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Kansas Basketball: Ranking All of Bill Self's Recruiting Classes

Andrew DoughtyCorrespondent IIJanuary 29, 2013

Kansas Basketball: Ranking All of Bill Self's Recruiting Classes

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    Head coach Bill Self was lured to Lawrence in 2003, where he convinced departing head coach Roy Williams' prized five-star recruit J.R. Giddens to honor his pledge by signing with the Jayhawks. Giddens became the first of 13 five-star recruits during Self's tenure and the staple of expected elite classes.

    Those elite classes continued to roll in for Self but Giddens, together with fellow 2003 recruit David Padgett, played only a combined three seasons at Kansas. It made Self's first recruiting class inadequate, one that remains near the bottom of the ten-year head coach's all-time class rankings.

    Recruiting classes are oftentimes over-hyped, overwhelmed, or simply overdone and have been ranked based upon realized star power, value, thoroughness and banners.

    As Self continues to build an excellent 2013 class, we will take a look at his previous ten as head coach at Kansas.

10. 2010

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    Josh Selby: A 5-star recruit and late commitment, Josh Selby made his highly anticipated debut following a nine-game NCAA suspension and drained five of eight three-point shots on his way to 21 points in 27 minutes against USC. Unfortunately, he only scored 185 total points the remainder of the 2010-2011 season, averaging 7.9 points per game on 37.3 percent shooting as he never became comfortable in Bill Self's offense.  

    Selby left Kansas just days after its Elite Eight loss to VCU, declaring for the NBA draft in the following weeks.

    Royce Woolridge: Woolridge, a 3-star recruit from Phoenix, committed very early, in May 2008, as a high school sophomore and remained Self's only pledge for 2010 until Selby's announcement nearly two years later.  

    The 6'3" shooting guard only played 44 minutes in 2010-11, scoring nine total points, before transferring to Washington State, where he faced the Jayhawks earlier this season in Kansas City.

9. 2012

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    Perry Ellis: McDonald's All-American and Wichita native Perry Ellis signed on with Kansas after years of anticipation, becoming the staple of the 2012 class.  

    The freshman forward has struggled to produce consistently in the lane, routinely losing physical battles but has shown glimpses of the Morris twins and might develop similarly.  

    Andrew White III: White, a 6'6" sweet shooting small forward from the Miller School in Chester, Virginia was introduced to the Jayhawk faithful after nailing six of eight shots for 15 points in only 10 minutes against Belmont but has otherwise struggled with his jump shot.  

    He is expected to become more involved in the offense moving forward and will surely become a staple offensively over the next three years.

    Rio Adams: Rio Adams arrived in Lawrence as a shooting guard but his offensive role appears undefined for the near future with a plethora of guards arriving at Kansas in 2013. Self has randomly plugged in the lanky guard with his starters, but the freshman has rarely contributed offensively.

    Landen Lucas: Landen Lucas was an under-the-radar 3-star forward who had redshirt written all over him before even enrolling last fall. With the return of Jeff Withey and the emergence of senior Kevin Young, Lucas was better suited for a year of development.

    Zach Peters: Peters was an early 2012 3-star commit expected to help the Kansas frontcourt immediately with bench minutes. Repeated concussions and shoulder injuries kept the Plano, Texas native from fully practicing. He would leave the team two weeks into the season and plans to take the year off to focus on his health.

    Milton Doyle: KU landed Doyle after he backed out on his FIU commitment, but the freshman guard left KU just days into the fall semester before landing at Loyola Chicago.

8. 2003

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    J.R. Giddens: J.R. Giddens was persuaded to remain a Jayhawk by Bill Self following the departure of Roy Williams, instantly becoming the trophy recruit of the 2003 KU class.  After averaging 11.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in an outstanding freshman season, the 6'5" small forward struggled mightily from the floor as a sophomore before an off-campus stabbing incident in May 2005 led to a mutual departure from the program. 

    David Padgett: Like Giddens, Padgett was a highly touted 5-star recruit as a 6'10" physical big man who helped lead Kansas to the 2004 Elite Eight. While oftentimes an efficient offensive player, Padgett battled foul trouble (1 foul per 6 minutes played) and transferred to Louisville following his freshman season.

    Jeremy Case: Oklahoma native Jeremy Case had the looks of an efficient role player since his arrival as an under-recruited and undersized 3-star shooting guard. However, he rarely appeared comfortable in Self's offense filled with more dynamic playmakers and never averaged more than 5.5 minutes and 2.5 points per game during his four years. 

    Omar Wilkes: Coming in as Self's third transfer out of four 2003 recruits (not including transfer Rodrick Stewart), is Omar Wilkes. Who? Fans remember the little-used lights-out 4-star shooting guard recruit from Los Angeles. Wilkes scored 30 total points during the 2003-04 year in only 70 minutes before departing for Cal.

