Looking Back: The 2005 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. Gerald Green: Green went pro out of high school and wound up getting picked 18th by the Celtics. He managed to start 26 games for Boston in his second season, but bounced between the NBA and the D-League for the next couple of seasons. Green eventually turned to Europe in 2009, but returned to the NBA in 2011 and wound up playing 60 games with the Pacers this past season.

2. Josh McRoberts: McRoberts played two underwhelming seasons at Duke before entering the NBA Draft. He was picked in the second round in 2007 and played a couple of seasons with Indiana and Portland before signing a deal with the Lakers. McRoberts’ claim to fame at this point in his career is being a part of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers from Orlando.

3. Monta Ellis: Ellis was a high school legend in Mississippi, but the diminutive scorer skipped college and dropped to the 40th pick in the 2005 draft. Ellis developed into one of the best young scorers in the NBA with Golden State before getting traded to Milwaukee in 2012.

4. Martell Webster: Webster skipped college and was the sixth pick in the 2005 draft. He played for four seasons with Portland and a couple years with Minnesota before averaging 11.4 points in his best season as a pro in Washington this past season.

5. Andray Blatche: Blatche went pro out of prep school in Connecticut and was picked 49th by the Wizards. He lasted with Washington for seven years, even averaging 16.8 points and 8.2 boards in 2010-2011, before playing with Brooklyn this past season, but has been known for his off-court “exploits” more than anything he did on the court.

6. Tyler Hansbrough: Hansbrough was one of the bet college basketball players of all time, getting named an All-American four times, getting named the National Player of the Year as a junior and a national title as a senior. He was the 13th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and was a productive piece for the Pacers for the last four years. Oh, and his nickname is no longer Psycho T, it’s Gooch.

7. Louis Williams: Williams went pro out of high school and was the 45th pick in the draft. He’s never developed into a superstar, but Williams has been a double-figure scorer in the league for the last six years.

8. Julian Wright: Wright played at Kansas for two seasons before heading off to the NBA Draft, where he was the 13th pick in 2007. He spent the next three seasons playing for New Orleans before latching on with Toronto for a season, but he’s been out of the league since 2011, spending a year in the D-League and a season in Israel.

9. Richard Hendrix: Hendrix went to Alabama, where he teamed up with a talented-but-disappointing team coached by Mark Gottfried. After a junior season in which he averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 boards, Hendrix went pro. He was the 49th pick in 2008, but never set foot on an NBA court.

10. Mario Chalmers: Chalmers went from Alaska to Kansas to play his college ball, where his dad was the Director of Basketball Operations while he was there, where he won a national title in 2008. Chalmers went pro after that season, getting picked in the second round by the Heat, where he has become a starter and now a two-time NBA champion.

10. Tasmin Mitchell: Mitchell had a solid four-year career at LSU, making a final four and averaging 16.8 points and 9.4 boards as a fifth-year senior. He played one season in the D-League after graduating, but has been in Israel and Russia since then.

12. Andrew Bynum: Bynum went pro out of college instead of enrolling at UConn and was picked by the Lakers with the 10th pick. He developed into a constant double-double threat, a two-time NBA champ and an all-star in 2012, but he missed all of the 2012-2013 season in Philly with an injury. He’s also out of his mind these days.

13. Brandon Rush: Rush had an excellent three-year career at Kansas, winning a national title in 2008, but went pro after his junior season. He was the 13th pick in the 2008 draft and was a solid role player for Indiana and Golden State the past five years. He tore his ACL last season, the second time he’s had that injury. He also tore his ACL in an illegal workout with the Knicks when he was considering entering the 2007 draft.

14. Keith Brumbaugh: Brumbaugh tried to enter the 2005 NBA Draft, but committed to Oklahoma State instead. He never enrolled, because of a questionable ACT score and a shoplifting arrest, and was forced to go to a JuCo after a gun charge. (His story is detailed here.) He entered the 2008 NBA Draft and played professionally until 2010. Since then, he’s been arrested at least 13 times, most recently for violation of a pretrial release stemming from a domestic violence charge.

