Looking Back: The 2007 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. OJ Mayo: After a somewhat curious recruitment and an infamous one-year stint at USC that helped drive that program into the ground and banish Tim Floyd to UTEP, Mayo went pro and was the third pick in the 2008 draft. He hasn’t quite lived up to the almost-unfair hype he had as a high-schooler, but Mayo has proven to be a solid pro, averaging 16.4 points in his five-year career.

2. Kevin Love: Love spurned his hometown Oregon program to go play for UCLA, leaving school after one season to enter the NBA Draft. He went fifth in 2008, and has become arguably the best power forward in the NBA. He’s a two-time all-star that has led the league in rebounding and won a three-point contest at the all-star game. He was injured for much of last season, but averaged 26.0 points in 2011-2012 and 15.2 boards in 2010-2011.

3. Eric Gordon: Gordon, like Mayo, had an interesting recruitment, as he backed off of a commitment to Illinois to attend in-state Indiana. He was off to a terrific start with the Hoosiers as a freshman, but Kelvin Sampson’s issues reared their ugly head and ruined the season. Gordon went pro and was the seventh pick in 2008. He spent three seasons with the Clippers before signing with New Orleans, averaging 18.0 points for his career.

4. Michael Beasley: Beasley followed Dalonte Hill from the DC area to Kansas State, where he had a phenomenal freshman season, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 boards. He was the second pick in the 2008 draft, but he’s been a bit of a disappointment in the NBA. He’s averaged 14.1 points in five season, but his career has been littered with off-the-court issues, everything from weed to booze to driving violations to a sexual assault allegation to this mess with his former AAU coach and agent.

5. Derrick Rose: Questionable SAT score aside, Rose had a great freshman season at Memphis, leading the team to within a couple of missed free throws of a national title. He’s one of the best players in the NBA when healthy, but missed last year recovering form an ACL injury.

5. Kyle Singler: The highest-ranked player in the Class of 2007 that wasn’t one-and-done, Singler had a great four-year career at Duke that included the 2010 national title. Singler ended up getting picked early in the second round by the Pistons, and while he spent 2011-2012 in Spain, Singler started 74 of the 82 games this past season in Detroit.

7. Jerryd Bayless: Bayless spent one season averaging 19.7 points for a mediocre Arizona team before going pro. He was the 11th pick in the 2008 draft, and has played for four organizations in the NBA. He was a key playmaker off the bench this past season for a Memphis team that made the conference finals.

8. Donte Greene: Greene spent one year at Syracuse before heading off to the NBA. He was the 28th pick and headed to Sacramento, but never quite lived up to his potential. After spending four years in the NBA, Greene spent time in Puerto Rico this past season before getting scooped up by Memphis.

9. J.J. Hickson: Hickson left NC State after his freshman season and was the 19th pick in the 2008 draft. He spent three years making a name for himself in Cleveland before heading to Sacramento. This past season, he averaged a double-double for Portland.

9. Patrick Patterson: Patterson helped Kentucky bridge the Billy Gillispie gap, as he provided Kentucky with a veteran presence as a junior before heading off to the NBA. He was the 14th pick, going to the Rockets, and has averaged 8.3 points and 4.4 boards as a part-time starter with Houston and Sacramento.

11. Nick Calathes: Calathes left Florida after two seasons in Gainesville, and while he was the 45th pick of the draft, he left school to play in Greece. After three successful years with Panathiakos, Calathes spent last year in Russia.

12. Kosta Koufas: Koufos was Greg Oden’s replacement at Ohio State for one season before heading off to the NBA, where he was the 23rd pick in 2008. Koufos has never averaged double-figures in the league, but he actually started 81 games for Denver last season.

13. Austin Freeman: Freeman had a great four-year career at Georgetown, but he went undrafted in 2011. He’s gotten a taste of the NBA in summer leagues and training camps, but he’s spent the past two seasons playing in places like Italy and Israel.