7. 2011

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    Ben McLemore: Despite the likelihood of McLemore being a one-and-done player, he is their best offensive player in years and is on pace to produce the best freshman statistical season in Kansas basketball history. Enough said.

    Naadir Tharpe: The lightning-quick Tharpe has seen his minutes triple, his field goal percentage increase, and turnover rate go down during his sophomore season.  He oftentimes flashes impressive ball-handling abilities and is one of the best point guards at changing direction in the Big 12. The jury is still out on this 3-star 2011 recruit.

    Jamari Traylor: Traylor was a 3-star journeyman-type recruit when Self plucked the high-energy strong forward from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The unexpected freshman redshirt obviously destroyed an already thin frontcourt last season but his play thus far in 2012-13 cannot overstate the importance of development periods for this raw 6'8" big man. He did produce this mammoth put-back slam against Michigan State in November.

    Merv Lindsay: Merv Lindsay, a three-star 6'6" small forward from Moreno Valley, California committed to the Jayhawks just two months before the fall semester began and never appeared to have a defined role in Self's offense. He only appeared in 12 games, scoring 11 total points, before opting to transfer to New Mexico following the title game loss to Kentucky.

    Braeden Anderson: An academically ineligible 3-star recruit, Anderson transferred to Fresno State before his freshman season, never playing a minute for Kansas.

6. 2007

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    Cole Aldrich: The Cole Aldrich legend grew overnight with an inspiring freshman performance against three-time consensus All-American First Team big man Tyler Hansbrough in the 2008 Final Four, providing the Jayhawks with much-needed bench minutes to hold off the charging Tar Heels.

    The former 4-star recruit and 7-footer averaged a double-double the following season, even recording the first official triple-double in Kansas basketball history during the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The 2009-10 season brought an All-American Second Team selection before Aldrich departed for the NBA Draft.

    Tyrel Reed: Tyrel Reed joined Kansas as a conservative 3-star shooting guard from Burlington, Kansas after gaining minimal high-major interest.

    As a four-year role player, Reed provided consistency with his best season coming as a senior in which he averaged 9.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.7 APG. Two early tourney exits in 2010 and 2011 hurt his legacy but he remains an underrated good value recruit.

5. 2009

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    Elijah Johnson: Many KU fans oftentimes forget Elijah Johnson was an elite 5-star Top 25 nationally ranked player when arriving to a deep roster in 2009. Undoubtedly his success has not reflected his initial billing, but he has provided Kansas with consistent shooting and complementary veteran leadership to Tyshawn Taylor during the Final Four run in 2012.

    Thomas Robinson: Thomas Robinson arrived in Lawrence as a 4-star power forward from Brewster Academy and was immediately regulated to bench duty behind the Morris twins and Cole Aldrich.

    An expanded role in 2010-11 revealed the 6'9" bruising big man's potential but not until the upperclassmen departure in 2011 was Robinson's All-American First Team versatile game fully showcased. He led the Jayhawks to the 2012 title game.

    Xavier Henry: Widely regarded as Top 10 recruit in the class of 2009, Xavier Henry gave Kansas a late commitment and was expected to contribute immediately to an already loaded title-contending roster.  

    Henry opted to remain in his hometown of Oklahoma City prior to his freshman season as opposed to joining his teammates, creating minimal tension, and his lack of chemistry was evident as the season progressed. He did average 13.4 points per game on 45.8 percent shooting but routinely disappeared in the second half after hitting a couple early perimeter shots.

4. 2004

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    Russell Robinson: Did 5-star point guard Russell Robinson ever reach his expected potential for Kansas?

    While that can be debated, he was arguably the most important player on the 2008 title team, as he flawlessly ran Self's offense and distributed the ball beautifully to Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, and Darrell Arthur. He never averaged more than 9.3 PPG but remains in the Top 10 of the school's assist list while reliably contributing on the glass.

    Sasha Kaun: Sasha Kaun, an imposing 4-star center and Russia native, by way of Melbourne, Florida, was criticized early for inconsistencies on the offensive end but soon became a reliable force inside. 

    He only averaged 6.1 PPG and 3.9 RPG for his career but his 150 blocks ranks in KU's Top 10, with his 2008 NCAA Tournament defensive performance one for the ages.

    Darnell Jackson: Bill Self may have been unsure of the player he was getting in 4-star power forward Darnell Jackson, but the 6'9" 240-pound powerful big man's 2007-08 season is arguably the most underrated in school history.

    Jackson shot 62.6 percent from the floor in averaging 11.2 PPG and 6.7 RPG as a senior, becoming an efficient and versatile playmaker.

