Re-ranking recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players from the Class of 2004?

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July’s live recruiting period is right around the corner, meaning that the Class of 2016 will have a chance to truly prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country. Scholarships will be earned and rankings will be justified over the course of those three weekends in July.

But scholarship offers and rankings don’t always tell us who the best players in a given class will end up being. Ask Steph Curry. Over the course of the coming weeks, we will be re-ranking eight recruiting classes, from 2004-2011, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career. 

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2004, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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AP Photo

1. Dwight Howard (No. 1): Seven-time All-Star. Five-time First-Team All-NBA center. Three-time Defensive Player of the Year. I’d say he’s done alright.

2. LaMarcus Aldridge (No. 16): The No. 2 pick in 2006, Aldridge has spent his entire career in Portland, becoming one of the best power forwards in the entire world. He averaged 23.2 points and 10.2 boards this past season, but has yet to get the Blazers past the second round of the playoffs. He’s a four-time All-Star with three All-NBA appearances.

3. Rajon Rondo (No. 25): Rondo has never been the easiest player to deal with, but there’s no questioning his ability. He was the starting point guard for the 2008 NBA champion Celtics and a four-time All-Star that was routinely among league leaders in assists and steals. He was traded to Dallas in the middle of the season.

4. Joakim Noah (No. 75): After three seasons at Florida — which included back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007 — Noah was the No. 9 pick in 2007. He’s since developed into one of the best centers in the NBA, having made a pair of All-Star teams, even getting named a first-team All-NBA center in 2014.

5. Al Horford (No. 36): Like Noah, Horford went from winning back-to-back NCAA titles to going top ten in the 2007 NBA Draft. And like Noah, he’s developed into one of the best big men in the league. He’s dealt with injury issues throughout his career, but he is a three-time All-Star.

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AP Photo

6. Roy Hibbert (UR): Hibbert’s development from 7-foot-2 stiff to college star to No. 17 pick to one of the better centers in the NBA was a stunning development, as was his complete disappearance in the 2014 playoffs. Hibbert is a two-time All-Star.

7. Kyle Lowry (No. 28): Lowry was the No. 28 pick in the 2006 draft after two seasons at Villanova, but he’s developed into one of the most productive guards in the NBA in the last four years. He averaged 17.8 points, 6.8 assists and 4.7 boards last season as he made his first All-Star team.

8. Al Jefferson (No. 4): Jefferson was the 15th pick in 2004 after bypassing college and entering the NBA Draft. He’s become one of the most productive big men in the NBA, averaging 17.0 points and 9.1 boards during his 11 seasons. He averaged 21.8 points and 10.0 boards as recently as the 2013-14 season, but has managed to play in just seven playoff games since he was a rookie.

9. Jeff Green (UR): Green became an all-league player and a lottery pick after three seasons with Georgetown, going fifth in 2007. He’s averaged 14.8 points in his career, thriving as a complimentary scorer in both Boston and Oklahoma City. He finished this season with Memphis. Green missed the 2011-12 season with a heart issue.

10. Josh Smith (No. 3): Smith has been a terrific fantasy player in his career, averaging 15.1 points, 7.7 boards, 3.4 assists and 2.0 blocks in his 11 seasons. His best seasons were in Atlanta, but after being lambasted as one of the least valuable players in the NBA for Detroit, Smith was a critical midseason pickup for the Rockets as they reached the Western Conference Finals.

11. Rudy Gay (No. 5): Gay was the 8th pick in the 2006 draft after spending two years at UConn. He hasn’t averaged less than 18.2 points since his first season in the league, but he’s also managed all of seven career playoff games, all of which were during the 2011-12 season.

12. J.R. Smith (No. 9): The enigmatic Smith was the No. 18 pick in 2004, bypassing college altogether. He’s been a double-figure scorer in the NBA since his second season, but his penchant for reckless shots — both on the court and in a bar — has kept him from reaching the full potential given his talent. He’s currently with the Cavs. Smith was Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13.

13. DeMarre Carroll (No. 148): Carroll spent five years in college — two at Vandy, two and a redshirt season at Missouri — before getting picked at the end of the first round in 2009. It took him a while to find his role in the league, but he was a key piece in Atlanta’s emergence as an Eastern Conference contender the last two seasons.

