Rating faculty basketball’s No. 1 prospects since 2006 primarily based on their NCAA careers


Following the disappointing saga that led to the No. 1 prospect of the 2019 class, James Wiseman, enjoying solely three faculty video games, we have been handled to a present final season by Cade Cunningham, who was 2020’s No. 1 total prospect, in keeping with 247Sports. The Oklahoma State guard produced numerous highlights and helped his program to one among its greatest seasons in current reminiscence earlier than getting chosen No. 1 total within the 2021 NBA Draft.

However how does Cunningham’s lone faculty season stack up in opposition to the collegiate tenures of earlier No. 1 total prospects? The legacy of Anthony Davis at Kentucky is a excessive bar to clear, however Cunningham definitely ranks among the many most impactful No. 1 prospects of the 247Sports rankings period. 

Extra usually than than not since age-minimum guidelines have been applied for the NBA Draft in 2005, the prospects with the highest spot within the 247Sports rankings find yourself enjoying key roles on championship-contending faculty groups earlier than they depart for the NBA. Chet Holmgren seems prone to proceed that pattern within the 2021-22 season as he prepares to play for a Gonzaga workforce coming off an look within the nationwide title recreation.

Apart from Wiseman, Brandon Jennings is probably the most noteworthy exception, as he opted to play abroad for a season earlier than coming into the NBA Draft after he was ranked by 247Sports because the No. 1 prospect within the 2008 class.

Here’s a rating of how No. 1-ranked gamers within the 247Sports recruiting rankings have fared in faculty basketball because the NBA Draft’s age-minimum was applied for the 2006 class.

1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky — 2011

With regards to the category of 2011, Davis stands head and shoulders above the pack in all regards. There isn’t any doubt he deserved his No. 1 rating, and it is unquestioned that his lone season of faculty basketball is the very best performed by a No. 1 prospect within the 247Sports period.

He was the driving drive behind Kentucky’s 38-2 report and 2012 nationwide championship. Davis led the Wildcats in scoring, rebounding, blocks and steals, and was voted Most Excellent Participant of the Ultimate 4. The Pelicans took Davis No. 1 total, and he is develop into a perennial NBA All-Star and MVP candidate. Different No. 1 ranked prospects have put up gaudier offensive numbers,  however few have been as impactful for title-caliber groups as Davis was within the 2011-12 season.

2. Jahlil Okafor, Duke — 2014

When you’re judging Okafor primarily based on his NBA profession, you’ll suppose he is too excessive on this checklist. But it surely was simply 5 years in the past that he led Duke to a 35-4 report and nationwide championship by averaging 17.3 factors, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He additionally made an extremely environment friendly 66.4% of his shot makes an attempt in his lone faculty season.

Accidents and a shift in the way in which the NBA recreation is performed have saved Okafor from reaching stardom within the skilled ranks. Karl-Anthony Cities, who was ranked No. 5 within the 2014 class, has clearly had a greater professional profession. However Duke obtained every part it might have wished and extra from Okafor throughout his time with the Blue Devils.

3. Greg Oden, Ohio State — 2006

Oden teamed with fellow freshman phenom Mike Conley to guide the Buckeyes to the nationwide title recreation in 2007. As soon as there, Ohio State misplaced to Florida. Oden shined in that recreation, although, by ending with 25 factors, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks whereas outplaying Joakim Noah and Al Horford.

The Path Blazers picked Oden first total within the 2007 NBA Draft, although his NBA profession by no means materialized due to accidents. However Oden’s averages of 15.7 factors, 9.6 rebounds and three.3 blocks as a freshman at Ohio State proved his potential for stardom. On reflection, Oden and No. 2 total prospect Kevin Durant ought to have been flipped within the recruiting rankings. Nonetheless, the very fact stays that Oden led the Buckeyes to the nationwide title recreation as a freshman and performed like a celebrity on the massive stage.

4. Marvin Bagley, Duke — 2017

Bagley averaged 21 factors and 11.1 rebounds per recreation for a Duke workforce that went 29-8 and superior to the Elite Eight. The stellar season earned him consensus All-American honors, ACC Participant of the Yr and greater than justified his No. 1 prospect rating.

Arizona’s Deandre Ayton ended up getting being chosen first total within the 2018 draft, however Bagley went No. 2 total. Although his NBA profession has hit some early hiccups, he nonetheless has the makings of a future All-Star.

5. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State — 2020

Cunningham earned first-team CBS Sports activities All-American honors and was named the CBS Sports activities Freshman of the Yr after averaging 20.1 factors, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals. The extremely versatile wing additionally shot 40% from 3-point vary whereas main Oklahoma State a No. 4 seed within the NCAA Event, which was its greatest seed since 2005. The Cowboys have been bounced within the second spherical of the Massive Dance, however Cunningham was taken No. 1 total within the NBA Draft. The one factor holding him from registering greater on this checklist is that his squad did not make a deep postseason run. 

6. Ben Simmons, LSU — 2015

It is wild to suppose that LSU landed one of the crucial versatile gamers within the sport the season after snapping a five-year NCAA Event drought and by some means regressed. That is what occurred throughout Simmons’ lone faculty season. The do-it-all ahead averaged 19.2 factors, 11.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and two steals per recreation whereas taking pictures 56.1% from the ground for LSU. But the Tigers completed 19-14 and missed the NCAA Event.

All the things in the end labored out effective for Simmons, who was taken No. 1 total by the 76ers. But it surely’s unlucky for the game that he didn’t get to showcase his distinctive recreation on the NCAA Event stage. Nonetheless, his SEC Freshman of The Yr efficiency proved he was deserving of the No. 1 prospect rating.

