Looking Back: The 2008 Recruiting Class


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.


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.


  • 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.

PHOTO: Loyola-Chicago’s Sister Jean has her signature Nikes on

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Not only does Sister Jean have her own bobblehead, she has her own pair of signature Nikes as well:

St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds entering NBA Draft process without an agent

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

St. John’s sophomore guard Shamorie Ponds will test the NBA Draft waters without hiring an agent, he announced on Saturday.

The 6-foot-1 Ponds was one of the best players in the country this past season as he put up 21.6 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game for the Red Storm.

Ponds had some memorable individual performances this season including back-to-back wins and monster performances against Elite Eight teams. After 31 points in a loss to Xavier, Ponds had 33 points in a win over Duke and 26 points in a win over Villanova.

It’ll be intriguing to see what the NBA feedback is like for Ponds. The sophomore can really score the ball at a high level, but Ponds hasn’t played for a winning team and he is also on the smaller side. Perimeter shooting is also a major question mark after Ponds only shot 25 percent from three-point range this season.

But there is no doubting that Ponds is a gamer, and he can score points in bunches if he gets going. If Ponds returns to St. John’s next season, he’ll be someone to watch for on preseason awards lists.

As a kid growing up my dream was to play in the NBA. I would like to thank the St John's University coaching staff for putting me in a position to succeed, and achieve my dream goal. As me & my family sat down & talked about my future, we decided that it would be best for me to Declare for the NBA Draft & not hire an agent. My plan is to get as much NBA experience and knowledge as possible. In addition, I do not want close any doors. I'll like to keep all my options open. Also, to get some proper evaluations on my game would be helpful to me. To conclude, I believe this was a smart decision because not only you can get a chance to experience the NBA, but you can also return back to college. I am thankful for everybody that helped grow as a person and a player over the past year. Most importantly the man above because with out him, none of this would of been possible. Wish me luck on my journey🙏🏼 #Blessings #DraftDreams #ThePondsWay 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼 #DreamsDoComeTru

A post shared by SP 💫 (@_slicck_) on

Purdue’s Vince Edwards visits Texas Tech locker room after loss

Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Leave a comment

In one of the nicer moments of sportsmanship that we’ve seen in the NCAA tournament, Purdue senior Vincent Edwards — after his last game as a college basketball player — paid a visit to the team that ended his Final Four dreams, wishing them good luck throughout the rest of the tournament.

“Go win it,” he told the players in the Red Raider locker room:

An Ode To Jevon Carter: The force behind Press Virginia never got the credit he deserved

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BOSTON — To the public-at-large, the legacy of Jevon Carter comes down to this: He’s been in college for 100 years, and he looks like it because of his hairline.

He’s the Perry Ellis redux.

To everyone in college basketball — from his coaching staff to his program to the teams and players that he has wreaked havoc on — what he did and who he was meant so much more.

Let’s start with this: Jevon Carter knows what his opponent’s are going to try to do better than they do.

“Jevon tells guys on the floor where to go when they don’t know the plays,” said West Virginia assistant coach Ron Everhart, and he’s not referring to his own team. “He sits there and studies their film. He knows their plays better than they do. It’s pretty funny, actually. ‘You go there, and you better get out there, coach is gonna take you out.'”

The opposition is not the only team he coaches up. On the court, in the huddle, in the locker room. He’s always talking, always helping, always leading.

“He always taught me what to do,” said West Virginia’s sophomore center Sagaba Konate, one of the most improved defenders in the country this year. “In the game, in the huddle, he always show what to do. If I’m on the wrong side in a game, he told me be there, go to the other side. At halftime he come up to me, show what I’m supposed to do, swing here, swing here, I’ll throw it to you here. All that kind of stuff.”

And then there’s the way that he’s viewed by the people he chews up, spits out and leaves with nothing but a turnover or a missed shot in the box score.