14. Corey Brewer (No. 31): After winning back-to-back national titles with the Gators alongside Noah and Horford, Brewer went seventh in the 2007 NBA Draft. He’s managed to remain a starter on the wing for playoff caliber teams. Brewer was traded to Houston during the 2014-15 season and averaged 11.2 points for the Rockets during their playoff run.

15. Glen Davis (No. 13): A second round pick out of LSU in 2007, Big Baby won an NBA title with the Celtics as a rookie in 2008. He’s since blossomed into an solid role player in the NBA, spending four seasons with the Celtics before heading to Orlando. He spent this past season as a bench player with the Clippers.

16. Nick Young (UR): Young was the 17th pick out of USC in 2007. He’s always been able to score — he averaged 17.4 points for Washington in 2010-11 and 17.9 points for the Lakers in 2013-14 — but his claim to fame is his relationship with Iggy Azalea.

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Getty Images

17. Shaun Livingston (No. 2): Livingston was the fourth pick in the 2005 draft, skipping college. He was averaging 9.4 points and 5.3 assists as a 21-year old in his third season when he suffered one of the worst knee injuries I’ve ever seen. He won an NBA title as a back-up wing with the Warriors this season.

18. Arron Afflalo (No. 26): Afflalo lasted three seasons at UCLA before becoming the No. 27 pick in the 2007 draft. After two seasons with limited minutes in Detroit, Afflalo turned into a regular starter and excellent role player on good Denver teams. He averaged 18.2 points in 2013-14 for Orlando.

19. Rodney Stuckey (No. 131): Stuckey averaged 24.4 points and 4.8 assists over two seasons with Eastern Washington, Stuckey was the 15th pick in 2007. He caught on with the Pistons at the tail end of their reign in the mid-aughts and while he’s never been an all-star, he’s averaged double-figures for the last seven seasons and started 300 games in his career.

20. Marvin Williams (No. 11): Williams was the No. 2 pick in the draft after playing as the sixth-man on North Carolina’s 2005 national title team. He spent seven solid but unspectacular seasons with Atlanta — reaching the playoffs five times — and has since moved on to Utah and Charlotte.

21. Jordan Farmar (No. 22): Farmar’s been mostly a career back-up after being a late-first round pick by the Lakers in 2006. He best individual seasons came with the Nets and the Lakers in the last three years. This past season, he was on the Clippers, but managed just 36 games.

22. Anthony Morrow (No. 96): Morrow put up some big numbers for mediocre Georgia Tech, going undrafted in 2008. But the one thing he’s always been able to do is to shoot and score. He has averaged 10.5 points in his career, shooting 42.9 percent from beyond the arc.

23. Dorell Wright (No. 12): Wright went straight to the NBA, getting picked 19th in 2004. He’s spent much of his career being a role player and specialist, but in 2010-11, he started all 82 games and averaged 16.4 points for the Warriors.

24. Tyrus Thomas (UR): Thomas exploded onto the college scene in 2005-06 as a redshirt freshman, helping LSU to the Final Four and playing his way into a top four pick. His best season in the league came in his third year, as he averaged 10.8 points and 6.4 boards. He played two games for Memphis in 2014-15. He’s made more than $37 million in his career.

25. A.J. Price (No. 32): Price was a late-second round pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, having helped UConn to a Final Four after missing two seasons due to a serious health issue and a run-in with the law. He played for three different NBA teams in 2014-15.

NOTABLES

Sebatian Telfair (No. 6)
Randolph Morris (No. 10)
Robert Swift (No. 14)
D.J. White (No. 15)
Daniel Gibson (No. 29)
Greg Stiemsma (No. 45)
Toney Douglas (No. 66)

College basketball broadcaster Billy Packer dies at 82

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Billy Packer, an Emmy award-winning college basketball broadcaster who covered 34 Final Fours for NBC and CBS, died Thursday. He was 82.

Packer’s son, Mark, told The Associated Press that his father had been hospitalized in Charlotte for the past three weeks and had several medical issues, and ultimately succumbed to kidney failure.

Packer’s broadcasting career coincided with the growth of college basketball. He worked as analyst or color commentator on every Final Four from 1975 to 2008. He received a Sports Emmy for Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio and Sports Analyst in 1993.

