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Re-ranking the 2012 recruiting class

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July’s live recruiting period, the last of its kind, just finished up, meaning that the Class of 2019 have fully had a chance to prove themselves to the recruiters and the recruitniks around the country.

Scholarships were earned and rankings were justified over the course of those three weekends, 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 2007-2014, based on what they have done throughout their post-high school career.

Here are the 25 best players from the Class of 2012, with their final Rivals Top 150 ranking in parentheses:

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1. Gary Harris (25)

A two-year starter at Michigan State, Harris averaged 14.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game as a Spartan. Harris managed to collect multiple honors as a collegian, including Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2013 and first team all-conference in 2014. Harris’ production was good enough to get him selected 19th overall by Chicago in the 2014 NBA Draft, with the Bulls trading his draft rights to Denver that night.

Harris has been a key perimeter option for the Nuggets, developing into one of the better two-way guards in the NBA. Last season Harris averaged a career-high (to this point) 17.5 points per game last season, and last fall he agreed to a four-year deal worth $84 million. If Harris can stay healthy, which has been an issue each of the last two seasons, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to improve moving forward.

2. Steven Adams (5)

A native of New Zealand, Adams would be considered one of the best big men in the class after a stint at Notre Dame Prep in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Adams would go on to play one season at Pittsburgh, where he averaged 7.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. Adams’ decision to turn pro was criticized by more than a few people, but ultimately the move to turn pro was a good one.

Adams was selected by Oklahoma City with the 12th overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, and after a quiet rookie season he’s developed into one of the better centers in the NBA. Adams and the Thunder agreed to a four-year extension worth $100 million just before the start of the 2016-17 season, and last year he established new career bests in points (13.9 ppg) and rebounds (9.0 rpg).

3. Buddy Hield (86)

Hield is one of two players on this list to have won a national Player of the Year award while in college, with Denzel Valentine being the other. A guard known more for his defense as a freshman at Oklahoma, Hield was a tireless worker who developed himself into one of the best shooters in recent college basketball history. A native of The Bahamas, Hield was a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, and as a senior he averaged 25.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game on a team that reached the Final Four.

Drafted sixth overall by New Orleans in the 2016 NBA Draft, Hield was sent to Sacramento in February 2017 in the DeMarcus Cousins trade. Last season, his first full campaign with the Kings, Hield averaged 13.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

4. Denzel Valentine (81)

Valentine was one of the most versatile players in college basketball during his time at Michigan State, where as a senior he not only earned Big Ten Player of the Year but the AP and NABC national player of the year awards as well. After averaging 19.2 points, 7.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds per game Valentine was drafted by Chicago with the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. In two seasons with the Bulls, Valentine’s averaged 8.0 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

5. Marcus Smart (10)

After winning Big 12 Player of the Year as a freshman, many expected the Flower Mound (Texas) HS product to leave Oklahoma State. That didn’t happen, as Smart returned to Stillwater for his sophomore season, and despite improving his scoring by nearly three points per game he endured what was a heavily-scrutinized campaign. In two seasons at Oklahoma State, Smart averaged 16.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game, numbers that would get him selected by Boston with the sixth pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

An All-Rookie Team selection, Smart has developed into one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders. While the jump shot does need some work, there’s no questioning Smart’s toughness or willingness to do whatever the Celtics need. Smart’s work led to him being rewarded with a new contract worth $52 million over four years this summer.

6. Kris Dunn (16)

After earning a spot in the McDonald’s All American Game, Dunn would spend four seasons at Providence with one being shortened due to injury. By the time Dunn left campus he had established himself as one of the best players in Providence and Big East history, winning at least a share of Big East Player of the Year in each of his last two seasons. He was also named Big East Defensive Player of the Year in both of those seasons, and a second-team All American in 2016.

Drafted by Minnesota with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Dunn struggled as a rookie before being traded to Chicago in the Jimmy Butler deal. The change of scenery has worked out for Dunn so far, as last season he averaged 13.4 points, 6.0 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game.

7. T.J. Warren (17)

If there’s one thing T.J. Warren was best known for at NC State, it was his ability to get buckets. Warren more than doubled his scoring average from freshman to sophomore year, averaging 24.9 points per game and winning ACC Player of the Year in 2014. Shooting 52.5 percent from the field that year, Warren also averaged 7.1 rebounds per game for the Wolfpack.

After two seasons in Raleigh it was off to the NBA, with Warren being drafted by Phoenix with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. In four seasons with the Suns, Warren’s averaging 13.7 points and 4.1 rebounds per game with the 2017-18 campaign being his most productive to date. Last season Warren, who agreed to a four-year extension worth $50 million last September, averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 rebounds per game.

(Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

8. Willie Cauley-Stein (40)

Cauley-Stein, who in addition to being a very good basketball player was also a quality wide receiver in high school, spent three seasons at Kentucky where he averaged 8.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The 7-footer would then enter the 2015 NBA Draft, with Sacramento selecting him with the sixth overall pick. Cauley-Stein’s third season has been his best to date, as he averaged 12.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.

Entering the final season of his rookie contract, the 2018-19 campaign will be a big one for Cauley-Stein. A productive 2018-19 could either land him a long-term deal with the Kings or a good contract elsewhere.

9. Fred VanVleet (138)

Ranked outside of the Top 100, VanVleet would ultimately develop into one of the greatest players in Wichita State program history by the time he’d exhausted his eligibility. A reserve on the 2013 team that reached the Final Four, VanVleet won Missouri Valley Player of the Year as a sophomore running the point for a team that was undefeated until its second round loss to eventual national runner-up Kentucky. VanVleet would won a second Larry Bird Award as a senior, and in four seasons at Wichita State he averaged 10.2 points and 4.5 assists per game.

