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


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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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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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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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.


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)

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”