The class of 2006 is the first class to bypass the preps to pros epidemic that has hit college basketball over the last ten years. The riches of the NBA drew the nation's top talent to the professional ranks, leaving some of the top programs in the country to change its recruiting scheme and made for a ton of incoming talent to rank in Rivals.com's 2006 Team Recruiting Rankings.
The class of 2006 is loaded with prospects that could have very well made a splash in the upcoming NBA Draft.
Ohio State is the biggest beneficiary of them all. Greg Oden, the long time No. 1 prospect in the class, is a sure-fire top pick whenever he enters the draft. Some have even speculated that Oden would have been the first pick in the 2005 draft. Now the Big Ten has to figure out how to stop the soon-to-be freshman 7-footer.
North Carolina, the top class in 2006, could have very well been without its three top prospects in this year's class. While Brandan Wright, Tywon Lawson and Wayne Ellington never announced they would have bypassed college for the NBA, their names were high on the professional radar prior to the rule.
The level of play will certainly be raised with the level of top-notch talent playing in the NCAA. Texas's class would have been stellar without Kevin Durant, another possible preps-to-pros candidate, but instead the feathery shooter is headed to Austin. With the depth around him, Durant can focus on doing what he does best and that is score on the wing.
Kansas scored a huge coup when Darrell Arthur picked the Jayhawks. Had the NBA rule not existed, Arthur would probably not be headed to Lawrence. Now Bill Self's three man class is the 12th ranked group in 2006.
Georgia Tech is in the same boat. Thaddeus Young gives Paul Hewitt an instant star in the starting lineup. Young could very well be one and done like a lot of other Georgia Tech players like Chris Bosh and Stephon Marbury before him. The ACC school checks in with the eighth best class in 2006.
A case can be made for almost every school in the top 15. Instead, the prospects will fine tune their skills in a controlled situation at the college level. The class of 2006 is the pioneer group. Now it's time to see how they respond to an extra year away from the NBA.
The Tar Heels gained a firmer grasp on the top spot as five of their six signees moved up the rankings in the spring, including Brandan Wright (No. 3), Wayne Ellington (No. 8), Tywon Lawson (No. 9), Alex Stepheson (No. 41) and William Graves (No. 105), who was previously unranked. Throw in four-star big man Deon Thompson (No. 71) and Roy Williams and his staff have put together a fantastic class. No wonder they are already being called one of the favorites to reach the 2006 Final Four.
In just about any other year, the Buckeyes would have the top-ranked class. Mega-hyped center and Rivals.com's longtime No. 1 overall prospect Greg Oden has been called the best big man to come out of the prep ranks in decades. The rest of the "Thad Five" is comprised of five-star guards Daequan Cook and Mike Conley, four-star guard David Lighty and three-star power forward Othello Hunter, who is a junior college transfer. Each one has the talent to make an impact right away, and with the Buckeyes replacing four of five starters, they will be given every chance to do just that.
The Longhorns are one of the biggest winners in the late singing period, snagging five-star small forward Damion James (No. 17) after he de-committed from Oklahoma. Even without James, coach Rick Barnes had put together a star-studded class, led by five-star small forward Kevin Durant (No. 2). The 6-10, 205-pounder is a deadly shooter with tremendous range and was voted the Co-MVP of the McDonald's All-American game. Four-star guards Justin Mason and Harrison Smith were among the top prospects in talent-laden Texas, and three-star big men Matt Hill (6-10, 225) and Dexter Pittman (6-10, 300) bring some much-needed size to Austin.
Few if any teams have deeper classes than the Huskies, who saw sharp improvement from two of their eight recruits. Combo forward Curtis Kelly impressed at the Roundball Classic, earning a five-star ranking and shooting guard Jerome Dyson moved up to four-star status. Five-star small forward Stanley Robinson is the key piece and will likely take over a starting job from the departing Rudy Gay. Four-star guard Doug Wiggins will also be expected to make an immediate impact. Center HaSheem Thabeet, a raw prospect with tremendous upside, was a big addition in the late period. Center Jonathan Mendelove, small forward Ben Eaves and power forward Gavin Edwards all have the needed size to play against the physical frontcourts of the Big East.
