Looking Back: The 2006 Recruiting Class

Leave a comment

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. Greg Oden: Given the injury issues at the pro level, many people tend to forget just how dominant Oden was in high school. The big man spent one season at Ohio State, where he helped lead the Buckeyes to a national title game appearance in 2007. While he played just 82 games in Portland, last playing in 2010, there’s a good chance that Oden will be back in the NBA in the very near future.

2. Kevin Durant: He’s done well for himself. And while he wasn’t the top pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, he was the top pick in this one.

3. Brandan Wright: Wright averaged 14.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his one season at North Carolina, moving on to become the 8th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (Charlotte, which traded him to Golden State). He’s played for three different teams in his five NBA seasons (missing the 2009-10 campaign due to a shoulder injury), with career averages of 6.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.

4. Spencer Hawes: Hawes played just one season at Washington, where he averaged 14.9 points and 6.4 rebounds per contest. The 10th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft (Sacramento), Hawes 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game in six seasons as a professional. He’s been a Philadelphia 76er since 2010.

5. Ty Lawson: After three seasons and one national title at North Carolina, Lawson was drafted 18th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft (drafted by Minnesota, which traded his rights to Denver). While he spent his first two seasons in Denver as a reserve, the last two have seen him emerge at the point guard position (16.7 ppg, 6.9 apg in 2012-13).

6. Thaddeus Young: Young played one season at Georgia Tech, averaging 14.4 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest. Drafted 12th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft (Philadelphia), Young has played all six of his seasons with the 76ers (career averages: 13.0 ppg, 5.4 rpg).

7. Chase Budinger: Budinger spent three seasons at Arizona, a program that at the time was going through a tumultuous period due to instability at the top. After averaging 17.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a Wildcat, Budinger was drafted by the Pistons (then traded to Houston) in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft. Budinger played his first three seasons in Houston before being traded to Minnesota during the 2012 NBA Draft, and he has since received a three-year, $16 million deal from the Timberwolves.

8. Wayne Ellington: Ellington spent three seasons at North Carolina, where he teamed up with Lawson, Danny Green and Tyler Hansbrough to help lead the Tar Heels to a national title in 2009. Drafted 28th overall by Minnesota in the 2009 NBA Draft, Ellington played 78 games last season in Memphis (40) and Cleveland (38). Career averages: 6.9 points, 2.0 rebounds per game.

9. Brook Lopez: He and twin brother Robin landed at Stanford, with Brook averaging 16.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in his two seasons on The Farm. Drafted 10th overall by the Nets in the 2008 NBA Draft, Lopez has averaged 17.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game as a pro with one All-Star Game appearance (2013).

10. Gerald Henderson: In three seasons at Duke Henderson averaged 12.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. From there it was off to the NBA, as he was selected 12th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by Charlotte. In four seasons as a pro Henderson is averaging 11.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.

11. Darrell Arthur: Arthur averaged 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per contest during his two-year run at Kansas, where he helped lead the Jayhawks to a national title in 2008. Drafted 27th overall in the 2008 NBA Draft by Portland, which then traded his rights to Memphis, Arthur has averaged 6.7 points and 3.9 rebounds per contest as a pro.

12. Javaris Crittenton: Crittenton averaged 14.4 points and 5.8 assists per game in his one season at Georgia Tech, and he would move on to be selected 19th overall by the Lakers in the 2007 NBA Draft. Crittenton played for three different NBA teams before making the move overseas, and he hasn’t played professionally since 2011 (Dakota Wizards of the D-League). In April Crittenton was indicted on charges of attempted murder and illegal gang activity in connection with a 2011 drive-by shooting.

13. Daequan Cook: Despite averaging 9.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in his lone season at Ohio State, Cook was drafted 21st overall by the 76ers in the 2007 NBA Draft. Cook’s rights were traded to Miami, and since then he’s played for four different franchises in his six years as a professional (6.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg).

14. Sherron Collins: The Chicago native would spend four seasons at Kansas, playing on a team that won a national title (2008) and then taking over to lead the Jayhawks to Big 12 titles in 2009 and 2010. Collins wasn’t selected in the 2010 NBA Draft, but he did play 20 games with the Bobcats during the 2010-11 season before being waived in February 2011. Collins last played for Hacettepe University in Turkey (2011-12), and he’s been working to get in better shape this summer.

15. Damion James: The powerful forward averaged 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game in four seasons at Texas, playing well enough to be picked in the first round or the 2010 NBA Draft by the Hawks. After spending two seasons with the Nets, James has spent most of his time with the Bakersfield Jam of the D-League (he received a 10-day contract from the Nets in January).

16. Vernon Macklin: Macklin is the highest rated player on this list to have played at two schools, as he transferred from Georgetown to Florida after his sophomore season. In four collegiate seasons Macklin averaged 7.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game, and he was selected by Detroit in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Macklin most recently played in the Philippines for Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

17. Derrick Caracter: Caracter’s college career was an uneven one, as the talented big man struggled with maturity issues for much of his first two seasons as a Louisville Cardinal. After averaging 14.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game as a junior Caracter was selected in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft by the Lakers. He’s since played in both the NBA and the D-League, with his most recent action coming in Israel with Bnei Hasharon.

18. Stanley Robinson: A prolific leaper from Birmingham, Robinson signed on to attend UConn out of high school. Off-court issues would ultimately result in his having to spend a semester working at Prime Materials Inc. in Windham, Conn. before returning to the program in time to help the Huskies reach the 2009 Final Four. After averaging 9.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a Husky, Robinson was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Magic, going on to play three seasons in the D-League.

19. Robin Lopez: Lopez spent two years at Stanford, where he averaged 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. Drafted 15th overall by Phoenix in the 2008 NBA Draft, Lopez has averaged 7.2 points and 3.9 rebounds per game in five seasons as a pro (playing last season in New Orleans).

20. Lance Thomas: Thomas played four seasons at Duke, where he would average 4.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per contest and play on the 2009-10 team that won the national title. Undrafted out of college Thomas’ pro career began with the Austin Toros of the D-League but he would eventually work his way into the NBA, where he’s played with New Orleans since the 2011-12 season.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES

  • 21. Mike Conley Jr.
  • 24. Earl Clark
  • 25. Brian Zoubek
  • 27. Quincy Pondexter
  • 29. D.J. Augustin
  • 37. Scottie Reynolds
  • 46. Taj Gibson
  • 57. Jodie Meeks
  • 64. Hasheem Thabeet
  • 69. Tweety Carter
  • 82. Dexter Pittman
  • 83. Luke Harangody
  • 93. Greivis Vasquez
  • 99. Da’Sean Butler
  • UR: Lazar Hayward
  • UR: Jordan Hill
  • UR: Jerome Randle
  • UR: Epke Udoh
  • UR: Russell Westbrook

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

4 Comments

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.