15. CJ Miles: Miles went pro out of high school and was a second round pick by the Jazz. He bounced between the NBA and the D-League for a few years but carved himself out a career with the Jazz as a bench scorer. He played with the Cavs last season.

16. Greg Paulus: Paulus was Duke’s point guard for three and a half years before losing his starting spot to Nolan Smith. A two-sport star in high school, he transferred to Syracuse to play quarterback as a fifth-year senior. When he graduated, Paulus went into coaching and is now on staff at Ohio State.

17. Amir Johnson: Johnson went pro out of high school and ended up getting picked late in the second round by the Pistons. He spent four years in Detroit before signing with Toronto, where he had his best season of his career in 2012-2013, averaging 10.0 points and 7.5 boards.

18. Danny Green: Green’s story is well-known by now. He spent four years at North Carolina, winning the 2009 national title, before getting picked in the second round of the 2009 draft. Green bounced around between the NBA and the D-League for a couple years, even doing a stint abroad, before finally buying into the ideal of being a professional He exploded during the 2013 Playoffs with the Spurs, having a memorable five games in the 2013 Finals before going ice cold for Game 6 and Game 7.

19. Jon Brockman: Brockman was a double-double machine for four seasons at Washington before heading off to the NBA. He ended up getting picked in the second round and spent three non-descript years in the league before heading to France.

20. Brandon Costner: Costner was injured as a freshman, earning a redshirt, and averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 boards in 2006-2007. He would never repeat that production in college before entering the 2009 NBA Draft. He went undrafted, averaged 20.1 points in the D-League in 2011-2012 and, ironically enough, was a teammate of Brockman’s in France this past season.

*According to the RSCI database for 2005, Gerald Green, Andray Blatche and Brandon Rush were all rated much lower than where they should have been because one outlet — Clark Francis of The Hoop Scoop — didn’t put fifth-year seniors in his top 100 list. We’ve adjusted the rankings here to account for that. For example, Green was the No. 1 prospect by three of the four outlets that counted prep players, so he’s No. 1 on this list.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES 

  • 22. Eric Devendorf
  • 27. Shawne Williams
  • 34. Luke Zeller
  • 41. Chris Douglas-Roberts
  • 43. Tiki Mayben
  • 44. Terrence Williams
  • 53. Jeff Adrien
  • 56. Wilson Chandler
  • 58. Sam Young
  • 61. Wesley Matthews
  • 81. Martellus Bennett
  • 84. Jeremy Pargo
  • 95. Denis Clemente
  • 98. Darren Collison
  • UR. Jimmy Graham

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Elite 8 Preview: Sunday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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No. 4 FLORIDA (-3) vs. No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA, 2:20 p.m., CBS: If you’re a fan of uptempo, wide-open basketball, of teams running beautiful offensive sets, spreading the floor and using the three-point line like it should be used, this game probably is not going to be for you.

This is going to be as physical and as tough as any game you watched all season long. Both the Gamecocks and the Gators are top five teams in defensive efficiency, and both of them get out and pressure defensively, Florida in the full court and South Carolina in the half court. They shun shooters for the toughest athletes on their roster. They pride themselves in being tougher, both mentally and physically, than whoever they end up playing.

And they think that a game played in the 50s is beautiful basketball.

So bet the under if you can.

But the pick I like is Florida here. Their ability to defend is going to make it very difficult for South Carolina’s offensive renaissance to continue, and their guards will be able to make the plays offensively that South Carolina dares you to make.

PREDICTION: Florida (-3)

No. 1 NORTH CAROLINA (-2.5) vs. No. 2 KENTUCKY, 5:05 p.m. CBS: This is the rematch we all wanted, right?

Ever since that day three months ago, when Kentucky got 47 points from Malik Monk in a 103-102 win over North Carolina in Las Vegas, I don’t think there is a soul in the country that would have told you otherwise.

