Looking Back: The 2002 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. Amar’e Stoudemire: Stoudemire, a Memphis commit, never set foot on a college campus as he immediately entered the 2002 NBA Draft. Drafted 9th overall by Phoenix, Stoudemire won Rookie of the Year honors in 2003 and played eight seasons in the Valley of the Sun before making the move to New York. In 11 seasons as a pro, Stoudemire has been to five All-Star games and is averaging 21.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.

2. Carmelo Anthony: Anthony may have spent just one year in college but it was an impactful one, as he helped lead Syracuse to the school’s only national title. In ten years as a pro in Denver and New York, Anthony is averaging 25.0 points and 6.4 rebounds per game with six All-Star Game appearances.

3. Raymond Felton: Felton spent three seasons (12.5 ppg, 6.9 apg) at North Carolina, winning a national title in 2005 while also earning first team All-ACC and third team AP All-America honors as a junior. Picked in the lottery by Charlotte in 2005, Felton has played eight seasons in the NBA (13.5 ppg, 6.6 apg) for four different franchises.

4. Rashad McCants: A teammate of Felton’s at North Carolina, McCants averaged 17.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game in three seasons as a Tar Heel. His professional career wasn’t smooth by any means, as the 14th selection in the 2005 NBA Draft hasn’t played in the NBA since 2009. McCants played for the Texas Legends in the D-League, this past season, and he’s even dabbled in some acting.

5. Chris Bosh: From a professional hardware standpoint Bosh, who spent one season at Georgia Tech (15.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg), has been the most successful member of the 2002 class as he’s won back-to-back NBA titles with the Miami Heat. Bosh is averaging 19.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game in ten seasons as a pro, spending the first seven in Toronto.

6. Jason Fraser: Fraser had a tough time eluding the injury bug during his four years at Villanova, Fraser averaged 5.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game in four seasons at Villanova, followed by some professional basketball overseas and even a stint with the Harlem Globetrotters as “Apollo” Fraser.

7. Paul Davis: Davis played four seasons at Michigan State, averaging 13.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game as a Spartan. Selected by the Clippers in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft, Davis has played in three different leagues overseas since 2010 and most recently played for BC Khimki in Russia.

8. Shelden Williams: Williams was incredibly productive in four years at Duke, averaging 13.9 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game as a Blue Devil. A lottery pick of the Atlanta Hawks in 2006, Williams played for seven different NBA teams before spending last season with Élan Chalon in France. Oh, his wife is pretty good at basketball as well.

9. Sean May: May teamed up with Felton and McCants to win a national title in 2005, earning Most Outstanding Player honors in the process. In three seasons as a Tar Heel, May averaged 15.8 points and 10.0 rebounds per game and was picked 13th overall by Charlotte in the 2005 NBA Draft. After four seasons in Charlotte and Sacramento, May has played overseas since 2010 with his most recent action coming in France with Paris-Levallois Basket.

10. DeAngelo Collins: Collins attempted to jump straight from high school to the pros, and with teams voicing concerns about off-court issues he went undrafted. Collins has since played in multiple leagues around the world, playing in China last summer (20.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg).

11. J.J. Redick: Redick teamed up with Williams at Duke, where they helped lead the Blue Devils to a Final Four appearance in 2004 and three ACC titles. Redick won multiple national Player of the Year honors as a senior, and he left Duke as college basketball’s all-time leaded in made three-pointers. Drafted by Orlando with the 11th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft, Redick (who was traded to Milwaukee during the 2012-13 season) has averaged 9.4 points per game in seven seasons as a pro.

12. Bracey Wright: In three seasons at Indiana, Wright averaged 17.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game and earned first team All-Big Ten honors as a sophomore. Drafted by Minnesota in the second round of the 2005 NBA Draft, Wright spent two seasons with the franchise before moving on to play in multiple leagues in Europe (most recently playing for Cedevita Zagreb in Croatia).