Undrafted in 2016, VanVleet managed to earn himself on Toronto’s roster as a rookie and is now a key option off of the Raptors bench. After averaging 8.6 points and 3.2 assists per game as Kyle Lowry’s backup last season, VanVleet was rewarded with a new deal worth $18 million over the next two seasons.

10. Jerami Grant (64)

Grant is one of the few players in this class who’ve received solid paydays after their rookie deals, as the Thunder signed him to a three-year deal worth $27 million last month. Prior to entering the NBA Grant played two seasons at Syracuse, where as a sophomore he averaged 12.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the program’s inaugural season in the ACC.

Philadelphia selected Grant with the 39th pick of the 2014 NBA Draft, and after two-plus seasons with the 76ers he was dealt to Oklahoma City. Grant averaged 8.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game for the Thunder last season.

11. Kyle Anderson (3)

Anderson ended up spending two seasons at UCLA, where he averaged 12.2 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game. As a sophomore Anderson led the Pac-12 in assists with an average of 6.5 per game, with his playmaking ability a key reason why the Bruins won 28 games, the Pac-12 tournament title and reached the Sweet 16 in Steve Alford’s first season at the helm.

From there it was off to the NBA, with San Antonio selecting Anderson with the final pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft. In four seasons with the Spurs, Anderson averaged 4.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game, with the 2017-18 season being his best (7.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.7 apg). This summer Anderson cashed in, with Memphis signing him to a four year deal worth $37.5 million.

12. Terry Rozier (80)

Rozier made significant strides from his freshman to sophomore season at Louisville, averaging 17.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game and earning second team All-ACC honors. Rozier would then enter the NBA draft, with Boston selecting him with the 16th overall pick. While Rozier didn’t see much playing time as a rookie he’s steadily worked his way into the Celtics rotation, last season helping propel a team that was without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to the Eastern Conference Finals.

While Irving’s return from injury could impact Rozier’s playing time this upcoming season, he could very well be headed towards a nice payday next summer…be it in Boston or elsewhere.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

13. Nerlens Noel (2)

Noel’s lone season at Kentucky was limited to just 24 games due to a torn ACL suffered in a loss at Florida, and his injury was the death knell for a team that would ultimately lose to Robert Morris in the first round of the Postseason NIT. Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocked shots per game at Kentucky, and despite the injury he was still selected by New Orleans with the sixth overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Noel’s draft rights were traded to Philadelphia, where he averaged 10.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game in two-plus seasons before being traded to Dallas. Dallas is where things went off the rails for Noel, as in the summer of 2017 his former agent turned down a deal that would have paid Noel $70 million over four years. This did now work out for Noel, as he ultimately signed a one-year deal worth $4 million and averaged 4.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game in 30 appearances last season. Noel agreed to a deal with the Thunder this summer, where he hopes to turn things around.

14. Sam Dekker (13)

After averaging 9.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman reserve, Dekker would be a key starter on Wisconsin teams that reached the Final Four in consecutive seasons. The 2012 Wisconsin Mr. Basketball would earn second team All-Big Ten honors in each of his final two seasons at Wisconsin, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team after the Badgers’ run to the national title game in 2015. From there it was off to the NBA, with Dekker being drafted 18th overall by Houston in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Limited to three games as a rookie due to a back injury, Dekker made 77 appearances for the Rockets in 2016-17 before being traded to the Clippers as part of the Chris Paul deal. Last season Dekker averaged 4.8 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, with L.A. trading him to Cleveland earlier this summer.

15. Nik Stauskas (71)

Stauskas arrived on the Michigan campus with a reputation for being a high-level shooter, and he certainly lived up to that in his two seasons in Ann Arbor. Shooting better than 44 percent from three, Stauskas averaged 14.1 points per game during his Michigan career and as a sophomore was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Also a consensus second team All-American in 2014, Stauskas was part of two deep NCAA tournament runs as the Wolverines reached the title game in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014.

Drafted eighth overall by Sacramento in 2014, Stauskas’ best production in the NBA came as a member of those 76ers teams in 2015-16 and 2016-17 that were seemingly more focused on amassing “assets” and getting key young players healthy than winning games (that approach has worked for Philly). Philadelphia traded Stauskas to Brooklyn during the 2017-18 season, and last month he agreed to a one-year deal with Portland.

16. Glenn Robinson III (11)

Robinson spent two seasons at Michigan, the first of which being a campaign in which he made 39 starts and averaged 11.0 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on a team that reached the national title game. As a sophomore Robinson would increase his scoring to 13.1 points per game before turning pro, with Minnesota selecting him 40th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft. Robinson, who’s played for the Timberwolves, 76ers and Pacers, will look to earn a spot in the Pistons rotation this season.

17. Yogi Ferrell (19)

A 2012 McDonald’s All American, Ferrell was the starting point guard from Day 1 at Indiana. As a freshman Ferrell averaged 7.6 points and 4.1 assists per game on a team that won 29 games and reached the Sweet 16 before being knocked off by Syracuse. While Ferrell’s numbers were much better sophomore year, with the point guard earning second team All-Big Ten honors, the team struggled and finished with a 17-15 record.

Led by Ferrell the Hoosiers would be better the next two seasons, with Ferrell earning first team all-conference honors both years and landing on multiple All-America teams as a senior. That wasn’t enough to get Ferrell drafted but he’s managed to fight his way into the NBA, spending time with the Nets and Mavericks in his first two seasons. This summer Ferrell agreed to a two-year deal with Sacramento, where he’ll compete with Frank Mason III for the backup point guard job.

