Flashback: Class of 2004

Top 20 boasts what will be 16 players already in NBA by June's draft

May 2, 2007

By Van Coleman

CSTV & Hoopmasters.com



Van Coleman

Van is one of the nation's premier recruiting experts.
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This is certainly one of the deepest classes at the top when you look at the amount of NBA players in such a short period of time since finishing the high school/prep level.

 

After three years out of high school, all of the Top 10 will be in the NBA and been first-round draft picks (Glen Davis expected to be one) while some others outside the top of the class are already there! That's not something many classes can say.

 

1 - Dwight Howard (Orlando Magic): He went No. 1 overall in the draft, won the Rookie of the Year award and was an All-Star in his second year. In 2004, he was 6-foot-10 and 235 pounds. Now he's 6-foot-11 and 265 pounds -- a man and potential future superstar.


 

 

 

Dwight reminded me of a young Shawn "Rain Man" Kemp in high school. He was extremely long and explosive, playing in the stratosphere at times (Note: Kemp was a svelte 6-10, 220-pounder as a senior).

 

He caught a couple alley-oop dunks at the Green Valley gym in tourney play at the Big Time that were legendary!  He just rose to the ball and tomahawked the dunks to bring the house down.

 

His athleticism and explosiveness to go with his size, skills and how he absolutely played hard every minute made him our No. 1 player in the class. Greg Monroe, our current No. 1 in the Class of 2008, has a chance to be like Dwight if he becomes a 100 percent, every-minute type player.

 

2 - Shaun Livingston (Committed to Duke - Los Angeles Clippers): Shaun had all the ballhandling and flash of a young Penny Hardaway in high school. He was thinner than Penny, but he could create dimes and score off the dribble like the Memphis legend.

 

He came to my FutureStars camp as a fifth grader and dominated the junior high league with his passing and scoring. From that point forward, he's been destined for the NBA.

 

He's gained 15 pounds since high school and is up to 195, but a lot of injury problems have plagued him. He's been a solid NBA player, but durability has been the big question so far, not talent.

 

There was no doubting his great ability to pass and see the court and we knew he could deliver it at any level - he always showed tremendous court sense.

 

3 - Josh Smith (Committed to Indiana - Atlanta Hawks): No doubt Smith was a highlight film waiting to happen, similar in many ways to a young Dominique Wilkins. He could flat out fly above the rim a la `Nique!

 

Like Howard, Smith could go get the oop off the ceiling, but it was his ability to create the highlight off the dribble that caught my eye in Vegas. The crowd just oohed and ahhed!

 

Already a star averaging 16 points and nine rebounds. A high-flying player and dunk champ at both levels, Smith put on more highlight films than his AAU teammate Dwight Howard on the Atlanta Celtics.

 

4 - Al Jefferson (Committed to Arkansas - Boston Celtics): Al had a little Elton Brand and a little Willis Reed to his game in that he was a dominator on the block offensively (a la Brand) in high school, but could - when inspired - dominate the paint and offensive boards like Reed.

 

I heard all the hype about Big Al, but what solid me was a 42-point performance at the Nike Peach Jam. He hit the elbow J, dunked over mere mortals and dominated the glass like he owned it. No question on my part - the hype was right!

 

A solid player who has developed in the league, Jefferson is averaging 16 points and 11 rebounds in 60 of 69 starts this season. He's a star of the future for a team direly in need of stars.

 

He's a great offensive talent that we knew could score at the NBA level. He's showed improvement defending and that's what makes him a long term potential all-star.

 

5 - Marvin Williams (North Carolina - Atlanta Hawks): In high school, Williams had a lot of similarities to James Worthy. He could score off the dribble, create opportunities for his teammates and seemed to come up with the big play. 

 

I watched him nail four threes in a row in a game in Vegas, and when the opponent tried to double him, he exploded to the hoop for a windmill dunk. `Nuff said!

 

Had a great freshman year and was a big reason the Tar Heels made the run to the national title. He was a great ball handler for his size and is showing he can be a guy who can make a difference on a ball club, averaging 13 and 5 already.

