 2008 NBA Draft, but lasted just two seasons in the NBA.

14. Linas Kleiza: The native of Lithuania played at Missouri and entered the draft after two seasons. He went 27th, and played well earlier in his career with Denver. After one season in Greece, he came back and has been with Toronto since then.

14. Travis Outlaw: Outlaw never went to college, but he’s managed to carve out a nice career for himself since being the 23rd pick in the 2003 Draft. He played with Portland until 2010, which included a couple of big seasons in 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. He’s played with the Clippers, Nets and Kings since then.

17. Mike Jones: Jones had a decent four-year career at Maryland. He never quite lived up to his potential, but he averaged 13.5 points as a senior. He never played in the NBA.

18. Charlie Villanueva: Villanueva played two seasons at UConn, which included a national title in 2004, before he went pro. He was the seventh pick in the 2005 Draft and had one really good season in Milwaukee that earned him a bigger contract with Detroit. He’s been in the league since, but hasn’t done much worth mentioning.

19. Trevor Ariza: Ariza played one season at UCLA before going pro. He was the 43rd pick, but has managed to put together a solid NBA career. His best season came in 2009-2010, when he averaged 14.9 points with Houston.

20. James Lang: Lang never went to college and was the 48th pick of the 2003 Draft. He played all of 11 games in the NBA, and bounced around the D-League and NBA training camp roster before suffering a stroke in 2009 that left him partially paralyzed.

OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • 25. Mustafa Shakur
  • 29. Chris Taft
  • 30. Jackie Butler
  • 32. Aaron Brooks
  • 39. Ronnie Brewer
  • 39. Gary Forbes
  • 41. Marcus Williams
  • 42. Terrence Roberts
  • 43. Chris Richard
  • 45. Will Sheridan
  • 52. Courtney Sims
  • 54. Cartier Martin
  • 64. Dorell Wright
  • 66. Paul Millsap
  • 79. PJ Tucker
  • 80. Renaldo Balkman
  • 95. Josh Boone
  • UR: Quincy Douby
  • UR: Nick Fazekas
  • UR: Aaron Gray
  • UR: Dominic McGuire
  • UR: Adam Morrison
  • UR: Joakim Noah
  • UR: Anthony Tolliver

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

No. 1 Kansas dominates No. 4 Purdue in style

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Kansas, the top-seeded team in Midwest region, didn’t just beat No. 4 Purdue, it did so in style. Fast break after fast break, dunk after dunk, the Jayhawks ran the Boilermakers off the floor, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 win on Thursday night in Kansas City.

Kansas went on an 11-0 run in the second half, forcing four Purdue turnovers during that stretch. Once the Boilermakers finally got back on the board, the Jayhawks led 69-56. That run broke open the game en route to the 32-point victory.

Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham each had 26 points. Mason added seven rebounds and seven assists. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan ended his season — and perhaps, his college career — with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Kansas advances to play No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday in the Elite Eight.

WATCH: LaGerald Vick’s 360 dunk

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It takes a lot of confidence to throw down a dunk better suited for pre-game lay-up lines than the middle of a NCAA Tournament game.

But Kansas sophomore guard LaGerald Vick thought this breakaway opportunity in the second half of a Sweet 16 matchup against No. 4 seed Purdue was the perfect time to throw down a 360 dunk.

Jordan Mathews three sends No. 1 seed Gonzaga past No. 4 West Virginia

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Jordan Mathews hit a three with less than a minute left and West Virginia missed a pair of threes on the final possession of the game as No. 1 seed Gonzaga won a dogfight, 61-58, over No. 4 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Mathews, who finished with 13 points on the night, spent 4:30 on the bench before checking into the game right before hitting the eventual game-winning three. It came on a possession fitting of this game, which was the embodiment of the mantra ‘a close game is not always a good game.’ Nigel Williams-Goss, who played arguably his worst game as a member of the Zags, turned the ball over immediately after gathering a defensive rebound. But West Virginia’s Nathan Adrian had a shot blocked at the rim and, after corralling the loose ball, Williams-Goss found Mathews open in the wing for a three that put the Zags up 60-58 with 37 seconds left.

What’s going to be talked about after this game is the final possession for West Virginia.

Jevon Carter, who finished with 21 points and who, prior to that final possession, continued to hit big jumper after big jumper for the Mountaineers, airballed a three and, after West Virginia gathered the rebound, threw up another tough three that bounced off the front rim. West Virginia again got the loose ball, and after Carter dribbled 15 seconds off the block, he gave the ball up to Daxter Miles, who didn’t have enough time to get the shot off:

That possession is going to haunt Carter for a long, long time, and West Virginia was rightfully criticized for the way that they “executed” on that possession — I wonder if Bob Huggins regrets not saving a timeout for the end of the game — but it’s impossible to criticize West Virginia without also mentioning that Gonzaga’s defense was as good as it gets.

Not just just on that possession, either.

