Looking Back: The 2005 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. Gerald Green: Green went pro out of high school and wound up getting picked 18th by the Celtics. He managed to start 26 games for Boston in his second season, but bounced between the NBA and the D-League for the next couple of seasons. Green eventually turned to Europe in 2009, but returned to the NBA in 2011 and wound up playing 60 games with the Pacers this past season.

2. Josh McRoberts: McRoberts played two underwhelming seasons at Duke before entering the NBA Draft. He was picked in the second round in 2007 and played a couple of seasons with Indiana and Portland before signing a deal with the Lakers. McRoberts’ claim to fame at this point in his career is being a part of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Lakers from Orlando.

3. Monta Ellis: Ellis was a high school legend in Mississippi, but the diminutive scorer skipped college and dropped to the 40th pick in the 2005 draft. Ellis developed into one of the best young scorers in the NBA with Golden State before getting traded to Milwaukee in 2012.

4. Martell Webster: Webster skipped college and was the sixth pick in the 2005 draft. He played for four seasons with Portland and a couple years with Minnesota before averaging 11.4 points in his best season as a pro in Washington this past season.

5. Andray Blatche: Blatche went pro out of prep school in Connecticut and was picked 49th by the Wizards. He lasted with Washington for seven years, even averaging 16.8 points and 8.2 boards in 2010-2011, before playing with Brooklyn this past season, but has been known for his off-court “exploits” more than anything he did on the court.

6. Tyler Hansbrough: Hansbrough was one of the bet college basketball players of all time, getting named an All-American four times, getting named the National Player of the Year as a junior and a national title as a senior. He was the 13th pick in the 2009 NBA Draft and was a productive piece for the Pacers for the last four years. Oh, and his nickname is no longer Psycho T, it’s Gooch.

7. Louis Williams: Williams went pro out of high school and was the 45th pick in the draft. He’s never developed into a superstar, but Williams has been a double-figure scorer in the league for the last six years.

8. Julian Wright: Wright played at Kansas for two seasons before heading off to the NBA Draft, where he was the 13th pick in 2007. He spent the next three seasons playing for New Orleans before latching on with Toronto for a season, but he’s been out of the league since 2011, spending a year in the D-League and a season in Israel.

9. Richard Hendrix: Hendrix went to Alabama, where he teamed up with a talented-but-disappointing team coached by Mark Gottfried. After a junior season in which he averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 boards, Hendrix went pro. He was the 49th pick in 2008, but never set foot on an NBA court.

10. Mario Chalmers: Chalmers went from Alaska to Kansas to play his college ball, where his dad was the Director of Basketball Operations while he was there, where he won a national title in 2008. Chalmers went pro after that season, getting picked in the second round by the Heat, where he has become a starter and now a two-time NBA champion.

10. Tasmin Mitchell: Mitchell had a solid four-year career at LSU, making a final four and averaging 16.8 points and 9.4 boards as a fifth-year senior. He played one season in the D-League after graduating, but has been in Israel and Russia since then.

12. Andrew Bynum: Bynum went pro out of college instead of enrolling at UConn and was picked by the Lakers with the 10th pick. He developed into a constant double-double threat, a two-time NBA champ and an all-star in 2012, but he missed all of the 2012-2013 season in Philly with an injury. He’s also out of his mind these days.

13. Brandon Rush: Rush had an excellent three-year career at Kansas, winning a national title in 2008, but went pro after his junior season. He was the 13th pick in the 2008 draft and was a solid role player for Indiana and Golden State the past five years. He tore his ACL last season, the second time he’s had that injury. He also tore his ACL in an illegal workout with the Knicks when he was considering entering the 2007 draft.

14. Keith Brumbaugh: Brumbaugh tried to enter the 2005 NBA Draft, but committed to Oklahoma State instead. He never enrolled, because of a questionable ACT score and a shoplifting arrest, and was forced to go to a JuCo after a gun charge. (His story is detailed here.) He entered the 2008 NBA Draft and played professionally until 2010. Since then, he’s been arrested at least 13 times, most recently for violation of a pretrial release stemming from a domestic violence charge.

15. CJ Miles: Miles went pro out of high school and was a second round pick by the Jazz. He bounced between the NBA and the D-League for a few years but carved himself out a career with the Jazz as a bench scorer. He played with the Cavs last season.

16. Greg Paulus: Paulus was Duke’s point guard for three and a half years before losing his starting spot to Nolan Smith. A two-sport star in high school, he transferred to Syracuse to play quarterback as a fifth-year senior. When he graduated, Paulus went into coaching and is now on staff at Ohio State.

17. Amir Johnson: Johnson went pro out of high school and ended up getting picked late in the second round by the Pistons. He spent four years in Detroit before signing with Toronto, where he had his best season of his career in 2012-2013, averaging 10.0 points and 7.5 boards.

18. Danny Green: Green’s story is well-known by now. He spent four years at North Carolina, winning the 2009 national title, before getting picked in the second round of the 2009 draft. Green bounced around between the NBA and the D-League for a couple years, even doing a stint abroad, before finally buying into the ideal of being a professional He exploded during the 2013 Playoffs with the Spurs, having a memorable five games in the 2013 Finals before going ice cold for Game 6 and Game 7.

19. Jon Brockman: Brockman was a double-double machine for four seasons at Washington before heading off to the NBA. He ended up getting picked in the second round and spent three non-descript years in the league before heading to France.

20. Brandon Costner: Costner was injured as a freshman, earning a redshirt, and averaged 16.8 points and 7.3 boards in 2006-2007. He would never repeat that production in college before entering the 2009 NBA Draft. He went undrafted, averaged 20.1 points in the D-League in 2011-2012 and, ironically enough, was a teammate of Brockman’s in France this past season.

*According to the RSCI database for 2005, Gerald Green, Andray Blatche and Brandon Rush were all rated much lower than where they should have been because one outlet — Clark Francis of The Hoop Scoop — didn’t put fifth-year seniors in his top 100 list. We’ve adjusted the rankings here to account for that. For example, Green was the No. 1 prospect by three of the four outlets that counted prep players, so he’s No. 1 on this list.

OTHER NOTABLE NAMES 

  • 22. Eric Devendorf
  • 27. Shawne Williams
  • 34. Luke Zeller
  • 41. Chris Douglas-Roberts
  • 43. Tiki Mayben
  • 44. Terrence Williams
  • 53. Jeff Adrien
  • 56. Wilson Chandler
  • 58. Sam Young
  • 61. Wesley Matthews
  • 81. Martellus Bennett
  • 84. Jeremy Pargo
  • 95. Denis Clemente
  • 98. Darren Collison
  • UR. Jimmy Graham

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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.