Keegan: Manning heads top class
Russell Robinson, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, Jeremy Case and Rodrick Stewart all will be gone after the 2007-08 basketball season. Darrell Arthur, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins are candidates for early exits, as well.
That means Kansas University could lose as many as nine players in one season, which makes the recruiting class now being courted by Bill Self and his staff a pivotal one that needs to rank among the best in recent history in order for Kansas to maintain its status as a perennial threat to reach the Final Four.
Travis Releford, a long, explosive slasher on the wing, represents a nice start, and with plenty of playing time to go around, Releford is sure to be joined by another big class.
Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self consistently have recruited enough talent to Kansas to remain an elite power, though Brown tended not to land quite as many marquee names as his successors.
A look at the top 10 recruiting classes since Brown’s first, the 1983-84 class that included Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon: (The rankings are based not on how they were touted, rather how they produced. Some projecting is involved for active classes.)
1. 1984-85 (Brown): Altonio Campbell, Rodney Hull, Danny Manning, Milt Newton, Mark Pellock. Manning was more responsible for elevating a team to a national title in 1988 than any player since Michigan State’s Magic Johnson brought out the best in Greg Kelser and Jay Vincent in 1979.
2. 1999-2000 (Williams): Nick Collison, Drew Gooden, Kirk Hinrich: Back-to-back Final Four appearances, the second coming when Gooden was a rookie in the NBA.
3. 1990-91 (Williams): David Johanning, Patrick Richey, Richard Scott, Rex Walters: The one-year wait for Walters, a transfer from Northwestern, was well worth it. The word aggressive doesn’t do justice to the way Walters, now coaching at Florida Atlantic, played the game.
4. 2005-06 (Self): Chalmers, Micah Downs, Brandon Rush, Stewart, Julian Wright. Even without Wright, this class has a chance to follow an Elite Eight appearance with a spot in the Final Four.
5. 2006-07 (Self): Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Brady Morningstar. Look for a break-out season from Arthur and at least six NCAA tourney victories in two seasons for this class.
6. 1993-94 (Williams): Jerod Haase, Scot Pollard, Nick Proud, Jacque Vaughn, B.J. Williams. A floor general (Vaughn), a shooter (Haase) and a post presence (Pollard) made this class a nice haul.
7. 2001-02 (Williams): Jeff Hawkins, Keith Langford, Michael Lee, Aaron Miles, Wayne Simien. Three starters on a team that made it to the Final Four.
8. 1995-96 (Williams): Paul Pierce, T.J. Pugh, Ryan Robertson. Didn’t make a lot of noise in March.
9. 1994-95 (Williams): Raef LaFrentz, C.B. McGrath, Billy Thomas. Never made it to a Final Four.
10. 1986-87 (Brown): Sean Alvarado, Robert Coyne, Jeff Gueldner, Keith Harris, Kevin Pritchard, Mark Randall. Pritchard and Randall combined for 3,319 points, ranking them 10th and 11th on the all-time KU scoring list.
Read more at the www2.ljworld.com