18. Georges Niang (69)

Niang’s career at Iowa State went down as one of the best in program history, as he was part of four NCAA tournament appearances and two Big 12 tournament titles. As a senior Niang was a consensus second team All-American, and the two-time first team All-Big 12 selection was also the winner of the Karl Malone Award (nation’s best power forward). One question that will likely linger in Ames for years to come is what could the Cyclones have achieved in 2014 had Niang not broken his foot late in Iowa State’s first round win over North Carolina Central.

After four years at Iowa State Niang was selected by Indiana with the 50th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Niang’s appeared in a total of 32 games for the Pacers and Jazz over the last two seasons, with the latter signing him to a standard contract (as opposed to a two-way) last month.

19. Marcus Paige (34)

A McDonald’s All American, Paige enjoyed a successful four-year career at North Carolina in which he earned first team All-ACC honors as a sophomore and was a three-time Academic All-American as well. Some of Paige’s second half performances as a sophomore were good enough for the nickname of “Second Half Marcus” to be created, and as a senior he helped lead the Tar Heels to the national title game.

Paige’s double-clutch three tied the game in the final seconds, but it would become a mere footnote thanks to Villanova’s Kris Jenkins. Selected by the Jazz with the 55th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Paige spent his rookie season in the G-League and would appear in five games with the Hornets last season. Paige recently agreed to a contract with KK Partizan in Serbia.

(Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

20. Ryan Arcidiacono (57)

While there are other players on this list who’ve been more impactful as professionals, Arcidiacono was part of a recruiting class that had a significant impact on the Villanova progam. Arcidiacono (and classmates such as Daniel Ochefu) arrived on the Villanova campus on the heels of a dip that occurred following the program’s Final Four run in 2009, and by the time his career was finished he was a Big East Player of the Year (shared with Kris Dunn in 2015) and a national champion (2016).

After averaging 11.1 points and 3.7 assists per game in four seasons at Villanova, Arcidiacono was signed by the Spurs as an undrafted free agent in 2016. Since then he’s spent most of his career in the G-League, appearing in eight games with the Chicago Bulls last season.

21. Taurean Prince (UR)

Unheralded out of high school, Prince developed into a key option for Baylor during his four seasons in Waco and is now an established pro with the Atlanta Hawks. As a junior Prince was one of the nation’s top reserves (and Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year), averaging 13.9 points per game for a Baylor team that won 24 games. The following season Prince was moved into the starting lineup, with the wing averaging 15.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

After earning first team All-Big 12 honors as a senior Prince was selected 12th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by Utah, which traded his draft rights to Atlanta. Prince’s NBA career has been similar to his time at Baylor, as after being a reserve as a rookie he started all 82 games last season and averaged 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.

22. R.J. Hunter (UR)

Hunter made the decision to play for his father at Georgia State, and together they would spark a rebuild that would ultimately lead to an NCAA tournament appearance in 2015. The CAA Rookie of the Year and a first team all-conference selection in 2013, Hunter would be named Sun Belt Player of the Year in each of the following two seasons. He had a penchant for making big shots throughout his career at Georgia State, with none bigger than the one that propelled the Panthers past Baylor in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament (and sent his injured father off of his stool in front of the team bench).

However the sailing hasn’t been as smooth in the NBA, with Hunter struggling to establish himself after being selected by Boston with the 28th pick in the 2015 draft. Hunter’s appeared in a total of 44 games for three NBA franchises, including five with the Rockets last season. Hunter spent most of last season with the Rockets’ G-League affiliate.

23. Shabazz Muhammad (1)

Muhammad was long considered the best prospect in the Class of 2012, but his season in college didn’t lack for controversy thanks in part to a question regarding his age that wasn’t of Muhammad’s own doing. After one season at UCLA in which he shared Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors and was an honorable mention All-American — a season capped by Ben Howland getting fired — Muhammad headed to the NBA. He was a lottery pick by the Timberwolves, and even averaged 13.5 points one season, but his inconsistency from beyond the arc capped his effectiveness. He eventually ended up getting traded to, and signed by, Milkwaukee in 2018.

24. Anthony Bennett (7)

Part of the CIA Bounce grassroots program that also produced the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Tyler Ennis, Bennett finished out his high school career at Findlay Prep before making the short move over to UNLV. Bennett’s lone season as a Runnin’ Rebel was a good one, as he averaged 16.1 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. In June 2013 Cleveland would make Bennett the top pick in the NBA draft, making him the first Canadian to be picked in that spot (Wiggins would be next).

Bennett’s four season in the NBA were rough to say the least, as after one season he was dealt to Minnesota in the trade that sent Kevin Love to Cleveland. Following a year in Minnesota, Bennett would have stints with Toronto and Brooklyn before being waived by the Nets in January 2017. Bennett didn’t make the Suns roster out of training camp last season, and he spent the year playing with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League.

25. Perry Ellis (24)

Of course there was no shortage of jokes regarding Perry Ellis’ collegiate career and how long it seemed to last (he played four years), but he was a productive power forward during his time at Kansas. Ellis moved into the starting lineup ahead of his sophomore season and would remain there until graduation, and for his career he averaged 12.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. A two-time first team All-Big 12 selection, Ellis was also a second team All-American as a senior.

Undrafted in 2016, Ellis spent the 2016-17 season with the Greensboro Swarm of the NBA G-League before making the move overseas. Last month Ellis agreed to a deal with s. Oliver Wurzburg in Germany.

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

FIVE NOTABLES THAT DIDN’T MAKE THE TOP 25

Isaiah Austin (4)

Austin was quite productive during his two seasons at Baylor, averaging 12.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. A member of the Big 12 All-Defensive Team as a sophomore, Austin was expected to be a first round pick when he entered the 2014 NBA Draft. However during the pre-draft process Austin was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, and at the time it was deemed to be too risky to allow him to play professionally. This story does have a happy ending however, as he was medically clear to resume playing in late 2016 and has since played for teams in Serbia, China, Taiwan and Lebanon.

