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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. 3 Gonzaga improves to 20-0 with win over Portland

SPOKANE, WA - DECEMBER 07:  Nigel Williams-Goss #5 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs drives against the Washington Huskies in the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center on December 7, 2016 in Spokane, Washington.  Gonzaga defeated Washington 98-71.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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PORTLAND, Ore. — Zach Collins had 13 points and No. 3 Gonzaga remained the nation’s only undefeated Division I team with an 83-64 victory over Portland in a game Monday night that was rescheduled because of a winter storm earlier this month.

The Bulldogs have won 20 straight games, their longest streak since winning that many in the 2005-06 and 2003-04 seasons. Gonzaga is now 8-0 in West Coast Conference play.

Silas Melson and Jordan Mathews each added 12 points for the Zags, who led by as many as 33 points and had four players in double-digits.

Rashad Jackson and D’Marques Tyson had 15 points apiece for Portland, which won its first two games in conference but has lost six straight since then. The Pilots (9-11, 2-6 WCC) are playing their first season under former NBA player and coach Terry Porter.

The game was originally scheduled for Jan. 7, but a winter storm in Portland forced it to be postponed. Portland opened up extra seats and Gonzaga’s fans outnumbered the home team’s crowd.

The two teams had met just two days ago in Spokane, with Gonzaga leading from the start to win 73-52. But Portland, playing without top scorer Alec Wintering, out-rebounded the Zags 41-33 and held them to 45 percent shooting.

The Zags fared better on Monday, out-rebounding Portland 41-36 and shooting 42 percent.

Gonzaga guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who left the game against Portland because of a left hip injury with about five minutes left, was questionable against Portland but started.

But freshman forward Killian Tillie appeared to injure his right leg under Portland’s basket with 9:38 to go in the game, and teammates helped him from the floor. The 6-foot-10 Tillie, who is from France, is averaging 4.8 points this season.

Wintering, a senior, was hurt in last Thursday’s game against San Francisco and the Pilots announced this weekend that his college career was over because of a torn left ACL.

Wintering averaged 19.5 points and 5.6 assists a game this season. He was on Portland’s bench in street clothes, but during warmups before the game and at the break he was on the court, offering his teammates advice and encouragement.

Gonzaga jumped out to a 9-0 run but the Pilots closed within 9-8 following Philipp Hartwich’s dunk. Portland was competitive, answering Melson’s 3-pointer for Gonzaga with Jackson’s 3 that got the Pilots within 22-19.

But the Bulldogs responded with an 8-0 run to go up 30-19 and went into halftime with on a 16-4 run for a 38-23 lead. Melson and Jonathan Williams led Gonzaga at the break with eight points apiece. Jackson’s 13 first-half points for Portland were a new career high for a game.

Gonzaga extended the lead to 50-26 on Przemek Karnowski’s layup with just under 16 minutes to go, the Bulldogs were on the way to their 20th straight win.

THE BIG PICTURE:

Gonzaga: The Zags have won eight straight against Portland. … The Bulldogs’ longest winning streak was 22 games, set in the

Portland: Portland Trail Blazers President Neil Olshey was at the game. … The game, originally scheduled to be played over winter break, was sold out. So despite school being back in session, the usual student section wasn’t as large for the televised game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS: Gonzaga rose a spot from No. 4 and only trails No. 1 Villanova (19-1) and No. 2 Kansas (18-1) in the AP rankings released earlier in the day. The Bulldogs were also ranked No. 3 in the Feb. 23, 2015 poll.

VIDEO: Andrew Jones nails deep three to give Texas win over Oklahoma

AUSTIN, TX - DECEMBER 27: James Banks #4 and Andrew Jones #1 of the Texas Longhorns react during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Kent State Golden Flashesat the Frank Erwin Center on December 27, 2016 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Texas freshman Andrew Jones nailed one of the most heroic game-winners of conference play with a dagger against Oklahoma on Monday night.

The Longhorns put together an 84-83 win over the Sooners as Jones took the final possession off of a missed free throw to dribble across the floor and fire an NBA-range bomb over a defender.

This win isn’t going to save a struggling Texas season, but it’s a nice win and a confidence-boosting shot for a McDonald’s All-American who has the potential to be a big-time player with some more seasoning. Jones finished with 16 points in the win as the Longhorns are now 8-12 and 2-6 in the Big 12.

(H/t: Mike Leslie)

VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. caps N.C. State win with thunder dunk

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 23:  Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives in for a dunk as time expires during their win against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 23, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 84-82.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Dennis Smith Jr. showed why he is a potential top three pick in this year’s draft and why he was the reason many thought that the Wolfpack could be an Elite 8 team coming into the season on Monday, popping off for 32 points and six assists as N.C. State won at No. 17 Duke, 84-82.