There are two major differences between these two teams now and those two teams then. The biggest is the presence of Theo Pinson, North Carolina’s best perimeter defender. Pinson has dealt foot injuries all season long, and when these two got together in December, he was not yet healthy enough to play. I assume that he will draw the assignment of Malik Monk, chasing around the man that had definitively been Kentucky’s most dangerous scorer. Pinson will make life more difficult for Monk than it was the first time around.

But is he going to spend the entire game on him?

Because after De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst against UCLA on Friday night, it’s fair to wonder whether or not Pinson may be better suited to taking on the task of keeping Fox from getting into the paint. Whatever Roy Williams opts to do, the bottom line is pretty simple — if he needs to find a way to keep Kentucky’s back court in check.

The other difference between now and then is that Bam Adebayo has been playing up to his potential for the past six weeks. He was solid earlier in the year. He can be dominant at times now, and that is going to be critical for the Wildcats, who are going to be outsized by a significant margin by UNC’s front line. The Tar Heels lead the nation in offensive rebounding percentage, and they are one of the only elite teams that thrives playing two bigs at the same time. In other words, one of Wenyen Gabriel or Derek Willis are going to have to deal with Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley. That’s a matchup that favors UNC, which is why Aebayo is going to have to play up to his size.

In the end, I think Pinson’s presence and North Carolina’s size advantage will be too much.

But if Fox and Monk play their game, they can carry Kentucky a long, long way.

PREDICTION: North Carolina (2.5)

Lawrence Police Department trolls Bill Self following Elite Eight loss

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Kansas had its season ended with a 74-60 loss to No. 3 seed Oregon.

The Jayhawks were the top seed in the South region. They were playing a de facto at the Sprint Center, which is 40 miles away from the school’s campus. As you can imagine, fans in Lawrence were likely unhappy, especially since it’s the second year in a row KU has been bounced one-game shy of the Final Four.

The Lawrence Police Department, while prepping for potential riots, couldn’t help tweeting a joke at the future Hall of Famer’s expense.

Bill Self’s teams have been eliminated seven times in the Elite Eight during his tenure at Kansas. He’s led the Jayhawks to a pair of Final Fours, winning the national championship in 2008.

Kansas finished the season 31-5.

Gonzaga passes the title of best program without a Final Four to Xavier in win

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In 1999, Gonzaga was not yet “Gonzaga”.

A No. 10 seed in just their third NCAA tournament, the Zags won three games against high-major competition, coming within a possession of reaching the Final Four in a loss to No. 1 seed UConn.

UConn, at that point, was one of the best programs in the country under Jim Calhoun, but the knock on the Huskies at that point was that they couldn’t win the big one. They had been to three Elite 8s and three more Sweet 16s in the previous eight seasons, but it wasn’t until they knocked off that Gonzaga team that they finally were playing on college basketball’s biggest stage.

For 18 years, Gonzaga tried and failed to get to a Final Four, becoming one of the nation’s premier basketball programs without having the postseason success to legitimize themselves in the eyes of idiots around the country. That ended on Saturday night in San Jose, as No. 1 seed Gonzaga ended No. 11 Xavier’s thrilling run to the Elite 8 and passing on the torch that UConn passed to them.

Xavier can now claim the title of the best basketball program that has yet to make a Final Four, which is both a compliment and a curse.

The Musketeers have been to the NCAA tournament 25 times since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. They’ve been to nine Sweet 16s and three Elite 8s. They had a winning record in NCAA tournament play until Saturday’s loss and now lay claim to the title of the team with the most NCAA tournament wins without an appearance in the Final Four.

Xavier is going to get there eventually. Chris Mack is one of the best coaches in the business. Hell, if Trevon Bluiett and Edmond Sumner both return to school, it could very well be next season that they snap that streak. It’s coming at some point.

I don’t even think it’s an insult to say this about Xavier. I don’t think it’s a shot at the program or the coaches that have come through it. Getting to the Final Four is hard. Bill Self is a lead-pipe lock to be a Hall of Famer, and he’s been to just two Final Fours in his career. He’s 2-7 in the Elite 8, and if Derrick Rose could make his free throws, the discussion of just how good of a coach Self is if he can’t win a title would be raging with the Jayhawks flaming out of the tournament on Saturday night.

