Top 50 Recruits of 2003: Where Are They Now?
With No. 2 overall basketball recruit Jabari Parker expected to announce his college destination today during a news conference at Chicago’s Simeon Career Academy, we look at the current whereabouts of the Top 50 prospects from the Class of 2003 based on Rivals.com.
As with any batch of highly-touted recruits, several players on this list have followed through on their immense potential. Others? Not so much, as only 14 players are currently in the NBA (designated with a *).
1. LeBron James* (No College): Heard of him? James skipped college and has become the NBA’s consensus best player as an eight-time All-Star, three-time MVP, and now finally an NBA champion. (pictured)
2. Luol Deng* (Duke): After averaging 15.1 PPG in one season at Duke and leading the Blue Devils to the Final Four, Deng has spent his entire career with the Chicago Bulls, averaging a solid 16.0 PPG.
3. Shannon Brown* (Michigan State): Brown played three years in East Lansing before bolting for the 2006 NBA Draft. Best known for his highlight reel dunks at the next level, Brown is now a starter for the Phoenix Suns (12.6 PPG).
4. Ndudi Ebi (No College): The Nigerian big man bailed on his commitment to Arizona to enter the ‘03 draft. After two disappointing seasons with the Timberwolves, Ebi has spent his entire career overseas. The biggest bust of the ’03 class currently plays in Italy, averaging 10.5 PPG for Sidigas AV.
5. Charlie Villanueva* (UConn): A key reserve on UConn’s 2004 national championship team as a freshman, Villanueva spent one more season in Storrs before being selected seventh overall by the Raptors in the 2005 NBA Draft. He is a bench player for the Pistons.
6. Kendrick Perkins* (No College): The big man from Nederland, TX, originally committed to John Calipari and Memphis but opted for the preps-to-pros route. His interior defense powered the Celtics to the 2008 NBA title, and he is now the Thunder’s starting center.
7. David Padgett (Kansas): Padgett spent his freshman season with the Jayhawks as they made the 2004 Elite Eight, immediately after which the Reno, NV, native transferred to Louisville and helped them make the ’08 Elite Eight. After a two-year pro career in Spain, he’s now an assistant basketball coach at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).
8. James Lang (No College): The big man from Mobile was a second-round selection by the Hornets in the 2003 NBA Draft but never fully caught on with a team either in the NBA, D-League or overseas. Lang’s playing career essentially ended in 2009 after a stroke sadly left him partially paralyzed.
9. Brian Butch (Wisconsin): The skilled, homegrown center redshirted his freshman year despite his status as a consensus Top 10 prospect. Butch was a part of an Elite Eight (2005) and Sweet Sixteen (2008) team in Madison and is currently a starter for the D-League’s Bakersfield Jam.
10. Leon Powe (Cal): After overcoming a trauma-filled childhood in Oakland, Powe became one of the better Cal players in recent memory despite dealing with injuries throughout his time in Berkeley. Powe won an NBA title with the Celtics in 2008 but hasn’t seen action since playing in Puerto Rico this past spring.
11. Brandon Bass* (LSU): Bass became the second of four LSU stars to earn SEC Player of the Year honors in the 2000s when he earned the award in 2005. A second-round selection of the Hornets in 2005, Bass is currently a bench player for the Celtics.
12. Mustafa Shakur (Arizona): Shakur was a starter for Lute Olson from Day One in Tucson, guiding the Wildcats to the 2005 Elite Eight and serving as a co-captain during his senior season in 2006–2007. A veteran of the European circuit, the Philly native is currently a member of Italy’s Sidigas Avellino.
13. Travis Outlaw* (No College): A native of Starkville, MS, Outlaw was initially destined for hometown Mississippi State but opted to enter the ’03 NBA Draft, where the Trail Blazers selected him 23rd overall. He’s been solid if unspectacular in 10-plus seasons. He’s been a member of the Kings since 2011.
14. Chris Paul* (Wake Forest): Other than King James, Paul is the most accomplished player on this list. He enjoyed two stellar seasons at Wake Forest, which has carried over into an NBA career with the Hornets and Clippers highlighted by five straight All-Star Game appearances (2008–2012). (pictured)
15. Kris Humphries* (Minnesota): Humphries put up big numbers in his lone season with the Gophers, but the team didn’t win (12–18). Now a starter for the Brooklyn Nets, he’s been solid but not great in the NBA and is more famous for his brief marriage to reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
16. Olu Famutimi (Arkansas): The Canadian’s athleticism was impressive, and it allowed him to earn Freshman All-SEC honors in 2004. Inexplicably, he entered the 2005 draft and was not selected. He’s played in the D-League and five foreign countries but is currently a free agent.
