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Looking Back: The 2006 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. 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.

Creighton’s Mo Watson Jr. has a torn ACL

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 25:  Head coach Greg McDermott of the Creighton Bluejays talks with Maurice Watson Jr. #10 during the team's game against the Massachusetts Minutemen during the championship game of the Men Who Speak Up Main Event basketball tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena on November 25, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Creighton won 97-76.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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Mo Watson Jr.’s Creighton career is over.

The star point guard for the Blue Jays had an MRI on Tuesday to determine the damage suffered in his left knee, and it revealed a torn ACL. Watson entered Monday’s game at Xavier averaging 13.4 points and a nation’s-best 8.8 assists on the season. He was the engine that made Creighton’s high-octane offense work.

“Devastated for [him],” head coach Greg McDermott said. “His impact on our program has been incredible. His leadership will continue to be vital to our success.”

With Watson, who was having an all-american season and was seventh in our Player of the Year Power Rankings as of Tuesday, Creighton was a team with Final Four upside. Their defense was a concern, but their ability to score in transition and to get easy looks from three – both of which were largely due to the ability of Watson – ensured that teams were going to have to score in the 80s to beat them.

Without Watson, Creighton was able to hang on to beat Xavier in Cincinnati, but it’s unclear what the future will hold. Isaiah Zierdan replaced Watson at the point down the stretch, and Greg McDermott does have a number of talented guards on his roster, but that doesn’t do much to mitigate was is a devastating loss for this team.

Watson released a statement on twitter on Tuesday:

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Mason, Hart, Lonzo. Who ya got?

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1. Frank Mason III, Kansas
2. Josh Hart, Villanova
3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: At this point in the year, I feel pretty comfortable making the guarantee that the National Player of the year is going to be one of these three players for three reasons:

  1. All three of them are not just an important piece but the critical component to their team’s success.
  2. The team’s that they play on could very well be the three best teams in college basketball, and I’ve always been of the mindset that winning matters when it comes to Player of the Year and all-american honors.
  3. Their numbers alone are good enough to get them into the conversation even if they didn’t happen to be the best player on one of the best teams in the country.

Frankly, the more that I think about it, labeling this a two-horse race was probably wrong. I’ve had Lonzo Ball third in these rankings for more or less the entire season, but there’s always been a gap between him and the two guys slotted above. Ball’s numbers are ridiculous – 14.6 points, 8.0 assists, 5.5 boards, 1.8 steals, 2.3 turnovers – but it’s what he’s done to that UCLA team that I’ve under-valued. Ball is a talent, and so is T.J. Leaf, but on paper, the difference between this team and last year’s team shouldn’t be as stark as going from a 15-17 season to a year where they are a buzzer-beating three at Oregon away from being undefeated on Jan. 17th. Ball’s presence did that.

The other difference?

I have Frank Mason III as the current leader for the award. Part of that is because Josh Hart has had a couple of bad games in a row and Mason, in the three games since we last convened here, led comebacks at Oklahoma and against Oklahoma State before guiding Kansas to a win at Iowa State. But there is also an argument to be made that Josh Hart has been somewhat figured out in league play. Teams can key in on him and he isn’t quite to the point where he has a response. Big 12 opponents haven’t been able to do that against Kansas.

That, however, is the definition of picking nits, but that’s what we have to do to differentiate these three at this point.

Because when the chips are down, those three players, at this point in the season, have all been sensational, and I would have no issue with someone picking either of the three to win the award.

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4. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: In Purdue’s only game last week, Swanigan had “just” 17 points and eight boards, but he had a late turnover, missed a critical, point-black shot with less than a minute left and then watched a ball bounce out of bounds that was ruled – probably incorrectly – to be off of Purdue. It wasn’t the greatest finish we’ve seen out of a player this year.

5. Luke Kennard, Duke: In the first 14 games of the season, Luke Kennard averaged 13.9 shots per night and consistently churned out enough terrific performances that he deservedly has been the only Duke player considered for a spot on all-american teams all season long. In the last four games, however, Kennard is averaging just 9.8 shots, which can be attributed to a couple of different things. I don’t think the issue is defenses being more focused in on stopping him, mainly because I think the issue is Jayson Tatum.

Tatum has led the Blue Devils in field goal attempts in six of the last seven games. His usage rate (the percentage of possessions that end with him while he’s on the floor) is 27.8 on the season despite posting an offensive rating of 105.1, meaning he scores 1.051 points-per-possession. In the last seven games, he’s only had an offensive rating better than 109 in home games against Georgia Tech and Boston College.

Kennard, on the season, has an offensive rating of 133.5, which is third nationally for players that with a usage rate above 20, but his usage rate is stuck at 21.7. In other words, the numbers back up what our eyes have been telling us – that Duke’s offensive isn’t as good when the offense flows through Tatum instead of Kennard.

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07: De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
De’Aaron Fox (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

6. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: Fox is the most important player on Kentucky, and I don’t understand people that argue otherwise. Malik Monk can win games with his ability to score, but Fox ‘s ability to defend and to turn defense into offense is why the Wildcats are in a position for Monk to win games with his scoring alone.