7. Eric Gordon, Indiana — 2007

To earn the title of No. 1 prospect within the 2007 class, Gordon needed to beat out Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Blake Griffin and others who’ve had lengthy, productive NBA careers. You may argue, looking back, that Love, Rose or Griffin ought to have been the No. 1 total prospect since all have been stars on faculty groups that superior additional within the NCAA Event than Gordon’s. Every of these three have additionally been NBA All-Stars in a number of seasons.

However Gordon was the Massive Ten Freshman of the Yr for an Indiana workforce that began 20-3 earlier than coach Kelvin Sampson’s resignation. In the end, that put a damper on an excellent freshman season for Gordon, who was picked seventh by the Clippers within the 2008 NBA Draft. He stays among the finest lively gamers to by no means make an NBA All-Star recreation.

8. RJ Barrett, Duke — 2018

It is simple to neglect that Barrett was ranked forward of Zion Williamson within the 2018 recruiting rankings. Most years, Barrett’s 22.6 factors, 7.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per recreation for a 32-win workforce would have made him the unquestioned prime freshman within the recreation. However the 2018-19 season was distinctive in that Williamson ended up outshining a pair of teammates — Barrett and No. 2 prospect Cam Reddish — who have been ranked forward of him within the class.

Nonetheless, Barrett took on an enormous function for a youth-laden workforce and continued to construct on Duke’s robust, rising observe report with top-ranked prospects.

RJ Barrett ranked forward of celebrity teammate Zion Williamson within the 2018 class. 

9. Harrison Barnes, North Carolina — 2010

A uncommon No. 1 prospect to play two seasons of faculty basketball, Barnes averaged 16.3 factors and 5.5 rebounds whereas successful a mixed 62 video games and making a pair of Elite Eight appearances at UNC.

Kyrie Irving, who was the No. 2 participant within the class, made it to the NBA because the No. 1 total choose within the 2011 draft out of Duke and retrospect exhibits he was the highest participant within the class. Barnes was not at all a bust, nonetheless. The Warriors chosen him seventh total in 2012. He gained a championship with the membership in 2015 and has been a productive starter in all three of his NBA stops.

10. Josh Jackson, Kansas — 2016

The distinction between Jackson at Kansas within the 2016-17 season and Andrew Wiggins at Kansas within the 2013-14 season was the quantity of assistance on the roster. Of the Jayhawks’ prime seven scorers within the 2016-17 season, Jackson was the one freshman, whereas 4 of the workforce’s prime seven scorers have been freshmen throughout Wiggins’ lone season.

Having star upperclassmen round helped Jackson masks the immaturity and offensive inefficiency which have saved him from dwelling as much as his billing within the NBA. He gained the Massive 12 Freshman of the Yr award whereas averaging 16.3 factors and seven.4 rebounds for a Jayhawks workforce that completed 31-5 and superior to the Elite Eight. A number of gamers from his class, together with Lonzo Ball and Jayson Tatum, are having comparable or higher NBA careers. However Jackson was adequate to justify his No. 1 prospect rating throughout his lone faculty season, thanks largely to the veterans round him.

11. Andrew Wiggins, Kansas — 2013

Wiggins led a younger Kansas workforce in scoring at 17.1 factors per recreation and was taken first total within the 2014 NBA Draft. Fellow Kansas freshman Joel Embiid has arguably turned out to be a greater NBA participant. However Wiggins was extra deserving of the No. 1 prospect score on the time.

The Jayhawks completed 25-10 and misplaced throughout the Spherical of 32 within the NCAA Event. The season stands as one among solely two 10-loss campaigns of Invoice Self’s teaching tenure. That was not Wiggins’ fault, although. Some would possibly argue he fell in need of immense expectations, however he had a fantastic freshman season whereas carrying a heavy load for a blue blood program.

12. Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech — 2009

His faculty profession {and professional} stardom should not on par with that of John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who have been ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, within the 2009 class. Favors, nonetheless, was a part of the final Georgia Tech workforce to make an NCAA Event. Let that sink in. 

The Atlanta native stayed residence for his lone season of faculty basketball and earned ACC Rookie of the Yr honors whereas averaging 12.4 factors, 8.4 rebounds and a pair of.1 blocks per recreation. The Yellow Jackets made the second spherical of the NCAA Event and completed 23-13. The Nets chosen Favors No. 3 total within the 2010 draft, and he is gone on to have a strong NBA profession.

13. Nerlens Noel, Kentucky — 2012

It was at all times going to be robust for Noel to satisfy the sky-high expectations that got here with being ranked the No. 1 prospect. It was a weak class, for starters, which can have unfairly inflated expectations for what he might accomplish. He additionally entered the Kentucky program on the heels of a nationwide championship-winning season and was tasked with following Anthony Davis. Regardless of all that, he was having a fantastic season till he tore his ACL in February.

Kentucky couldn’t recuperate from dropping Noel, and the Wildcats missed the NCAA Event for the one time in John Calipari’s teaching tenure. Noel averaged 10.5 factors, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks within the 24 video games he performed at UK, and was chosen sixth total within the 2013 draft. He is continued to battle accidents within the NBA whereas serving as a job participant when wholesome.

14. James Wiseman, Memphis — 2019

Wiseman performed solely three video games for Memphis earlier than deciding to withdraw from college to arrange for the NBA Draft amid a suspension over NCAA eligibility points. It marked the primary time in over a decade {that a} No. 1-ranked prospect didn’t play at the least 20 video games of faculty basketball.



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