13. Evan Burns: Burns played one year at San Diego State, posting averages of 9.2 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. Originally a UCLA commit (academics led to his ending up at SDSU), Burns would be dismissed from the program by head coach Steve Fisher during the summer of 2003 for failing to “meet his academic responsibilities” three months after suffering a torn ACL. Burns last played professionally with the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the D-League in 2008.

14. Shavlik Randolph: Randolph spent three nondescript seasons at Duke (6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) before entering the 2005 NBA Draft, going undrafted. But he managed to play 57 games for the 76ers in 2005-06 and he’s been in the NBA ever since (albeit with minimal playing time), averaging 2.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game in seven seasons as a pro.

15. Daniel Horton: In four years at Michigan the 6-3 Texan averaged 14.7 points and 4.4 assists per game. Horton wasn’t drafted in 2006, and outside of stints with Los Angeles and Albuquerque in the D-League (he also spent one game with the Miami Heat in 2006) he’s played overseas for his entire pro career. Horton last played with Korihait in Finland.

16. Anthony Roberson: Roberson and Matt Walsh arrived at Florida with high expectations, but it would be the group that came in after them (Joakim Noah and co.) that would lead the program to two national titles. In three seasons at Florida Roberson averaged 15.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, and he’s played with 11 professional teams (four in the NBA) since going undrafted in 2005.

17. Chris Rodgers: The Portland native failed to live up to the hype that preceded his arrival at Arizona, as he averaged just 6.3 points per game in four seasons in Tucson. Rodgers was suspended halfway through his senior campaign, only to return later in the season. Now known as Mahmoud Abdul-Awwel, he most recently played professionally in Mexico.

18. Antoine Wright: Wright played three seasons at Texas A&M (15.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg) before being selected 15th overall by the Nets in the 2005 NBA Draft. Wright played seven seasons in the NBA for four different teams, most recently playing with Sacramento in 2010. Since then, Wright has played in China, Spain, Venezuela and the D-League.

19. Dee Brown: Brown played four seasons at Illinois, averaging 13.2 points and 4.9 assists per game in his college career and earning second team AP All-America honors as a senior. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft by Utah, Brown played in 49 games as a rookie before making the move overseas. He most recently played for Türk Telekom in Turkey.

20. Hassan Adams: Adams was an incredible leaper during his career at Arizona, in which he averaged 14.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Drafted in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft by the Nets, Adams spent one season in New Jersey and part of another in Toronto (2008-09) with the majority of his action coming in various international leagues. Adams most recently played for Guaros de Lara in Venezuela.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES 

  • 25. Lenny Cooke
  • 27. Andre Iguodala
  • 38. Gerry McNamara
  • 45. Brandon Roy
  • 46. Jarrett Jack
  • 48. Deron Williams
  • 56. Randy Foye
  • 57. Steve Novak
  • 65. Taquan Dean
  • 71. Francisco Garcia
  • 86. C.J. Watson
  • 95. Nik Caner-Medley
  • UR: Quincy Douby
  • UR: Marcedes Lewis
  • UR: Nate Robinson
  • UR: Al Thornton

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Report: Western Kentucky’s Lamonte Bearden staying in 2018 NBA Draft

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Western Kentucky guard Lamonte Bearden will stay in the 2018 NBA Draft after hiring an agent, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-3 Bearden just completed his redshirt junior season with the Hilltoppers as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game. A slippery guard with good size, Bearden shot 47 percent from the field and 82 percent from the charity stripe while also getting in the passing lanes for 1.7 steals per game.

Although Bearden has good size and athleticism at lead guard, his perimeter jumper has been inconsistent during his college career. He was 31 percent from three-point range (a career high) this past season. Starting his college career at Buffalo, Bearden helped lead the Bulls to the NCAA tournament before opting to play in Conference USA for Western Kentucky.

The Hilltoppers will certainly miss Bearden’s presence in their backcourt as the program has seven new players signed for next season.