7. Mo Watson Jr., Creighton: It looks like Creighton dodged a bullet on Monday. There has yet to be an official diagnosis, but what initially to be a non-contact knee injury for Watson, it appears that there is no ligament damage. A torn meniscus will not be an easy thing to recover from, but a bone bruise would be. Here’s to hoping he’s OK, but Watson is the engine that makes Creighton’s high-powered offense run.

(UPDATE: Watson’s career is over. He tore his ACL.)

8. Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Berry has been fantastic this season, and there’s a very strong argument to be made that he’s the ACC’s Player of the Year as of today. He is everything we wanted Marcus Paige to be over the course of the last two seasons.

9. Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga: Williams-Goss has been terrific this season, and I’m not sure how many people have noticed. After posting 19 points and six assists in a 23-point win over No. 21 Saint Mary’s, he’s averaging 15.2 points, 5.8 boards, 4.9 assists and 1.7 steals with shooting splits of 49.5/41.1/89.5. This is the best Gonzaga team Mark Few has ever had, and Williams-Goss is the best player on the roster.

10. Lauri Markkanen, Arizona: Luke Kennard is third nationally in offensive rating for players with a usage rate that’s better than 20. No. 1 on that list? Lauri Markkanen, who is quietly having a terrific season for the Wildcats.

JUST MISSED THE CUT

Malik Monk, Kentucky
Johnathan Motley, Baylor
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Dwayne Bacon, Florida State
Markelle Fultz, Washington
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Melo Trimble, Maryland

Lauri Markkanen, Arizona Athletics
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona Athletics

CBT Podcast: Luke Winn joins to talk Kansas and their unorthodox backcourt

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 03:  Devonte' Graham #4 of the Kansas Jayhawks celebrates with Frank Mason III #0 after making a three-pointer during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Allen Fieldhouse on December 3, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Sports Illustrated’s Luke Winn, Mr. Power Rankings himself, joined the podcast this week to talk about something other than the Power Rankings.

Luke wrote a long feature on Kansas’ back court of Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham, a serendipitous pairing of former mid-major recruits that have turned into arguably the nation’s best pair of guards and the next great two-point guard back court. You can read that story here. You can listen to the podcast below.

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VIDEO: Mark Gottfried on Sunday’s N.C. State performance: ‘It’s embarrasing’

CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Mark Gottfried of the North Carolina State Wolfpack reacts during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center on November 29, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated North Carolina State 88-74. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Mark Gottfried is probably the happiest man in the world that his N.C. State team played – and lost – a home game against Georgia Tech on Sunday night, overlapping with the end of the thrilling Green Bay-Dallas NFC Playoff game.

No one was talking about it.

Well, that’s not exactly true. Joe Giglio of the News & Observer was there and, like he did after last weekend’s loss at Boston College, he took Gottfried to task for his team’s performance.

The biggest issue? Gottfried’s nonchalance at the way that a team with the talent to finish in the top six of the ACC and get to a Final Four is playing. The Wolfpack should not be sitting at 1-4 in the ACC having already played BC and Georgia Tech. Gottfried told the media after on the loss to Boston College that his team “got better,” which was as laughable then as it is now.

On Sunday night, he certainly did not try and view his team through rose-colored glasses:

That’s about as mad and emotional as you’ll see Gottfried get.

And he’s got every right to be mad, because the Wolfpack – who count a future top five pick, another future first rounder and at least three more guys that will get a shot on NBA Summer League teams – currently sit at the bottom of the ACC standings and third-to-last in KenPom’s ACC rankings.

The biggest issue is on the defensive end of the floor, which Gottfried made so clear Sunday.

“It’s embarrassing,” he said. “We’ve got to decide if we want to play some defense. I can talk about it for 2 hours every day at practice, at some point, they better make a decision. Right now, we struggle to guard anybody.”

The numbers back it up. N.C. State is dead last in the ACC in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and the only high-major programs that are worse than them defensively are Michigan, Washington State, DePaul, LSU, Washington and Arizona State. The Wolfpack are by far the most talented team out of that group, and probably the most athletic as well. They should be good defensively, but, if you talk to coaches in the league and NBA scouts that have watched that team play, the most consistent knock on them is, simply, that they don’t play hard.

And that may be more worrying than any of the results the Wolfpack have posted this season.

“I don’t want to paint the picture that I walk in there every night, even after a loss, it’s Pollyanna inside my locker room,” Gottfried said. “I think it’s time they understand, they need to understand. I can coddle them, I can baby them, but they have to take ownership.”

VIDEO: Roy Williams gets customized shoes from Michael Jordan

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels is presented with a gift as he celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Roy Williams became the second-fastest coach to get to 800 career wins last night, and to honor him, UNC did things like put together a video presentation, give him a jersey with the number 800 and bring him to the center of the Dean Dome floor to get cheered by everyone in attendance.

But it was Michael Jordan whose gift floored everyone.

Literally.

Because MJ got Ol’ Roy a pair of customized shoes, and it just about killed Brandon Robinson:

Here’s a closer look at those kicks: