See our article from last year about the tremendous high school class of 2004.
The chart below and the methodology behind this article is based on the RSCIs final rankings of the 2005 class. The RSCI, which stands for Recruiting Services Consensus Index, is a calculation of the average rankings of all of the major high school recruiting services. Its philosophy is explained here.
|2005 High School Class||RSCI Ranking||Player||Destination||Year Drafted|
|Gerald Green*||NBA (#18 Pick)||2005|
|Josh McRoberts||Duke [Two Years] / NBA (#37 Pick)||2007|
|Monta Ellis||NBA (#40 Pick)||2005|
|Andray Blatche*||NBA (#49 Pick)||2005|
|Martell Webster||NBA (#6 Pick)||2005|
|Tyler Hansbrough||North Carolina||Projected Mid-Late First Round Pick|
|Louis Williams||NBA (#45 Pick)||2005|
|Julian Wright||Kansas [Two Years] / NBA (#13 pick)||2007|
|Richard Hendrix||Alabama [Three Years] / NBA (#49 pick) / D-League||2008|
|Mario Chalmers||Kansas [Three Years] / NBA (#34 pick)||2008|
|Tasmin Mitchell||LSU (redshirted)||2009 Early-Entry Candidate|
|Andrew Bynum||NBA (#10 Pick)||2005|
|Keith Brumbaugh||Oklahoma State / JUCO / Turkey / D-League||Undrafted 2008|
|C.J. Miles||NBA (#34 Pick)||2005|
|Shawne Williams*||Memphis [One Year] / NBA (#17 Pick)||2006|
|Greg Paulus||Duke [Four Years], Enrolled at Syracuse to play Football|
|Amir Johnson||NBA (#56 Pick)||2005|
|Danny Green||North Carolina||Projected Late First/Early Second Round Pick|
|Jon Brockman||Washington||Projected Second Round/Undrafted|
|Brandon Costner||N.C. State (redshirted)||2009 Early-Entry Candidate|
|Byron Eaton||Oklahoma State||Projected Undrafted|
|Micah Downs||Kansas/Gonzaga||Projected Second Round/Undrafted|
|Eric Devendorf||Syracuse (redshirted)||2009 Early-Entry Candidate|
|Brandon Rush*||Kansas [Three Years], NBA (#13 pick)||2008|
|Korvotney Barber||Auburn||Projected Undrafted|
|Lewis Clinch||Georgia Tech||Projected Undrafted|
|Jamont Gordon||Mississippi State / Italy||Undrafted in 2008 NBA Draft|
|Joe Krabbenhoft||Wisconsin||Projected Undrafted|
|Marcus Ginyard||North Carolina (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Marcus Williams||Arizona [Two Years], NBA (#33 pick) / D-League / Fringe NBA||2007|
|Bobby Frasor||North Carolina||Projected Undrafted|
|J.P. Prince||Arizona/Tennessee (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Magnum Rolle||LSU/Louisiana Tech (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Luke Zeller||Notre Dame||Projected Undrafted|
|Courtney Fells||N.C. State||Projected Undrafted|
|Theo Davis||Gonzaga/Binghamton/ ???|
|Dominic James||Marquette||Projected Undrafted|
|Vernon Goodridge*||Mississippi State / LaSalle (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Mike Mercer||Georgia / South Florida (redshirted), Dismissed from Team|
|Eric Boateng||Duke/Arizona State (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Fendi Onobun||Arizona||Projected Undrafted|
|Chris Douglas-Roberts||Memphis [Three Years], NBA (#40 pick)||2008|
|Jeff Adrien*||Uconn||Projected Undrafted|
|Uche Echefu||Florida State||Projected Undrafted|
|Tiki Mayben||Syracuse / UMass /Binghamton (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Terrence Williams||Louisville||Projected Mid-First Round Pick|
|Roderick Flemings||Oklahoma State/ North Texas /Hawaii (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Ryan Wright||UCLA/ Oklahoma (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Shawn Taggart*||Iowa State/ Memphis (redshirted)||Early-Entry Candidate|
|Sam Young*||Pitt||Projected Mid-Late First Round Pick|
|Tyler Smith||Prep-School / Iowa / Tennessee||Early-Entry Candidate|
|Davon Jefferson||Prep-School / Prep-School / USC / Israel||Undrafted 2008|
|Devan Downey||Cincinnati / South Carolina (redshirted)||Early-Entry Candidate|
|Marcus Johnson||UConn / USC||5th year senior next season, Announced Intentions to Play Overseas|
|Alonzo Gee||Alabama||Projected Undrafted|
|Martynas Pocius||Duke||Projected Undrafted|
|Kevin Rogers||Baylor||Projected Undrafted|
|Leo Lyons*||Missouri||Projected Undrafted|
|Wilson Chandler||DePaul [Two Years], NBA (#23 pick)||2007|
|Jerel McNeal||Marquette||Projected Mid-Second Round Pick|
|Wink Adams*||UNLV||Projected Undrafted|
|Antonio Anderson*||Memphis||Projected Undrafted|
|Jamal Boykin||Duke / Cal (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Wes Matthews||Marquette||Projected Undrafted|
|Bryan Harvey||Louisville / Fresno State / Division II|