Ricardo Ledo (6)

When Ledo made the decision to stay home and play at Providence, Friar fans were excited about the possibility of he and Kris Dunn sharing the floor. But it never happened, as Ledo was not cleared to play by the NCAA and would ultimately turn pro after one year with the program. Selected by Milwaukee with the 43rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Ledo appeared in 28 total games over the course of two seasons with the Mavericks (who acquired his draft rights from Milwaukee) and Knicks. Ledo’s spent much of his career overseas, most recently agreeing to a one-year deal with Pallacanestro Reggiana last month.

Alex Poythress (8)

A Top 10 prospect out of high school, Poythress found it difficult to live up to those lofty standards during his time at Kentucky. Poythress averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a Wildcat, with his 2014-15 season limited to eight gamed due to a knee injury. Poythress has appeared in 31 NBA games, 25 of those coming as a member of the Pacers last season, and he’s currently a free agent after being waived in early July.

Rico Gathers (37)

Gathers had a solid-if-unremarkable career as one of the sport’s best rebounders while at Baylor, and when he graduated, he opted not to pursue a basketball career and instead joined up with the Dallas Cowboys as the latest in a long line of basketball players turned tight ends.

Brice Johnson (49)

Serving as a reserve in his first two seasons at North Carolina, Johnson was a key starter for the Tar Heels as both a junior and a senior. During his final season in Chapel Hill, Johnson averaged 18.2 points, 10.4 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game and was named to the All-Tournament Team. The Clippers selected Johnson with the 25th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, but he’s been unable to establish himself as a rotation-caliber big man in the NBA. Johnson’s appeared in a total of 21 games during his two-year NBA career, and he’s a free agent after being waived by Memphis in March.

College Basketball 2019-2020 Preseason Top 25

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There is so much that is going to happen between now and the time that next season starts that it almost seems foolish to publish a preseason top 25 today.

But we’re doing it anyway!

A couple of notes: Who is going to head to the NBA is very much in the air right now. There are still a number of freshmen that have yet to announce where they are playing their college ball. The transfer market has barely heated up. For decisions that are up in the air, you’ll see an asterisk next to their name. We’re making predictions on what certain players will do and ranking based off of them. 

So with all that said, here is the preseason top 25.

1. MICHIGAN STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Matt McQuaid, Kenny Goins, Nick Ward
  • WHO’S BACK: Cassius Winston, Xavier Tillman, Joshua Langford, Aaron Henry, Kyle Ahrens, Gabe Brown, Foster Loyer, Marcus Bingham, Thomas Kithier
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Rocket Watts, Malik Hall, Julius Marble
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford, Kyle Ahrens, Aaron Henry, Xavier Tillman

2. KENTUCKY

  • WHO’S GONE: P.J. Washington, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Reid Travis
  • WHO’S BACK: E.J. Montgomery, Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickly, Nick Richards
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks, Johnny Juzang, Dontaie Allen, Nate Sestina
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks, E.J. Montgomery

3. DUKE

  • WHO’S GONE: Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish, Marques Bolden
  • WHO’S BACK: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Jack White, Javin DeLaurier, Jordan Goldwire, Joey Baker
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Vernon Carey, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Cassius Stanley
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Wendell Moore, Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey

4. KANSAS

  • WHO’S GONE: Lagerald Vick, Dedric Lawson, Quintin Grimes, K.J. Lawson, Charlie Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Udoka Azubuike, Marcus Garrett, Silvio De Sousa, Mitch Lightfoot, David McCormack
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaiah Moss, Jalen Wilson, Tristan Enaruna, Isaac McBride, Christian Braun
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Devon Dotson, Isaiah Moss, Ochai Agbaji, Silvio De Sousa, Udoka Azubuike

5. VILLANOVA

  • WHO’S GONE: Eric Paschall, Phil Booth, Jahvon Quinerly
  • WHO’S BACK: Jermaine Samuels, Cole Swider, Saddiq Bey, Collin Gillespie, Dhamir Cosby-Rountree, Brandon Slater
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Bryan Antoine, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Justin Moore, Eric Dixon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Collin Gillespie, Bryan Antoine, Saddiq Bey, Jermaine Samuels, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

6. LOUISVILLE

  • WHO’S GONE: Christen Cunningham, Khwan Fore, Akoy Agau
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Steve Enoch, Malik Williams, Darius Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Samuell Williamson, Jaelyn Withers, Josh Nickelberry, Fresh Kimble, David Johnson, Aidan Igiehom, Quinn Slazinski
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Fresh Kimble, Samuell Williamson, Dwayne Sutton, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams

7. MARYLAND

  • WHO’S GONE: Bruno Fernando
  • WHO’S BACK: Anthony Cowan, Jalen Smith, Serrel Smith Jr., Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Darryl Morsell
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Chol Marial, Makhi Mitchell, Makhel Mitchell, Donta Scott
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Aaron Wiggins, Ricky Lindo, Jalen Smith

8. VIRGINIA

  • WHO’S GONE: De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome, Kyle Guy, Jack Salt
  • WHO’S BACK: Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff, Kihei Clark
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Casey Morsell, Tomas Woldetensae, Kadin Shedrick, Justin McKoy
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kihei Clark, Casey Morsell, Braxton Key, Mamadi Diakite, Jay Huff

9. TEXAS TECH

  • WHO’S GONE: Jarrett Culver, Matt Mooney, Tariq Owens, Brandone Francis, Norense Odiase, Khavon Moore
  • WHO’S BACK: Chris Beard, Davide Moretti, Kyler Edwards, Deshawn Corprew, Andrei Savrasov
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jahmius Ramsey, Chris Clarke, T.J. Holyfield, Kevin McCullar, Russel Tchewa, Terrence Shannon
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jahmius Ramsey, Davide Moretti, Deshawn Corprew, T.J. Holyfield, Chris Clarke

10. FLORIDA

  • WHO’S GONE: KeVaughn Allen, Jalen Hudson, Kevarrius Hayes, Keith Stone, DeAundre Ballard
  • WHO’S BACK: Noah Locke, Andrew Nembhard, Keyontae Johnson, Dontay Bassett, Isaiah Stokes
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kerry Blackshear Jr., Scottie Lewis, Tre Mann, Omar Payne, Jason Jitoboh
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke, Scottie Lewis, Keyontae Johnson, Kerry Blackshear Jr.

