Where Are They Now?: The Top 10 College Basketball Recruits from 2006
What do you get when you combine crazy white man afro potential, a gun-pulling incident, the lead singer from Alice in Chains, a man unaffected by the gravitational pull of the Earth, and a 40-year-old man playing college basketball?
Either the worst sitcom ever, or the 2006 Rivals' Top 10 high school basketball recruits.
Since it's been four years, all of the players on Rivals list would have had to have gone pro or leave basketball altogether, as their college eligibility has since expired.
So, let us test the accuracy of Rivals scouting department, and see where the Top 10 college basketball prospects from 2006 have gone.
10. Brook Lopez, C, Stanford
College career: Lopez and his afro-sporting counterpart (brother) Robin both committed to the Stanford Cardinal out of high school.
Brook had a solid freshman season, averaging about 13 points and six rebounds a game, a stat line that earned him all Pac-10 Freshman team and All-Pac-10 Honorable Mention.
His second season, he began to emerge as one of the best center prospects in the country, averaging 19 points, eight rebounds and two blocks per game. His performance netted him an All-America Third-Team spot.
Pro career: Brook, luckily for him, was drafted by the juggernaut Nets from New Jersey at 10th overall.
He lived up to his draft spot by coming in third place for Rookie of the Year, averaging 13 points and eight rebounds a game after replacing an injured Josh Boone at power forward.
In his second season, Brook showed major improvement, particularly in his scoring, which he improved by six points per game.
Did he live up to the hype?: Although he hasn't taken advantage of his white man afro-growing abilities, Brook has clearly proven that he has lived up to the hype of the 10th overall player in the 2006 recruiting class, and as the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Look for Brook Lopez to emerge as one of the better centers in the NBA over the next couple of years.
9. Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
College career: Lawson played for three seasons at North Carolina, and capped his career off with a National Championship and Second-Team All-America Honors.
Throughout his career, he showed steady increase in production, going from 10 points per game as a freshman to 13 as a sophomore, and then 17 as a junior.
Pro career: Drafted at 18 by the Timberwolves then traded to the Nuggets, Lawson saw limited playing time backing up Chauncey Billups, and only averaged about eight points and three assists a game.
Still, he had his moments, particularly in back-to-back 23-point, nine-assist games against Utah and Philadelphia in January.
Did he live up to the hype?: Taking into account that he started only eight games in his rookie season, I would still say that he has yet to live up to the hype.
However, with a great role model at point guard in Billups, and the talent to become an effective point guard, Lawson still has lots of time to live up to his expectations.
8. Wayne Ellington, SG, North Carolina
College career: Ellington, like teammate Ty Lawson, played three seasons for the Tar Heels, and was named Tournament Player of the Year during North Carolina's National Championship run.
Unlike Lawson, however, Ellington had his best statistical year as a sophomore, where he averaged nearly 17 points per game.
He scored nearly 16 points per game as a junior, but he did increase his average assists per game from two as a sophomore to three as a junior.
Pro career: Ellington barely snuck into the first round, being selected 28th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves.
He only averaged 6.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game in his rookie season with Minnesota coming off of the bench.
In addition to having a mediocre statistical year, he also had to endure a pathetic 15-67 effort from the lowly T-Wolves.
Did he live up to the hype?: Although he did only come off the bench for the Timberwolves, more was to be expected from Ellington.
Maybe the team was bad enough that he had no way of performing any better than he did, but still, Ellington should have been more productive as a rookie.
There is still hope for him, but as of now, he has not lived up to the hype.
7. Javaris Crittenton, SG, Georgia Tech
College career: Crittenton averaged 14.4 points and six assists a game at Georgia Tech, and, due to many good performances in the beginning of the year, was given a role as one of the team leaders despite the fact that he was only a freshman.
He played only one season at Georgia Tech before declaring for the NBA Draft.
Pro career: Crittenton, armed with one of the most ridiculous pro sports names since D'Brickshaw Ferguson, was drafted 19th overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, he played only 22 games for them before being traded, along with Kwame Brown, Aaron McKie and Marc Gasol to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc's homeless-looking brother Pau.
In the 28 games he played for the Grizzlies in 2008, he averaged his career-high 7.4 points per game. The next season, he was traded after only seven games to the Washington Wizards.
