As the popularity of the “one and done” keeps increasing in college basketball, people want to keep up with what happens on the recruiting end for teams. This results in a bigger spotlight for players in high school, whether from college recruiters or the media.
Since 1998, RCSI has released high school recruiting rankings for basketball, and since then, Rivals, 247Sports, and ESPN have followed suit. Usually, players regarded highly turn out to be stars, not only in college, but professionally as well. However, there are times that top rated prospects do not perform to the level projected, either due to lack of playing time, poor decisions in selecting a school, false expectations by the media, or leaving to play professionally prematurely.
Not performing to one’s projection does not necessarily mean the player is not good enough to play in college. However, not living up to the expectation given to them is disappointing for the player, the team, the fans, and the media. Every recruiting class has one bust that especially sticks out. Below, we highlighted one recruit from each year that did not pan out to be a star despite high expectations coming out of high school.
2000: Adbou Diame – Auburn/Jacksonville State
Diame was ranked as the 17 best recruit in the 2000 class, and was regarded as a great shot-blocker, rebounder, and defender. Diame played two years at Auburn, averaging a solid seven points per game and playing in all 32 of the Tigers’ match-ups, but only saw action in 18 games as a sophomore, putting up a measly 1.8 ppg. After his sophomore campaign, Diame transferred to Jacksonville State, and after sitting out a year, Diame was unable to get in a rhythm, averaging under six points per contest in his final two years. Diame went undrafted in 2005, and had a short professional career before shifting his career to coaching.
2001: Cedric Bozeman – UCLA
Bozeman came out of high school rated 19 by RSCI. He is a lanky guard who was supposedly a great finisher and scorer. However, at UCLA, Bozeman never eclipsed more than eight points per game in his four year career with the Bruins, despite being a starter his senior season. His shooting percentages were not awful to say the least, shooting above 40% each year in his career, but the volume was not there to allow Bozeman to thrive. Bozeman played 23 games in the NBA in 2006-07, but only averaged 1.1 points per game, less than his 1.4 personal fouls per game.
2002: Jason Fraser – Villanova
Fraser averaged 5.9 points per game in his four year career at Villanova despite being the fifth top rated recruit in his class, ahead of Chris Bosh, Andre Iguodala, J.J. Redick, and many other NBA stars. Fraser started 46 of his 51 games played in his first two seasons, averaging a respectable 7.1 ppg over that span, but saw a sharp decrease in playing time after his sophomore year. As a junior, the center recorded six and a half points per game but still managed to bring down over six rebounds a game despite only starting in four out of his 28 games played. As a senior, Fraser’s production went down yet again, only starting two out of 31 games played and seeing a decrease in minutes from over 21 per game to under 16. Fraser never cracked an NBA roster.
2003: Rodrick Stewart – USC/Kansas
Stewart entered the world of college basketball as the 36 ranked player in the 2003 class, but did not come near to living up to the expectations given to him. After beginning his career with USC, Stewart decided to transfer to Kansas after a freshman year averaging 4.4 ppg in over 21 minutes per contest. Picking Kansas turned out to be a bad decision for the 6’4” guard, as he averaged under a point per game in less than six minutes a game in his sophomore and junior seasons, and put up a sub-par 2.8 ppg in under 12 minutes a game in his senior season.
2004: Mike Williams – Texas/Cincinnati
Williams began his career as a Longhorn, playing in most games but not putting up the numbers expected of the 22 ranked recruit by RSCI and 20 by Rivals. Williams transferred to Cincy after his sophomore year to try and become the star of his team, but unfortunately suffered a ruptured achilles in workouts before his junior season, forcing him to sit out a second consecutive year. Williams returned in 2008 and started all but one of his 29 games, and he averaged 10 points per game. Had he not had his injury, Williams may have panned out to be what he was projected to be. Williams left Cincinnati after his third year of eligibility.
2005: Bobby Frasor – UNC
Frasor is an interesting case, as he started all 31 games as a freshman for Roy Williams after coming out of high school as the 31 ranked player in the 2005 class according to RSCI. However, Williams brought in Brandon Wright to be the complement to Tyler Hansbrough, leaving Frasor on the bench for most of the year. Frasor never saw serious minutes after his freshman year, and did not average over seven points per game in any of his four years as a Tar Heel.
2006: James Keefe – UCLA
Keefe came out of high school ranked 50 by Rivals and 38 by RSCI. Keefe played in 32 games as a freshman, but only averaged a point per game. Keefe stuck with the Bruins, eventually gaining minutes but never putting big numbers on the stat sheet. Keefe finished his career with 2.2 ppg and 2.6 rpg.
2007: Jamelle Horne – Arizona
Horne was ranked 21 by Rivals and RSCI coming out of high school and signed with Arizona to team up with Jerryd Bayless. Horne did not live up to the hype, averaging under seven points per game over his career despite starting in more than half of the games he played. Horne had a good junior year, averaging just under 10 a game, but regressed in his fourth year, putting up six a game and only starting in 13 out of 38 games played. He also saw his minutes go down 11 in his senior year.
2008: Delvon Roe – Michigan State
Roe was ranked the 15th best player out of the 2008 recruiting class by ESPN and signed with the Spartans and Tom Izzo. Roe played three years in East Lansing, starting in more than 75% of games played and playing over 20 minutes per contest. However, he was never the high volume producer Izzo expected him to become. Roe averaged six points a game in his three year career. Roe decided to leave before his senior year and never appeared on an NBA roster afterwards.