The Zags made life difficult for West Virginia all night long, and that should not come as a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention to this Gonzaga team. West Virginia shot 26.7 percent from the floor. They were 5-for-23 from three, and if it wasn’t for the 20 offensive rebounds they grabbed — more than the 16 field goals they made on the night — Gonzaga would have walked out of the SAP Center with a comfortable win. They are, quite literally, the best defensive team in college basketball, according to KenPom, and they made the plays they needed to make down the stretch to get the win. That’s what championship-caliber teams do.

And if you still don’t believe that Gonzaga can win a national title this season, than I’m not sure what else you need to see.

West Virginia was a terrible matchup for Gonzaga. Their guards, as good as they’ve been all season long, are not cut out for playing against a back court that is that much tougher, that much quicker, that much more aggressive and that much more athletic than them. Williams-Goss, who was a second-team NBC Sports All-American, was exposed. He finished the evening 2-for-10 from the floor with five turnovers and just a single assist before finding Mathews for the game-winning three. As a team, Gonzaga turned the ball over 16 times. Josh Perkins didn’t even get a shot off. Silas Melson was 2-for-7 from the floor. Throw in Zach Collins, who had just a single point, and four of Gonzaga’s top seven players were flat out bad on Thursday night.

That was, unequivocally, a game played the way West Virginia wanted it to be played. The Mountaineers controlled the game.

And yet, Gonzaga is still headed to the Elite 8, one game — against the winner of No. 2 Arizona and No. 11 Xavier — away from the right to go to the Final Four.

The knock on this Gonzaga team was their toughness, both physical and mental. Would they be able to handle a team that plays the way that West Virginia plays? Would they be able to handle the game pressure of playing to the final possession in the Sweet 16?

The answer is yes.

That doesn’t mean Gonzaga is going to win the national title.

But they are certainly good enough to get it done.

No. 3 Oregon advances after thriller with No. 7 Michigan

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Oregon is returning to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season following a thrilling, 69-68, victory over No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on Thursday night.

In a game in which neither team could fully grasp control of the game, it came down to the wire. Michigan held a 3-point lead with two minutes to play. Jordan Bell, who was unquestionably the deciding factor in this contest, came up with the first of several critical hustle plays down the stretch. He knifed in on a missed free throw, for the second-chance bucket, cutting the deficit to one.

On the ensuing Michigan possession, Bell didn’t block it but affected Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot enough to force the miss. Tyler Dorsey, the other hero for the Ducks, continued his stellar play this month with a go-ahead layup after he spun through the Wolverine defense. Bell’s close out on D.J. Wilson sent his 3-point attempt way off the mark. Bell would corral another offensive rebound on the other end of the floor, and while Dylan Ennis left the door open for Michigan following another missed free throw, Bell, deservedly, rebounded Walton’s miss as time ran out.

“Do whatever you can to win,” Bell told reporters after the game. “Me, get every rebound, offense or defense, help my team out as much as possible.”

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey poured in 20 points. Walton Jr., who front-rimmed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, ended his collegiate career with stat-line of 20 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Zak Irvin added 19.

Dillon Brooks is without a doubt the star, but Bell and Dorsey round out a big three that could lead the Ducks to Phoenix.

Before the start of the Pac-12 Tournament championship game on March 11, Oregon announced that Chris Boucher would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. How would this effect Oregon’s defense days before it began its quest for a Final Four?

Bell has helped answer those questions on Thursday night. He’s a big reason why Oregon outscored Michigan, 34-16, in points in the paint. But his greatest impact was how he slowed down the two-headed monster of Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson, two forwards whose increased production is a big reason why Michigan’s unlikely run extended into the second weekend of the tournament. The duo scored a combined 19 points off 7-of-20 shooting.

The other for Oregon was the continued offensive tear of Dorsey. In six postseason games, the sophomore two-guard is averaging 23.0 points per game. He went toe-to-toe with Walton, who was playing as good as any guard in the country, in the final minutes and got the better of the battle. Playing at this level, Oregon has another go-to scorer, one who has no issue taking a big shot late in the game. In either matchup in the next round, that should come in handy. Dillon Brooks, one of college’s toughest matchups, will either be busy with Purdue’s massive frontline or locked in an all-out war with Kansas’ Josh Jackson the perimeter.

“I’m really fortunate to have Jordan for three years and Tyler for two and Dillon Brooks,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve just been really fortunate. We’ve got good players and guys that are unselfish. They want to win. They’re competitive. We got down four there and guys could have gave into it. They didn’t. They fought their way back. Shows you what kind of competitive spirit they’ve got.”

The Ducks, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, will face the winner of top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

“We know Purdue is really big and Kansas is Kansas,” Altman said.

WATCH: Steve Alford end practice with half-court shot

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford ended practice on Thursday by drilling a half-court shot on the first attempt.

According to the Associated Press, this has been a season-long battle between the UCLA coaching staff and the players.

“Truth be told, we’ve been getting slaughtered. We’ve got guys like Lonzo (Ball) literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don’t think they’re buying it.”

No. 3 seed UCLA is set to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Memphis. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 97-92, in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 3.