Looking Back: The 2008 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. Brandon Jennings: After failing to qualify academically to attend Arizona, Jennings played one season in Italy for Lottomatica Roma before entering the 2009 NBA Draft. Selected 10th overall by the Bucks, Jennings has averaged 17.0 points and 5.7 assists per game as a pro.

2. Jrue Holiday: After one season at UCLA, where he averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game Holiday entered the 2009 NBA Draft, where he was selected 17th overall by Philadelphia. After four seasons as a 76er (13.4 ppg, 5.8 apg) Holiday was traded to New Orleans, where he’ll team up with the next player on this list.

3. Tyreke Evans: Evans ran the point for John Calipari in his lone season at Memphis, averaging 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game. Picked fourth overall by the Kings in the 2009 NBA Draft, Evans has career averages of 15.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. Evans recently agreed to a four-year, $44 million deal with New Orleans.

4. Samardo Samuels: After averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in two seasons at Louisville, Samuels made the decision to leave school and he went undrafted. He’s seen action in Cleveland in each of his three seasons as a pro, also playing for three different D-League teams during that period.

5. DeMar DeRozan: DeRozan played one season at USC (13.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg) before making the move to the NBA, where he was selected ninth overall by the Raptors. In four seasons in Toronto, DeRozan’s averaging 15.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.

6. Greg Monroe: Monroe spent two years at Georgetown, posting averages of 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game as a Hoya. Drafted seventh overall by the Pistons in the 2010 NBA Draft, Monroe is averaging 13.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game as a pro.

7. Al-Farouq Aminu: In two seasons at Wake Forest, Aminu averaged 14.4 points and 9.4 rebounds per game before being selected eighth overall by the Clippers in the 2010 Draft. He spent one season there before being moved to New Orleans, where he’s played in each of the last two years. Aminu is the highest-ranked player on this list to have played in the Olympics, as he represented Nigeria last summer.

8. B.J. Mullens: Now known as Byron, Mullens averaged 8.8 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in his lone season as a Buckeye. Drafted 24th overall in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Mavericks, Mullens spent his first two seasons in Oklahoma City before moving to Charlotte. He’s been solid with the Bobcats, averaging 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game in 2012-13.

9. Ed Davis: Davis played two seasons at North Carolina (9.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg), teaming up with Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Danny Green and others to win Roy Williams’ second national title in 2009. Drafted 13th overall by Toronto in the 2010 NBA Draft, Davis spent two-plus seasons with the Raptors before being traded to Memphis during the 2012-13 season.

10. Delvon Roe: Roe is the lone member of the Top 10 not playing competitively, as chronic knee issues forced him to retire just before his senior season at Michigan State. Roe, now an actor, played the role of Isaac in the movie “Love and Honor.”

11. Scotty Hopson: In three seasons at Tennessee, Hopson averaged 12.7 points per game and earned first team All-SEC honors as a junior. Unfortunately for Hopson he wasn’t selected in the 2011 NBA Draft, resulting in his playing overseas in each of his first two seasons as a pro. He most recently played for Hapoel Eilat in Israel (17.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

12. William Buford: Buford played four seasons at Ohio State, leaving the school ranked third on the all-time scoring list. Buford wasn’t drafted in 2012, resulting in his playing for Blusens Monbús in Spain. Buford averaged 3.3 points and 1.5 rebounds per game in his rookie season.

13. Willie Warren: Warren spent two uneven seasons at Oklahoma, averaging 16.3 points and 4.1 assists per game as a sophomore. Warren was selected in the second round of the 2010 NBA Draft by the Clippers, but he saw minimal playing time during his one season in Los Angeles. Warren played in Israel last season for Maccabi Rishon LeZion, where he did this.

14. Chris Singleton: Singleton played three seasons at Florida State (10.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg), where as a junior he emerged as arguably the best defensive player in the country. Drafted 18th overall by the Wizards in 2011, Singleton has averaged 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a professional.