“None,” Donte Divincenzo, who turned the ball over six times in Villanova’s 90-78 win over West Virginia on Friday night, a win that ended Carter’s career and sent the Mountaineers home in the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive season, said when asked if he’s ever faced a better defender. “He’s the best ever.”

“Maybe Briante Weber at VCU,” added Villanova assistant Ashley Howard, the man that was tasked with putting together a scouting report to try and deal with Carter on Friday. “But in recent years? None.”

The quick hands. The lateral movement. The relentlessness. They say shot-blockers can change a game simply because shooters know they’re there, conscious of the fact that they may end up getting a layup put through the back board. It’s not often that you hear ball-handlers say the same about a guy out on the perimeter.

“Even when you get by him, you have that presence right behind you that can get the ball at any point,” Divincenzo said. “We were driving and he was still on our backs, still reaching and still getting his hands on balls.”

“He can have an off game but people still fear him on the defensive end.”

But to really understand what the man they call ‘JC’ has meant to this West Virginia program, you have to go all the way back to the very first moment that head coach Bob Huggins saw Carter play.

(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

“I was in Orlando in Disney,” Huggy Bear said last week. “Got me a big cup of coffee to watch the 8 am game. He was in the furthest court away that you could be on. I’m trying to drink my coffee and wake up and this guy’s pressing at eight o’clock in the morning. No one else on his team’s pressing. Just him. He’s picking up the ball, pressuring people from end line to end line, and I pick up the phone and call my assistants and say, ‘We’ve got to sign this guy. I don’t know what he does well, but he sure tries to guard.'”

And he’s never stopped.

What you have to understand here is that Carter, as much as anyone, is to credit for West Virginia’s ascendance to being one of the best programs in the Big 12. When Huggins started recruiting Carter, West Virginia was in the midst of a transition that was not going well. In their first season in the Big 12 after leaving the Big East, the Mountaineers finished 13-19 overall, the first time that Huggs had a team finish a season below .500 since 1984-85, his very first year as a Division I head coach. The following year they were better, but their 17-16 mark was the second-most losses that Huggins has ever had in a season as a head coach.

“We were struggling,” Huggins said. “I underestimated the switch from the Big East and how they played in the Big East to the Big 12. We had the wrong kind of guys. We had guys that didn’t love to play.”

JC, and his four-year back court mate Daxter Miles, love to play. They were unheralded prospects that were brought in to replace guys like Eron Harris, who left the program after averaging 17 points as a sophomore, and completely changed the culture of West Virginia basketball.

It helps that their arrival sparked a change in philosophy — Press Virginia was born — but it bears asking: Would Press Virginia have worked without those two making their presence known?

“These two guys are — they’re at the head of that class,” Huggins said. “They work. They work every day in practice. They’re coachable. I’ve never had one complaint about either one of them. I’ve never had one issue with either one of them.”

Culture is a word that gets thrown around a lot in college basketball, sometimes unnecessarily so, but with Miles and, specifically, Carter, it is completely fair and justifiable to say that they changed the culture of West Virginia basketball.

“They’ve come into this situation and basically turned it around,” Everhart said. “Look at where we were four years ago when they got here and look at where we are today. We won 25 games four years in a row and three straight Sweet 16s, and I think that speaks volumes in terms of what they’ve meant to West Virginia basketball and our program, locker room, culture, where we are right now.”

“He’s the guy who really get me to play great defense,” Konate said, “because I never saw JC giving up or get tired. So I say, ‘if he’s doing it, why not me?'”

And that right there says all you need to know about Jevon Carter and the legacy that he will leave.

Bill Self’s least impressive Kansas team is 40 minutes away from the Final Four

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. — Kansas is vulnerable, exploitable and limited. The Jayhawks have no depth, are without a superstar and possess a middling defense.

They are Bill Self’s worst team.

And they have won the Big 12 regular season and tournament titles, secured a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and are a win away from the Final Four.