|Tyree Evans*||Maryland / JUCO / Kent State||5th year senior next season|
|Derwin Kitchen||Ineligible / JUCO / Florida State||Junior next season|
|Reginald Delk||Mississippi State / Louisville (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Terrel Harris||Oklahoma State||Projected Undrafted|
|Dior Lowhorn||Texas / San Francisco (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Brian Asbury||Miami||Projected Undrafted|
|Tyrell Biggs||Pitt||Projected Undrafted|
|David Weaver||Wake Forest (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Ricky Sanchez||NBA (#35 Pick) / D-League / Venezuela / Puerto Rico||2005|
|Danny Williams||Seriously Injured in Car Accident|
|Andre McGee||Louisville||Projected Undrafted|
|Kevin Swinton||Wake Forest / UNC-Wilmington / Dismissed|
|Rashad Woods||DePaul / JUCO / Kent State||5th year senior next season|
|Alade Aminu||Georgia Tech||Projected Second Round Pick|
|Casaan Breeden||Florida State / College of Charleston / ???|
|Martellus Bennett||Texas A&M [Football] / Dallas Cowboys 2008 NFL Draft Pick|
|Alfred Aboya||UCLA||Projected Undrafted|
|A.J. Abrams||Texas||Projected Undrafted|
|Jeremy Pargo||Gonzaga||Projected Undrafted|
|Cyrus McGowan||Arkansas / Miami (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Gary Flowers||Oklahoma State / JUCO / Southern Miss||Junior next season|
|J.R. Inman||Rutgers||Projected Undrafted|
|Nate Minnoy||Purdue / Central Michigan / JUCO|
|K.C. Rivers||Clemson||Projected Potential Second Round Pick|
|Terry Martin||LSU||Projected Undrafted|
|Kenneth Cooper||Oklahoma State / Louisiana Tech (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Lawrence Hill||Stanford||Projected Undrafted|
|Adrian Thomas||Miami (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Levance Fields||Pitt||Projected Undrafted|
|Denis Clemente||Miami / Kansas State (redshirted)||5th year senior next season|
|Austin Johnson||Oklahoma||Projected Undrafted|
|Ryan Ayers||Notre Dame||Projected Undrafted|
|Darren Collison||UCLA||Projected Late First Round Pick|
|Kendric Price||Michigan / Delaware||5th year senior next season|
|Jared Carter||Kentucky||Projected Undrafted|
*= Went to prep school, and thus not ranked by all, which lowered their average recruiting ranking, sometimes substantially.
Right from the start, you can already see that the numbers just arent there. 18 of the top-100 ranked players in the RSCI have already made the NBA, although some of those are already out of the league or are on their way out this summer. Compare that with the 2004 high school class, where 37 players from the RSCI's top-100 recruiting rankings had already made it in the NBA at this point last year.
Why is this important? Because it gives us one pretty good indicator for what to expect from the 2009 draft class. Like it or not, its the NCAA seniors that still make up the majority of every NBA draft class. Over the last 14 drafts, there have been 822 total players selected. Of those, 379, or 46%, were seniors. This isnt just a recent trendlast year 19 of the 60 players drafted were NCAA seniors.
Why is this a concern? Because this draft appears to be extremely shallow both from an international perspective and from the depth of the underclassmen group. More than one high-level NBA talent evaluator has told us that they dont see more than one international prospect (Ricky Rubio) worthy of being selected in the first round, and its widely accepted that at least 10 lock first rounders decided not to enter this years draft.
Lets dig deeper into the high school recruiting class of 2005, and try to figure out what went wrong.
A Class Devoid of Superstars
For the first time ever, we find a high school class that went four years without producing a single top-5 pick. Contrast that with the 2004 class, which had six top-5 picks, or the 2006 class (next years NCAA seniors), which has already produced four top-5 picks, and will have one or two more this year in Hasheem Thabeet and Jordan Hill.
Looking over the top ranked players in the 2005 class, its hard not to feel like some of them may have entered the draft prematurely. Monta Ellis, Louis Williams, C.J. Miles, Andray Blatche and Amir Johnson all entered the draft straight out of high school, and all five of them were drafted in the second round. This was indeed the last year that players were able to skip college in favor of the NBA, and it seems there is a good reason for that based on what we saw happen to the 2005 high school senior class.