He played 56 games for the Wizards before the gun-pulling incident with fellow guard Gilbert Arenas. He did not play in 2009-2010.
Did he live up to the hype?: Well, no. Although he did make it to the NBA, Crittenton has failed to make an impact on any of the three teams he's played for.
He has yet to play a full season in any city, and this, combined with his boneheaded locker room antics with Arenas, creates a player that has yet to live up to the expectations that people had for him as a shooting guard.
If he can get his head straight, then maybe, just maybe, he will be able to salvage his career.
At this point, however, Crittenton hasn't done anything.
6. Spencer Hawes, C, Washington
College career: Hawes averaged 15 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his only college season, and set the freshman scoring record at the University of Washington (a record to later be broken by Nate Robinson clone Isaiah Thomas in his freshman season at Washington).
He was recognized as one of the best freshman centers in the NCAA and declared for the draft right after his first season.
Pro career: Hawes was drafted 10th overall by the Sacramento Kings, and produced a weak 4.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and .6 blocks per game as a rookie.
However, his sophomore season in the pros would see him develop in all facets of the game, improving to 11 points, seven rebounds and one block per game.
In his third season, he put up similar numbers, with a slight drop off in points (10) and rebounds (six) per game. He was recently traded to the 76ers, and will continue his career playing with Evan Turner, Thad Young and Andre Igoudala.
Did he live up to the hype?: In his first season, he looked to be an epic failure of a pick with his sorry stat line.
But Hawes began turning heads with a major increase in production with the coming of his second season.
However, many of the heads turned back around when Hawes failed to improve in his next season.
So, in comparison, another player drafted at 10th overall, Brook Lopez, Hawes falls far short of expectations.
But with a young team in Philadelphia, he may turn out to be a productive player.
5. Thaddeus Young, SF, Georgia Tech
College Career: Thad Yo (wikipedia's super cool and street nickname for him) joined Javaris Crittenton as a second one-and-done player on the 2006-2007 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets roster.
He averaged 14.5 points, five rebounds and two assists in his freshman season, and declared for the draft after the season ended.
Pro career: Young was drafted by the 76ers with the 12th pick, and averaged a pedestrian 8.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. However, Young nearly doubled his points per game output in his second year, scoring 15 points a game and grabbing five rebounds per game.
He also averaged 12 points per game in the playoffs in his second season.
However, his stats dropped off a little in his third year, falling to a shade under 14 points per game.
His overall production has been there, however, and he will have a key role as the 76ers eventually become a playoff threat in three to four years from now with their young talent.
Did he live up to the hype?: Young hasn't yet lived up to the hype. He is still not a Top 40 NBA Player, but in time, 'Thad Yo' will earn his draft stock and become one of the better small forwards in the NBA.
4. Chase Budinger, SF, Arizona
College career: Budinger took his crazy, early 90s grunge-phase facial hair to play for the Wildcats.
He was a better than average scorer during his freshman season at Arizona, averaging 15 and a half a game as well as nearly six rebounds.
However, Budinger pulled a Nancy Pelosi after his first season, publicly waffling between going pro and staying in college.
He decided to stay at Arizona, and averaged 17 points per game his sophomore year, as well as five and a half or so rebounds.
No drama followed his sophomore year, as he decided to play his junior year without debate. This year was no doubt his best, as he had a career-high in all major categories: 18 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists and a half a block a game.
Pro career: Chase "Layne Staley" Budinger was drafted by the Motor City Madmen at 44, before being traded to the Rockets.
In his rookie year, he averaged nine points and three rebounds a game, including a career-high 24 points against the Wizards and again against the Celtics.
Did he live up to the hype?: We have yet to see. So far? No.
Budinger needs to produce twice as many points next year if he wants to be considered the second-best small forward in the 2006 recruiting class.
Easier said than done for a guy playing with a sub-par Houston team. But look at Brook Lopez - he isn't making any excuses.
3. Brandan Wright, PF, North Carolina
College career: Wright enrolled at North Carolina, and averaged a solid 15 points, six rebounds and 1.75 blocks per game in his only season as a Tar Heel.
He won ACC Rookie of the Year, and All-ACC Second-Team honors. He entered the NBA Draft after his first season at UNC.
