Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook will forever be linked for their one year as teammates on the 2007-08 UCLA team that reached the Bruins’ third-straight Final Four as they then went on to be top-five picks in that summer’s NBA Draft.
Now they share the distinction as giving their alma mater the biggest donation ever by a former hoops student-athlete from the school.
Love contributed an unspecified amount toward the school’s Mo Ostin Basketball Center project that the school says matches Westbrook’s record 2015 donation, and he will have the building’s strength-and-conditioning center named after him.
“UCLA will always be my home,” Love said in a statement. “I have such fond memories of my time here from meeting Coach (John) Wooden, to our run to the Final Four. I want to give back to the school and help prepare all the athletes who come through UCLA sports programs for their next steps, just like my time on campus prepared me.”
UCLA is building what it is calling a state-of-the art practice facility that will be located near Pauley Pavilion that it hopes to open next fall.
“From his selflessness and dedication on the court here in Pauley Pavilion to the thoughtfulness and philanthropy he has exhibited as an NBA star,” athletic director Dan Guerrero said in a statement, “Kevin is a tremendous ambassador for this university. To see him, still very early in his life journey, give back to the UCLA Basketball program in this way is certainly a testament to the bonds our student-athletes build here. While we are grateful for his generosity, we are even more proud of the remarkable man Kevin has become.”
Re-ranking the recruiting classes: Who are the 25 best players in the Class of 2007?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Four days ago, Anthony Davis was selected with the first pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
With Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Chris Bosh missing the Olympics, many believed that meant that the newest New Orleans Hornet would have a very real shot at backing up Tyson Chandler as Team USA’s center in this summer’s Olympics.
There are those that will tell you college basketball has a transfer problem, that too many players transfer too quickly after expecting to start from the moment they set foot on campus.
The thinking is that due to the deification of high school stars and the immediate success of talents like Kevin Durant, Kevin Love and Anthony Davis, the kids no longer want to wait their turn. They feel they deserve to be given a spot in the starting lineup up and a spot in the rotation from day one. They believe that, as freshmen, they should be getting 15 shots a game and leading the team in scoring.
While my personal issues with transfers have much more to due with the way the process is handled than with the reasons for players making a move, there is some validity to that argument.
Enter Reggie Smith.
A former top 150 recruit out of Chicago, Smith decided to enroll at Marquette as a freshman. But after just eight games — five of which he started — Smith decided to leave. Why? “Because he wasn’t getting to play as much.”
Smith ended up enrolling at UNLV in January of 2011, meaning that he became eligible with 20 games left in the 2011-2012 season. Smith played in all 20 of those games, but averaged just 6.1 minutes and 2.5 points as he was stuck behind the likes of Oscar Bellfield, Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins. It seems like that just wouldn’t do, either, so Smith is once again on the move.
“I enjoyed my time at UNLV,” Smith said. “However, my grandmother is really sick and I have decided to find a school closer to home so I can be near her and my family.”
There are some underlying issues here. Smith has a sickness in the family and he’s a long way from his Chicago home. That’s a tough thing for a college kid — athlete or not — to deal with. But I’m sure that UNLV’s scholarship crunch (they now have two open, one of which appears to be earmarked for UConn transfer Roscoe Smith) and the fact that Dave Rice blatantly recruited over Reggie (Katin Reinhardt, anyone?) didn’t help matters.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about Davis’ potential candidacy, but with the torn ACL that Derrick Rose suffered in the opening game of the NBA Playoffs, Team USA is now down four players from the group of 20 finalists that were announced in January.
The current finalists for Team USA include: Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin, Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Odom, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams.
There is no guarantee that Davis would make the team, but with his skill set and potential, it would make sense to get him involved with the National Team program as early as possible.
As a sophomore in high school, Anthony Davis was a 6-foot-2 shooting guard for a bad high school team in Chicago. As a junior, he was a 6-foot-6 forward getting recruited to places like Cleveland State. After one season in college, he’s got a shot to be on Team USA.
Quietly, under the cover of National Signing Day in college basketball, another prospect with star potential accepted one of the highest honors in high school basketball.
Jabari Parker, a 6-8, 220-pound forward from Simeon Career Academy (Il.) and the Class of 2013, has won the Gatorade National Player of the Year as the best player in the country.
Parker averaged 20.1 points, 5.1 assists, and 3.4 blocks per game this past season, leading Simeon to a 32-1 record in the 2011-12 season. They finished as the No. 4 team in the country, according to MaxPreps.com.
He is the top-ranked player in the Class of 2013 and could have his choice of nearly any program in the country, but focus has been on schools that include Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, North Carolina, Ohio State, Duke, Kansas, and hometown teams Illinois, Northwestern, and DePaul.
Parker is hailed as a well-rounded player with good size and ballhandling skills, with still another year to polish his skills before heading to college.
Florida’s Bradley Beal won the award last season and past winners include LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, Alonzo Mourning, and Kevin Love. Mourning was in attendance as Parker accepted his award.