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.

Illinois lands important commitment from four-star Class of 2017 guard Mark Smith

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Illinois landed a very important Class of 2017 commitment on Wednesday as guard Mark Smith pledged to the Illini.

The 6-foot-4 Smith was previously a Missouri commit for baseball, but some issues with his arm caused him to look back into basketball last summer. A native of Edwardsville, in the St. Louis metro area, Smith came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Mr. Basketball award as a senior this season as he averaged 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds while becoming a consensus national top-100 prospect.

Rivals rates Smith as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 as he could come in and earn immediate minutes at Illinois next season at either guard spot.

This is a very important commitment for head coach Brad Underwood and the Illini as the new head coach was able to hold off some elite programs like Kentucky and Michigan State for Smith’s services.

Northwestern gets commitment from Boston College transfer A.J. Turner

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Northwestern landed a transfer on Wednesday as former Boston College wing A.J. Turner pledged to the Wildcats, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The 6-foot-7 Turner just finished his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles as he averaged 8.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. A well-rounded wing who also shot 37 percent from three-point range, Turner will have to sit out one season due to NCAA transfer regulations before getting two more years of eligibility.

With Scottie Lindsay and Vic Law only having limited time left in Evanston, Turner provides a bit of insurance on the wing for the Wildcats for the future as he’s a proven rotation player coming from the ACC.

Oakland’s Greg Kampe hosting charity golf event with big-name coaches

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Oakland head coach Greg Kampe hosted a successful charity event for cancer research two years ago by allowing people to bid online to play a round of golf with some of college basketball’s best coaches.

Kampe is back again this year as he’s hoping to eventually raise $1 million for the American Cancer Society.

According to a report from Mark Snyder of the Detroit Free Press, Kampe has 11 high-profile names that fans can play with this year.

  • Tom Izzo, Michigan State
  • Frank Martin, South Carolina
  • Rick Barnes, Tennessee
  • Mick Cronin, Cincinnati
  • Chris Holtmann, Butler
  • Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
  • Greg Kampe, Oakland
  • Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
  • Steve Lavin
  • Fran Fraschilla
  • Bill Raftery

Fans can find more details about the auctions and all of the details here.

The minimum bid is $15,000 per coach. A “buy now” bid of $24,000 is also available.

Each round includes the following, according to the event’s website:

Up for auction will be 11 spectacular packages, featuring a private dinner with elite basketball coaches and VIPs, a one night stay at MotorCity Casino Hotel on Sunday, June 4, and an afternoon of golf on Monday, June 5 at Oakland Hills Country Club on the South Course. The winning bidders and their two guests will round out the foursomes with their selected VIP: Rick Barnes, Mick Cronin, Fran Fraschilla, Chris Holtmann, Tom Izzo, Greg Kampe, Steve Lavin, Frank Martin, Bill Raftery, Stan Van Gundy, or Kevin Willard.

There are a lot of great selections to choose from for this sort of thing, but I can’t imagine a better afternoon than playing golf with Bill Raftery and a few friends. There are some other tempting choices on this list, but that’s the one I would have to jump at.

If you think 137 players declaring for the draft is stupid, you’re probably stupid

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The NBA Draft’s full early entry list came out on Tuesday afternoon, and there were 137 underclassmen listed on it.

137.

For 60 spots in the NBA Draft, only 30 of which guarantee you a contract in the NBA.

And that’s before you factor in the 45 international players that also declared for the NBA Draft, as well as the crop of seniors — Josh Hart, Monte’ Morris, Jaron Blossomgame, Alec Peters — that are going to end up hearing their names called. All told, there are going to be roughly 200 players competing to be one of the 60 people that end up getting drafted on June 22nd, and you don’t have to be any good at math to realize that 200 is a much, much bigger number than 60.

This unleashed a torrent of bad takes on the decision of these players.

And bad may not be doing those takes justice.

Because the bottom-line is this: You cannot paint the decision on whether or not to go pro with a broad brush.

For some players, making money of any kind is something they need to do to support their family, whether it’s what they’ll get with a first round guarantee, the $75-100,000 they’ll get for making a training camp roster to subsidize their time in the D-League while teams develop them or the money they can make in the D-League or overseas. You don’t know what their financial situation is. Maximizing their ability to capitalize on every available dollar they can make off of their athletic gifts may be more important than working towards a degree.

And it’s worth noting here that a guaranteed contract isn’t the only way to make a living in professional basketball. To say nothing of the money that can be made overseas or the number of second round picks and undrafted players that make guaranteed money — which is more than you probably realize — it needs to be noted that D-League salaries are getting a bump this year with the new CBA.

The NBA has also instituted something new called a “two-way contract”. Without getting into the legalese, it’s essentially a retainer worth well into the six figures that they will be able to give to two players that will allow them to retain that player under contract while sending them between the D-League and the NBA roster. In a sense, it creates an extra 60 NBA roster spots for players that have 0-3 years worth of professional basketball on their résumé.

Some players are simply declaring without signing with an agent because they want to get feedback directly from NBA personnel on what their professional prospects. Some will hear that they need to return to school to work on their body, or work on their jumper, or mature as a person to be able to handle everything that comes with being a professional. Others will be told they’re going to make a lot of money by staying in the draft, or that they need to go back to school because, frankly, they are not professional basketball players. Not getting invited to the NBA combine is a pretty good indication of where you stand in the eyes of NBA teams.

Still other players are putting their name into the draft to leave their options open should they be recruited over by the program they are a part of. Take Frank Jackson, for example. If he can return to school and thrive as Duke’s point guard, maybe he turns into a top 20 pick. But what happens if Trevon Duval, the best point guard in the Class of 2017 and a top five pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, picks Duke? Would it be in Jackson’s best interest to come back to Duke when he won’t be playing the position that he needs to learn to play to turn himself into a lasting NBA player?

Jackson, like the roughly 100 underclassmen that have declared without an agent, has until May 24th to make his decision on whether or not he will keep his name in the draft. Until then, he can return to school without damaging his eligibility.

The entire reason that the NCAA changed their rules to allow players to test the waters is so that they can make the most important decision of their lives with as much information as humanly possible. This thing exists for the sole purpose of allowing the kids to have as much knowledge about their options as possible.

And that is exactly what these kids are doing.

So the idea that this rule, or players taking advantage of that rule, however high that number may be, is a bad thing is stupid.