USC makes a statement landing Class of 2019 four-star forward Isaiah Mobley

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USC ended a strong week of recruiting with another major statement on Friday afternoon as four-star Class of 2019 forward Isaiah Mobley pledged to the Trojans.

The second major Class of 2019 commitment for USC during the week, the 6-foot-9 power forward joins five-star big man Onyeka Okongwu. The Compton Magic teammates should be able to help replace the loss of Bennie Boatwright and Chimezie Metu, with Mobley playing the skilled, floor-spacing Boatwright’s role and Okongwu providing the interior energy of Metu.

Having two highly-touted big men commit in the same week is huge for USC. And it looks like the start of even bigger things in a continually-evolving SoCal recruiting war against Pac-12 rival UCLA.

Landing both Mobley and Okongwu is significant for the Trojans for a number of reasons. As previously mentioned, both come from the famous Compton Magic grassroots program that runs on the adidas Gauntlet. While landing AAU teammates from a regional program is common for high-major programs of USC’s stature, the commitments signify that the Trojans are the ones with the biggest pull with the Magic at the current moment.

And the Magic used to get raided by UCLA.

In the past few years, the Bruins signed T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigbogu, Jaylen Hands and Jalen Hill from the Compton Magic. Now, it’s USC who looks to be in the driver’s seat recruiting the program.

The Trojans aren’t done, either.

Newly-hired USC assistant coach Eric Mobley is the father Isaiah Mobley, as well as five-star Class of 2020 big man Evan Mobley. As Rivals national recruiting analyst Eric Bossi noted in his story about Isaiah, “Barring something strange happening, look for the younger Mobley to join his brother and father by committing to USC within the next two weeks.”

That would mean the Trojans would have landed three top-30 caliber big men in the span of a few weeks. That allows the USC coaching staff to recruit other positions extremely hard. Outside of Kentucky, USC has arguably the best future recruiting status of any program in the country.

The Trojans have taken full advantage of UCLA letting go popular assistant coach David Grace. The Bruins are still pulling in top-100 prospects, as evidenced by Grant Sherfield and Jaime Jaquez’s commitments in the Class of 2019, but losing two Magic kids in a week to a rival has to sting.

Considering where USC was last fall with the FBI investigation, who saw this type of recruiting swing coming? Other programs involved in the investigation like Arizona, Auburn and Oklahoma State have landed solid recruits. They also haven’t pulled in nearly the high-level talent that the Trojans currently have committed.

Even amidst the uncertainty surrounding the FBI investigation, USC is still pulling in elite talent while beating local rivals. It’ll be fascinating to see if the Trojans can continue to recruit at this level as they try to fill out the rest of an important recruiting class.

USF signs Oklahoma State transfer Zack Dawson

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USF landed a major addition on Friday as the school announced the signing of Oklahoma State transfer guard Zack Dawson.

The 6-foot-3 Dawson is a former consensus top-100 prospect coming out of high school as he’ll have to sit out the 2018-19 season due to NCAA transfer rules. A native of the region, Dawson will have three years of eligibility remaining once he’s able to play again.

Dismissed from Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 for violating team rules, Dawson averaged 4.4 points and1.6 assists per contest as he only suited up in five games for the Cowboys. Once Dawson is eligible to play for USF, he gives the Bulls a potentially dynamic backcourt along with rising sophomore guard David Collins.

“We are excited to welcome Zack back home to Florida as a member of the Bulls family,” USF head coach Brian Gregory said in a release. “He is a dynamic and versatile guard who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Zack comes from one of the best high school programs in the state, South Miami High School, so he immediately brings a championship attitude here to the University of South Florida.”

This is a really nice pickup for the Bulls, as they utilized a local transfer to help bolster the roster. Landing top-100 kids out of high school is going to be tough until USF boosts its basketball credibility. But getting a former top-100 player on the transfer market is a solid approach to building the Bulls into a respectable threat.

Michael Porter Jr.: ‘I’m the best player in this draft’

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The more I think about it, the more that Michael Porter Jr. is becoming the most interesting prospect at the top of the 2018 NBA Draft.