11. GONZAGA

  • WHO’S GONE: Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Josh Perkins, Zach Norvell, Geno Crandall, Jeremy Jones
  • WHO’S BACK: Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev, Corey Kispert
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Admon Gilder, Drew Timme, Oumar Ballo, Ryan Woolridge, Brock Ravet, Anton Watson, Martynas Arlauskas, Pavel Zahkarov
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Ryan Woolridge, Admon Gilder, Corey Kispert, Killian Tillie, Filip Petrusev

12. SETON HALL

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Nzei
  • WHO’S BACK: Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Quincy McKnight, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Tyrese Samuel
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quincy McKnight, Myles Powell, Myles Cale, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ikey Obiagu

13. NORTH CAROLINA

  • WHO’S GONE: Coby White, Nassir Little, Luke Maye, Cam Johnson, Kenny Williams, Seventh Woods
  • WHO’S BACK: Leaky Black, Garrison Brooks, Brandon Robinson
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Cole Anthony, Armando Bacot, Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, Christian Keeling, Justin Pierce
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Cole Anthony, Leaky Black, Brandon Robinson, Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks

14. UTAH STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: Quinn Taylor
  • WHO’S BACK: Sam Merrill, Neemias Queta, Diogo Brito, Brock Miller, Abel Porter
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alphonso Anderson, Liam McChesney, Sean Bairstow
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Diogo Brito, Abel Porter, Sam Merrill, Brock Miller, Neemias Queta

15. OREGON

  • WHO’S GONE: Paul White, Louis King, Ehab Amin, Kenny Wooten, Bol Bol, Victor Bailey
  • WHO’S BACK: Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson, Francis Okoro
  • WHO’S COMING IN: N’Faly Dante, C.J. Walker, Anthony Mathis, Shakur Juiston, Addison Patterson, Chris Duarte, Lok Wur, Chandler Lawson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Payton Pritchard, Chris Duarte, Anthony Mathis, C.J. Walker, Shakur Juiston

16. ARIZONA

  • WHO’S GONE: Justin Coleman, Ryan Luther, Brandon Randolph
  • WHO’S BACK: Dylan Smith, Chase Jeter, Brandon Williams, Alex Barcello, Ira Lee
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Max Hazzard, Terry Armstrong, Christian Koloko, Zeke Nnaji, Stone Gettings
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Max Hazzard, Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Ira Lee, Chase Jeter

17. SAINT MARY’S

  • WHO’S GONE: Jordan Hunter
  • WHO’S BACK: Jordan Ford, Malik Fitts, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Dan Fotu, Jock Perry
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Alex Ducas, Kyle Bowen
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Jordan Ford, Tommy Kuhse, Tanner Krebs, Malik Fitts, Jock Perry

18. XAVIER

  • WHO’S GONE: Ryan Welage, Zach Hankins, Kyle Castlin, Elias Harden
  • WHO’S BACK: Quentin Goodin, Naji Marshall, Paul Scruggs, Tyrique Jones
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Kyky Tandy, Dahmir Bishop, Zach Freemantle, Jason Carter, Daniel Ramsey, Dieonte Miles
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quentin Goodin, Paul Scruggs, Naji Marshall, Jason Carter, Tyrique Jones

19. LSU

  • WHO’S GONE: Tremont Waters, Naz Reid, Kavell-Bigby Williams
  • WHO’S BACK: Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Emmitt Williams, Marlon Taylor, Darius Days
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Trendon Watford, James Bishop
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor, Trendon Watford, Emmitt Williams

20. BAYLOR

  • WHO’S GONE: King McClure, Makai Mason, Jake Lindsey
  • WHO’S BACK: Tristan Clark, Mario Kegler, Jared Butler, Devonte Bandoo, Mark Vital, Freddie Gillespie, Matthew Mayer
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jordan Turner, MaCio Teague, Davion Mitchell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Davion Mitchell, Jared Butler, Mark Vital, Mario Kegler, Tristan Clark

21. MEMPHIS

  • WHO’S GONE: Jeremiah Martin, Kyvon Davenport, Mike Parks Jr., Raynere Thornton, Kareem Brewton, Antwann Jones Jr.
  • WHO’S BACK: Tyler Harris, Alex Lomax, Isaiah Maurice
  • WHO’S COMING IN: James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Malcolm Dandridge, Damian Baugh, Lance Thomas, Precious Achiuwa, Boogie Ellis
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Tyler Harris, Boogie Ellis, D.J. Jeffries, Precious Achiuwa, James Wiseman

22. AUBURN

  • WHO’S GONE: Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, Malik Dunbar, Horace Spencer, Chuma Okeke
  • WHO’S BACK: Samir Doughty, J’Von McCormick, Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore, Austin Wiley
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaac Okoro, Tyrell Jones, Jaylin Williams, Babatunde Akingbola, Allen Flanigan, Jamal Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: J’Von McCormick, Samir Doughty, Danjel Purifoy, Isaac Okoro, Anfernee McLemore