 

6 - J.R. Smith (Committed to North Carolina - Denver Nuggets): The Vince Carter-esque wing could really shoot it with range and had the athleticism to explode off the dribble. UNC thought he'd make a difference right away for them but his McDonald's game performance sent him to the draft.

 

At 6-foot-6, he's a jumping jack who had a solid year after dealing with a trade and torn cartilage in his knee but is on the road to becoming a really good NBA player.

 

7 - Sebastian Telfair (Committed to Louisville - Boston Celtics): Sebastian was stellar in a game at the Beach Ball Classic as a junior, where he scored 30-plus points, handed out 10 assists and picked opponents' pockets for five to six steals.

 

A player with immense talent who may have had the limelight all a little too soon. A phenomenal handler and passer, the ball was always like an extension of the hand for him. A lot of us felt he might have been better than his cousin Stephon Marbury because he also shot it well and had the same charisma. But maybe he was made too much of too early and people didn't realize the effects it was or would be having on him. Not quite a Leon Smith but unfortunately he's leaning towards that. Let's hope Sebastian can get it together and move on with his career as a pro.

 

8 - Glen Davis (LSU): He always drew comparisons to Robert "Tractor" Traylor because of his size and quick feet. He doesn't have the bounce of the "Tractor," but he has a huge heart!

 

I was at the City of Palms Classic and the big fella was destroying everyone using his 300-plus pounds to control space, but it was those quick feet that led me to becoming a believer in Big Baby!

 

Give him credit for re-shaping his body and going from 320 to 290 pounds between high school and college. He's now ready physically to make the move to the NBA and has not disappointed in college as he got LSU to the final four as a sophomore. He's on track for being a solid NBA player, but still has some work to do conditioning wise. However, you've got to love how he knew how to use his body since a young age and made the decision to concentrate on basketball after his sophomore year of high school. He spurned football and now looks like a first-round NBA draft choice.

 

9- LaMarcus Aldridge (Texas - Portland Trail Blazers): In high school we loved how he could run the floor, play defense, block shots and use everything in him athletically.

 

Aldridge was a first-round pick after his freshman season, but the Blazers don't know where his future is after being diagnosed with a heartbeat problem. He started 22 games before being sidelined with the condition and looked like he was starting to become the player we thought he was.

 

This young big man had a littler Kevin Garnett and a little Jonathan Bender in high school that made for an impact face-up forward in college. Hopefully he returns to 100 percent and finishes his game off in the NBA.

 

10 - Rudy Gay (UConn - Memphis Grizzlies): He drew comparisons to Tracy McGrady with his entire package and how he finished with highlight slams in traffic

 

Gay went to Connecticut for a great two years and averaged 11 and 5 this year as a pro while starting 43 games. Tremendous skills and his ability to score was never questioned, Rudy was always long, quick and explosive and got to the hoop off the dribble.

 

Next 10...

 

11 - Robert Swift (Commited to USC - Seattle Sonics)

12 - Dorell Wright  (Committed to DePaul - Miami Heat)

13 - Malik Hairston (Oregon)

14 - Randolph Morris (Kentucky - New York Knicks)

15 - Jordan Farmar (UCLA - Los Angeles Lakers)

16 - Rajon Rondo (Kentucky - Boston Celtics)

17 - Joe Crawford (Kentucky)

18 - Juan Diego Palacios (Louisville)

19 - D.J. White (Indiana)

20 - Arron Afflalo (UCLA)

 

Notable Top 20-100...

 

31 - JamesOn Curry (Oklahoma State)

36 - Nick Young (USC)

37 - Corey Brewer (Florida)

75 - Joakim Noah (Florida)

 

Outside Risers...

 

Tyrus Thomas (LSU - Chicago Bulls)

Patrick O'Bryant (Bradley - Golden State Warriors)

Roy Hibbert (Georgetown)

Jeff Green (Georgetown)

Al Horford (Florida)

Taurean Green (Florida)