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Reasonable Expectations for Star Hoops Recruits – Part IV April 19, 2009

Posted by flashbuzzer in Sports.
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My previous post provided a synopsis of the college basketball careers of various members of the class of 2003.

This post focuses on players from the class of 2004. This class was perhaps best known for featuring a slew of preps-to-pros.

Again, many thanks to Statsheet for making this post possible.

Malik Hairston – Hairston was actually the only player on my 2004 First Team to play college basketball. He was a fine scorer, putting up 14.1 ppg, and rebounded well for a wing guard, putting up 5.1 rpg. His shooting needed some work, though, as he hit just 39.5% of his 3s and only 64.2% of his free throws. Oregon went 76-53 during his four years in Eugene, including making a trip to the Elite Eight in 2007.

Joe Crawford – somehow Crawford endured four years of the unique pressures that come with being a Kentucky Wildcat. As a testament to his work ethic, he improved his scoring and shooting over the course of his career, ending up with marks of 11.3 ppg and 43.7 fg%. Most of his other stats were fairly pedestrian, though, and Kentucky “only” went 90-45. The high point of Crawford’s career was a run to the Elite Eight in 2005 that ended with a loss to Michigan State.

Rudy Gay – Gay had a nice two-year run at Connecticut, though his detractors will always question his will to win during his time in Storrs. He put up solid stats, including marks of 13.6 ppg, 1.7 bpg and 1.3 spg. The Huskies went 53-12 and made it to the Elite Eight in 2006, losing to George Mason in an overtime thriller. Gay was then chosen by the Rockets with the #8 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

LaMarcus Aldridge – like Gay, Aldridge had a nice two-year college career. In particular, Texas benefited tremendously from rewarding Aldridge with increased playing time in his sophomore year. His solid career stats included marks of 13.5 ppg, 58.5 fg% and 8.2 rpg. The Longhorns went 50-18 and, like the Huskies, made it to the Elite Eight in 2006 before bowing out to LSU. Aldridge was then selected by the Bulls with the #2 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Jordan Farmar – though Farmar’s UCLA career started off fairly slowly, he ended his two-year stay in Westwood as one of the better floor generals in Bruins history. He put up 13.3 ppg and received extensive playing time with 32.2 mpg, though average marks of 5.2 apg and 1.2 spg bar him from inclusion in the Bruins’ pantheon. UCLA went 50-18, making it to the Final Four in 2006 before losing to eventual national champion Florida. Farmar was then selected by the Lakers with the #26 pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

DeMarcus Nelson – Nelson showed an impressive work ethic during his four years at Duke, as he showed steady improvement in most of the key statistical categories. Some of his solid stats included averages of 10.8 ppg, 46.6 fg% and 1.2 spg. Like most Duke players, Nelson had a superb win-loss record of 109-27, though the Blue Devils never made it past the Sweet 16 during his college career.

Marvin Williams – Williams was “one-and-done” in Chapel Hill, and his brief college career was a blast. In limited playing time (22.2 mpg), he put up 11.3 ppg, grabbed 6.6 rpg and shot 50.6/43.2/84.7. He played a key role on a Tar Heels squad that went 33-4 and won the national title by beating a superb Illinois squad. Williams was then selected by the Hawks with the #2 pick in the 2005 NBA Draft.

D.J. White – White’s four years at Indiana ended with him being coached by Kelvin Sampson, and we all know how that went for the Hoosiers. He put up strong stats, averaging 14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 2 bpg along with a 56.2% mark from the floor. He also bounced back from a broken left foot that wiped out most of his sophomore year. Indiana went 80-45, though they never made it past the second round of the Big Dance.

Randolph Morris – Morris had a decent three-year stay in Lexington, though Big Blue Nation expected much more from him. His stat line included marks of 12.6 ppg and 6.0 rpg in limited playing time (23.8 mpg). He also shot 57.8% from the floor and put up a decent 66.1% from the charity stripe. Kentucky would have benefited from better play by Morris, though, as the Wildcats went 72-31 and never made it to the Final Four. Morris then signed with the New York Knicks in 2007; interestingly, he went undrafted in 2005 but had his eligibility restored by the NCAA even though he had hired an agent.

Darius Washington Jr. – Washington had an interesting two-year stay at Memphis. He proved to be a scoring guard, averaging 14.4 ppg while only dishing out 3.5 apg. While he played solid defense, averaging 1.5 spg, he’s perhaps most famous for missing a free throw in the 2005 Conference USA title game, giving Louisville the title instead. The Tigers went 55-20 and lost to UCLA in the 2006 Elite Eight. Washington then declared for the 2006 NBA Draft and was not selected.

Arron Afflalo – Afflalo finished his three-year stay at UCLA as one of the best players of the post-Ed O’Bannon era. His scoring was his hallmark, as he put up 14.8 ppg. Most of his other stats weren’t eye-popping, though, which keeps him from inclusion in the Bruins’ pantheon. For example, he only shot 37.3% from beyond the arc and put up a mere 3.5 rpg. The Bruins went 80-24 and made it to the Final Four in 2006 and 2007, losing to Florida both times. Afflalo was then selected by the Pistons with the #27 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.

Mike Williams – Williams had a very quiet two-year stay in Austin. He never averaged more than 15 mpg and put up other pedestrian stats, such as marks of 3.2 and 2.3 ppg in his two seasons as a Longhorn. It’s safe to say that Aldridge made the bigger impact for Texas in this recruiting class. Williams then transferred to Cincinnati.

Glen Davis – “Big Baby” Davis had a great three-year run for LSU. His excellent stats included marks of 16.7 ppg and 9.6 rpg, though his 49.5% shooting from the floor could have been better. He saw extensive playing time (32 mpg) and played good defense, averaging 1.2 bpg and 1.1 spg. The Tigers went 64-34, losing to UCLA in the 2006 Final Four. Davis was then selected by the Sonics in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft.

The overall results were revealing. Of the 60 profiled players who played college basketball, only five of them (Jawad Williams, Felton, McCants, Anthony and Marvin Williams) played on national title-winning teams. 11 others (Torbert, Ford, Simien, Paul Davis, Redick, Shelden Williams, Brown, Deng, Farmar, Afflalo and Glen Davis) played on teams that reached the Final Four at least once. 14 others (Fraser, Rodgers, Adams, Winston, Padgett, Brooks, Butch, Nardi, Hairston, Crawford, Aldridge, Morris, Washington Jr. and Mike Williams) played on teams that reached the Elite Eight at least once. 14 of the profiled players (Lee, Childress, Redick, Roberson, Shelden Williams, Brooks, Butch, Jones, Ibekwe, Hairston, Farmar, Nelson, Washington Jr. and Afflalo) captured at least one conference tournament title.

Based on these results, here are what I think constitute reasonable expectations for a star hoops recruit. First, the recruit must play well; to clarify, he should be regarded (by a reputable authority such as Statsheet) as one of his team’s top five players for the majority of his time in school. Second, his team should advance to the Elite Eight at least once during his career.

Hopefully rabid college fans will remember that quite a few factors go into either winning a national title or making a Final Four appearance, such as luck (March Madness), coaching, cohesiveness and the right amount of talent. On the last point, see the 2002 Maryland and 2006-07 Florida teams, which featured just one McDonald’s All-American among them (Corey Brewer).

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