Rick Bozich picked his top five underachievers -- and overachievers -- in college basketball this season, led by UCLA and Gonzaga.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – They announced the rosters for the 2013 McDonald's all-American game last week. I saw a Tweet today about a recruiting service that is already compiling its rankings for the best classes for 2014 – prospects who have yet to finish their junior and senior high school seasons.
That's the way the game is played. We're always in a rush to identify The Next Great Player.
But instead of looking at the 2013 McDonald's game or the 2014 recruiting classes, what if we looked in another direction?
What if we looked at the players who performed in the McDonald's game last season? And the 2011, 2010 and 2009 games?
Sounds like fun to me.
So I did it. I checked the rosters of the last four McDonald's games and created my list of the five biggest underachievers and five biggest over-achievers in college basketball this season. I studied Scout.com's Top 25 rankings to help break ties.
I also put together a list of the Top 10 teams in the current AP college basketball rankings and how many McDonald's all-Americans and Top 25 Scout players are on their rosters. I think you'll enjoy it.
Let's get started.
FIVE TOP OVERACHIVERS
1. Gonzaga – If you're a college basketball fan, you know better than to look for any of Mark Few's players on these lists. They're absent. Gonzaga has been a national program for more than a decade, but I believe if you commit to the Zags you automatically drop 15 spots in the rankings.
There are, however, 17 McDonald's restaurants in Spokane, Wash., including one 1.38 miles from the Gonzaga campus. So don't say McDonald's has ignored Gonzaga.
2. Michigan – Admit it. You're surprised to see the Wolverines listed this high aren't you?
Me, too. But Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary did not get the call to play in the McDonald's game. None of the three was ranked in Scout's final Top 25. Nice work, John Beilein.
3. Miami – Some people will argue that the Hurricanes deserve to be higher on the list. I can accept that. It's really a technicality that I don't have them listed higher.
Miami does not have a McDonald's all-American. The Hurricanes do, however, have one Top 25 player. Scout listed guard Durand Scott Number 25 in the Class of 2009. He's Miami's top scorer at 13.4 points per game. It's not like having LeBron James, but it's something.
4. Georgetown – You can find the Hoyas tied with Syracuse and Marquette at the top of the Big East standings, but don't waste time looking for McDonald's all-Americans or Top 25 guys. John Thompson III doesn't have any. Unlike his father, JTIII is doing it without Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning or Allen Iverson.
5. Kansas State – A tip of the cap to Bruce Weber, who got the bum's rush from Illinois last March. The Wildcats showed up ranked 13th in the latest AP poll – without anybody who made the recruiting gurus hyperventilate. Weber must be doing something right.
FIVE TOP UNDERACHIEVERS
1. UCLA – This was a difficult call – until I went back to the 2008 videotape. Then Larry Drew pushed the Bruins over the top. UCLA has so many McDonald's all-Americans that Ben Howland can't start them all – Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker from last season; David and Travis Wear from 2009 and Drew from 2008. I won't even count Josh Smith, who transferred out of the program after the season began.
At 19-7 the Bruins aren't awful. But I can understand why Bill Walton is not a big fan of Ben Howland.
2. North Carolina – Frankly, this number surprised me. I thought the Tar Heels had more than five McDonald's all-Americans. They usually have eight. Or more. But the number is five, which seems as if it would be worth more than a fourth-place tie in a down Atlantic Coast Conference. But maybe the ACC is better than you think.
3. Kentucky– This number is a bit misleading. John Calipari has only three McDonald's all-Americans – Kyle Wiltjer, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. But two other guys were ranked Top 25 prospects.
I'm sure you can guess one – the injured Nerlens Noel.
Ryan Harrow. He was ranked 25th in the class of 2009 – ahead of NBA Slam Dunk Contest winner Terrence Ross (No. 26); Keith Appling (45) of Michigan State and Aaron Craft (97) of Ohio State.
4. Duke – The Blue Devils aren't having a bad year or even a North Carolina year. They're in the hunt for a Number One seed for the NCAA Tournament, even after burping at Maryland Saturday.
But Mike Krzyzewski has six McDonald's all-American and four Top 25 recruits on that roster. I don't know about you, but I expect more out of Coach K. I imagine Duke fans do, too.
5. North Carolina State – I'm not trying to pick on the ACC. Really, I'm not. Maybe the problem is that the folks who pick the players for the McDonald's game are in love with ACC basketball. You think that might be the case?
Mark Gottfried had four McDonald's all-Americans – and his team is tied with North Carolina for fourth place in the ACC. That does not compute.
TOP TEN TEAMS IN AP POLL
Indiana – Two McDonald's all-Americans (Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell), one Scout Top 25 player (Zeller)
Miami – No McDonald's, one Scout Top 25 (Durand Scott).
Gonzaga – No McDonald's, no Scout Top 25.
Michigan State – Three McDonald's (Keith Appling, Brandon Dawson, Gary Harris), three Scout Top 25 (Harris, Dawson, Adreian Payne).
Florida – Two McDonald's (Patric Young, Kenny Boynton), two Scout Top 25 (Young, Boynton).
Duke – Six McDonald's (Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson) four Scout Top 25 (Kelly, Mason Plumlee, Sulaimon, Jefferson).
Michigan – No McDonald's, no Scout Top 25.
Syracuse – Three McDonald's (Michael Carter-Williams, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman), two Scout Top 25 (Christmas, Coleman.)
Kansas – One McDonald's (Perry Ellis), no Scout Top 25.
10. Louisville – Three McDonald's (Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan), two Scout Top 25 (Blackshear, Behanan).