Gerald Green was the top ranked player in this class according to the RSCI, and he slid all the way out of the lottery on draft night, to the #18 position where Boston picked him up. His career has not really taken off up until this point, and we can only wonder what would have happened had he decided to go to Oklahoma State. Maybe he would have never stepped foot on an NBA floor? Or maybe he would have found a way to utilize that freakish athleticism and developed into a more well-rounded NBA player. Who knows.
The 2005 high school class has produced only three top-10 picks so far, Martell Webster, Joe Alexander and Andrew Bynum. By contrast, the 2004 class produced ten top-10 picks, and the 2006 class has already produced eleven (including Thabeet, Hill and Stephen Curry).
Whereas an astounding 29 of the top-30 ranked players in the 2004 high school class made the NBA, only 15 have accomplished the same in the 2005 class. Players like Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and possibly Tasmin Mitchell may improve that ratio somewhat, but the list of high-ranking busts is quite alarming.
#10 ranked recruit Tasmin Mitchell is a good place to start actually. He was once considered by some to be the #1 player in this entire class, but has developed into just a solid college player who is still trying to add the perimeter polish necessary to solidify himself as a sure-fire NBA prospect.
#13 ranked recruit Keith Brumbaugh is one of many cautionary tales in this class. He went from considering entering his name in the draft straight out of high school to being booted off Oklahoma States roster as a freshman, being arrested several times, going undrafted, playing briefly in Turkey and spending much of last season in the D-League.
#16 ranked recruit Greg Paulus never made anywhere near the impact that was expected from him at Duke after being named New Yorks Mr. Basketball and a McDonalds All-American. Since leading the ACC in assists as a freshman, Paulus largely regressed, to the point that he barely got off the bench in the last few games of his senior year. Hes since decided to try his luck on the football field once again (he was also named Gatorade National Football Player of the Year in high school), and will be battling for the starting quarterback position at Syracuse this upcoming season.
Beyond those few names, we also find a huge number of top-50 players who leave college not even being considered NBA prospects, which is rarely the case. Brandon Costner, Byron Eaton, Korvotney Barber, Lewis Clinch, Joe Krabbenhoft, Marcus Ginyard, Bobby Frasor, J.P. Prince, Magnum Rolle, Luke Zeller, Courtney Fells, Theo Davis, Vernon Goodridge, Mike Mercer, Eric Boateng, Fendi Onobun, Uche Echefu, Tiki Mayben, Roderick Flemings, Ryan Wright are players who most NBA General Managers have never even heard of, let alone would consider drafting.
Regardless, there are some good stories here. Joe Alexander was barely considered good enough to get a scholarship out of high school, but he found a way to develop into a top-10 draft pick. I generously rated him as a lower to mid-major college prospect, Dave Telep laughs today. He couldnt crack the rotation at Hargrave Military Academy. I dont think even Jerry West could have sat there in those stands watching Joe Alexander play and think hes going to develop into a top-10 recruit.
Eric Maynor was completely overlooked by ACC schools in his area, but went on to lead his VCU team to the NCAA tournament twice, beating Duke along the way, and emerging as a first round caliber point guard.
The irony here is that I attended his last game of high school, Telep confessed to us. In hindsight, you could see that he was a real competitor, but he wasnt a point guard, he couldnt shoot and he had absolutely no strength. Now every day when I walk into my office, I look at a picture hanging on my wall of Eric Maynor hitting that shot against Duke in the NCAA tournament. You know who gave it to me? Eric Maynor.
As we find every year, there are plenty of other stories of underrated high school players who developed much better than initially anticipated.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was an afterthought in UCLAs 2005 recruiting class, caught behind bigger names such as Ryan Wright, Alfred Aboya and Darren Collison, all top-100 recruits. After a ho-hum college career, he was eventually drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, and saw major playing time this year under Scott Skiles. We personally didnt even really think he was much of an NBA prospect when he was in the draft last year, so you can imagine what he looked like four years ago coming out of Montverde Academy.
Jermaine Taylor was better known for his skills on the football field in high school, and most people considered him a much better prospect for that sport than for basketball. Still, he developed into the second best scorer in college basketball, and now has a chance to be picked in the late first round of this draft.
#81 ranked recruit Martellus Bennett took the opposite route, declaring for the NBA draft out of high school, and then playing tight end for Texas A&Ms football team in college. He played three years for the Aggies, produced one rap song called "throw me the ball coach," and then was drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
Marcus Thornton needed to attend junior college out of high school, but he too is now considered a first round prospect.
