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.

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.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.