Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Recruiting Look-Back

I'll have some thoughts on the Sweet Sixteen eventually, but since we have a few days, I want to jump back to the 2003 recruiting article I cited last Thursday. Just as it is fun to evaluate NBA and NFL draft classes a few years later, I thought it would be equally fun to go back and evaluate the recruiting classes from 2003.

2003 is particularly interesting because (with the exception of a few red-shirt players and the NBA early entrants), these players were seniors this season. Let's re-evaulate the top 20 classes.

1. Oklahoma – This class turned into a disaster as all the major players transfered. Drew Lavendar almost led Xavier to an upset of Ohio St. on Saturday.
2. Arkansas – Brewer is playing in the NBA.
3. Maryland – Strawberry, Jones, and Ibekwe lost in the second round this year and won only two NCAA games in their careers. They were fine college players, but this class did not live up to its billing.
4. Duke – Deng and Humphries are in the NBA.
5. Pittsburgh – Aaron Gray is the only member of his recruiting class to stick around at Pittsburgh, but he has been a vital part of a team that has been ranked in the top 10 for most of the past few seasons.
6. Michigan St. – Naymick was described as a hard worker with a “fine touch”. That “fine touch” never panned out as planned. Shannon Brown is in the NBA.
7. Arizona – Shakur is a senior starter. Kirk Walters was described as a “great find” but he only played in 2 games this year as a senior. Was “great find” code for “we didn’t have him ranked”?
8. LSU – None of these players were stars on the Final Four team, but Lazare and Minor contributed this season.
9. Syracuse – Nichols and Roberts are stars for the snubbed NIT crew.
10. DePaul – The article says that Wesley Green “throws a terrific outlet pass”. What kind of a compliment is that? Mejia turned into a star.
11. Kansas – Disaster of a class where only Jeremy Case is still on the team, and he played sparingly this year. David Padgett ended up at Louisville.
12. Mississippi St. – None of these players stayed at the school either. Worse yet, Ervin ended up being a key player at Arkansas.
13. Michigan – Seniors Courtney Sims and Bret Petway had solid careers and Dion Harris was a star, but the team never made the NCAA tournament.
14. South Carolina – Do not under-rate this class because of this season. Tre Kelley and Brandon Wallace have developed into fine players and Renaldo Balkman is playing in the NBA.
15. Memphis – Calipari seems to cycle through the players pretty quick.
16. California – Powe is playing in the NBA.
17. Illinois – McBride and Carter were solid role players on the Final Four team and have emerged as consistent seniors. Randle has been disappointing, but thanks to a red-shirt still has one year of eligibility.
18. Florida St. – Hard to see how this group was rated ahead of…
19. Wake Forest – Chris Paul was the key piece in a top 10 Wake Forest squad before becoming NBA rookie of the year.
20. Louisville – Brandon Jenkins remains a solid contributor this season.

Looking back it appears that the best players are already in the NBA. Some of this year's best tournament teams (UCLA, Georgetown, and Kansas) do not feature a single senior playing significant minutes. Others (Ohio St., Florida, and North Carolina) feature only one major senior and none of those players (Lewis, Humpries, Terry) was part of a dominant recruiting class (at least as listed here).

Perhaps the most important senior in the Sweet Sixteen, Acie Law the 4th is not listed either in part because Texas A&M was a non-factor back in 2003. This all suggests that I should really look back at 2002. Maybe I will do that next week.