17. Linas Kleiza* (Missouri): While the Tigers never fulfilled the expectations they had upon signing Kleiza, the Lithuanian enjoyed a successful two years in Columbia and was a 2005 first-round NBA selection. He’s now a bench player for the Raptors.
18. Trevor Ariza* (UCLA): Ariza ushered in a new era of the Bruins owning the Southern California recruiting ground, even though he only stayed for one year in Westwood. He’s now on his sixth NBA team (Wizards) and is a starter when healthy.
19. J.R. Giddens (Kansas): Gidden’s KU career was supposed by as high-flying as his dunks, but it came to an ignominious end following a 2005 bar fight and stabbing that led to his transfer to New Mexico. The 2008 Mountain West Conference Co-Player of the Year, Giddens now plays professionally in Italy.
20. Mike Jones (Maryland): The sweet-shooting Massachusetts native set a Terrapins record for three-pointers made in a game (9) but never made it past the second round of the Big Dance. Since 2007 he’s played overseas in six countries and is currently in Romania with CSU Asesoft Ploiseti.
21. Von Wafer (Florida State): Wafer was a dangerous three-point shooter with the Seminoles, but his academic troubles in Tallahassee proved his undoing. He was drafted in 2005 after his sophomore year and has embarked on a journeyman career that currently has him playing in China.
22. Regis Koundjia (LSU): Koundjia started 20 games for the Bayou Bengals as a freshman but finished out his final two seasons at George Washington. Now a pro basketball free agent, Koundjia has previously seen time with the PBL’s Vermont Frost Heaves and three separate French teams.
23. Alexander Johnson (Florida State): Johnson’s toughness and athleticism (40-inch vertical leap) on the inside set the template for a typical Leonard Hamilton player with the Seminoles. Now 29, Johnson is in his first season with China’s Liaoning.
24. Darryl Watkins (Syracuse): Watkins ended his four-year career in Syracuse fifth in the school’s record book for all-time blocked shots (263) but scored little. The center is in his first season with Bulgaria’s Lukoil Academik.
25. Rodrick Stewart (USC): Stewart started 17 games as USC’s point guard in 2003–2004 but left Troy in December 2004 for Kansas. He was a role player on KU’s 2008 national championship team and recently completed his first season in Australia.
26. Drew Lavender (Oklahoma): Pint-sized (5-foot-7) but potent, Lavender keyed the Sooners’ run to the 2004–2005 Big 12 regular season title. He was even better after transferring to Xavier, who he led to the 2008 Elite Eight. The Columbus, OH, native last played professionally in 2009 and now runs basketball camps in his hometown.
27. Brandon Cotton (Michigan State): Originally a Michigan State signee, Cotton left East Lansing shortly after the start of his freshman year and wound up at Detroit, for whom he became a prodigious scorer. Unfortunately, he left the Titans in November of his senior year. He most recently played in Iceland.
28. Dion Harris (Michigan): A 6-foot-3 combo guard out of Detroit, Michigan’s 2003 Mr. Basketball was a bright spot in the otherwise unspectacular early- to mid-2000s for the Wolverines. He plays for Akita NH in Japan, the sixth country he’s played in professionally.
29. Ronnie Brewer* (Arkansas): The son of former Arkansas star guard Ron Brewer made his dad proud en route to First Team All-SEC accolades in 2005 and 2006. Now a starter for the Knicks, the younger Brewer has solidified a reputation for accurate shooting (50.1% career FG) and tough perimeter defense.
30. Demetris Nichols (Syracuse): Nichols concluded his career with the Orange by leading the Big East in scoring as a senior (18.8 PPG). The 28-year old is a member of the D-League’s Sioux Falls Skyforce.
31. Richard McBride (Illinois): McBride was the first guard off the bench in the Illini’s run to the 2005 national championship game and cemented his reputation as one of the Big Ten’s better three-point shooters as a junior and senior. He now coaches basketball at Cairo High in southern Illinois.
32. Sean Banks (Memphis): Unfortunately, Banks is still demonstrating the same penchant for trouble that got him booted from the Tigers in January 2005. After playing in the NBDL, he plead not guilty to burglarizing homes in Sparta and Jefferson, NJ, in August 2011. (pictured)
33. Ekene Ibekwe (Maryland): Only four players in Terps history can boast having 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 blocked shots for their career, and Ibekwe is one of them. Since graduating, he has played in six different countries and is currently in Spain.
