The 2006 high school class took a while to unfold, but it ended up developing into a terrific group of players as far as NBA prospects are concerned. Now that four years have passed and the dust has settled on the recruiting rankings, we take a look back to see how it really panned out and what affect that might have on the 2010 NBA draft.
-Unless otherwise stated in the “college” column it's presumed that player stayed all four seasons and has graduated with the rest of his 2006 classmates. - --> = Player transferred schools, forced to sit out a season unless to JUCO or Division II -* Player spent an additional season of high school in prep school
Green- Player was drafted and is in the NBA
Turquoise- Player transferred or redshirted and still has NCAA eligibility remaining
Orange- Player is considered a 2010 draft prospect
Gray- Player went undrafted
The 2006 class has already produced 13 lottery picks, five of whom were top 5 draft picks. Ekpe Udoh (#153) can fill the quota of lottery picks by being selected in the top 14, which is a likely scenario.
25 players have already been drafted in total, with another 7-10 on the way next week, adding further depth to a stacked 2010 draft. The draft picks have been evenly distributed over the last three years: eight in 2007, seven in 2008 and 11 in 2009.
The only already drafted 2006 high school class member who isn't in the NBA is Patrick Beverley (#76), who was picked in the second round last year by Miami after being forced to leave Arkansas for the Ukraine. He played alongside Josh Childress and Linas Kleiza on one of the best teams in Europe in Olympiacos this season and is expected to make the Heat's roster this summer.
Javaris Crittenton (#13) made $1.4 million “playing” for the Washington Wizards this season, but was cut midway through the season and did not have the fourth year option on his rookie contract picked up last summer. He'll try to earn a contract playing summer league with the Lakers in Las Vegas from July 9-18 .
The Year of the Sleeper
Not only were there a good amount of NBA players produced by this class, but some of them also came from way off the radar (not ranked in the top 100) such as Russell Westbrook (#114), Jordan Hill (#137), Ryan Anderson (#150) and the soon-to-be drafted Ekpe Udoh (#153).
Some of the sleepers don't even appear on the chart, as they were nowhere to be found at the high school level. Such is the case with Stephen Curry, who ended up at Davidson and broke all kinds of scoring records before taking his trade to the NBA -- he was a huge steal as the seventh overall pick for Golden State last season.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the 2006 high school class is the small number of top-rated players who flopped at the college level, unlike in years past. Out of the top 30 players in the 2006 RSCI, only a handful won't be playing in the NBA next season.
Some of the early exceptions are Paul Harris (#10), who went undrafted last year out of Syracuse and spent the season nursing an ankle injury as a member of the Maine Red Claws, and Davon Jefferson (#29), who played in Israel the last two seasons for Maccabi Haifa. Both are young and exceptionally athletic and will continue to get NBA looks in the next few years.
As is the case with former Tennessee player Duke Crews (#23), who was kicked off the Vols team and finished his career in the CIAA conference with Bowie State, character concerns and differences in opinion with coaching staffs are typically some of the main causes for a player not reaching his full potential at the college level.
6-10 center Vernon Macklin (#17) languished on the bench at Georgetown for his first two seasons, looking like a fish out of water in the Princeton offense. Macklin never produced anything close to the numbers his McDonald's All-American status indicated he should, but managed to turn things around somewhat after transferring to Florida. He averaged 11 points and 5.5 rebounds and was a solid contributor for the Gators last season. Although he's far older than everyone else in this class turning 24 later this year, he'll at least get some NBA looks when he finishes up college next season.
Lance Thomas (#21) never quite developed into the small forward that many envisioned him becoming at Duke, but he was an important contributor on a national championship squad as a defensive role-player, even if his glaring lack of offensive ability may hamper him from making much of a career at the pro level.
McDonald's All-American James Keefe (#39) ranks as one of the bigger disappointments. He never averaged more than 3 points per game at UCLA and shot just 45% from the free throw line over his four-year career. Keefe's college career never got off the ground, partially due to injuries, but at 6-8 he'll surely have a chance to play somewhere as a pro.
Jason Bennett (#44) is an odd story. The 7-3 Jacksonville native committed to Kansas State but only spent a year there before transferring to Detroit-Mercy, where he lasted just a year as well. He signed a contract in Ireland last December and came off the bench for most of the season for Neptune of Cork. He's automatically eligible for the draft next week.
