In the big picture, college basketball was robbed of some of its future stars by the NBA. Take away guys like Ndudi Ebi, James Lang, Kendrick Perkins and Travis Outlaw and you take away four elite level talents that would have been standouts early in their careers.
Overall, 2003 was an average year for college basketball. This class won't go down as one that re-stocked the cupboard from early defections. Half of the schools we ranked among the 10 best classes after the fall signing period we negatively impacted by the NBA or via transfer (see Duke). When it was all said and done Florida State proved to be the big winner.
Most observers in the game figured Leonard Hamilton would improve the talent level at Florida State, but few thought it would happen so swiftly and with this kind of success. Kudos to the Seminoles for a remarkable effort.
Class of 2003 Recruiting Class Rankings
1. Florida State: It's pretty remarkable when you think about it. Instead of Bobby Bowden landing top billing in Tallahassee it's Leonard Hamilton making waves: Top prospect: Vakeaton Wafer (No. 15).
2. Louisiana State: This group is built for speed, transition and full court, attacking basketball. There's a good mix of players and three rank in the Top 40: Top prospect: Brandon Bass (No. 14).
14. Oklahoma: The Sooners used connections in Minnesota and convinced a pair of teammates in Ohio to get this ranking. Look for them to get Longar Longar back after a prep year. Top prospect: Andrew Lavender (No. 29).
15. Southern Cal: Wonder twin powers activate. Shape of two high-flying wing men. Henry Bibby is nothing if not loaded in the athleticism department and they signed a PG late. Top prospect: Rodrick Stewart (No. 35).
16. Florida: A late surge with a former SEC signee gave the Gators a pair of Top 50 talents to go with a pair of shooters in the backcourt. Top prospect: Chris Richard (No. 44).
17. Cincinnati: No secret here as the strength of this class lies in its fine junior college additions. The Bearcats spilt up four grants with two high schoolers and two jucos. Top prospect: Robert Whaley.
20. Georgetown: Here's a class that quietly snuck up on us. With a pair of top 100 kids, the Hoyas have a shot blocker and a point man of the future. Top prospect: Darian Townes (No. 62).
23. DePaul: This is the kind of class a young head coach needs. There's guy at each position, skilled players and some athletes. Overall, a good collection. Top prospect: Wesley Green (No. 53).
25. Xavier: The sum is greater than the individual parts. Indiana's Mr. Basketball highlights a balanced collection of talent. Top prospect: Justin Cage (No. 71)
Honorable Mention (listed alphabetically): Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Charlotte, Duke, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Marquette, Miami, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Old Dominion, Oregon, Providence, Richmond, South Carolina, Tennessee, UNLV, Valparaiso, Villanova.
[From Coach Roy: No Northwestern here, but 3 of our Big 10 opponents next year, and as Greg Kane noted, Florida State also will be adding these Top 25 kids to their lineups. The Big 10 and the NU Schedule just isn't getting any easier, and won't be for the forseeable future.]
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