    C.J. Giles: C.J. Giles was the third frontcourt player in Self's 2004 class and was quickly forgotten following his departure for Oregon State in 2006.

3. 2006

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    Sherron Collins: Sherron Collins arrived at KU as a 5-star recruit and consensus Top 5 point guard in the 2006 class and went on to become a key four-year contributor.

    The 5'11" Chicago native began his legacy with the steal and three-point shot in the closing minutes of the 2008 national title game, propelling the Jayhawks to victory. He became an All-American Second Team selection in 2009, while garnering a First Team selection in 2010, and remains one of the most popular Kansas players in recent memory.

    Darrell Arthur: Self welcomed late commit Darrell Arthur, a 5-star power forward, instantly inserting him into the rotation where he averaged 9.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 19 minutes in his freshman year.

    Considered an elite NBA prospect, Arthur departed Lawrence after the title season of 2007-08, a year in which he became one of the most versatile forwards in college basketball.

    Brady Morningstar: Anyone else feel like Morningstar played ten seasons at Kansas? In reality, he was capped at four years but in doing so, he became one of the most reliable defensive guards in school history.

    Always considered an efficient but not flashy scorer, the 3-star recruit locked down opposing Big 12 playmakers while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor.

2. 2008

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    Travis Releford: Arguably, there has not been a player under Bill Self who reflects Kansas basketball more than Kansas City native Travis Releford.

    The 6'6" versatile player gladly accepted a proposed redshirt during the 2009-10 season, a season that featured one of the deepest rosters in Kansas history, and has since become a dynamic defender and consistent scorer. Releford has averaged over 30 minutes per game over the last two seasons while always drawing the most difficult defensive matchup.

    Tyshawn Taylor: What appeared to be a soap opera for an underachieving athletic guard from St. Anthony's turned into a feel-good story as the four-year player led KU to the national title game as a senior while receiving a 2012 AP Third Team All-American nod.

    He never averaged less than 7.2 points and 23 minutes per game in his career, one that was highlighted by career-high averages of 16.6 points and 4.8 assists as a senior.

    Mario Little: Little, a highly recruited 4-star junior college player never appeared comfortable in a KU uniform, even taking a redshirt beside Releford in 2009-10 to further develop. He averaged under 5 points per game in his two years on efficient shooting but rarely offered consistency.

    Marcus Morris: The Philadelphia native arrived in Lawrence with his twin brother Markieff in hopes of replacing frontcourt players Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson, among others.  Following a year of inconsistent play, Marcus Morris shot 57 percent from the floor in his final two years, averaging 17.2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game as a senior.

    Morris received a consensus 2011 AP Second Team All-American selection and Big 12 Player of the Year as a junior before departing for the NBA.

    Markieff Morris: Similar to his twin, it took Markieff Morris awhile to gain a level of comfort in Bill Self's high-low offense but he eventually transitioned into a reliable force inside the paint. 

    He also averaged double-digit points (13.6) and teamed with Marcus to provide a dominating rebounding duo in averaging 8.3 rebounds in his final year.  The twins unfortunately led teams that were handed two of the greatest tournament upsets in KU basketball history, with losses to UNI and VCU in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

    Quintrell Thomas: Thomas arrived as a 3-star power forward from New Jersey, hoping to capitalize on the departure of three KU big men following the title run in 2008.  However, the soon-to-be UNLV transfer rarely received meaningful minutes and averaged a personal foul every five minutes before leaving the program after his freshman year.

    Tyrone Appleton: The 4-star point guard Appleton averaged a meaningless 2.2 minutes per game in one year at Kansas before leaving for Southwest Baptist.

1. 2005

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    Mario Chalmers: Chalmers was one of an astounding three 5-star players for Bill Self in the 2005 class, and he immediately became an impact player on both sides of the floor. 

    He averaged at least 11 points and three assists per game for his career while also being named the 2007 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and the 2008 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. His game-tying desperation three-point shot in the title game will forever be known as the biggest shot in KU basketball history.

    Brandon Rush: The highly touted Kansas City native also immediately became a consistent contributor for the Jayhawks in 2005-06. He averaged at least 13 points and five rebounds per game during his three-year career and became the team's most reliable scorer, largely due to excellent perimeter shooting, during its 2007-08 national title season.

    Julian Wright: Self's third 5-star recruit, 6'8" forward Julian Wright, only played two years in Lawrence before departing for the NBA. He shot at least 55 percent in both years, while averaging 12 points and 7.8 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

    Micah Downs: Downs, another 6'8" power forward struggled to get in a rhythm during his one year as a Jayhawk, averaging only 11.7 minutes per game while shooting an inadequate 38 percent clip from the floor. He oftentimes provided energy inside and relieved pressure from the KU guards but elected to transfer to his home state of Washington and play for Gonzaga. 

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