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Top Recruiting Classes Part 2

January 19, 2004 Columns No Comments

Top Early Recruiting Classes, No. 6-10

by Keith Irizarry

Last week I broke down the Top 5 recruiting classes for 2004 and there are some amazing players headed into college next season. This week I will round out my top 10 and list some of the big names that have yet to commit. There definitely are some differences between the upper echelon and the “next” groupings. The top 5 has a big name and a bunch of other good guys to fill out a lineup. The next 5, and beyond, seem to have only one established star and a lot of question marks.

6. Arkansas Razorbacks

Recruiting class number 6 hails from the SEC, Arkansas. If you are looking for the best player in the 2004 class, besides Dwight Howard, who will be mentioned later in this column, you should look no further than Al Jefferson. As a junior in High School Al averaged 37 points, 18 rebounds, and 6 blocks! He is a manimal: half man, half animal. At 6-10, 265 pounds, he is a legitimate power forward for the next level. If he honors his commitment to Arkansas, he can single-handedly take them to the promised land. The Hogs class has more giants incoming: 6-11 center, Steven Hill from Missouri and 6-10 center, from Virginia, Darian Townes. 6-7 Charles Thomas from Mississippi and 6-5 wingman Dontell Jefferson of Georgia can both bring something to the table.

7. Memphis Tigers

John Calipari did a fine job at Memphis getting Sean Banks last year, and this year he hauls in a solid point guard in Darius Washington, Jr. from Florida. Darius can score and has been through the battles. He made a name for himself at the 2002 ABCD camp when he and Sebastian Telfair went toe to toe in the Underclass All-Star game (this was an amazing game, an amazing matchup, and the two almost came to blows. I was there for the all-star festivities, it was nuts). Although he lost some of his luster in the 2003 Camp, Washington continues to shine on the High School level and has the tools to star under Calipari’s tutelage. Richard Dorsey is another ABCD stud and another good pull for the Tigers. Hailing from the High School Power Mt. Zion, this Maryland forward has a lot of talent. 7-footer, Kareem Cooper has a lot of work to do. His inside moves are potent, but he is soft around the rim. He has an intangible: you can’t teach height and Cooper has that locked down. Shawne Williams, a 6-8 forward from Tennessee rounds out Memphis’ incoming class.

8. Connecticut Huskies

UConn isn’t bringing in a large quantity of players, but quality is definitely on its way. Maryland forward Rudy Gay starred at Nike camp this past summer. This kid is a stud. Gay has good size (6-8, 215), an excellent basketball mind, not too mention his skills on the court. Rudy will get dirty down low when needed, step outside and knock down a shot, and can even handle the break if it is necessary. Handling the break won’t be necessary much, though, as the Huskies are bringing in point guard AJ Price. Price, from Amityville (same school that Villanova’s Jason Fraser attended) is a quintessential point man. He has decent size at 6-1, 180. His shot is silky smooth and his passing is, dare I say, on point.

9. UCLA Bruins

Ben Howland and the Bruins pull in the 9th best recruiting class. 6-9 center, Lorenzo Mata is built for the college game. He is long, athletic, and makes things happen around the rim. His offensive game is lacking, but his defense alone makes him dangerous. Arron Afflalo is an excellent guard. At 6-5, he is a legit scoring guard. In true Compton fashion, this kid is tough as nails. 6-5 Josh Shipp, from L.A., can play the 2 or the 3. Jordan Farmar, a 6-2 guard was also recruited by Arizona, Gonzaga, and Florida. Farmar has a small frame, weighing barely 170 pounds, but with time could turn out to be a steal for Howland.

10. Florida Gators

Florida finishes up my top 10 classes of 2004. Billy Donavan landed the quickest rising senior in Joakim “Joe” Noah. The son of former tennis star Yannick Noah, blew up this summer at ABCD. He may still be a little rough around the edges, but the sky is the limit for Joe. Noah has all the tools: rebounding, blocking shots, adequate shooting, deft touch, and good footwork on the blocks. Taureen Green may be little (6-0, 165) but his game is big-time. Green has solid bloodlines, as his father, Sidney Green, was a star at UNLV and currently is the head coach at Florida International. Al Horford, a 6-8, 215 pound forward from Florida and 6-7 forward Corey Brewer are two young guys that will be able to contribute in due time.

Now that I’ve finished breaking down the Top 10 recruiting classes of the first half of 2004, it’s time to look at some unsigned players who you surely will be hearing from. Dwight Howard is the consensus number one player in the 2004 class. It is just about a given that he will enter the NBA Draft and most likely will be the number one player taken. Howard, from Georgia, stands 6-10 and weighs in at a muscular 225 pounds. If he were to choose to grace a college with his presence for a year, he is looking at North Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and a few more.

Here is a list of 8 more names, in no particular order that you will be hearing from in the second half signings:

Dupree Fletcher: 5-11, 180, PG (from Wisconsin and looking at Rutgers, Baylor, and Wisconsin-Green Bay)

Jamarcus Ellis: 6-5, 185, G (from Chicago, Ill.)

Shawn Taggart: 6-10, 225, C (from Richmond, VA)

CJ Anderson: 6-5, 205, G/F (from Cincinnati, OH)

Hatila DeSouza: 6-9, 230 F (from Laurinburg, NC)

Earl Risby: 6-2, 180, G (from Washington, DC)

Tello Palacios: 6-8, 225, F (from Centereach, NY)

Jerod Haynes: 6-0, 150, G (from Chicago, Ill)


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