The Jayhawks shrugged off some late sluggishness to dispatch No. 5 Clemson 80-76 on Friday night in the Midwest Regional semifinal at CenturyLink Center to put themselves in the Elite Eight for the third-consecutive year with a date with Duke on Sunday.

This year has often been about what this Kansas team couldn’t do after the losses of Frank Mason and Josh Jackson and then the ineligibility of Billy Preston. Early-season losses to Washington and Arizona State, the latter at the usually impregnable Allen Fieldhouse, were the proof this Kansas team might finally be the one not to win a Big 12 title. Then Texas Tech beat the hell out of them in Lawrence and it looked like the streak was on its way to over.

Devonte Graham was a poor imitation of Mason.  Svi Mykhailiuk was too timid and inconsistent. Udoka Azubuike was foul-prone and unproven. The supporting cast was a rung or two lower than a team with national-championship aspirations could carry.

Those problems are real. Those issues are troublesome. Those deficiencies are critical.

In spite of it all, Kansas won the Big 12 by two games, ripped through the conference tournament and are on the doorstep of playing for a national championship.

Bill Self’s worst team has a chance to be the country’s best.

“I’m so proud of our team because I think of all the teams that we’ve had here, this would be the team that everyone would have thought would not be in this game,” Self said Friday. “And so, hey, we’re in this game. We’ve got a legitimate shot to go to San Antonio.

“You prepare the whole year to play in this game. So I think we’ll play with no what-ifs. I think we’ll let it go. I think we’ll be as loose as we can be and still you’ve got to make shots.

“I’d like nothing more than to take my team this year to San Antonio and let them experience what the best of the best is in college basketball.”

The key to Kansas’ season has been embracing its shortcomings. Azubuike is the only big they’ve got that can give them both scoring and defense consistently. It’s a 180 for a program that’s featured Thomas Robinson, Cole Aldrich, the Morris Twins and Jeff Withey. Kansas almost always plays through its bigs. This year, they’re playing around one.

“I never played like this,” Self said. “It just goes against the grain from the teams that we’ve had in the past, but these guys have figured it out. They’ve learned how to play through it, and we’ve had unbelievable guard play and unbelievable leadership from our vets, and had some guys have some outstanding seasons.

“There’s less margin for error but these guys have certainly rallied around that.”

Kansas’ shooting is why they’re in the Elite Eight. The Jayhawks are 10th nationally with a 40.5 3-point shooting percentage. It’s Azubuiike, though, that makes so many of those good looks possible. The man makes 77.5 percent of his shots from the floor. That demands defensive attention. And that means defenders aren’t shadowing shooters.

“He’s a guy we can throw the ball into and he can go get a basket,” Malik Newman, who had a team-high 17 points Friday, said. “I think his passing is underrated. That’s another big key for him. When we’re able to throw it in and the defense collapses on him, he is able to kick it out and find an open shooter.

“It just opens up the whole game for us.”

It’s opened up a whole world of possibility for Kansas and a world of hurt for their opponents.

“Most teams have somebody that you can kind of scratch off,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell mused. “So one of the reasons they’re so hard to guard is they’ve got a center that scores if he catches it deep, and he’s bigger than everybody on the floor so he does get position. And then you’ve got guards that can all make shots and drive by you and they play with great spacing.”

Now, Kansas isn’t full of slouches. Graham was the Big 12 player of the year, Azubuike’s talent was apparent even if it was raw before injury robbed him of a freshman year. Mykhailiuk is all-Big 12 while Malik Newman and LaGerald Vick were heralded prospects. Still, there’s not a lottery pick among them. No Andrew Wiggins or Ben McLemore or Josh Jackson. The fit is strange and the depth is zilch.

All that has eroded Kansas’ wiggle room for mistakes, but when they operate within their comfort zone, it can make for great offense. The first two minutes of the second half when the Jayhawks hit back-to-back 3s was a thing of beauty, ball movement and shot making. It was the blueprint for a buzzsaw.

Maybe Self’s worst team is pretty damn good.