Ramar Smith (#34) was a scoring machine in high school who could have had his choice of colleges had his transcript not been so poor. He played two years for Bruce Pearl at Tennessee but was kicked off the team and was last seen being accused of taking money, guns and marijuana in a home invasion last summer.
6-7 Mike Jones (#46) played a semester for Syracuse before transferring, then lasted only a semester at South Carolina before being dismissed from the team, according to Mike Waiters of the Syracuse Post-Standard. His next stop was at Indian Hill Junior College, where he managed to stick around for two years before having a falling out with his head coach and transferring again, this time to Division II Claflin University, according to Seth Emerson of TheState.com.
Keith Clark's (#68) greatest hit likely came on this site, thanks to his outstanding performance at the D-League Dunk Contest last year, where he battled James White admirably.
6-6 Isaiah Dahlman (#69) was a high school star in Minnesota, breaking the state's all-time scoring record with over 3,000 points. He only managed to get on the floor for 177 minutes over the last three years for Tom Izzo at Michigan State, though, electing not to change schools like 38 of the other players on this list did.
The whereabouts of Leon Freeman (#81) appear to be unknown. He was supposed to attend Chipola Junior College back in 2007 but never showed up on their roster and doesn't seem to have played anywhere organized since.
A Restless Class
No fewer than 29 players on this list are still active in Division I next season -- mostly due to transfers. About a third of the players ranked in the 30-120 range elected to get up and move to another school.
Some decided to move twice. Some three times -- see the curious case of Tyrone Appleton (#117), a JUCO standout at Midland in Texas who spent his junior season glued to the bench for Kansas and swiftly elected to transfer to Southwest Baptist before eventually deciding on another Division II school: Midwestern State. He needs to win an appeal to play next season according to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal-World.
Outside of Ekpe Udoh (#153), and possibly Vernon Macklin (#17) and Curtis Kelly (#31), none of the transfers on this list have been able to make a big impact at the highest levels of college basketball. Washington transfer Adrian Oliver (#80) did average 22.5 points per game for San Jose State (seventh place in the WAC conference), though, getting to the free throw line almost seven times per game. He'll likely make a run for the NCAA scoring title next season, along with Jimmer Fredette and Adnan Hodzic.
We'll see what 7-footer Jon Kreft (#53) is able to do in his last two seasons of college basketball. His arrival at Florida State was delayed slightly by cocaine and marijuana possession charges in in 2006, forcing him to start his career at Chipola Community College, from which he graduated. He could fill a big hole in the middle for Leonard Hamilton and Stan Jones with Solomon Alabi off to the NBA.
It will be interesting to see if these next batch of classes will decide to bounce around as much as the 2006 group, or whether they will explore other alternatives, such as the D-League or Europe.
Many will study the case of Jeremy Wise, an unheralded junior at fledgling Southern Miss last season who decided to spend his senior year of college playing in the D-League rather than continuing to put up big numbers on a bad team in Conference USA.
Wise had an outstanding year in the D-League with the Bakersfield Jam, playing against much stronger competition than he would have seen in the NCAA, and has improved his professional stock dramatically in turn. He's gotten a great deal of interest from NBA teams in the form of private workouts, and is a clear-cut six-figure earner in Europe next season if he ultimately ends up going undrafted. The question isn't whether or not Wise made the right decision at this point, but how many disgruntled college players will opt for the road less taken and decide to follow in his footsteps.
Physicals Height: 6' 0" Weight: 197 lbs. Birthday: 11/03/1987 29 Years Old Teams: High School: Oak Hill Academy Previous Team: Kings , PRO Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #18 in 2009 Draft by the Timberwolves Positions: Current: PG, NBA: PG, Possible: PG Quick Stats: 7.4 Pts, 3.1 Rebs, 4.8 Asts
Physicals Height: 7' 0" Weight: 256 lbs. Birthday: 04/01/1988 28 Years Old Teams: High School: San Joaquin Memorial Previous Team: Nets , PRO Drafted: Rnd 1, Pick #10 in 2008 Draft by the Nets Positions: Current: C, NBA: PF/C, Possible: C Quick Stats: 19.6 Pts, 5.2 Rebs, 2.1 Asts