Jeff Pendergraph, Dante Cunningham, Ahmad Nivins, Tyrese Rice, Lee Cummard, Dionte Christmas and many others werent viewed as top-100 caliber players, but ended up emerging as top-shelf college players.
Even within the top-100 recruiting rankings we find quite a few players that exceeded expectations. Terrence Williams, Sam Young, and Darren Collison were ranked 46th, 49th and 98th respectively in their class, but by the time their senior year of college was up, all were considered likely first round draft choices.
One common theme we find amongst this class is a feeling of unrest. No less than 32 of the 100 players transferred to a different school (last year that number was 20), with some of them moving around multiple times trying to find their place. This usually stems from dissatisfaction with playing time, touches, or a coaching staff change. Many of the players just found out that they arent as good as they thought they were.
For some prospects, being an extremely highly touted high school playerwith all the hoopla that comes with that, within their own city in particularis often a major distraction that hinders them from reaching their full potential as basketball players.
There are some really sad stories in this classplayers who were deemed to have outstanding potential, but just werent able to live up to expectations, because of injuries, legal problems, academic issues, or a combination of all three.
Keith Brumbaugh is the most obvious case, but hes not the only one.
Mike Mercer (#39 ranked recruit) was teammates with Louis Williams in high school, and there was even some chatter that he might be the more talented of the pair. Mercer was a tremendous athlete back then, and it was actually him, not Williams, who often played point guard when the two were together on the court. After an uneven freshman season, where he looked far too interested in looking for his own shots, Mercers first major setback came when he tore his ACL midway through his sophomore season. Six months later, Mercer was suspended for 15 games by Georgia head coach Dennis Felton for skipping classes repeatedly. Shortly after, Mercer was dismissed from the team altogether after being caught with a pocket knife and deemed a disruption by his head coach. Mercer transferred to South Florida, where he unfortunately again tore his ACL, and then subsequently was arrested twice in a span of four months. He has since been dismissed from the team.
Theo Davis was the #36 recruit in the country going into Gonzaga, but his basketball career may already be over four years later. Davis was forced to redshirt due to a shoulder injury as a freshman, and was later suspended by Gonzaga after being arrested for possession of psychedelic mushrooms, together with Josh Heytvelt. Davis transferred to Binghamton, but played sparingly over the last two seasons, only logging 57 minutes of action. He left the team in February to be with his ailing father in Canada. He just doesn't want to play anymore, head coach Kevin Broadus was quoted saying.
The list goes on and on. #38 recruit Vernon Goodridge was a huge bust at Mississippi State, and now at age 25 has only established himself as a backup at LaSalle. Ricky Sanchez took almost the exact opposite routebeing drafted straight out of high school by the Denver Nuggets early in the second round (ahead of classmates Monta Ellis, Louis Williams, and others) . He never made the team, and after toiling in the D-League for a few seasons, was recently cut from the Venezuelan league. He recently reemerged in his native country of Puerto Rico, as a backup.
Danny Williams is perhaps the saddest story of all. Considered a legitimate 5-star recruit and one of the top guards in the entire class, Williams career was cut short by a horrific car accident. He hasn't played organized basketball since.
So is this the weakest high school class of all time? We went and asked the experts opinions to let them make that final call.
Yes, this is definitely the weakest class Ive evaluated personally, Scout.coms Dave Telep told us. This was a difficult class to cover, and a difficult one to figure out. The thing is, you didnt need hindsight to know this is a weak group. As talent evaluators, we could already see that. There was just so much drama around too many of these players. Too many knuckleheads. Too many guys who basketball wasnt important to them. The problem was that most of them just werent talented enough to overcome that drama. Heck, Leo Lyons even had to change his name. He was called Leo Criswell in high school.
At the time there was no question that this was going to be a weak class. Now we can tell that its even weaker, because it really lacks the late bloomers and surprises that you always see year in and year out. We had six guys ranked #1 at different points, which is never a good thing. If youre having that tough of a time figuring out who the top player is, then you know that this class has a chance of really failing.
Its like the basketball gods looked at this class and they made sure that Tyler Hansbrough was the last man standing. He persevered. It was absolutely within his rights to expect a national championship, and he got it.
Rivals.coms Jerry Meyer seems to agree. I don't think anyone thought the 2005 class was a strong class, and it appears that this is the case. Numbers are down for NBA players out of the class, and you don't see the star power coming out of it like other classes such as its predecessor the 2004 class.
Can we expect things to get better anytime soon? Telep thinks so.
It looks like were heading back up on the bell curve. 2008 will be disappointing, but 2009 is going to be average or better than average. From an NBA perspective, there are some upper crust guys in the 2010 class that will get people excited. In 2011, Michael Gilchrist is someone well be hearing a lot about.