15. Kemba Walker: In three seasons at UConn the Rice HS product went from being a role player on a team that reached the Final Four in 2009 (moving into the starting lineup when Jerome Dyson was lost for the season due to a knee injury) to leading the Huskies on an 11-game run to the program’s third national title. Drafted ninth overall by Charlotte in the 2011 NBA Draft, Walker has averaged 15.2 points and 5.1 assists per game as a Bobcat (soon to be Hornets).

16. Elliot Williams: Williams played two seasons of college basketball but at two different schools, as his mother’s poor health resulted in his transferring from Duke to Memphis. After averaging 17.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game in 2009-10, Williams was selected 22nd overall by Portland in the 2010 NBA Draft. Williams has played just six games in three seasons due to various injuries, with a torn left Achilles tendon ending his 2012-13 season before it even began. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer.

17. JaMychal Green: Green averaged 13.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in four seasons at Alabama, earning first team All-SEC honors as a junior. Green wasn’t drafted last June, but he did make the D-League second team All-Rookie squad as a member of the Austin Toros in 2012-13. Green hopes to use this summer as a springboard into an NBA training camp.

18. Tyler Zeller: Tyler comes from a talented family that has sent three players to the NBA (Cody, drafted fourth in the 2013 NBA Draft, being the most recent), but he’s the only one with a national title as well. In four seasons at North Carolina, Zeller averaged 12.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game before being selected 17th overall by the Mavericks. Dallas traded his rights to Cleveland, where Zeller averaged 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as a rookie.

19. Luke Babbitt: In two seasons at Nevada Babbitt was highly productive (19.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg), winning WAC Player of the Year honors as a sophomore. From there it was off to the NBA (drafted 18th overall by Minnesota, which traded his rights to Portland), where he’s averaged 3.8 points and 2.1 rebounds in three seasons in Portland.

20. Malcolm Lee: Lee averaged 9.7 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in three seasons at UCLA, leaving school after his junior season. Drafted in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by Chicago (which traded his rights to Minnesota), Lee has played a total of 35 games in two seasons for Minnesota (4.0 ppg, 1.9 rpg). On draft night (June 27) Lee was traded to Golden State, who then moved him to Phoenix.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES

  • 23. Iman Shumpert
  • 28. Jeff Withey
  • 34. DeAndre Liggins
  • 35. Kenny Kadji
  • 36. Darius Walker
  • 44. Larry Drew II
  • 49. Travis Releford
  • 53. Terrelle Pryor
  • 58. Klay Thompson
  • 63. Marcus Morris
  • 67. Markieff Morris
  • 73. Tyshawn Taylor
  • 79. Erving Walker
  • 81. Miles Plumlee
  • 86. Rotnei Clarke
  • 95. Draymond Green
  • 100. Jared Berggren

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

No. 10 Kansas overcomes deficits and its own issues to win at No. 6 West Virginia

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It’s hard to look at Kansas – the roster, the stats, the resume and all that comes with it – and not conclude this is the most vulnerable squad the Jayhawks have fielded since its current domination of the Big 12 began in 2005. The flaws are apparent, and they’re serious. They could easily be enough to sink the Jayhawks in an unforgiving conference.

It also could just be business as usual for Bill Self’s program

Tenth-ranked Kansas sputtered and struggled Monday night, but, ultimately, it didn’t matter as the Jayhawks stole a game at a rowdy WVU Coliseum, topping sixth-ranked West Virginia, 71-66, to keep its spot atop the Big 12 despite whatever issues bothered them against the Mountaineers and may persist well into the winter.

One of the major differences of this Kansas team from the 13 that preceded it is the Jayhawks can’t overwhelm with talent and athleticism. There’s no Andrew Wiggins, Josh Jackson, Thomas Robinson or any other surefire lottery pick to just go get buckets. There isn’t a host of high-level athletes that can help Kansas just run inferior teams off the floor. When you have two things, your margin of error gets padded. Mistakes aren’t magnified. They’re minimized. That’s not a luxury Kansas now enjoys.