He capped off the performance with the perfect exclamation point, a dunk contest-worthy throwdown:

Let’s get another angle of that dunk, shall we?:

Three Takeaways from N.C. State’s win over No. 17 Duke

DURHAM, NC - JANUARY 23:  Head coach Mark Gottfried talks to Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack during their win against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium on January 23, 2017 in Durham, North Carolina. North Carolina State won 84-82.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Freshman Dennis Smith Jr. had a monster performance as he scored 32 points and had six assists to lead the Wolfpack past No. 17 Duke for an ACC road win.

Here are three takeaways for an important win for N.C. State.

1. This is the Dennis Smith Jr. (and N.C. State) that we envisioned 

Before this season N.C. State received a lot of hype with some pundits — including NBCSports.com — because people knew that freshman Dennis Smith Jr. was a lottery pick talent and there were other pieces around him that could be productive. Smith has mostly lived up to his top-five hype this season but Monday night’s game saw the North Carolina native go to another level.

Smith comes from a family of N.C. State fans. It is part of the reason he selected the Wolfpack even though they aren’t a one-and-done factory like some other schools. The Wolfpack hadn’t won in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1995 and this year’s N.C. State had lost four of five ACC games entering Monday.

And Smith went completely bonkers. He finished with 32 points and six assists as he was 4-for-6 from three-point range.

At the end of the first half when it looked like Duke might take a double-digit lead into the break, Smith converted a three-point play and followed it up with a tough, contested three to make it a six-point game. The second half saw more of the same from Smith as he nailed pull-up threes, got to the rim and finished through traffic. It was the type of mesmerizing performance that gets casual basketball fans excited about a player before March Madness begins.

Smith wasn’t the only good player for N.C. State on Monday. Freshman big man Ted Kapita gave crucial minutes inside as he registered his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Abdul Malik-Abu was a great secondary option for Smith as he contributed 19 points and nine rebounds. Maverick Rowan (nine points) hit a key late three and some important free throws.

When this team has all of its pieces going you can see why so many people believed N.C. State was capable of the Sweet 16. It feels like this team could be in for a run and the road game at Louisville on Sunday is another major test.

2. Duke is still figuring out its ideal rotation (while getting some answers)

Interim coach Jeff Capel went to some interesting lineup choices on Monday night. Capel started the game by using the lineup that jumpstarted Duke’s second half against Miami. That meant increased minutes for freshman center Marques Bolden as he was paired with Jayson Tatum (16 points) and Frank Jackson.

Seniors Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson were the interchangeable parts who played the most minutes in the first half for the Blue Devils and the second unit included Grayson Allen (13 points), Luke Kennard (20 points) and Harry Giles.

The Blue Devils still have some disjointed sets and scorers are still struggling to play with Tatum at times but there were some promising signs. Giles (eight points, seven rebounds) continues to improve his natural timing and he knocked down a face-up jumper from 17 feet with ease that could help keep defenders honest on him.

There was some good but there was also some bad. Bolden regressed to being a non-factor once again and Allen struggled to find a consistent scoring touch with a 4-for-13 performance.

We still have yet to see the (mostly) full strength Blue Devils that make us believe they are a national title contender. It’ll be interesting to see which lineup ultimately plays the best for Duke but they’re struggling to figure out a consistent rotation.

3. Can N.C. State sustain this kind of effort on a nightly basis?

Monday night was N.C. State’s first road win of the season. So for as big as this win is, the Wolfpack still have a long way to go to becoming a consistent factor in a ridiculously deep ACC. Smith is going to get tested quite a bit by Louisville’s length and athleticism on Sunday and playing in front of that Cardinal crowd is one of the hardest things to do in college basketball.

It doesn’t get any easier for N.C. State and they can’t have a major letdown after the high of a road win like this. That losing stretch of four out of five games included some really bad losses. Boston College, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest are the kind of losses that tournament teams can’t sustain on a regular basis so the Wolfpack have to take care of  business against teams like that for the rest of the season.

Success on the road will also help N.C. State’s tournament cause. This Duke win is nice but now the Wolfpack get two more cracks at top-15 teams away from home with Louisville and Florida State in the next two weeks. If N.C. State can somehow split those road games and stay strong at home they’ll be in good shape the rest of the way.

PHOTO: Nevada wearing pink jerseys to honor Coaches vs. Cancer this week

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Nevada announced that they’ll be wearing special pink uniforms for the next two games to promote cancer awareness.

The Wolf Pack will wear the jerseys on Wednesday (Jan. 25) on the road against Boise State and at home on Saturday (Jan. 28) against New Mexico.

“We are extremely excited and honored to release our new Pink “Cancer-Awareness” Jerseys. It was apparent very early in our time here, that many members of our Nevada Wolf Pack Basketball Program and in our Pack community have been affected or are currently being affected by cancer,” Nevada head coach Eric Musselman said in the release. “We could not be more proud to help support the cause and unite to fight this horrible and devastating disease.”