Re-ranking the recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players in the Class of 2007?

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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 2007, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

READ MOREThe complete Re-ranking the Classes series

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AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

1. Derrick Rose (3): Rose’s lone season at Memphis nearly resulted in a national title (that run was vacated by the NCAA), and he was the top overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft. The Chicago native’s had some health issues to deal with, but he’s also the only player in the class to have been named NBA MVP.

2. James Harden (11): Harden’s two seasons at Arizona State were incredibly productive, as he led the Sun Devils to the NCAA tournament in 2009 and was a lottery pick in that year’s draft. Having spent his first three seasons in Oklahoma City before being traded to Houston, “The Beard” is currently one of the best players in the NBA.

3. Blake Griffin (23): Griffin was dominant in his two seasons at Oklahoma, where he helped lead the Sooners to the Elite Eight in 2009 before being taken first overall in that year’s NBA Draft. Griffin’s averaging 21.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game in five seasons as a Clipper.

Blake Griffin
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

4. Kevin Love (6): Love’s lone season at UCLA ended in the Final Four, and he’s been a productive pro in both Minnesota and Cleveland. Love, who’s averaging 18.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game in six seasons as a professional.

5. Jeff Teague (57): Teague, who played his college basketball at Wake Forest and was a second team All-American in 2009, has emerged as a highly valuable player for the Atlanta Hawks. Teague, who averaged 15.9 points and 7.0 assists per game this season, earned his first All-Star appearance in 2014-15 as well.

6. DeAndre Jordan (8): Say what you want about the development of Jordan’s offensive skill set, he’s been a high-level rebounder and defender in the NBA after playing a season at Texas A&M. Currently working his way through free agency, Jordan’s a two-time NBA rebounding champion and was third team All-NBA this past season.

7. Chandler Parsons (19): Parsons is one of the few players on this list who spent four seasons in college, earning SEC Player of the Year honors at Florida in 2011. As a pro he’s played in Houston and Dallas, averaging 14.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for his career.

8. O.J. Mayo (4): Mayo’s lone season at USC was marred by controversy, with NCAA violations leading to him losing his remaining eligibility and Tim Floyd being relieved of his coaching duties. Mayo was a first team All-Pac-10 selection in 2008, and he’s averaging 14.3 points per game for his NBA career.

9. Eric Gordon (2): Gordon’s recruitment was an interesting one, as he committed to Illinois before changing his mind and joining Indiana instead. Picked seventh in the 2008 NBA Draft by the Clippers, Gordon’s struggled with injuries throughout his career but has averaged nearly 17 points per contest.

**** Kenneth Faried (UR): Yup, this was an oversight. This is where he would have been ranked.

10. Jerryd Bayless (13): Bayless averaged nearly 20 points per game in his lone season at Arizona, going on to be a lottery pick of the Pacers (traded to Portland) in the 2008 NBA Draft. He’s bounced around quite a bit in the NBA but is averaging just over eight points per game as a pro.

RELATED: Re-ranking the classes 2004 | 2005 | 2006

11. Patrick Patterson (17): Patterson played three seasons at Kentucky, averaging at least 14.3 points per game in each of those campaigns. From there it was on to the NBA, where he’s developed into a dependable option who can serve as a stretch four. Patterson’s averaging 8.3 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest as an NBA player.

12. Evan Turner (49): Like Patterson, Turner played three seasons in college. Unlike Patterson, Turner earned National Player of the Year honors in 2010 and was a unanimous All-Big Ten selection in each of his final two seasons at Ohio State. Turner played four seasons in Philadelphia before moving on to Boston, where he averaged 9.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game this past season.

13. Kyle Singler (5): Singler is one of two players on this list who won a national title in college, doing so as a junior at Duke in 2010. Singler spent his first season as a pro (2011-12) in Spain, earning NBA All-Rookie Team honors with the Pistons in 2013. Since then the Oregon native move on to Oklahoma City, where he agreed to a new deal earlier this week.

14. Michael Beasley (1): Beasley’s one season at Kansas State was a dominant one, as he averaged 26.2 points and 12.4 rebounds and earned Big 12 Player of the Year and first team All-America honors. However that didn’t translate to the NBA, where inconsistency and immaturity have plagued his career. Beasley, who began last season in China, played with the Heat from late February on.

15. Mike Scott (115): Scott ended up spending five seasons at Virginia due to an ankle injury, and by the time he was a fifth-year senior the forward was one of the best players in the ACC. Scott’s been a solid contributor for the Hawks in three seasons, averaging 7.9 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

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AP Photo/David J. Phillip

16. Nick Calathes (14): Calathes joined Parsons at Florida but wasn’t there nearly as long, leaving the school for the pro ranks after earning first team All-SEC honors as a sophomore. Calathes has played in both Europe and the NBA, most recently serving as Mike Conley Jr.’s backup in Memphis.

17. Norris Cole (NR): Cole wasn’t ranked coming out of high school, and in four seasons at Cleveland State he emerged as a player worthy of being selected in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Cole was a member of two NBA champion teams in Miami, before being traded to New Orleans during the 2014-15 season.

18. James Johnson (62): Johnson spent two seasons at Wake Forest before turning pro, and the second degree black belt has averaged 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds per game in six seasons in the NBA. Johnson also spent some time in the NBA D-League during the 2013-14 season before signing with Memphis in November of that season.

19. J.J. Hickson (10): After playing one season at NC State, Hickson was a first round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Since then he’s played for four franchises, averaging 9.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per contest in the NBA.

20. Kosta Koufos (16): Koufos averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in his lone season at Ohio State, going on to be a first round pick of the Jazz in 2008. He’s averaging 5.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game at the NBA level.

21. Robbie Hummel (75): Part of the highly acclaimed “Baby Boilers” class that helped Matt Painter rejuvenate the Purdue basketball program, Hummel has spent his entire career in Minnesota.

22. Jon Leuer (82): Having been traded to Phoenix earlier this week, Leuer played for four different NBA franchises. Leuer improved throughout his career at Wisconsin, earning first team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 2011.

23. Festus Ezeli (145): After spending five seasons at Vanderbilt, redshirting as a freshman, Ezeli’s been able to earn some playing time with the champion Golden State Warriors in each of his first two seasons as a pro. Ezeli was a second team All-SEC selection in 2011.

24. Cole Aldrich (21): Aldrich joins Singler as the lone national title holder on this list, winning his as a freshman reserve in 2008. Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, Aldrich has played for four franchises since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft by New Orleans.

25. Lavoy Allen (142): Allen put together a solid four-year career at Temple before being selected in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft by the 76ers. Allen spent this past season with the Pacers after playing his first three NBA seasons in Philadelphia.

Notables:

Bill Walker (7)
Donte Green (9)
Anthony Randolph (12)
Austin Freeman (15)
Jonny Flynn (22)
Austin Daye (25)
Corey Fisher (27)
Herb Pope (31)
Manny Harris (34)
E’Twaun Moore (35)
Taylor King (37)
Nolan Smith (39)
Scoop Jardine (53)
DeJuan Blair (59)
Jon Diebler (60)
Demetri McCamey (72)
Justin Holiday (83)
Robert Sacre (102)
Talor Battle (131)
Jeremy Hazell (136)
Jacob Pullen (NR)

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

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.