Tuesday, we took a look at the teams that recruited the best in this recruiting cycle. One thing to remember about all that supposedly great talent, though: Not every big-time recruit pans out.
Today, we’re taking a look at 10 former five-star recruits who are close to being labeled the dreaded “B” word – as in bust. Everyone knows that not every five-star prospect is going to become an Anthony Davis or a Derrick Rose or a Kevin Durant. Still, shouldn’t folks expect better than a career average of 5.0 points per game, which is the total for one of those on this list.
Some of these guys have become solid role players. But a five-star recruit isn’t expected to play a complementary role; he is expected to be a star.
Here’s the list, with the players listed alphabetically.
F Milton Jennings, Clemson
Recruit data: Ranked No. 25 overall and No. 9 power forward in 2009 class
Career stats: 18.9 mpg, 7.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Buzz: He averaged a career-high 9.8 points this past season but still was just the fourth-leading scorer on a team that didn’t make the postseason. He isn’t a good 3-point shooter, yet 28 percent of his shot attempts as a collegian have come from beyond the arc. Frankly, he isn’t a good shooter, period, making just 41.7 percent of his career attempts.
F Wally Judge, Rutgers
Recruit data: Ranked No. 18 overall and No. 7 power forward in 2009 class
Career stats: 12.8 ppg, 4.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg
Buzz: Judge spent two seasons at Kansas State before transferring and sitting out this past season with the Scarlet Knights. Judge never seemed in sync with then-Kansas State coach Frank Martin, and he will have to ramp up his intensity if he wants consistent minutes at Rutgers, which is in need of some big-man talent.
F Ryan Kelly, Duke
Recruit data: Ranked No. 20 overall and No. 8 power forward in 2009 class
Career stats: 17.2 mpg, 6.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 80.2 FT%
Buzz: Kelly became an important part of the regular rotation this past season, averaging a career-high 11.8 points. But he shot just 44.4 percent from the field (he was at 40.8 percent from 3-point range) and routinely was overpowered on defense in the low post. He also needs to become a better rebounder.
G/F Jelan Kendrick, Ole Miss
Recruit data: Ranked No. 15 overall and No. 3 small forward in 2010 class
Career stats: 20.7 mpg, 5.1 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Buzz: Kendrick signed with Memphis out of high school, but never played a game for the Tigers before being booted off the team for repeated rules violations. He landed at Ole Miss and became eligible in mid-December of this past season. But he got in trouble there, too, and was suspended from the SEC tourney for conduct detrimental to the team. Kendrick’s main problem seems to be that although he does have talent and athleticism, he’s not nearly as good as he thinks he is.
C Adreian Payne, Michigan State
Recruit data: Ranked No. 20 overall and No. 3 center in 2010 class
Career stats: 13.6 mpg, 4.8 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 53.8 FG%
Buzz: Payne was a starter for the Spartans this past season, but didn’t do all that much. He is an athletic big man and did flash some defensive skills at times, averaging 1.1 blocks per game. But he generally was an offensive afterthought, averaging less than five shot attempts per game. He did produce in a NCAA tourney victory over Long Island, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds against a small Blackbirds frontcourt. Michigan State signed two big men in the 2012 recruiting class, so Payne needs to improve his focus and intensity level.
F Dwight Powell, Stanford
Recruit data: Ranked No. 25 overall and No. 8 power forward in 2010 class
Career stats: 20.8 mpg, 6.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Buzz: He was less productive this past season as a sophomore than he was as a freshman. He played fewer minutes, and scored and rebounded less. He scored in double figures just six times for the Cardinal, who won the NIT behind its backcourt. Stanford signed two power forwards in this recruiting cycle, and Powell risks falling further down the pecking order of big men.
C J’Mison Morgan, Baylor
Recruit data: Ranked No. 25 overall and No. 4 center in 2008 class
Career stats: 9.4 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Buzz: It was considered quite a coup when UCLA signed Morgan out of Dallas back in 2008. But a quick look at those career stats would reveal he has been a giant bust. He transferred to Baylor after two years at UCLA and played as a backup in 2010-11 before redshirting this past season. It’s doubtful he’ll be anything more than a 12-minute-or-so-per-game backup next season to highly touted freshman C Isaiah Austin (the No. 4 recruit nationally in the class). Morgan is a big guy (6-11/250) but hasn’t shown much of anything in the paint.
[Related: Baylor's Quincy Miller will enter NBA draft]
C Josh Smith, UCLA
Recruit data: Ranked No. 23 overall and No. 4 center in 2010 class
Career stats: 19.2 mpg, 10.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 56.3 FG%
Buzz: Smith is a gifted offensive player; he has good hands and a soft touch around the basket. In addition, he knows how to carve out room for himself by throwing his weight around. Alas, when you mention “weight,” you also have to bring up that Smith generally weighs in excess of 300 pounds and never seems all that concerned about improving his conditioning. Simply, the guy is talented but seems content to look like the Pillsbury doughboy. UCLA has undergone a tremendous talent infusion on the recruiting trail, and if Smith can get down to the 270 pounds he (supposedly) weighed in high school, the Bruins could have a devastating offense with Smith and freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. But if Smith continues to remain at around 300 pounds, folks will continue to wonder “What if?”with regard to his future.
F Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh
Recruit data: Ranked No. 14 overall and No. 4 power forward in 2009 class
Career stats: 16.0 mpg, 5.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 59.1 FG%
Buzz: Taylor was one of the most celebrated recruits in Pitt history, but he hasn’t come close to living up to the hype. He has fallen way short of expectations on the boards, and while he is efficient offensively, he doesn’t get that many chances to shoot because he simply doesn’t play that many minutes because of other failings. Pitt won the CBI title over Washington State, but Taylor played just 43 minutes in the three-game series and had four points and nine rebounds.
C Tony Woods, Oregon
Recruit data: Ranked No. 20 overall and No. 3 center in 2008 class
Career stats: 14.2 mpg, 4.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 52.8 FG%
Buzz: Woods signed with Wake Forest out of high school, but left school after two tears following some off-court issues and played for Oregon this past season. He started more than half the games for the Ducks but wasn’t much more than just a big body (6.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg). He was Oregon’s fifth-leading scorer. One positive from this past season: His three highest point totals came in the final four games of the season, including 15 points in 17 minutes in an NIT loss to Pac-12 rival Washington. Has the light finally come on? If so, that bodes well for the Ducks’ low-post offense next season.
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