23. TENNESSEE

  • WHO’S GONE: Admiral Schofield, Kyle Alexander, Jordan Bone, Grant Williams, Derrick Walker Jr, D.J. Burns
  • WHO’S BACK: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Yves Pons., John Fulkerson, Jalen Johnson
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Josiah James, Drew Pember, Olivier Nkamoua, Davonte Gaines
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Lamonte Turner, Jordan Bowden, Josiah James, Yves Pons, John Fulkerson

24. VCU

  • WHO’S GONE: Michael Gilmore
  • WHO’S BACK: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Deriante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva, Vince Williams, Mike’L Simms, P.J. Byrd, Malik Crawford
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Jarren McAlister
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Marcus Evans, Isaac Vann, Vince Williams, Deriante Jenkins, Marcus Santos-Silva

25. OHIO STATE

  • WHO’S GONE: C.J. Jackson, Keyshawn Woods
  • WHO’S BACK: Kaleb Wesson, Andre Wesson, Luther Muhammad, Duane Washington, Kyle Young, Justin Aherns, Musa Jallow, Jaedon LeDee
  • WHO’S COMING IN: D.J. Carton, Alonzo Gaffney, EJ Liddel, Ibrahima Diallo, CJ Walker
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: C.J. Walker, Duane Washington Jr., Luther Muhammad, Andre Wesson, Kaleb Wesson

JUST MISSED

DAVIDSON

  • WHO’S GONE: Nathan Ekwu, Dusan Kovacevic
  • WHO’S BACK: Kellan Grady, Jon Axel Gudmundson, Luka Brajkovic, Luke Frampton, Kishawn Pritchett, Carter Collins, David Czerapowicz, Bates Jones
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Hyunjung Lee, David Kristensen
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Kellan Grady, Jon Axel Gudmundson, Luke Frampton, Kishawn Pritchett, Luka Brajkovic

CREIGHTON

  • WHO’S GONE: Sam Froling, Kaleb Joseph, Connor Cashaw
  • WHO’S BACK: Davion Mintz, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Jacob Epperson, Damien Jefferson, Marcus Zegarowski
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Shereef Mitchell
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Davion Mintz, Marcus Zegarowski, Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Jacob Epperson

WASHINGTON

  • WHO’S GONE: Jaylen Nowell, Noah Dickerson, Matisse Thybulle, David Crisp, Dominic Green
  • WHO’S BACK: Nahziah Carter, Hameir Wright, Sam Timmins, Jamal Bey
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, Quade Green, Marcus Tsohonis, RaeQuan Battle
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Quade Green, Nahziah Carter, Hameir Wright, Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart

COLORADO

  • WHO’S GONE: Namon Wright
  • WHO’S BACK: McKinley Wright IV, Tyler Bey, D’shawn Schwartz, Lucas Siewert, Evan Battey, Shane Gatling, Daylen Kountz
  • WHO’S COMING IN: No one
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: McKinley Wright IV, Shane Gatling, Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz, Lucas Siewert

MARQUETTE

  • WHO’S GONE: Sam Hauser, Joey Hauser, Joseph Chartouny
  • WHO’S BACK: Markus Howard, Theo John, Sacar Anim, Ed Morrow, Jamal Cain
  • WHO’S COMING IN: Koby McEwen, Symir Torrence, Jayce Johnson
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Markus Howard, Koby McEwen, Sacar Anim, Brendan Bailey, Theo John

Ex-Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves acquitted in sex assault case

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FLINT, Mich. — A jury acquitted former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves Tuesday on charges alleging he sexually assaulted a woman in a motel room four years ago.

The verdict announced in a Genesee County courtroom in Cleaves’ hometown of Flint came after a nearly-two week trial that included the testimony of the Mount Morris woman, who told jurors that she had wanted to leave the motel room but Cleaves continued to force himself on her.

Evidence against Cleaves included a video that prosecutors contended showed the woman pulling away from Cleaves. Prosecutors argued she tried twice to escape from the motel room.

Cleaves did not testify. One of his attorneys, Frank Manley, said Cleaves had consensual sex with the woman who was in the motel room “of her own free will” after a charity golf tournament and visit to a bar. Cleaves’ attorneys told jurors that the woman lied about what happened because she felt guilty about cheating on her boyfriend.

The 41-year-old Cleaves was acquitted on all charges, including unlawful imprisonment and assault with intent to commit criminal sexual penetration. He had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison had he been convicted.

Cleaves has long denied the allegations, saying in a March 2016 tweet that he was “innocent and the allegations are without merit.”

The trial itself came after a long legal battle that started in late 2016 when a district judge dismissed the charges, saying that there were a number of factors that suggested “something else was going on” between Cleaves and the woman.

But in 2017, the charges were reinstated after the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office filed an appeal that contended the judge had abused her “discretion of power” in dismissing the charges. Then last year, the Michigan Supreme Court refused to review that decision, clearing the way for the trial.

Cleaves is a revered figure in Michigan, an integral part of a Michigan State team that won the national championship in 2000 before his six-year NBA career.

And on Tuesday, sitting in a courtroom was another reminder of that team: Coach Tom Izzo. Izzo told The Detroit News that he did not know the details about the allegations against his former star player but wanted to be in the courtroom to support Cleaves as he would “any of my guys.”

Mick Cronin lands first five-star recruit at UCLA

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Less than 24 hours after cutting his list to five schools, five-star point guard Daishen Nix committed to UCLA.

Nix is a 6-foot-5 point guard from Alaska that’s currently playing his high school ball in Las Vegas. He’s known for his court vision and elite basketball IQ with a developing jumper and a feel for the game that cannot be taught. He ranks as a top 15 prospect, according to 247 Sports.

He was Mick Cronin’s top target at the point guard spot, and Cronin landed him. That’s notable, because one of the concerns that people had about UCLA’s decision to hire Cronin was whether or not a coach known for his toughness, his intensity and his team’s propensity for being defense first would adjust to playing at California’s flagship program, where tempo is a must and defense has been, for the last half-decade, optional.

