Analyzing the top recruits
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National champion (2007-2010)
|1||Ed Davis (9)||North Carolina||2008|
Only one champion
North Carolina’s Ed Davis is the only player in this group to win a national championship as a freshman. Davis was basically the sixth man on a Tar Heels team that included Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Danny Green and Deon Thompson. As the sixth man, Davis averaged 18.8 minutes, 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds, which was second on the team behind Hansbrough. In the title game, Davis recorded 11 points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes.
The final four
Since the beginning of the RSCI rankings in 1998, only four Top 10 recruits have won the national title as a freshman: Davis, Marvin Williams (UNC), Carmelo Anthony (Syracuse) and Chris Duhon (Duke). Of that group, Anthony was the only player to regularly start for his team. He was also Syracuse’s leading scorer in 2002-03 and won the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award. Duhon started 10 of 39 games for Duke, including the national title game.
Winning with freshmen
Since 2000, there have been only six freshman starters to win a national championship — all of them from the Big East. Three of those players — Jeremy Lamb, Roscoe Smith and Tyler Olander — were members of last year’s title team at UConn. Josh Boone, also of UConn, won a championship in 2004. Anthony was joined by fellow freshman Gerry McNamara on Syracuse’s title team in 2003.
Lost in title game (2007-2010)
|1||Derrick Rose (t5)||Memphis||2007|
|2||Delvon Roe (10)||Michigan State||2008|
Derrick Rose, the original Calipari point guard, and Delvon Roe are the only players in this group to make the national championship game as a starter. Rose played all 45 minutes in the overtime loss to Kansas, scoring 18 points with eight assists and six rebounds. Roe scored just two points in his loss to North Carolina, but grabbed eight rebounds in 17 minutes.
Advanced to Final Four (2007-2010)
|1||Kevin Love (2)||UCLA||2007|
|4||Brandon Knight (4)||Kentucky||2010|
Kevin Love and Brandon Knight are the only two players here to lead a Final Four team in scoring. Unfortunately, both stars struggled once they got to the big stage. In a loss to Memphis, Love scored 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting, his lowest tournament point total and the only game he shot under 50 percent. Knight led the Cats with 17 points in a loss to UConn, but shot 6-for-23 from the floor and 3-for-11 on threes.
Lost in Elite Eight (2007-2010)
|1||Samardo Samuels (4)||Louisville||2008|
|1||John Wall (2)||Kentucky||2009|
|1||DeMarcus Cousins (3)||Kentucky||2009|
|2||Harrison Barnes (1)||North Carolina||2010|
|1||Josh Selby (6)||Kansas||2010|
New era begins
John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins are the only top 10 freshmen since 2007 to turn a team that missed the tournament the previous year into a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Not only were they part of the turnaround, they engineered it. Wall led the team in points, assists and steals, while Cousins led the team in rebounds and blocks. Ex-UK recruit Quincy Miller could join them this season. His Baylor squad was ranked No. 3 in the country before Monday’s loss to Kansas, and the Bears could still get a top seed after missing last year’s tournament.
Lost in Sweet 16 (2007-2010)
|2||Tyreke Evans (3)||Memphis||2008|
|1||Kyrie Irving (2)||Duke||2010|
|1||Jared Sullinger (3)||Ohio State||2010|
Lost in second round (2007-2010)
|11||Michael Beasley (4)||Kansas State||2007|
|2||Kyle Singler (t5)||Duke||2007|
|6||Jrue Holiday (2)||UCLA||2008|
|10||DeMar DeRozan (5)||USC||2008|
|10||Derrick Favors (1)||Georgia Tech||2009|
|1||Xavier Henry (6)||Kansas||2009|
|4||Tristan Thompson (9)||Texas||2010|
No Favors here
Georgia Tech’s Derrick Favors is the only No. 1 recruit to enter an NCAA Tournament with a team seeded as an underdog. Favors’ Yellow Jackets defeated seventh-seeded Oklahoma State before losing to Ohio State in the second round. Five of the seven recruiting services that made up the RSCI in 2009 ranked Favors higher than John Wall.