“He really enjoyed doing the Final Fours,” Mark Packer said. “He timed it right. Everything in life is about timing. The ability to get involved in something that, frankly, he was going to watch anyway, was a joy to him. And then college basketball just sort of took off with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird and that became, I think, the catalyst for college basketball fans to just go crazy with March Madness.”

Packer played three seasons at Wake Forest, and helped lead the Demon Deacons to the Final Four in 1962, but it was his work as an analyst that brought him the most acclaim.

He joined NBC in 1974 and called his first Final Four in 1975. UCLA beat Kentucky in the title game that year in what was John Wooden’s final game as coach.

Packer was also part of the broadcast in 1979 with Dick Enberg and Al McGuire when Magic Johnson’s Michigan State team beat Larry Bird’s Indiana State squad in the title game. That remains highest-rated game in basketball history with a 24.1 Nielsen rating, which is an estimated 35.1 million viewers.

Packer went to CBS in the fall of 1981, when the network acquired the rights to the NCAA Tournament. He remained the network’s main analyst until the 2008 Final Four.

In 1996 at CBS, Packer was involved in controversy when he used the term “tough monkey? to describe then-Georgetown star Allen Iverson during a game. Packer later said he “was not apologizing for what I said, because what I said has no implications in my mind whatsoever to do with Allen Iverson’s race.?

Sean McManus, the chairman of CBS Sports, said Packer was “synonymous with college basketball for more than three decades and set the standard of excellence as the voice of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.”

“He had a tremendous impact on the growth and popularity of the sport.” McManus said. “In true Billy fashion, he analyzed the game with his own unique style, perspective and opinions, yet always kept the focus on the game. As passionate as he was about basketball, at his heart Billy was a family man. He leaves part of his legacy at CBS Sports, across college basketball and, most importantly, as a beloved husband, father and grandfather. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Packer was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.

ESPN broadcaster Dick Vitale took to Twitter as word of Packer’s death spread. “So sad to learn of the passing of Billy Packer who had such a passion for college basketball,” Vitale tweeted. “My (prayers) go out to Billy’s son Mark & the entire Packer family. Always had great RESPECT for Billy & his partners Dick Enberg & Al McGuire-they were super. May Billy RIP.”

College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla tweeted: “We fell in love (with) college basketball because of you. Your voice will remain in my head forever.”

Packer was viewed as a controversial figure during his broadcasting days, often drawing the ire of college basketball fans, particularly on North Carolina’s “Tobacco Road.”

“As a kid, I was a big NC State fan growing up, and I would watch a game and the next day I’d be like, `Boy you sure have it out for NC State, don’t you?’ And he would just laugh,” Mark Packer said.

The younger Packer, who is the host of ACC PM on the ACC Network, said it didn’t matter what school – most fans felt the same way about his father.

“He would cover North Carolina game and Tar Heels fans would be like, `you hate North Carolina,”‘ Mark Packer said. “Wake (Forest) fans would be like, `you hate us.’ And Billy just sort of got a kick out of that.”

Mark Packer said that while most fans will remember his father as a broadcaster, he’ll remember him even more for his business acumen. He said his father was a big real estate investor, and also owned a vape company, among other ventures.

“Billy was always a bit of a hustler – he was always looking for that next business deal,” Packer said.

Clemson starter Galloway will miss time after surgery

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson starter Brevin Galloway is expected to miss games for the 24th-ranked Tigers after having surgery on his groin area Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 Galloway has started 20 of 21 games after transferring from Boston College this past offseason.

Galloway posted on social media that he’d had the surgery. Clemson coach Brad Brownell confirmed in a text to The Associated Press that Galloway had the operation.

Galloway said in his post he will be in uniform soon. He is not expected to play at Florida State on Saturday.

A fifth-year player, Galloway has averaged 10.6 points a game this season. He’s second on the Tigers with 55 assists and 18 steals.

The Tigers (17-4) lead the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9-1 in league play.

Clemson is already down two experienced players due to injury.

Point guard Chase Hunter, who started the team’s first 18 games, has missed the past three with a foot injury.

Guard Alex Hemenway, in his fourth season, has missed the past nine games with a foot injury. Hemenway was the team’s leading 3-point shooter (27 of 54) before getting hurt.

Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.