And while it remains to be seen how the team and program will adjust to his coaching style – I will have a story coming on that later this week – at the very least, Cronin has proven that he can dip his toe in the west coast recruiting waters and get a player that he prioritized.

Who are the best basketball prospects that have yet to play in the NBA?

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Over the course of the next two weeks, Pro Basketball Talk will be rolling out a project that we have been working on for the last month: Ranking the top 50 players five years from now.

Players ranked 46-50 were unveiled today.

You can find that list here.

In the meantime, since it is relevant, here at College Basketball Talk we are going to take a look at the guys that, in 2024, may actually deserve a spot on a top 50 players list that you may not know about just yet.

So without further ado, here are the ten best prospects that have yet to play a game in the professional ranks.

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1. Emoni Bates, Class of 2022

Bates is the shoe-in at No. 1 on this list. Over the years I’ve gotten to know quite a few of the scouts that do recruiting rankings and cover the sport at the high school level. These guys have been in the business for a long time – some for decades – and every single one of them rave about Bates in a way that you don’t often see players get talked about. One called him the best freshman he’s ever scouted. One called him as good as any prospect that he’s scouted in more than 20 years in the business. One called him the best prospect in high school hoops, which is exactly where I have him on this list. Personally, I think that he’s the closest thing that we’ve seen to Kevin Durant since Kevin Durant.

I wrote a story on Bates from Peach Jam back in July, and one of the things that I made sure to note in that story is the danger that comes with this level of hype at this age. Many of the things that are being said about Bates were said about Renardo Sidney at the same age, and we know how that turned out. Part of the reason I’m a little less-hesitant to make such proclamations with Bates is that he has an alpha mentality and competitive streak that you don’t see all that often. So not only does he have the physical tools as a super-skilled, 6-foot-9 scorer with range out to the NBA three-point line, but once he gets on the court, he’s an a–hole in all of the best ways.

2. Cade Cunningham, Class of 2020

Cunningham is tailor-made for modern basketball. He’s a 6-foot-7, 220 pound point forward. He’s a tough, physical and athletic wing that, two years ago, made the transition to playing the point full time. He has the savvy, the maturity and the polish of an NBA veteran. He doesn’t have the highlight reel athleticism of guys like Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, but he has the kind of functional athleticism that will allow him to split the defense, avoid the charge, absorb the contact and finish in traffic. He was the MVP of the EYBL circuit this past season, and if he continues to improve his shooting stroke, there’s a very real chance that he gets picked with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 draft.

I think the best way to phrase it is this: He will likely be the first player to ever get compared to Luka Doncic, and I’m not sure how much more complimentary you can get.

James Wiseman (Elsa/Getty Images)

3. James Wiseman, Memphis

4. Evan Mobley, Class of 2020

I’m listing these two together because they really are quite similar prospects. Both stand 7-foot. Both have the kind of length, mobility and athleticism that should allow them to thrive at the five in the modern NBA. Both of them are capable defenders with the potential to be very, very good with some added strength and a bit of motivation. And both of them are skilled enough where they have the potential of one day doing all four things modern fives are asked to do – protect the rim, switch ball-screens, space the floor to the three-point line, be a lob target as a roll-man in ball-screens.

Now, there are some differences. Wiseman, at this point, is probably more physically developed – he is a year older – while Mobley, at 6-foot-11 and 200 pounds, is going to have to make the absolute most of the meal plan USC gets him on. Mobley, on the other hand, seems to be more accepting of the fact that he’s destined to be a five in the NBA while Wiseman, in the words of one NBA draftnik, “thinks he’s Giannis when in reality he’s a lot closer to Myles Turner.”

There is nothing wrong with being Myles Turner. He just turned 23 years old and he is coming off of a season where he averaged 13.3 points, 7.2 boards and an NBA-best 2.7 blocks while shooting 38.8 percent from three. He’s really good. But he also knows what he is and what he isn’t, and he isn’t Giannis.

5. Jonathan Kuminga, Class of 2021

Kuminga is a super-explosive, 6-foot-8 wing that is just now starting to figure out how good he has the chance to be. He has all the physical tools that you want out of a wing – height, length, athleticism, versatility – and he has shown that he is willing and able to defend multiple positions. The big thing with him in the long-term is going to be how well his jumpshot develops, and if that comes along, his upside is as high as anyone on this list. I do think it’s worth noting that at Peach Jam, he was in the same group as Terrence Clarke and Patrick Baldwin Jr. and justified his spot on this list.

6. Jalen Green, Class of 2020

Green has all the makings of a future top five pick. At 6-foot-5, he’s a naturally gifted scorer that makes the game look easy. He’s at his best when he’s slashing to the bucket, where he can finish above the rim and also has a shiftiness about him in the lane. He’s a capable ball-handler and passer, but he’s going to make his money as a bucket-getter. If his jumper catches up to the rest of his game, look out.

7. Anthony Edwards, Georgia

Edwards is a big time scorer and athlete that has the ideal physical tools for a combo-guard. He’s a sturdy 6-foot-5 with length and explosive athleticism. His game is well-rounded. He’s a good shooter that can also operate in ball-screens, create for his teammates and shoot off the dribble. In theory, he’s an ideal fit for a sport that is becoming more and more reliant on scorers that can create in isolation with shooters spacing the court. Part of the reason he stayed home to play for Georgia is that Tom Crean coached both Victor Oladipo and Dwyane Wade in college, and those two are what Edwards has the potential to be at the next level.