Lost in first round (2007-2010)
|6||O.J. Mayo (1)||USC||2007|
|8||Eric Gordon (3)||Indiana||2007|
|10||Jerryd Bayless (7)||Arizona||2007|
|11||Patrick Patterson (t9)||Kentucky||2007|
|4||Al-Farouq Aminu (7)||Wake Forest||2008|
|8||B.J. Mullens (8)||Ohio State||2008|
|8||Avery Bradley (4)||Texas||2009|
|10||Kenny Boynton (9)||Florida||2009|
|9||Tobias Harris (5)||Tennessee||2010|
|12||Will Barton (10)||Memphis||2010|
O.J. Mayo is the only No. 1 recruit that failed to win an NCAA tournament game since the inception of the RSCI ranking in 1998. His USC Trojans were matched up with fellow freshman star Michael Beasley and Kansas State in the first round. Beasley’s Wildcats won 80-67, sending Mayo off to the NBA with an opening-round loss.
Missed tournament (2007-2010)
|21-14||Donte Greene (8)||Syracuse||2007|
|15-16||J.J. Hickson (t9)||N.C. State||2007|
|16-15||Greg Monroe (6)||Georgetown||2008|
|20-17||John Henson (5)||North Carolina||2009|
|19-16||Lance Stephenson (8)||Cincinnati||2009|
|13-18||Tiny Gallon (10)||Oklahoma||2009|
|18-13||Perry Jones (8)||Baylor||2010|
J.J. Hickson and Tiny Gallon are the only two Top 10 recruits since 2007 who have suffered losing seasons as freshmen. Neither stuck around for a second act, as both players bolted for the NBA as one-and-dones. Neither player was picked in the lottery. Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash is the only player with a realistic chance of joining this group. His Cowboys were 9-8 heading into this week.
The players at the top of this page could have some company by the first week in April. According to ESPN’s latest Bracketology predictions, there will be five Top 10 recruits entering this year’s tournament as No. 1 seeds. Three more are projected as top four seeds. Here’s how ESPN has it right now:
No. 1 seeds: Kentucky (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague), Duke (Austin Rivers) and Baylor (Quincy Miller)
No. 2 seed: North Carolina (James Michael McAdoo)
No. 3 seed: Indiana (Cody Zeller)
No. 4 seed: Florida (Bradley Beal)
No. 11 seed: Memphis (Adonis Thomas)
Not in tournament: Oklahoma State (LeBryan Nash)
Planting the seeds
Here’s a breakdown of how teams with Top 10 recruits have been seeded in the past four tournaments (Number with 2012 predictions in parentheses):
No. 1 seeds: 10 (15)
No. 2 seeds: 4 (5)
No. 3 seeds: 0 (1)
No. 4 seeds: 3 (4)
No. 6 seeds: 2 (2)
No. 8 seeds: 3 (3)
No. 9 seeds: 1 (1)
No. 10 seeds: 4 (4)
No. 11 seeds: 2 (3)
No. 12 seeds: 1 (1)
Missed tournament: 7 (8)
If ESPN’s predictions for this season hold, it means 32 percent of teams with Top 10 recruits will have earned No. 1 seeds. More than 50 percent of those teams (25 of 47) will have earned at least a No. 4 seed, and only 17 percent will have missed the tournament.
Banner No. 8
A national championship for Kentucky in April would mean a major shakeup at the top of this list. Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and Teague would join Ed Davis as the only Top 10 freshmen in the past five years to win a title. They would nearly double the list of Top 10 freshmen since 1998 to do it. And should all three turn pro after one season (which many think likely) they would join Carmelo Anthony and Marvin Williams as the only one-and-dones to win a national championship. Syracuse won a title in 2003 with a one-and-done superstar, UConn won last year with a group of freshman sidekicks, but John Calipari is trying to become the first to win with a full corps of one-and-dones. If the Cats win a championship under Calipari, that’s likely the way it’s going to happen. Will this be the year?