Basketball Recruiting Roundup

Last week in the Basketball Recruiting Roundup, we unveiled our Top 10 hoop recruiting classes. This week, we begin a 10-part series breaking down each of those classes by looking at No. 1 Kansas.

Last week in the Basketball Recruiting Roundup, we unveiled our Top 10 hoop recruiting classes, giving a quick glance at the key recruits for each college.

But we also promised that a more complete breakdown of each of the Top 10 classes would be forthcoming. And so, for the next 10 weeks we'll focus on a different college each week and give you the scoop on their Class of 2005 recruits.

Keep in mind that these rankings are based on November's early-signing period and could change based on who signs where in the spring and who ultimately jumps to the NBA.

But for now, let's move on to No. 1:

1. Kansas

Most analysts have Duke rated as the No. 1 class, and there's no doubt the Blue Devils had a great recruiting haul this year.

But for our money, the Jayhawks get the nod at the top because they landed three Top 20 recruits: Homewood-Flossmoor (Ill.) small forward Julian Wright, Juanita (Wash.) small forward Micah Downs and Bartlett (Alaska) point guard Mario Chalmers.

Though none of those three is a big man and the class is only three deep, all three have big-time star potential and could make an immediate impact for the Jayhawks next season. They also prove that Kansas is in good hands with coach Bill Self at the helm.

Wright, a 6-foot-7, 214-pounder who is rated the No. 5 recruit in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com, is the jewel of the class.

A versatile talent who can play all over the floor — he played point guard for his high school team last year and could see time at center this year — Wright averaged 10.2 points, 6.6 boards and 4.7 assists per game as a junior, but stats don't do him justice. His stock soared this summer, when he was named MVP of the Nike Peach Jam and proved to the doubters that he can score when he wants to.

Of course, the only downside for Kansas is that Wright is now getting some NBA buzz. Obviously, if he skipped to the NBA the Jayhawks' class would no longer rank No. 1 — though the same applies to several of the nation's other top recruiting classes that include potential preps-to-pros players — but the good news is that Wright says that isn't a thought right now.

"I try not to think about the future because the present can pass you by," Wright recently told SchoolSports magazine. "I'm grateful for the opportunity to be there, but I really haven't given it any thought. I see myself playing in college."

Downs, a 6-foot-8, 190-pounder, is another versatile wing player who can man several positions and could make the Jayhawks a nightmare to defend in future seasons.

Rated the nation's No. 16 recruit by SchoolSports.com, Downs has been compared to former Duke star and current Golden State Warriors forward Mike Dunleavy Jr. because of his all-around skills, smooth play and length on the wing.

Downs, who averaged 20 points and 12 rebounds per game as a junior, does a little bit of everything on the court, bringing the ball up, shooting from 3-point range, passing like a guard and driving to the hoop.

"The decision to go with Kansas was about coach Self and his staff," Downs recently told SchoolSports magazine. "They are great coaches and good Christians. They're also losing four seniors, and with Keith Langford leaving and J.R. Giddens probably going to the NBA, there will probably be a spot I could fill."

The final piece of Kansas' recruiting puzzle is Chalmers, a smooth 6-foot-2, 175-pound point guard who is rated the No. 18 recruit in the Class of 2005.

A natural leader with tremendous vision and great speed, Chalmers possesses excellent passing and ball-handling skills and is extremely quick off the dribble. When he penetrates, he's as dangerous finishing at the hoop as he is setting up teammates.

Chalmers, who averaged 23.2 points, 6.0 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior, could be a candidate to start as a freshman with Aaron Miles graduating.

And when you can say that about the lowest-ranked member of a recruiting class, well, that explains why Kansas lands the top spot in our rankings.


More Recruiting News

In other recruiting news, Reserve Christian (La.) junior point guard Demond Carter committed to Baylor last weekend. The 5-foot-9, 170-pound playmaker is rated the No. 36 recruit in the Class of 2006 by SchoolSports.com.

Carter, who averaged 25 points per game as a sophomore, has been on the national recruiting radar screen ever since he attended the Nike All-America Camp as a rising freshman in 2002.


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