The Blue Devils have Lance Thomas to thank for their jump into the top five. The rising stock of guard Gerald Henderson and center Brian Zoubek – who both earned five-star rankings after impressive senior seasons also sparked their climb. Mike Krzyzewski was saving a final spot for Thomas and after a long recruitment, the four-star swingman from Newark, N.J., chose the Blue Devils over Rutgers in May. Four-star shooting guard Jon Scheyer gives coach K another accurate shooter to utilize.
Bruce Pearl was voted AP SEC Coach of the Year for taking the Volunteers from a 14-17 record to a 22-8 mark. But, he may have done an even better job on the recruiting trail, landing three top 50 prospects. Five-star guard Ramar Smith (No. 20) – one of the top prospects left available in the late period – gives him the type of athletic, quick guard that should be a great fit for the frenetic style of play he teaches. Five-star power forward Duke Crews (No. 26), who is one of the more athletic players in the class, should be a big asset as well. Four-star power forward Wayne Chism (No. 34) will bring a much-needed interior presence and Marques Johnson (6-5, 200) is a three-star point guard with great size. Josh Tabb rounds out the class.
Lorenzo Romar and his staff have done a tremendous job scouting talent and winning recruiting battles since arriving in Seattle and that trend only continued this year. Five-star center Spencer Hawes, who is from the Emerald City, was pursued by several elite programs, including North Carolina, but he chose to stay at home. A trio of four-star recruits from the West Coast, point guard Adrian Oliver and small forwards Philip Nelson and Quincy Pondexter give the Huskies the Pac-10's top class once again.
If the Yellow Jackets had more scholarships to give out this year, this class would have climbed even higher. Coach Paul Hewitt signed four players and two are ranked in the top 10, small forward Thaddeus Young (No. 5) and Rivals.com's top-ranked point guard Javaris Crittenton (No. 7), who is from Atlanta. Three-star post players Zach Peacock and Brad Sheehan (6-10, 215) will provide some much-needed size on the inside.
Nobody tends to reload like Rick Pitino and the Cardinals head coach proved it once again by putting together a class that includes four top 100 recruits. Small forward Earl Clark (No. 22) and power forward Derrick Character (No. 25) have the talent to be stars in the Big East. Versatile guards Edgar Sosa (No. 74) and Jerry Smith (No. 82) are both capable of bringing the ball up the court or playing on the wing.
The Deacons can't boast a high-profile recruit like the other top 10 classes, but they make up for it with depth and balance. Their six-man class includes a pair of four-star prospects, shooting guard Anthony Gurley and power forward Jamie Skeen and four three-star prospects, point guard Ishmael Smith, shooting guard L.D. Williams, power forward Casey Crawford and 7-foot center Chas McFarland. Crawford signed in April and McFarland (No. 145) earned a spot in the Rivals150 in the spring.
Every program would love to add a great shot blocker. The Cardinal found two in the same class. Twin bothers Brook and Robin Lopez – who both stand 6-foot-11 – are tremendous forces on the defensive side of the ball and will intimidate Pac-10 guards driving into the lane. Three-star small forward Will Paul[ will add even more frontcourt depth. Three-star guards Da'veed Dildy and Landry Fields signed during the spring.
How much can one prospect matter to a recruiting class? Ask the Jayhawks. The late addition of five-star power forward Darrell Arthur gives them the second-best class in the Big 12, and more importantly the depth to make a run at the national title. Arthur is extremely athletic and also possesses a polished face-up game. Five-star point guard Sherron Collins, an explosive offensive catalyst who can play a variety of roles, will also contribute from the start. Three-star shooting guard Brady Morningstar is a dangerous shooter.
The Hoyas look like a major player in the recruiting world again. Five-star small forward DaJuan Summers, four-star power forward Vernon Macklin and three-star point guard Jeremiah Rivers both chose the Big East program over a host of elite schools. Summers has the talent to be an immediate starter and Macklin has tremendous potential.