Then there’s the issue of the roster. Even with Silvio De Sousa being declared eligible, Kansas is still incredibly thin and inexperienced up front. Udoka Azubuike is a load, but he’s the only big man that even inspires a bit of fear from opponents. If Billy Preston ever gets on the floor, maybe this becomes less of an issue for the Jayhawks, but it’s difficult to believe a true freshman making a whole host of difference this late in the season.

So for Kansas to win its 14th-straight Big 12 regular season championship, the Jayhawks are going to have to have to play a specific way. There’s not much wiggle room. They’ve got to defend. They’ve got to shoot 3s. They’ve got to be tough. They’ve got to be resilient.

That’s exactly what the Jayhawks were against Bob Huggins’ team Monday. If you can out-tough, out-hustle and out-work a Huggins team on their home floor, you’re on to something.

West Virginia led by as many as 16 in the first half. The Mountaineers had Kansas shook. Well Sagaba Konate did, at least. Eulogies were already being written for Kansas, especially as West Virginia’s lead stayed in double digits past the midway point of the second half.

West Virginia is designed to wear down opponents. The Mountaineers try to create a crucible, especially in Morgantown, that will force opponents to wilt. That’s supposed to be its most potent late in games.

That’s when Kansas thrived.

The Jayhawks outscored West Virginia 26-11 over the final 8 minutes. The Mountaineers were 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) from the floor with four turnovers during that stretch. Kansas, conversely, make 7 of 10 shots overall and 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

It wasn’t exactly rope-a-dope, but Kansas saved its best for last. They made winning plays. That’s really what’s going to have to separate them from the pack this season. As good as Devonte Graham is, as effective as Svi Mykhailiuk can be and as good as Self is, the Jayhawks are going to have to grind more than they’re accustomed to. 

The Big 12 is unmerciful this season. Texas Tech already has a win at Allen Fieldhouse, Trae Young has gone full supernova and even the league’s bottom tier looks like tough outs. Kansas faces a major test, and they’ll do so without a roster that compares to some of the powerhouses Self has assembled. The Jayhawks have often been able to win just by delivering broad strokes. They were bigger, faster, stronger and, simply, better. When they coupled that with a mastery of the finer points of the game, they dominated.

If The Streak is going to reach 14, it won’t be with that blueprint. The grittier parts of the game are going to have to come to the forefront. Outlasting West Virginia in Morgantown while shooting 44 percent and facing double-digit deficits would suggest the Jayhawks have the toughness and ability to make clutch plays that can paper over other issues.

Kansas isn’t going to overwhelm the Big 12 this year. They still very well could win it.

Monday’s Three Things to Know: Duke wins, Kansas wins and … BC wins?

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1. SO MAYBE KANSAS IS GOING TO WIN THE BIG 12 AFTER ALL

It happens EVERY YEAR.

Kansas goes on some prolonged slump, plays like a hot garbage for a few weeks and gets all of us thinking that yes, this year is different than all of the other years, that this is the year the Jayhawks won’t actually win the Big 12 regular season title.

I am a member of that club, and I feel pretty stupid after Monday night.

Kansas went into Morgantown and knocked off No. 6 West Virginia, 71-66, despite trailing for the majority of the game and spending the first 12 minutes of the second half staring up at a double-digit deficit. Simply put: the Jayhawks had no business winning on Monday night, and yet they did anyway, moving themselves into sole possession of first place in the Big 12 and making up for the fact that they lost at home to Texas Tech earlier this season.

Our Travis Hines penned a column on this game, so I’ll let him elaborate more, but one thing I will note here is that Silvio De Sousa played well in some important minutes at the end of the first half. Turning him into a player that can be a competent energy for 10-15 minutes off the bench will be massive.

2. BC’S ROLLING

The Jim Christian era at Boston College hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows. The Eagles have never finished a season above .500 and failed to reach double-digit wins the last two years. That put Christian on the hot seat coming into the season and with little reason to believe the temperature would come down in the always-competitive ACC.

Things, though, have been pretty good – at least when judged against the last three years – in Chestnut Hill. With Monday’s 81-75 win over Florida State, Boston College is now 3-3 in the ACC, which exceeds its conference win total from the last two years…combined. Yes. BC won just two games against ACC opponents combined in 2016 and 2017, winning two games last year after going 0-18 the season prior.

