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April 18, 2006
Researching the Rankings
The final Rivals150 basketball recruiting rankings for the class of 2006 are complete. You've rehashed them, you've reread them, you've agreed, you've disagreed and you keep coming back for another look. Rivals.com digs a little deeper into the numbers.
ACC reloads with big-timers
From top to bottom, the Atlantic Coast Conference benefited the most from the incoming class of 2006. 35 players in the Rivals150 are gearing up for their freshmen seasons next year. Five of the top 10 players are headed to the ACC and eight incoming players are five-star recruits, more than any other conference.
North Carolina strengthens its roster with the best incoming power forward in Brandan Wright and the nation's top shooting guard in Wayne Ellington. Point guard Tywon Lawson is the final piece to the terrific top ten trio headed to Chapel Hill.
Georgia Tech didn't have the season it would have liked to of had this year but help is on the way. Paul Hewitt's offense is driven by big, athletic and aggressive point guards. He has one next year in Atlanta native Javaris Crittenton. The 6-foot-4 floor general teams up with one of the most versatile players in the class in Memphis wing forward Thaddeus Young. Both five-star prospects are in the top 10.
Like every year, Duke is bringing in its fair share of top talent. Leading the way is superfreak athlete Gerald Henderson. The Philadelphia wing gives the Blue Devils athleticism that this year's team lacked. The Devils add a perfect player for their system in Chicago schoolboy star and McDonald's All American Jon Scheyer and a skilled giant in the middle in Jersey's Brian Zoubek, all 7-feet-2, 270-pounds of him.
Florida State snuck a five-star center into its 2006 recruiting haul as well in in-state prospect Jon Kreft. Full of potential, this athletic 7-footer gives Leonard Hamilton a legitimate force inside.
The early comparisons to the great 2002 ACC class have legs. The 2002 class was a big one, featuring NBA players Raymond Felton, Sean May and Rashad McCants for UNC. Duke brought in J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams, two likely first round picks in the upcoming draft. Georgia Tech scored big with Chris Bosh and Jarrett Jack, who are both in the NBA.
Wake Forest inked Justin Gray, Eric Williams, Trent Strickland and Chris Ellis in 2002. Maryland hasn't produced any NBA players with its 2002 class but signed Nic Caner-Medley, John Gilchrist, Chris McCray, Travis Garrison and JUCO stud Jamar Smith.
The 2006 might just be better than the 2002 class at the end of the day. North Carolina won a National Championship with Felton, May and McCants. Roy Williams might just do it again with Wright, Ellington, Lawson, Alex Stepheson (four-star prospect), Deon Thompson (four-star prospect) and William Graves (ranked three-star prospect).
But it won't be easy. UNC will have a number of schools nipping at the Tar Heels.
Conference Breakdown (Players ranked in the top 150):
ACC - 35
Big East - 27
Big 12 - 21
SEC - 19
Big Ten - 15
Pac-10 - 14
Undecided - 10
Atlantic 10 - 3
Conference USA - 3
Missouri Valley - 2
West Coast Conference - 1
Pac-10 scores big, SEC lacks star power
UCLA certainly proved that the Pac-10 wasn't as bad as the public perception seemed to be this year. Maybe next year people will know some of the names of the conference's top prospects.
Arizona has a gem in wing forward Chase Budinger. The No. 4 overall ranked player is the highest ranked player Lute Olson has ever signed as the head coach of the Wildcats. That's saying something considering the amount of pro players he has been able to develop during his tenure.
Stanford will give the conference double trouble with 6-foot-11 twins Brook Lopez and Robin Lopez. Together, the California natives give Trent Johnson offense and defense on the front line.
For the second straight year, a Washington native picked Lorenzo Romar's program over the ACC. Last year it was Jon Brockman. This year it is five-star center Spencer Hawes. He instantly becomes one of the most efficent post players in the conference.
Tim Floyd hit the recruiting trail hard when he got the job at USC and capped off his efforts with five-star Davon Jefferson, a California native. Now it is up to Jefferson to get himself qualified for the Division I level.
The Southeastern Conference sent two teams to the Final Four and watched Florida celebrate its first National Championship. That national success doesn't show up though in the five-star rankings. At least not in 2006. In fact, the only SEC team to have success with the top 30 players is Tennessee. Bruce Pearl secured commitments from Duke Crews and Ramar Smith in what is quickly becoming a dynamite haul for the Vols.
It isn't a big secret that Ohio State has one of the best classes ever put together in Columbus. Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook round out a trio of five-star prospects for Thad Matta. They are also the only five-star prospects coming to the Big Ten.
Bob Huggins has Kansas State hoops fans excited. In just a short amount of time, Huggins inked the school's first five-star recruit since perhaps Mitch Richmond. 7-foot-2 center Jason Bennett might be the first of many big-time prospects to ink with the Wildcats.
The Big East is never an easy conference to win and with so much talent being spread out this year in the Rivals150, things will continue to be as is.
Only Cincinnati, Providence, Rutgers and Seton Hall failed to ink a member of the Rivals150. Rutgers is in the race for Lance Thomas and Fred Hill, Jr. could have the Scarlett Knights in the list by the end of May.
The Big 12 has a problem. How do you defend a guy like future Texas small forward Kevin Durant? The string bean sharp shooter has unlimited range and he's the top ranked player coming into the conference next year. Durant is one of five five-star prospects headed to the Big 12.
A number of programs are hoping to score the sixth. Darrell Arthur is being courted by several Big 12 schools.
The traditional hoops hot spots continue to produce the most talent. In the last four years, Texas and California has produced the most players that have finished their careers in the Rivals150. This year is no different.
Texas checks in with 17 players on the final 2006 Rivals.com rankings with California close behind with 15. Darrell Arthur, the top uncommitted player in the nation, leads the way in the Lone Star State. The five-star forward checks in at the No. 16 spot.
California placed two players in the top 10. San Diego wing Chase Budinger, who signed with Arizona, had a huge senior season and finished at No. 4 overall in the class. Stanford bound big man Brook Lopez checks in at No. 10.
Florida and New Jersey each have 12 players from its respective states in the top 150. New Jersey is the smallest state to produce to most overall talent in the class of 2006. New York has nine players in the Rivals150 this year while Georgia, Indiana and Illinois each produced eight players. Indiana is home to the nation's top player Greg Oden.
California not only produced 15 total prospects but all 15 players are ranked amongst the top 100 players in the country, four of which were five-star prospects. Texas only produced two two-star prospects this year but added nine four-stars and six ranked three-stars.
Maryland produced just four players in the Rivals150 but three of them - Kevin Durant, Tywon Lawson and Dajuan Summers - are counted amongst the top 25 players in the nation.