A class above
This year's freshmen a special group; more notes
Posted: Friday November 16, 2007 11:52AM; Updated: Wednesday November 21, 2007 11:01PM
If you look at the spectacular numbers put up by so many freshmen the first two weeks of the season, and if you stacked those numbers on top of the ones put up by last year's Oden-and-Durant-led class, it's natural to come to the conclusion this is all the result of the new 19-year-old age minimum for the NBA draft. Therefore, conventional wisdom would hold from now on this will be business as usual in college basketball.
Well, I'm here to tell you there is nothing conventional about what is going on with these freshmen.
It's worth raising this not only in the context of the beginning of a season but also because we are currently in the midst of the early signing period for the Class of '08. On Wednesday evening, I co-hosted a two-hour national signing day show at CSTV, and during the show I asked Sonny Vaccaro, the inveterate impresario of grassroots basketball, what he thought of the current freshman class.
"I said after my last [ABCD] camp two years that this is the best class that I've ever been involved with from 1 to 50," he said. "I really believe there are 20 to 25 changers that are going to help a team go from fourth place to first place in some of these leagues. These freshmen are the best as a group I've ever been around, and I mean that sincerely."
Pretty heady stuff.
For further context, I spoke off-camera with another panelist on the show, recruiting expert Van Coleman. I showed Van his rankings of the top recruits from the Class of '07. Then I asked him to take his top six players from the Class of '08 and place them in those rankings as if they were part of the class. Here's what he came up with:
Brandon Jennings (headed to Arizona): 7th; Greg Monroe (Georgetown): 8th; Tyreke Evans (undecided): 9th; Samardo Samuels (Louisville): 11th; Demar DeRozan (USC): 16th; Jrue Holiday (UCLA): 18th.
Looking at the current junior and sophomore classes in high school, there are a few potentially exciting players there, but nobody who is generating the kind of buzz Greg Oden, O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love were generating at the same stage. That doesn't mean those younger classes won't blossom, but at this point it's unlikely they'll even come close to these last two groups.
Thus, while the NBA's age minimum has clearly had a watershed effect, you should know that it's only a coincidence that the rule was implemented at the very moment the college game was getting ready to welcome arguably its best two-year crop of newcomers in the last three decades. So sit back and enjoy the show, Hoopheads, because it won't last forever, and it won't happen again for a long, long time.