2009: Dante Taylor – Pittsburgh
Taylor was a very high recruit, as he signed with the Panthers, who were in the Big East at the time, as the 16th ranked recruit by ESPN. Taylor played four seasons in Pittsburgh, averaging five points per game in 16 minutes. Taylor did not start until his junior year, in which he started 20 of 37 games, however, after averaging just 5.8 ppg, he was designated a bench role in his senior season, starting only one game. Taylor rebounded well for his minutes played, but his scoring was consistently sub-par, and he never played in the NBA after graduating from Pitt.
2010: Fab Melo – Syracuse
Melo could not be the Orange’s second all-star to come through the program with that name. Melo was ranked 14 by ESPN and was considered a four star recruit. The seven foot center played two years of college ball, only averaging 2.3 points per game in 10 minutes played. In his sophomore year, Melo had more production, putting up 7.8 points per contest in 25 and a half minutes a game, starting every game for Jim Boeheim’s squad. He then declared for the NBA, where he played one season for Boston in 2012, playing six games and putting up just 1.2 ppg. In hindsight, with increasing production at Syracuse, Melo should have stuck it out for at least one more year in college. (Rest in peace).
2011: Shannon Scott – Ohio State
Scott had a solid career at Ohio State, becoming a fixture in the starting lineup as a junior and increasing his role to being the Buckeye’s point guard in his senior year. However, as the 29th best player in his class according to 247Sports, Scott did not live up to his expectations whatsoever. Part of the reason for that was he was one year younger than Ohio State star Aaron Craft, who was a tremendous player and one of the best floor generals the program had ever had. Scott got the wrong end of the deal, as he could not become the point guard until his senior year, where he only logged 8.5 points a game along with a solid 5.9 assists. Had he chose a different program, Scott could have had a much different college career.
2012: Grant Jerrett – Arizona
Jerrett is a 6’10” forward who had tremendous upside coming out of high school. According to ESPN, Jerrett was a five star recruit, ninth best in the country. Jerrett played one season in Arizona, starting only two games and averaging just 5.2 points per game in less than 18 minutes played. Jerrett chose to take his talents to the NBA draft, where he was selected in the second round. Jerrett played just one season in the NBA, but managed to become a journeyman, being on three NBA rosters before finding a home in the D-League.
2013: Chris Walker – Florida
Walker was regarded as a five star recruit by ESPN and 247Sports, and was ranked as high as 7th in the country for his class by 247 and RSCI. Walker played two seasons in Gainesville, averaging just 1.9 points per game in his first year, appearing in 18 games and starting none, and 4.7 as a sophomore, in which he appeared in all of the Gators’ games but only started in six. Walker decided to leave Florida to pursue professional basketball after his sophomore year. He did not make an appearance in an NBA game.
2014: Theo Pinson – UNC
Pinson was a solid role player for North Carolina for his four year tenure, but he never fulfilled his projection coming out of high school. Pinson was 10 on the ESPN top 100, ahead of future stars such as Devin Booker, D’Angelo Russell, and Tyler Ulis. Pinson began to see more playing time in his junior year, but suffered an injury, cutting his season short. In his senior season, Pinson averaged a nice 10.3 ppg, starting all 37 games for the Tar Heels, but his career splits (6.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.4 apg) are not what recruiting experts expected for Pinson coming out of college.
2015: Skal Labissiere – Kentucky
Labissiere was a consensus five star recruit, ranked as high as best in the nation by Rivals and as low as second best in the nation by ESPN, 247, and RSCI. The 6’11” center played just one season for Kentucky, starting in half his games played and putting up a measly 6.6 points and 2.2 boards per game. He also had three personal fouls per game in just 15.8 minutes. After one season, Labissiere decided to embrace the one and done option, where he became an NBA roster filler for a few seasons before moving on to play overseas.
2016: Marques Bolden – Duke
Bolden got a tough deal, going to Duke as the 16th ranked recruit by ESPN in an era in which Duke brought in multiple top five recruits every year. Bolden did not receive much playing time until his junior year, in which he manned the front court with Zion Williamson, but was almost forced to leave after a subpar year due to the incoming recruiting class. Bolden averaged just 3.8 points over his three year career at Duke, and has played one game thus far in his one year NBA career.
2017: Trevon Duval – Duke
Duval had a solid year at Duke, but was the fifth best player on the roster, according to NBA scouts. Duval averaged over 10 points per game and 5.6 assists, which is good, especially in his freshman year as the 5th ranked recruit by RSCI. However, he chose to leave after his freshman year to enter the NBA, in which he has only played three games. Normally, the “what if” is just speculation, but comparing Duval’s path to fellow Dukie Tre Jones shows that another year for the floor general could have been very beneficial.
2018: Nassir Little – UNC
Little, like Duval, had a solid one year career in college, but did not live up to his projection. Little was a McDonald’s All American and ranked as the second best recruit in his class, ahead of Zion Williamson, Ashton Hagans, and fellow Tar Heel Coby White. Little did not start a game in his one year career, and his shooting percentages were not great, shooting below 50% from the field and under 25% from beyond the arc. Little currently is a role player in the NBA, and even if he remains in the league for many seasons to come, he still will not match up with his expectations out of high school.
2019: CJ Walker – Oregon
2019 is a tough class to decide on for this list, as many are still in their college basketball careers and have more to prove, including Walker. Walker averaged four points per game in his freshman year, and came out of high school as the 27 ranked player by RSCI. Although he has not shown his full capabilities yet, his freshman year was disappointing. If he does not turn his performance around, he can solidify his spot on this list. However, with a larger expected role, Walker should turn his tenure around at Oregon and become a solid player on a contending team.