14. Anthony Randolph: Randolph spent one season at LSU, averaging 15.6 points and 8.5 boards, before heading off to the NBA. He was the 14th pick in 2008, and while he’s bounced around four different NBA franchises, he’s yet to really find a good fit. His career average is 7.6 points.

15. DeAndre Jordan: After one unmemorable year at Texas A&M, Jordan went in the second round of the NBA Draft. He’s actually been able to latch on with the Clippers, and while he’s turned into a competent NBA player, he still isn’t much more than a dunker. But he’s a really, really good dunker.

16. Blake Griffin: Griffin had a good freshman season but came back as a sophomore and turned into the National Player of the Year. He’s battled injuries as a pro, but he’s one of the best young power forwards in the NBA.

17. James Harden: Harden spent two years at Arizona State and looked like he was getting ready to be a part of a three-headed monster with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, but he left last summer, heading to Houston in a trade because OKC couldn’t afford all three players and Serge Ibaka. He averaged 25.8 points last season.

18. Gani Lawal: Lawal spent three seasons at Georgia Tech before heading to the NBA, where he was a second round pick of the Pheonix Suns. He only saw action in one game before tearing his ACL, and he hasn’t made it back to the NBA since.

19. Nolan Smith: Smith went from being Greg Paulus’ backup to stealing his starting job as a sophomore to a national champ as a junior and a Jimmer away from being the National Player of the Year as a senior. He was the 21st pick in 2011 to Portland, but has averaged just 3.3 points in his two seasons.

20. Jonny Flynn: Flynn had two really good seasons with Syracuse before heading to the NBA, where he was the sixth pick in the 2009 draft. He averaged 13.5 points and 4.4 assists as a rookie, but lost his job when Ricky Rubio finally arrived in the states. Flynn played the 2012-2013 season in Australia.

93. Trevor Mbakwe; UR: Julian Gamble: Gamble and Mbakwe just finished their college careers in the 2012-2013 season. That’s wild.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES

  • 21. Cole Aldrich
  • 23. E’Twuan Moore
  • 24. Taylor King
  • 33. James Anderson
  • 34. Kalin Lucas
  • 35. Austin Daye
  • 40. DeJuan Blair
  • 43. James Johnson
  • 46. Chandler Parsons
  • 52. Bill Walker
  • 54. Evan Turner
  • 58. Jeff Teague
  • 62. Robbie Hummel
  • 65. Marcus Morris
  • 85. Isaiah Thomas
  • 86. Jon Leuer
  • 93. Markieff Morris
  • UR: Jacob Pullen
  • UR: Robert Sacre

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Diallo withdrawing from draft, returning to Kentucky

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It took plenty of time for the news to make its way public, but it was a wait that proved welcome for Kentucky fans.

Wildcat freshman Hamidou Diallo will withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and return to Kentucky, the school announced

Diallo’s situation was one of the more interesting in college basketball as he became an incredibly intriguing pro prospect despite being on a college roster and never playing a minute.

The five-star recruit enrolled at Kentucky in January after attending a semester of prep school with the plan to redshirt the season and then play for the Wildcats in 2017-18. There were rumblings and rumors about Diallo potentially playing for John Calipari’s group last year, but ultimately they stuck to the plan to keep him on the bench and preserve his eligibility. Throughout it all, there was always the specter that Diallo could just decide to go the professional route anyway.

That possibility moved fully into the forefront earlier this month when Diallo showed off a 44.5-inch vertical leap at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago. The 6-foot-5 guard also recorded a wingspan that nearly measured 7-feet. With those types of physical traits, he makes for an awfully interesting professional prospect, regardless of refinement or experience.

Given Diallo’s lack of high-level experience, though, there was no guarantee he’d be a first-round selection as teams would be wary of drafting solely on potential, rather than the mostly they typically do.