Meet the winner of the second Scottie Reynolds sweepstakes. The McDonald's All-American originally signed with Oklahoma, but after de-committing picked the Wildcats over a host of major programs. Reynolds adds to what was already a deep class with four-star power forward Antonio Pena and three-star prospects Casiem Drummond, Andrew Ott, Reggie Reading and Kraidon Woods.
The Hogs lost out in a tough recruiting battle for Ramar Smith with Tennessee, but it didn't take long to recover from the blow. Chicago point guard Patrick Beverely, one of the fastest rising prospects in this class, signed with the Hogs in the late period. Beverly joins a four-man class that includes two other four-star prospects, small forward Sonny Weems, one of the nation's top junior college transfers, power forward Michael Washington. Three-star shooting guard Stefan Welsh rounds out the class.
This class lacks the big-name recruits that Big Blue fans yearn for, but it's still full of talent and potential. Four-star guards Derrick Jasper and Jodie Meeks are both very athletic and good defenders. Lanky four-star forward Perry Stevenson has a big upside. The Wildcats also landed three-star guard Michael Porter.
Bears coach Scott Drew and his staff are among the hardest workers in the recruiting game. Although they just missed on Darrell Arthur, their efforts were clearly rewarded with this class. A trio of top 100 prospects signed with the Big 12 school, including point guard Demond Carter, small forward Djibril Thiam and 7-foot center Josh Lomers. Carter was a tremendous scorer in high school and Thiam, who is from Senegal, was added in the late period.
Think quality and not quantity when it comes to the Spartans' incoming freshmen. The three-man group is led by Raymar Morgan, the nation's No. 11-ranked small forward and center Tom Herzog, one of the nation's top shot blockers. Three-star small forward Isaiah Dahlman is a polished prospect who has the ability to earn minutes right away as well.
The Terps may have found their backcourt of the future in point guard Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez. Hayes is a savvy floor general and a solid shooter. Vasquez is highly-skilled and armed with a Euro-style game. Three-star forwards Landon Milbourne and Jerome Burney are the type of players that have turned into solid starters under coach Gary Williams, and junior college transfer Bambale Osby signed with the Terps in the spring.
Billy Donovan's latest class looks much like the one that carried the Gators to their first national title in April: Full of talented prospects that aren't among the elite and have plenty of upside. Shooting guard Doneal Mack and Marreese Speights, who are ranked No. 47 and No. 51, both made big strides as seniors. Small forward Jon Mitchell is steadily improving his skill package and shooting guard Brandon Powell is a great one-on-one defender.
It took Billy Gillispie just three years to assemble what may be the greatest recruiting class in A&M history. His eight-man class, which is made up entirely of Texas talent, includes a pair of top 100 prospects, shooting guard Donald Sloan (No. 55) and power forward Bryan Davis (No. 59). Guards Derrick Roland (No. 125), a prep teammate of Sloan's, Bryson Graham, a JUCO transfer, and Bryan Beasley will provide instant depth for the backcourt.
Despite giving out just three scholarships, the Orange still boast one of the Big East's top classes. The three-man group is led by five-star small forward Paul Harris, who can play and defend numerous positions, and four-star small forward Mike Jones, who can make plays on the perimeter or the paint. Three-star big man Devin Brennan-McBride is a sleeper from Canada.
Lute Olson may have found his next star in five-star small forward Chase Budinger. An extraordinary leaper who excels in transition, Budinger owns an entertaining game and earned co-MVP honors at the McDonald's All-Star game. He will be joined by a pair of three-star recruits, power forward Jordan Hill and point guard Nic Wise, in Tucson.
Switching coaches often means saying goodbye to recruits and when the Sooners replaced Kelvin Sampson with Jeff Capel they lost the bulk of what was a top five class. But, Capel did manage to hold on to top 100 prospects, Keith Clark (No. 57) and Tony Crocker (No. 80) and he went out and added a promising, three-star shooting guard in Bobby Maze.
The Badgers consistently land some of the prospects in the Midwest and that isn't changing. Two of the top three recruits in Wisconsin, four-star point guard Trevon Hughes and three-star center J.P. Gavinski, signed with the Big Ten power. So did the top recruit in Iowa, four-star shooting guard Jason Bohannon.