Pro career: Wright was drafted by the Bobcats at eighth overall before being traded to Golden State for Jason Richardson.
If there were one word to describe Wright's pro career, it would be injuries.
He has played 77 games in three years, while completely missing 2009-2010 due to a shoulder surgery.
His first season, in 38 games, he averaged only four points and 2.6 rebounds per game. His effort in year two saw him double his points to 8.3 and nearly double his rebounds to four per game.
Did he live up to the hype?: No.
Wright has yet to play 82 games in his three-year career, let alone 82 games in one season. Until he can stay healthy long enough to complete a season, we will have no way of telling whether Wright will be effective or not.
2. Kevin Durant, SF, Texas
College career: 2007 AP National Player of the Year, 2007 John R. Wooden Award, 2007 Naismith Player of the Year, 2007 Adolph Rupp Trophy, 2007 Oscar Robertson Trophy. He averaged 26 points and 11 rebounds per game. Any questions?
Pro career: Drafted No. 2 overall by the Seattle Sonics, Durant had an immediate impact for his team, averaging 20.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, a stat line that earned him Rookie of the Year.
In his second season, he made even further improvements, averaging 25 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
His third year, however, set him apart from the rest. The former Longhorn exploded with an average of 30.1 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game.
He won the scoring title, finished second to only LeBron James in MVP voting, and lead his team in a respectable six-game series loss against the eventual champion Lakers in which the young Thunder demonstrated that they will be a true contender in the Western Conference in no time.
Did he live up to the hype?: as the Onion.com reported, "[Kevin] is not actually affected by gravity, but puts up with it for sportsmanship's sake."
Durant exceeded expectations, and has been simply dominant from his college career into his pro career. In fact, he scored just now.
1. Greg Oden, C, Ohio State
College career: Oden signed with the Buckeyes out of high school, and nearly averaged a double-double in his first, and only, year of college basketball.
He averaged 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and a crazy 3.3 blocks per game. He, along with teammate Mike Conley Jr. led Ohio State to the National Championship game to take on Joakim Noah, Corey Brewer and Al Horford in the National Championship game.
That was the second National Championship game featuring Florida and Ohio State that year (Florida crushed OSU in the BCS National Championship, and did so again in the basketball counterpart). Oden declared for the draft after his only season as a Buckeye.
Pro career: The Blazers from Portland took Oden with their No. 1 pick in the draft, after which the center was quoted saying "This is the happiest I've been in 30 years."
Much like Brandan Wright from North Carolina, Oden has been killed by his injuries during his pro career.
After missing his first season due to a microfracture in his knee, Oden averaged nine points, seven rebounds and one block per game in the 61 games he played during the 2008-09 season.
He continued to improve going into the 2009-10 season, averaging 11 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game before bowing out in Game 21 with a fractured patella and not returning for the rest of the season.
Did he live up to the hype?: at this point in time, Blazers fans want to cry every time they see Kevin Durant hit a clutch 3-pointer or score 35 points in a game.
Considering Oden was called a "once-in-a-decade player" by Suns general manager Steve Kerr, I would say that 11 points and nine rebounds a game is a disappointment for Blazers fans, who were expecting the reincarnation of Shaquille O'Neal.
But Portland fans, don't give up on Oden yet. If he can stay healthy, I have no doubt in my mind that he can be a 20-point, 12-rebound, two-block per game player, and help a Blazers team that's on the upswing with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.
So no, he has not lived up to the hype yet, but that doesn't mean he won't later.
Profiling these recruits demonstrates how accurate and inaccurate preseason recruiting can be. While all of these players play for an NBA team, few of them truly shine through and demonstrate their value as a draft pick.
If the list were to be redone in order of how they're doing now, it would read as follows:
10. Wayne Ellington
9. Javaris Crittenton
8. Ty Lawson
7. Brandan Wright
6. Spencer Hawes
5. Chase Budinger
4. Greg Oden
3. Thaddeus Young
2. Brook Lopez
1. Kevin Durant
Now, these could change in the next few years, and I'm not "dooming" any of these players to eternal sparedom in the NBA, but really, only Thad Young, Brook Lopez and Kevin Durant have performed well for their teams.