As a high school senior, he was considered by many to be the top player in the class, a 6-foot-10 combo-forward with a lethal three-point shot, NBA dunk contest athleticism and the versatility to, one day, be a multi-positional defender that would seamlessly fit into fit into the modern NBA.

But his one and only season at Missouri was derailed by back surgery, and that has allowed the rest of the class of 2017 to shine while we have focused on everything else that comes with drafting Porter. The reputation that he had for the majority of his high school career of being soft. The intel that was coming out of Missouri, that he was cocky and arrogant and something of a bad teammate. Questions about whether or not he is truly a wing or a four, more like a more athletic Lauri Markkanen.

When the only thing that we’ve had a chance to see this season is an out-of-shape Porter struggling in postseason games, it shouldn’t really be a surprise that his hype train has derailed.

“I know without a doubt that I’m the — I played against all these guys, they’re all great players — but I’m the best player in this draft,” Porter told ESPN. “And I just can’t wait to show what I’m capable of.”

And therein lies the conundrum for any team drafting him.

I have little doubt that Porter is going to be able to score and score a lot in the NBA. I think he and Bagley are the safest bets to average 20 points at the NBA level before their rookie contract runs out.

But putting up points and playing on winning basketball teams are not one and the same. For a ten-year stretch after his rookie season, Rudy Gay averaged at least 17.2 points while making the playoffs once during that stretch. Is that what Porter is going to turn into at the next level? Or will be find a way to become the kind of NBA defender his athleticism says he should be and, by the time he signs his first contract extension, end up the player that Paul George is?

The mitigating factor here is that Porter is going to do a fantastic job in every interview he has. He’s an intelligent, charismatic and articulate kid that is going to be able to sell himself. The red flags that he has aren’t going to show when he’s sitting down in front of NBA general managers.

They would have shown up — or been written off — if there was a season’s worth of game-tape available, but there isn’t. What that means is that scouts are going to have to decide whether or not Porter, who by all accounts had a very impressive senior season in high school, is that player or the one that had the reputation for being soft for years before that.

And all of that is going to come after the doctor’s have a chance to examine his back to see if the surgery he underwent fixed what was wrong, or if this is the kind of situation where a recurrence is likely.

The result is the widest range for any player at the top of the draft.

He could sell someone on taking him as a top four pick. He could also slide his way down to the Knicks at No. 9 or the 76ers at No. 10.

Which is what makes him the most interesting prospect at the top of this draft.

P.J. Washington ‘definitely going back to school’ without first round guarantee

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Kentucky forward P.J. Washington is one of the handful of players that currently finds themselves in the tenuous position of having their name in the NBA draft pool without having a clear picture of where, exactly, they are going to end up getting picked.

Will they be a late-first round pick? Will he be an early second round pick? Will he even be drafted at all?

Washington told reporters at the NBA combine this week that, if he’s a first round pick, he’ll be heading to the NBA. If he only gets a second round guarantee, he’ll be returning to school.

As we detailed last week, getting selected in the second round does not mean a player is destined to end up being broke his first year out of school. In the last six drafts, only one college player picked in the top ten picks of the second round (31-40) did not receive a guaranteed contract. In the 2017 NBA Draft, every college player selected in the top 50 received a guaranteed deal of at least one year, and Thomas Bryant was the only player whose one-year guaranteed deal was at the league minimum.

That doesn’t mean that Washington should leave Kentucky if he’s going to be a second round pick. If he returns to school, becomes a 42 percent three-point shooter (and can make free throws) and proves that he’s more versatile defensively than he was his year, then he could move up into the first round in a weaker 2019 draft.

It’s a risk for him, financially, to leave after this year if he doesn’t get that first round guarantee. It’s also a risk to return to school, where the best-case scenario isn’t always what happens.

I don’t envy the decision he has to make, but I am glad that Washington will have every chance in the world to be informed about the decision.