LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This is the Final Four that will make you wonder why you obsess over recruiting rankings.
My dog Ruby could have done a better job guessing on the evaluation on many guys who will play in Minneapolis this weekend.
Pick a team.
And I do mean any. Don’t look for any Top 25 high school prospects playing critical roles in the Final Four. There are more no-star guys (Matt Mooney, Texas Tech) than 5-star guys playing important roles.
Begin with Auburn. You saw Jared Harper and Bryce Brown, those guards who hung 50 stinging points on Kentucky in the Midwest Regional final Sunday. The Wildcats have had walk-ons more highly regarded than one of Bruce Pearl’s backcourt starters.
That one would be Brown, who committed to Pearl and the Tigers in 2015. Kentucky fans loved to complain about the rankings of the guys Tubby Smith signed at UK. Even Smith would have walked into another gym when Brown played summer AAU ball.
According to 247Sports, when Brown was a senior at Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia, he was ranked the 369th best player in the country as well 91st best shooting guard and 22nd best prospect in Georgia. On Saturday during a media session, Brown grinned when somebody asked if Kentucky had recruited him.
“I wasn’t recruited at all,” he said.
Brown scored 24 on Kentucky Sunday, but he was not as un-guardable as Harper, the jockey-sized point guard who scored 26.
Harper was ranked No. 90 nationally in the Class of 2016. He was also the No. 21 point guard, which is not as embarrassing as you think when you realize he was four spots ahead of Purdue’s Carsen Edwards.
Did Edwards make the tournament? Did he make any shots?
Pick a team.
Let’s try Virginia. The Cavaliers actually have six four-star prospects on their roster, but let’s focus on the guy who made the game-saving pass — point guard Kihei Clark.
Clark had the kind of recruiting profile that makes you wonder how he didn’t land at William & Mary or High Point.
Who takes a 5-foot-9 point guard ranked the No. 393 prospect in his class, the 91st prospect at his position and the 38th best player in California.
Tony Bennett does. Good thing Bennett does not obsess over 5-stars because he doesn’t have any.
Pick a team.
I could pick a half-dozen guys off Chris Beard’s Texas Tech roster, but I’ll stick with Jarrett Culver, the Red Raiders’ likely first-round NBA draft pick.
I don’t have enough space to list all the guys ranked ahead of Culver in his class (No. 312 in 2017), position (No. 64 at shooting guard) and state (No. 24 in Texas). What a loser.
Pick a team.
This is easy. The only one left is Michigan State. Tom Izzo is a Hall of Famer. He can sign anybody he wants, right?
Sure. Michigan State has the only 5-star prospect in the Final Four, but he won’t score a point. Joshua Langford is injured.
That leaves the Spartans with seven four-star prospects, a three-star freshman from Indiana (Aaron Henry of Ben Davis, the No. 35 small forward) and some walk-on named Kenny Goins.
Of the 16 recruiting classes signed by Auburn, Virginia, Texas Tech and Michigan State in the last four years, guess how many were ranked in the Top 10?
Two — Michigan State’s 2016 class (which featured Miles Bridges) and Virginia’s 2016 class (Kyle Guy; Ty Jerome, De’Andre Hunter and Jay Huff).
Here are the recruiting rankings over the last four seasons at the Final Four programs, according to 247Sports:
Virginia: 63, 98, 7 and 62. Average ranking: 58.
Texas Tech: 33, 39, 135 and 74. Average ranking: 70.
Michigan State: 17, 49, 3 and 25. Average ranking: 24
Auburn: unranked with zero 2018 freshmen; 22, 12 and 16. Average ranking: 17.
“We’re just happy to be here,” Harper said.
If you see a Final Four or a national championship recruiting profile in there, let me and my dog Ruby know what we’re missing.
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