Has the High School Class of 05 Doomed the 2009 NBA Draft?

Has the High School Class of 05 Doomed the 2009 NBA Draft?
Jun 04, 2009, 10:20 pm
The 2005 high school class was chastised right from the get-go for being one of the weakest and shallowest groups of players ever when it entered the college ranks. 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 2009 NBA draft.

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 RSCI’s 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 RankingPlayerDestinationYear 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 WashingtonProjected 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 TechProjected 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 LouisvilleProjected 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 / TennesseeEarly-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 State5th 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 LSUProjected 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 PittProjected 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 KentuckyProjected 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 aren’t 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, it’s 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 isn’t just a recent trend—last 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 don’t see more than one international prospect (Ricky Rubio) worthy of being selected in the first round, and it’s widely accepted that at least 10 lock first rounders decided not to enter this year’s draft.

Let’s 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 year’s 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, it’s 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 State’s 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 York’s Mr. Basketball and a McDonald’s 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. He’s 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 couldn’t crack the rotation at Hargrave Military Academy. I don’t think even Jerry West could have sat there in those stands watching Joe Alexander play and think he’s 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 wasn’t a point guard, he couldn’t 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 UCLA’s 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 didn’t 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&M’s 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 weren’t 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 aren’t as good as they thought they were.

For some prospects, being an extremely highly touted high school player—with all the hoopla that comes with that, within their own city in particular—is often a major distraction that hinders them from reaching their full potential as basketball players.

There are some really sad stories in this class—players who were deemed to have outstanding potential, but just weren’t 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 he’s 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, Mercer’s 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 route—being 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 I’ve evaluated personally,”’s Dave Telep told us. This was a difficult class to cover, and a difficult one to figure out. The thing is, you didn’t 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 wasn’t important to them. The problem was that most of them just weren’t 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 it’s 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 you’re 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.”

“It’s 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.“’s 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 we’re 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 we’ll be hearing a lot about.”

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