But as with Gonzaga and UConn before them, Xavier is going to have that monkey on their back every time they suit up in March.

VIDEO: Tyler Dorsey hits dagger after dagger in upset of Kansas

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Tyler Dorsey is building himself quite the reputation for being a big-shot maker.

He hit the game-winner that got Oregon to the Sweet 16. He hit two threes at the end of the first half to push Oregon’s lead to 11 points over Kansas. And he hit this three, the dagger through the heart of Kansas:

Dorsey finished with 27 points. He’s scored at least 20 points in every game since the NCAA tournament began.

No. 3 Oregon heading to first Final Four in 78 years

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Oregon, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, made what looked to be a smooth path to Phoenix into a bumpy road. But after 78 years, the Ducks are going back to the Final Four, defeating No. 1 Kansas, 74-60, in Elite Eight on Friday night in Kansas City.

Everything went right for the Ducks in the first half. Josh Jackson was called for two fouls in the less than three minutes. The Jayhawks were limited in transition. Tyler Dorsey’s two 3-pointers in the final 40 seconds gave them a double-digit lead at halftime. Oregon stretched it to as many as 18 in the second. Kansas couldn’t buy a basket from three (a far cry from the 3-point barrage it put on Purdue two nights earlier). When the Jayhawks drove to the basket, it was Jordan Bell (11 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks) who either blocked or altered their shots.

However, the Ducks not only left the door open for the Jayhawks, they held it open. Kansas’ comeback attempt was a mix drink that was equal parts KU putting the clamps on defensively, Oregon playing a bit of hero ball, and the Ducks playing not to lose instead of to win. Up six with less than two minutes remaining, Dorsey (27 points) buried a dagger 3-pointer that all but sealed the win — and a spot in next week’s Final Four — for the Ducks.

Oregon will play the winner of the South region, which will either be No. 1 North Carolina or No. 2 Kentucky on Saturday.

The slogan of the NCAA Tournament is “The Road to the Final Four”.

Outside of Duke, the runaway preseason favorite, and it’s months-long narrative of “Is Duke back?”, you could make the case there wasn’t a Final Four contender with a journey filled with more ups and downs than Oregon.

Weeks following a season-ending loss to Oklahoma in the Elite Eight, Oregon learned that both Dillon Brooks and Tyler Dorsey would return to school for the next season. In July, Dylan Ennis was granted a sixth-year of eligibility. With Chris Boucher and Jordan Bell returning, and Payton Pritchard joining the program, the Ducks were an easy choice for a preseason Final Four pick.

Brooks’ offseason foot surgery — and the recovery that followed — raised concern about whether or not Oregon could fully reach its preseason potential, entering conference play without a notable win. Brooks’ Pac-12 Player of the Year season put to rest the status of his foot, leading the Ducks to a 16-2 Pac-12 record.

Hours before Oregon was set to battle with Arizona, it was announced that Chris Boucher had torn his ACL and would be out for the remainder of the season. Not only could this have played a role in the team’s seeding by the selection committee, but Boucher offered more than rim protection, as he helped space the floor given his ability to step out and shoot from the perimeter.

After fending off a good fight from Iona, the Ducks looked to be part of a Rhode Island’s magical postseason run. Tyler Dorsey ended that. In the Sweet 16, Oregon was matchup with Michigan, dubbed as the team of destiny. Bell and Dorsey, Oregon’s two tournament stars, stepped up in critical moments once again. Slated as an underdog for the second straight game, Oregon proved its Final Four worth by handing Kansas its worst tournament defeat of the Bill Self era in a regional final game that was played 40 miles away from the KU campus.

“I’m happy for our team,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said following the game. “I’m happy for, as I mentioned, our university and our state. It’s been a long time coming and now we just need to go continue to play well.”

For Oregon, its road to the Final Four has come full circle.