It hasn’t really been a function of scheduling or luck, either. Other than getting stomped by North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Boston College has been competitive every night out, losing by a combined five points to Virginia and Clemson. Now, don’t go putting Boston College in the FIeld of 68 or anything like that just yet, but it’s easy to see that after three years in the woods, the Eagles may be closer to finding something akin to consistent competency.

3. DUKE IS STARTING TO PLAY SOME DEFENSE

The Blue Devils won at No. 25 Miami tonight. Rob Dauster has a column up on that game right now which gets into everything you need to know.

But there is this tidbit that is important to know: Duke allowed less than 1.00 points-per-possession on Monday night. It’s the third straight game that they have allowed less than 1.00 PPP, and that’s the first time that they have done that since 2014.

Granted, the best offense in those three games ranks outside the top 50 in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric (Wake Forest) and two of them (Miami, 107th, and Pitt, 236th) rank outside the top 100. but you have to start somewhere. Is this the beginning of another defensive renaissance?

VIDEO: West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate hosts block party vs. Kansas

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Do not try Sagaba Konate.

The West Virginia big man has no time for anyone – especially Kansas Jayhawks attempting dunks – at the rim.

Konate’s first half against Kansas on Monday night was borderline dominant on the defensive end, with the 6-foot-8 sophomore blocking five shots as the Mountaineers controlled the game against Big 12 favorite Kansas.

The numbers were great, but the actual blocks were even better.

It looked like Konate had submitted his Block of the Year candidate early when Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk challenged him on a fast break. Konate wasn’t having any of it.

Konate may have one-upped himself later in the half, though, when Marcus Garrett, despite presumably having eyes and a short-term memory, thought it was a good idea to try to put Konate on a poster with a dunk of his own.

Super bad idea.

The Big 12 has some dominant shot blockers in the 7-footer mold of Texas’ Mo Bamba and Jo Lual-Acuil, but Konate may be the best of the bunch.

Texas Tech fined, WVU’s Harris reprimanded after court-storm

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The Big 12 fined Texas Tech $25,000 and reprimanded West Virginia forward Wes Harris for hitting a fan who joined thousands of others in storming the court during a weekend postgame celebration.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement Monday that Texas Tech did not ensure the safety and security of West Virginia players following the game in Lubbock, Texas.

Videos posted on social media by fans show Harris and other West Virginia players trying to reach the sideline as Red Raider fans swarmed the court Saturday in celebration of No. 8 Texas Tech’s 72-71 win over then-No. 2 West Virginia.

The videos show Harris striking a fan who had run into him before Harris is pulled away. Other players were involved in a separate skirmish trying to protect a teammate in the swarm.

“We have a duty to provide a safe game environment,” Bowlsby said. “The Texas Tech Department of Athletics has a written event management policy, which was unsuccessful in ensuring the safety and security of the visiting team game participants.”

Texas Tech got the win it its first-ever Top 10 matchup on its home court.

Bowlsby noted that although the Big 12 does not have a policy prohibiting spectators from entering the court for postgame celebrations, “it is of utmost importance that home game management provide adequate security measures for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and spectators.”

Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement that the Red Raiders “admittedly did fail to meet our expectations Saturday in efforts to secure the floor and allow West Virginia to exit without incident.

“We will make the necessary adjustments to continue to ensure that all in attendance have an excellent experience at all of our events.”

West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons said WVU, the Big 12 and Texas Tech had a “positive and open dialogue” over the incident, and court security, player safety and postgame emotions were taken into account.

“We will revisit with our student-athletes to again reinforce our expectations regarding sportsmanship issues across all sports,” Lyons said in a statement. “The Big 12 has issued its reprimand. We accept it, and I consider the matter closed.”

Harris, a sophomore, is averaging 6.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.

“Although the post-game environment did not live up to our expectations, Mr. Harris intentionally striking a fan is contrary to the conference’s sportsmanship standards,” Bowlsby said.