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8. Cole Anthony, North Carolina

Anthony is going to get a lot of hype heading into the 2020 draft. Beyond the simple fact that he is the son of UNLV legend and NBA journeyman Greg Anthony, Cole Anthony is headed to North Carolina, where Roy Williams is going to slot him into the same role that he used Coby White in last year. He is going to get a lot of shots, he’s going to score a lot of points and he’s going to have a lot of highlight reel plays in the process. My big question with Cole longterm is that I’m not convinced that he is big enough to play off the ball, I’m not sure he is a natural point guard and I don’t know if he is quite good enough to be allowed to play the way he has throughout his career at the NBA level. There is definitely some potential here, but I think the fit at the NBA level makes more sense with Green and Edwards than it does with Anthony.

RISING SON: Cole Anthony remains grounded while following his father’s footsteps

9. Terrence Clarke, Class of 2021

Clarke is a wiry-strong, 6-foot-6 off-guard from Boston that has the potential to be the No. 1 pick in whatever draft he ends up in. (There’s a chance he can reclassify into 2020.) He’s an explosive athlete that can finish in traffic while also displaying a high-level feel for the game. He’s an improving shooter that can create off the bounce in isolation, and his court vision and passing gives him the upside of having some positional versatility down the road.

10. Patrick Baldwin Jr., Class of 2021

As one coach at a top ten program told me this summer, Patrick Baldwin Jr. “is the best shooting big man I’ve ever scouted.” Still just heading into his junior year in high school, Baldwin recently went through a growth spurt that saw him sprout up to 6-foot-10. He needs to add some strength and weight to his frame (what 16 year old doesn’t?) but that size and shooting ability is not something that we see all that often. The big question for Baldwin is how well the rest of his game develops. Is he simply a pick-and-pop five, or will he continue to develop a floor game and the physical tools that will allow him to be a plus-defender in the NBA?

THREE THAT JUST MISSED THIS LIST

Jaden McDaniels, Washington: McDaniels’ upside is as high as anyone on this list save for Bates and Cunningham. At 6-foot-10, he’s a skilled wing with a perimeter game and a developing shooting stroke. It’s not hard to watch him play and see what he can be if he continues to put in the work, but he has a ways to go to get there. He’s still just 190 pounds and, at this point, more of a prospect that a producer.

Paolo Banchero, Class of 2021: Banchero is a tough prospect to gauge the ceiling of. He’s already 6-foot-9 and 230 pounds with a frame that should easily be able to hold more muscle, but without the kind of physical tools that will set him apart from the field. I think it’s also fair to say that his best skill at this point is how well-rounded he is. Put another way, he’s one of those guys that can do everything well – he can shoot it, he can pass, he can beat bigger defenders facing up, he can hold his own defending the paint, etc. – with an exceedingly high basketball IQ. Put another way, outside of continuing to stretch out his shooting range, I’m not sure just how much better he’s going to end up getting.

Jalen Johnson, Class of 2020: Johnson’s biggest strength at this point is probably his basketball IQ and passing ability at this size. He’s a 6-foot-9 lefty with a complete skillset and the kind of floor vision at this size that will make you think Ben Simmons lost his Aussie accent. Already committed to Duke, Johnson will likely continue to generate buzz as his defense and perimeter stroke improve.

Michael Avennati makes court filing alleging Nike cleared payments to Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford

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Lawyers for Michael Avennati filed a court motion on Wednesday alleging that Nike approved under-the-table payments to Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford while they were still in high school.

The alleged offers, which were for $35,000 to Zion and $20,000 to Langford, were found in “text messages, emails and other documents fro 2016-17” and prove “Nike executives had arranged for and concealed payments, often in cash, to amateur basketball players and their families and ‘handlers,'” the motion, which was filed in U.S. District Court in New York, alleged.

Specifically, the motion alleges that:

  • EYBL manager Jamal James texted EYBL director Carlton DeBose and Nike’s recruiting coordinator John Stovall asking if they would be “willing to do … whatever may be needed for the Zion/Romeo situations as well as the money we’re now going to do for the [redacted because he is still a minor] kid in Michigan.” Stovall responded “Langford – 20 Zion – 35 [unnamed minor] – 15”. Stovall added that it was a bad idea for the offer to be put into print.
  • DeBose said in a text message with an unnamed Kentucky assistach coach that the shoe company was “funneling payments to high school players through at least 10 different EYBL coaches.”
  • An EYBL coach told Nike executives he was concerned about the money being paid to players and their families because it won’t end well for Nike and innocent coaches “will be deemed guilty by association.”
  • DeBose told Nico Harrison, Nike’s VP of North America basketball operations, that he’s “willing to bet that 38 of the 40 teams in the EYBL had to pay a moderate to considerable ransom to families just to play in the EYBL.” He also said the arrangements are “being viewed as a contract” by the players and their families.
  • Another Nike executive, Rachel Baker, allegedly said she was worried about carrying cash through an airport.

All the quotes listed above are from the motion itself. It refers to emails and text messages, but they are not attached. The motion can be read in its entirety here.

The motion does not make clear whether or not the money was actually delivered. Both Zion and Langford played their final season of AAU basketball on the Adidas circuit. Langford’s father was the coach of the AAU program that his son played for.

“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion,” Nike said in a statement. “Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”

Avenatti was arrested in March and charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to expose the way that the shoe company and its grassroots basketball league, the EYBL, funnel money to the elite high school players and their families. He threatened to hold a press conference at the start of the NCAA tournament announcing these allegations of misconduct.

Adding to the drama is the fact that Avennati represented Gary Franklin, who was the coach of the California Supreme at one point in time. Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol, Aaron Holiday, De’Anthony Melton, Solomon Hill and Brandon McCoy were among the players that spent time on his roster. The motion to dismiss also contains allegations that Franklin was directed by DeBose to make payments to people associated with Ayton, Bol and McCoy, and that he submitted false invoices to Nike to disguise the payments as expenses for the 501(c3) he operated.