Flashback: Class of 2005

When the 2005 class progressed through the high school rankings a decade ago, most scouts at the time considered it to be weak at the top and lacking depth.

But while that has proved true in some respects, the class also generated its share of success stories and players who went on to surprise at the highest levels of the sport.

From a rankings perspective, of course, we evaluate our own performance based on the class results as well. Two conversational avenues therefore avail themselves whenever we examine the impact of any particular group.

The other historical footnote attached to the Class of 2005 is this: It was the final year that players could jump directly from high school to the NBA. The following year produced seniors such as Kevin Durant and Greg Oden, and they began the current one-and-done trend that is so prevalent today.

At a glance, the 2005 haul indeed has not delivered elite performance in the NBA. Quite a few players inhabited our top 25 who never have earned a foothold within the league, and several others entered the association with lofty expectations but have been unable to deliver.

Top dog sputters, but endures

Our No. 1 player that year, Josh McRoberts, illustrates the case. A lanky and skilled power forward from Indiana, McRoberts played two inconsistent seasons at Duke before advancing to the NBA draft. He didn't enter the league to great fanfare, as he lasted all the way to the No. 37 pick in the second round.

Though far from a star, McRoberts never gave up

Beginning his career in Portland and subsequently competing for Indiana, L.A. Lakers, Orlando, Charlotte, Toronto and now Miami, McRoberts essentially has become the quintessential journeyman. He has averaged six points and four rebounds per game for his career, reserve numbers though to his credit he has managed to carve out a lengthy — and lucrative — tenure in the league.

From an NBA perspective, several others held greater esteem than McRoberts. Eight of our top 25 prospects actually entered the NBA directly out of high school, and two became lottery picks in the 2005 draft.

Martell Webster, a 6-7 wing from Seattle and Scout’s No. 4 senior, heard his named called No. 6 by Portland. Webster’s career has been somewhat more productive than McRoberts’, but frankly he did not live up to billing as the No. 6 pick. His career averages include nine points per contest, and he has played for three different franchises.

The Los Angeles Lakers selected New Jersey center Andrew Bynum (Scout’s No. 9 senior) with the No. 10 pick. Critics frequently attached the “mercurial” tag to him based on some apparent personality quirks, but Bynum proved to be a great pick by L.A. Prior to knee problems, and he was a key piece for a championship team and made the 2012 all-star game.

Gerald Green was our No. 2 senior in 2005, just trailing McRoberts. He also declared for the draft straight out of high school, and the 6-8 wing landed with Boston as the No. 18 pick in the first round. Green bounced around for the first 7-8 years of his professional career, but over the past two seasons has found modest success in Phoenix, averaging double figure scoring before trailing off recently.

Ellis defies odds, dazzles with production and efficiency

Next up is a true, diamond in the rough success story. Mississippi guard Monta Ellis wasn’t a sleeper in our minds, given that he was the No. 3 senior in the country, but here’s a case where the NBA wrote off a player due to his lack of ideal size. Standing only 6-3, Ellis always was a shooting guard and not at all a point guard.

Ellis has been a perpetual, borderline all-star

But some players are able to overcome that lack of prototypical size, and Ellis — who went No. 40, to Golden State, in the 2005 draft — certainly slots within that category. During his 10 years in the NBA, Ellis has averaged more than 19 points per game and has shot very high percentages for a guard.

Our full top 10 included McRoberts (No. 1), Green (No. 2), Ellis (No. 3), Webster (No. 4), Georgia guard Louis Williams (No. 5), New York forward Andray Blatche (No. 6), Missouri big man Tyler Hansbrough (No. 7), Illinois forward Julian Wright (No. 8), Bynum (No. 9) and Texas wing C.J. Miles (No. 10).

Williams, Blatche and Miles all declared for the 2005 draft and were selected in the second round. All have played multiple seasons in the NBA and prominent roles for their various teams, making each a highly successful player given that they fell to the second round.

College impact mixed

Just three of our top 10 played in college. McRoberts ultimately fizzled at Duke, as mentioned, but Hansbrough enjoyed four glorious, All-American seasons at North Carolina. Hansbrough set the program’s career scoring record, won national player of the year honors in 2008 and captured an NCAA championship in 2009.

Hansbrough’s rugged style helped him become a UNC legend

He became the No. 13 pick in the 2009 NBA draft and has been an unspectacular, yet steady rotation player.

While Hansbrough never truly was considered an elite professional prospect due to his relative lack of length for an NBA power forward, hopes ran higher for Wright. First, however, the lanky combo forward starred for Bill Self at Kansas and earned third-team All-American honors as a sophomore.

Wright advanced to the 2007 NBA draft and went to the New Orleans Hornets at No. 13. He never was able to establish a foothold in the league, but he remains a fixture overseas.

The Class of 2005 did produce some national champions. In addition to Hansbrough, Brandon Rush (No. 15) and Mario Chalmers (No. 19) prevailed in 2008 with Kansas; Danny Green (No. 24), Bobby Frasor (No. 41) and Marcus Ginyard (No. 52) with UNC; and Walter Hodge (No. 62) with Florida in 2006 and 2007.

Interestingly, arguably the best pro to emerge from this class doesn’t even play basketball. Our No. 93 senior, power forward Jimmy Graham, competed for Miami and then played one year of football following his hoops career. He proved a spectacular gridiron talent and since then has become one of the most successful — and best paid — tight ends in the league.

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