“I hope to play in the NBA one day — just not this season,” Diallo said in a statement. “Based on the information I received by testing the waters, I believe it’s in my best interests to return to school. Although I was a part of the team last season and trained with my teammates, I never fulfilled another one of my dreams, which was to play for a major college program and win a national title.

“I am excited about returning to Kentucky for the 2017-18 season. I can’t wait to play in a Kentucky jersey for the first time.”

Going back to Lexington to play college basketball gives Diallo a chance to showcase his skills against competition the NBA will be able to evaluate him against. It also makes Kentucky – surprise, surprise – extremely formidable this season as they, once again, restock the roster with potential lottery- and first-round picks. With Diallo officially in the fold, Kentucky is a no-doubt top-five team that will be among the favorites to cut down the nets in April 2018.

“I’m really proud of Hami,” Calipari said in a statement. “He took in all the information, asked a lot of questions, including questions to the NBA teams. I love the fact that he wants to put himself in a better position and help lead this new team to a championship.
“I can’t wait to get him on the court and have all of you fans see what I know.  He’s a special player and a special person.”

LaVar Ball selling “Stay In Yo Lane” shirts

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Create controversy. Profit from controversy.

It’s not an especially new or original strategy, but it’s one that LaVar Ball continues to try to exploit.

The infamous basketball dad is at it again, looking to capitalize on the uproar/kerfuffle/news cycle/debate/ickiness he created when he belittled FS1’s Kristine Leahy, telling her to “stay in your lane” on multiple occasions when claiming the Big Baller Brand didn’t need to market to women.

Well, they are now, with a nod to Ball’s proclamation, selling “STAY IN YO LANE” tees, for both men and women.

Marketing misogyny. Isn’t that nice.

It’s clear that LaVar Ball isn’t going to shy away from the public spotlight anytime soon, especially with eldest son Lonzo looking destined for the Lakers and middle son LiAngelo set to join UCLA, and he’s going to do his best to use that light to push the BBB franchise that scared away the world’s biggest apparel companies.

This plan has no mystery, subtlety or taste. Which might as well be the Big Baller Brand slogan.

Mykhailiuk returning to Kansas for senior season

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Kansas’ attempt for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title, and run for Bill Self’s second national title, got a shot in the arm Wednesday.

Svi Mykhailiuk announced that he will return to Lawrence for his final season of eligibility. “Senior year going to be fun,” he wrote on his Instagram page.

Senior year gonna be fun😈👌🏼🤘🏼 #KUCMB

A post shared by Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (@sviat_10) on

The Jayhawks were already going to be loaded this season with Devonte Graham, a potential All-American, returning for his senior season and Udoka Azubuike healthy after missing last year due to injury along with Malik Newman becoming eligible after a transfer from Mississippi State and recruits Billy Preston and Marcus Garrett bolstering the ranks. The return of Mykhailiuk, though, only solidifies Kansas’ place not only atop the Big 12, but in the country.

Mykhailiuk, a 6-foot-8 forward, had something of a breakthrough season as a junior, posting career highs nearly across the board, including shooting 39.8 percent on nearly five 3-point shot attempts per game. With his size and shooting ability, Mykhailiuk was sure to garner professional interest, even though it would have been more likely than not he would been drafted in the second round of next month’s draft.

Mykhailiuk’s situation is certainly a unique one for college basketball as the Ukraine native enrolled at Kansas in 2014 just after his 17th birthday. He won’t turn 20 until next month, making him the same age as many sophomores and more likely to be viewed by NBA teams in the future as having upside, rather than a typical 22- or 23-year-old senior who scouts look at as having come close to reaching their ceiling.

Mykhailiuk wasn’t going to be the linchpin of Kansas’ success next season, but his decision to return shouldn’t be underestimated. His size, experience, skill and versatility provide the Jayhawks with a real weapon that will help alleviate pressure and expectations from other players up and down the roster. He’s very much a difference-maker for a team that will be contending for a spot in the Final Four.

Caleb Swanigan to stay in NBA draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.