34. Aaron Brooks* (Oregon): The lightning-quick Seattle native earned several honors with the Ducks, including First Team All-Pac-10 and Third Team All-American accolades in 2007, when Oregon reached the Elite Eight. Currently with the Sacramento Kings, Brooks was the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2010.
35. Thomas Gardner (Missouri): Like fellow Mizzou recruit Kleiza, Gardner was a gifted scorer, averaging 19.6 PPG in 2005–2006. Undrafted by the NBA in 2006, he’s current with Toros Nuevo Laredo in Mexico.
36. Courtney Sims (Michigan): Sims was an All-Big Ten Freshman in 2004 and improved his scoring output each year in Ann Arbor, from 7.7 PPG as a freshman to 11.4 as a senior. Sims plays for South Korea’s KCC Egis.
37. Dameon Mason (Marquette): Mason made the Conference USA All-Freshman team with Marquette in 2004 but transferred to LSU in 2005, where he finished his career. He played professionally from 2009–2010 before returning to the Chicago area, where he’s now a recruiter, trainer and coach for the AAU team Illinois Attack.
38. Tack Minor (LSU): One of the better-named players from the mid-2000s, Minor never lived up to the hype befitting a player who once scored 72 points in a high school game. He left school midway through his redshirt junior year and last played professionally in England for Leicester City.
39. Martin Iti (Charlotte): The Australian-born center never averaged more than 6.4 PPG for either Charlotte or New Mexico State, where he transferred. He went undrafted by the NBA in 2008 and most recently played in New Zealand for the Wellington Exodus Saints.
40. Mohamed Abukar (Florida): Abukar saw 13 MPG as a freshman but transferred to San Diego State midway through his sophomore season to be closer to his hometown of Escondido. He was Second Team All-Mountain West in ’06 and ’07 and, like Darryl Watkins, plays for Bulgaria’s Lukoil Academik.
41. Chris Taft (Pitt): The 2004 Big East Rookie of the Year, Taft set a Panthers all-time record for field goals made as a freshman (162). The Brooklyn native turned pro after his sophomore season but has struggled with injuries ever since. He left his most recent team, Finland’s UU-Korihait, earlier this month. (pictured)
42. Ivan Harris (Ohio State): A three-point specialist for the Buckeyes team that reached the 2007 national title game, Harris has played professionally on five different continents: Europe, North America, South America, Australia and now Asia, where he spent 2011–2012 with Japan’s Miyazaki SS.
43. Jackie Butler (No College): Butler has gone completely off the map since being waived by the Rockets in 2007. Before that, the onetime Mississippi State and Tennessee recruit was a roster player for the Knicks and Spurs, the latter of whom he earned an NBA championship ring with.
44. Wesley Green (DePaul): Green suffered a season-ending shoulder injury eight games into his freshman year and was never the same after that, struggling especially with weight issues. After playing briefly in Portugal in 2008, he returned to DePaul to receiver a master’s degree in secondary education.
45. Chris Richard (Florida): The burly 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward was eventually supplanted by Joakim Noah and Al Horford in the Gators frontcourt but was nonetheless a valuable bench contributor for back-to-back national title teams. He retired from basketball in July after most recently spending 2010–2011 in China with Liaoning.
46. Marquise Kately (Cal): The San Francisco product averaged 10.5 and 9.3 PPG in his first two years with the Bears but left afterward for personal reasons, eventually winding up at Morgan State in Baltimore. Kately led Morgan State to a berth in the 2009 NCAA Tournament but hasn’t been heard from since.
47. Terrence Roberts (Syracuse): Roberts emerged as a key Orange contributor after Billy Edelin left the program, averaging over 10 PPG and 7 RPG as a junior. But a knee injury prevented him from improving as a senior. A worldwide journeyman, Roberts is currently a free agent.
48. Gary Ervin (Mississippi State): Ervin made the ’04 All-SEC Freshman team but opted to transfer to SEC West Division rival Arkansas in 2005. Stateside he’s never played higher than the D-League but has enjoyed a solid foreign career that currently has him in Australia.
49. Lodrick Stewart (USC): The identical twin of No. 25 recruit Rodrick Stewart, Lodrick opted to stay at USC after his brother transferred. He ended his career with Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 honors in 2007 and last played professionally in Lithuania.
50. Cartier Martin* (Kansas State): Martin was a prodigious scorer with the Wildcats, earning Second Team All-Big 12 honors in 2006 and ’07. As a pro, Martin has bounced around the NBA, D-League, Turkey, Italy and China and is currently a member of the Washington Wizards.