Harris started his 18th straight game Monday night when No. 6 West Virginia (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) faced No. 10 Kansas (14-3, 4-1) in Morgantown.

Texas Tech plays at Texas on Wednesday.

Gary Trent sparks comeback win for No. 5 Duke at No. 25 Miami

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Gary Trent Jr. scored 18 of his career-high 30 points in the final 12 minutes as No. 5 Duke overcame a 13-point second half deficit to knock off No. 25 Miami in Coral Gables, 83-75, on Monday night.

Miami was up 66-53 and cruising with less than eight minutes left on the clock when Trent buried threes on back-to-back possessions to spark a 27-4 run that gave the Blue Devils an 80-70 lead with 39 seconds left. Trent also made the biggest shot of the game in that run, a three with 1:18 left that put Duke ahead 76-70.

The story of this game is going to end up being Duke’s defense. After getting torched for the first 32 minutes of the game, Mike Krzyzewski went back to a 2-3 zone that completely took the Hurricanes out of the rhythm that they were in. That is true.

But that is not what changed the game.

Duke had 19 turnovers in the first 32 minutes of the game that led directly to 20 Miami points. In total, the Hurricanes scored 31 of their first 66 points in transition. In the final eight minutes of the game, Duke stopped throwing the ball all over the court and managed to score 30 points during that stretch; for comparison’s sake, Miami outscored Duke 19-4 in the first nine minutes of the second half when the Blue Devils had seven turnovers.

So credit Duke for getting it done on the offensive end against one of college basketball’s stiffest defenses; Miami entered the night ranked 7th in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

And credit Coach K for throwing a 2-3 zone at Miami, because it works.

But I don’t think that this performance changes the overarching narrative of Duke’s season – that they are not good enough defensively to win a national title right now – because I think Miami’s struggles against the zone say far more about Miami than they do about Duke.

The Hurricanes are insanely talented. Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown both look like they are going to play in the NBA and may end up being first round picks. The same can be said for big man Dewan Huell. JaQuan Newton, a senior, and Chris Lykes, a freshman, are both good ACC players. The problem, at least the way that I see it, is that all four of those guards are essentially the same guy: Score-first combo-guards that don’t really shoot it all that well and that don’t really make anyone around them all that much better.

In transition, when Jim Larrañaga’s talented guards can make plays in space, they are really effective. When they play against a man-to-man defense that doesn’t really know how to defend ball-screens, they look great. Against a zone, where trying to beat a man 1-on-1 won’t work, where ball movement and spacing and attacking gaps to create openings for teammates is needed, Miami comes up short.

Duke was not good defensively for the first 32 minutes on Monday night. They were better than they have been, and they do deserve some credit for slowly going from horrendous to just plain bad defensively, but there were still plenty of times where the Blue Devils looked like this trying to slow down Miami:

Duke made the plays they needed to make to come back, and that’s not an easy thing to do. They deserve credit for it.

But it is also fair to say that Miami lost their lead because they were clueless about what to do when faced with a 2-3.

It begs a larger question, one that will be tougher for Hurricane fans to stomach: Was this team overrated coming into the season?

Personally, I don’t think they were. A team with three potential NBA players and a roster full of guards that thrive in a ball-screen heavy offense that Larrañaga runs should be better than they are. But Newton is shooting a career-low from three and losing minutes to Lykes, who is 5-foot-7 and a gambler defensively. Brown did not make anywhere near the improvement many expected him to make – in some ways he’s regressed – and Walker entered Monday shooting under 30 percent from three.

The pieces on the roster aren’t as good as we thought they were and they don’t fit together as well as we had hoped that they would.

We’re now more than halfway through the season and the Hurricanes’ best win came against a Florida State team that has lost three of their last four and four of their last six. They’ve also beaten Minnesota, who has fallen off a cliff recently, and Middle Tennessee State, who probably needs to win their league to get to the NCAA tournament. They’ve now lost two in a row, three of their last four and four of their last seven.

Miami will have plenty of chances to figure this thing out and play their way into the Big Dance, but as of today, the Hurricanes are a bubble team.

Predicting them to win the ACC doesn’t look like my best prediction right now.