Yesterday, Fansided150’s own Evan Williamson gave his opinion on the Top 5 recruiting steals of the past five years in the world of football. As Evan put it, he looked at “surprise players who seemingly come from nothing and go overlooked without many big time offers keep the hopes of many high school players alive, and they continue to mesmerize fans and analysts about how they could have gone so unnoticed.” That got me thinking, what about basketball?
This list of the top five steals of the past six seasons is about guys who proved people wrong and excelled way beyond where they were supposed to. Just like Evan, I did my best to compile this list, which involves the recruiting classes from 2007 until 2012 (obviously 2013 players aren’t included because they have not played in a game so far) and includes an honorable mention list of guys who just missed the cut. This list often proves that it is not always the number of stars in high school that determines a good player, but rather the worthiness of stars after college.
Victor Oladipo – Indiana
I know what you’re thinking, how is this guy even in this article. In 2010, he was a Top 50 shooting guard and a Top 150 overall recruit, but he was only a three-star athlete. Oladipo made the list as an honorable mention because of the fact that he was a three-star recruit. He played three seasons while averaging 13.6 points per game, 6.3 rebounds per game, and 2.2 steals per game as a junior. He was the the 2013 Sporting News Player of the Year, 2013 co-NABC Defensive Player of the Year, and 2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He also was drafted 2nd overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2013 NBA Draft.
Paul George – Fresno State
George was rated as a three-star recruit in the class of 2008 and chose the Bulldogs over Pepperdine and Santa Clara. After two seasons with the Bulldogs, George was selected 10th overall by the Indiana Pacers in the 2010 NBA Draft. Since then, he’s been named to an All-Rookie team, an All-NBA team, and All-Star game, and the 2013 NBA Most Improved Player.
Jimmy Butler – Marquette
Just like McCollum, Jimmy Butler was unranked and had zero-star coming out of high school and went to Junior College for a year before transferring to Marquette. In three seasons, he averaged about 12 points per game and shot around 51.1% from the field. He helped Marquette to two NCAA Tournaments and one Sweet Sixteen during his junior and senior seasons. The Chicago Bulls drafted Butler with their 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft and now he is a key part of that NBA team.
Top Six Steals
5. Damian Lillard – Weber State
It might be hard to think that the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year was only a two-star high school recruit in 2008, but its true. Damian Lillard was unranked and chose to play at Weber State over Boise State ,San Diego State, and Wichita State. He played major minutes for the Wildcats and had a break-out year during his senior season. During his senior year, Lillard averaged 24. 5 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 4.0 assists per game, and 1.5 steals per game (all career highs). He was so impressive that the Portland Trailbalzers drafted him with the 6th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
4. C.J. McCollum – Lehigh
McCollum was an unranked, zero-star recruit coming out of high school in the class of 2009 and only had one offer from the Lehigh Mountain Hawks. McCollum played four seasons at Lehigh and averaged 23.9 points per game, 5.0 rebounds per game, 2.9 assists per game, and 1.4 steals per game as a senior. He was a two-time Patriot League Player of the Year and helped Lehigh into the 2012 NCAA Tournament where they upset #2 Duke in the first round. In the 2013 NBA Draft, the Portland Trailblazers selected McCollum with the 10th overall pick.
3. Jimmer Fredette – BYU
Jimmer Fredette might have been one of the most popular college basketball players, but was an unranked, three-star high school recruit in 2007. After his senior season, Jimmer was named the 2011 national player of the year, being so named by the Associated Press, Basketball Times, CBSSports.com, the National Association of Basketball Coaches, SI.com, Athlon Sports, and Sporting News. He lead BYU to four straight NCAA Tournament and made it as far as the Sweet Sixteen. He was also drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft before being traded to the Sacramento Kings.
2. Shelvin Mack – Butler
Shelvin Mack is the only player on this list to be to not just one national championship game, but two national championship games. However, he was just a three-star recruit coming out of high school in 2008. Mack never received a major offer and choose to play for Brad Stevens at Butler. In his last season at Butler, he averaged 16.0 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 3.4 assists per game. He also recorded 13 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block in the 2011 National Championship.
1. Doug McDermott – Creighton
Not often does a college basketball player stay at his school for four seasons, however, forward Doug McDermott will play his fourth and final season for the Bluejays next season. McDermott was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in 2010 and chose to play for his father at Creighton over Northern Iowa. During his time at Creighton, he has been the MVC Freshman of the Year, three-time 1st team All-MVC, two-time MVC Player of the Year, a Lute Olson Award winner (the nation’s top non-freshman and non-transfer men’s player in NCAA Division I basketball). He has also been to two straight NCAA Tournaments and looks to make that three straight this upcoming season.
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Tags: Basketball BYU Cougars C.J. McCollum Creighton Bluejays Damian Lillard Davidson Wildcats Doug McDermott Fresno State Bulldogs Indiana Hoosiers Jimmer Fredette Jimmy Butler Lehigh Mountain Hawks Marquette Golden Eagles Paul George Recruiting Stephen Curry Victor Oladipo Weber State Wildcats