Looking Back: The 2001 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. Eddy Curry: Curry went pro out of college and played his first four seasons with Chicago. His best year came in 2006-2007 when he averaged 19.5 points and 7.0 boards for the Knicks. He’s played 26 games in the NBA the last four years as conditioning and motivation issues continually pop up.

2. Kelvin Torbert: Torbert had a good-but-underwhelming four-year career at Michigan State, but he wasn’t even a full-time starter on the 2005 Final Four team. Torbert went undrafted in 2005 and has bounced around Europe since then.

3. Dajuan Wagner: Wagner spent a season at Memphis after a legendary high school career. He averaged 13.4 points as a rookie in Cleveland after getting picked sixth in the 2002 Draft, but injuries ended his hoops career way too early. He left Cleveland after 2005, and played just one more game in the NBA.

4. Tyson Chandler: Chandler skipped college and has developed into one of the best defensive centers in the NBA. He’s been an all-star, a Defensive Player of the Year, an NBA champion and an Olympic champion.

5. Ousmane Cisse: Cisse skipped college and was the 46th pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. He never played in the NBA, bouncing around basketball’s minor leagues and international leagues.

6. Kwame Brown: Brown was the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft after skipping college. He’s never lived up to the hype, but he’s been in the NBA for 12 years and made more than $60 million in his career. Not bad.

7. Julius Hodge: Hodge had a solid four-year career with NC State, eventually getting picked 20th in the first round of the 2005 draft. He lasted all of 23 games before heading overseas.

8. DeSagana Diop: Diop never made it to college, going straight from high school to the No. 8 pick in the 2001 NBA Draft. Diop made the Finals with the Mavericks in 2006 and has been in the NBA for 12 years despite the fact that he’s never averaged more than 2.9 points in a season.

9. Rick Rickert: Rickert played for two seasons at Minnesota, where he earned all-Big Ten first team honors, but entered the draft after his sophomore season. He was picked 55th in the 2003 draft, but has never played in the NBA and lasted just three seasons in the NBDL.

10. David Lee: Lee played four years at Florida, averaging 13.6 points and 9.0 boards as a senior. He was the 30th pick in the 2005 draft, playing five years in New York and the past three seasons in Golden State. He’s become a consistent double-double threat, a two-time all-star and one of the more valuable big men in the league.

11. Jawad Williams: Williams played four seasons at North Carolina and averaged 13.1 points as a senior on the 2005 national title team. Williams bounced around Europe, but did play three years in the NBA with Cleveland.

12. Carlos Hurt: Hurt played just 14 games at Louisville before getting hurt and, eventually, kicked off the team. He ended up at Robert Morris, an NAIA school in Illinois. He played all of one seasn in the NBDL.

13. Jonathan Hargett: Hargett played one season at West Virginia, was arrested for selling weed and transferred to Virginia Union but couldn’t get eligible. He’s been locked up since.

14. David Harrison: Colorado played at Colorado for three seasons, averaging 17.1 points and 8.8 boards as a junior before entering the NBA Draft. Harrison went in the first round, 29th overall, to Indiana in the 2004 NBA Draft and lasted with the Pacers for four seasons. He played for three years in China afterwards. He’s perhaps best known for either partaking in the Pistons-Pacers brawl in Auburn Hills or an appearance on Real World: Philadelphia.

15. Aaron Miles: Miles had a terrific four-year career at Kansas, but he wasn’t picked in the 2005 NBA Draft. He latched on with the Warriors for 19 games in the 2005-2006 season, but hasn’t been back to the league since, instead bouncing around overseas.

16. Mo Williams: Williams went to Alabama and lasted with the Crimson Tide for two seasons, averaging 16.4 points and 3.9 assists as a senior. He went pro and was picked 47th in the 2003 NBA Draft. He’s been a starter in the league since his second season with Milwaukee, and played with Utah last season. Williams was an all-star in 2009.

17. TJ Ford: Ford had two wildly successful seasons at Texas, earning Freshman of the Year honors before leading the Longhorns to the Final Four as a sophomore while being named National Player of the Year. Ford was the No. 8 pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and was one of the best young point guards in the NBA before spinal cord injuries derailed his career. Ford was most recently on the Spurs roster in 2011-2012.

18. Josh Childress: Childress played three seasons in college and was an All-American as a junior before becoming the sixth pick in the 2004 NBA Draft. He had four successful years in Atlanta, but he accepted a more valuable contract to play in Greece over a five-year deal in the NBA. He lasted two seasons in the Greek League before returning to the NBA. Childress played with Brooklyn last season.

19. Cedric Bozeman: Bozeman played out his eligibility at UCLA, but he only managed to stay healthy for three full seasons. He ended his career as a fifth-year senior, but only lasted 23 games in the NBA during the 2006-2007 season.

20. Wayne Simien: Simien was a two-time All-American at Kansas and was a first round pick, 29th overall, of the Miami Heat in the 2005 NBA Draft. He won oa rin in 2006, but only lasted two seasons in the league. Simien retired from basketball in 2009.

OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

  • 22. James White
  • 32. Jason Maxiell
  • 32. Pierre Pierce
  • 36. Billy Edelin
  • 40. Travis Diener
  • 41. Ben Gordon
  • 46. Chuck Hayes
  • 53. Will Bynum
  • 65. Josh Powell
  • 87. Channing Frye
  • 87. Lawrence Roberts
  • 91. Keith Langford
  • 99. Emeka Okafor
  • UR. Luther Head
  • UR. Hakim Warrick

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.