This was a really weird class to start this series with. Not going to lie to you guys, this class is pretty weak. Overall, there’s some fun names to look back on and remember but definitely no Hall of Famers. Just a bunch of role players and hard workers you’ll remember well from mid-2000’s basketball!
First Team All-NBA
Zach Randolph (#1 Player) – Forward (Marion, Indiana)
From number one in the class to the best player in the league, Zach Randolph or Z-Bo as most know him best had an impressive career. For 18 seasons Randolph was a bruising presence down low that had an old school game, combined with his left hand made him oddly fun to watch as the era changed around him. A two-time All-Star, Z-Bo will be most remembered for his time in Memphis as he helped lead the slow and physical Grizzlies to their best time in franchise history.
Gerald Wallace (#4) – Forward (Childersburg, Alabama)
The number four player in this class, Gerald Wallace had a really weird NBA career. At his best, he was the best player in the short history of the Charlotte Bobcats but at his worst, Wallace was a salary dump that somehow managed to go the other way in two of the most lopsided trades in NBA history (Portland acquiring Damian Lillard and Boston fleecing Brooklyn). Wallace in his prime was an efficient two way forward perfectly suited as a role player in 2000’s NBA basketball.
Caron Butler (#47) – Forward (Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine)
Ranked at 47 coming out of high school, Caron Butler definitely was the biggest steal of the 2000 high school class. After a stellar career at Connecticut where he averaged over 18 points a game, Butler took his smooth style to the NBA. Tuff Juice, his nick name and title of his book, was one of the best role players of the 2000’s. Not quite good enough to be a star on a good team but certainly a respected vet who you couldn’t leave open in the clutch, Butler had a solid NBA career.
Luke Ridnour (#68) – Guard (Blaine, Washington)
For the number 68 player in his class, Luke Ridnour had quite the impressive basketball life. At Oregon in his final season, Ridnour averaged almost 20-points a game and won Pac-10 player of the year. From there, Ridnour used his ability to transition into being a solid starter in the NBA for a long time. From not even a top 60 player in his class to 493 career NBA starts, Ridnour proved people wrong throughout his career.
Chris Duhon (#6) – Guard (Salmen in Slidell, Louisiana)
Chris Duhon’s career peaked in college. For some that can be an insult but for a guy like Duhon who was two-time all ACC and a National Champion at Duke, topping that in the NBA would’ve been very difficult. To his credit, despite being only six foot one, he managed to translate his hard-nosed defensive style to the league to the tune of nine NBA seasons. Duhon is the type of guy who had none of the physical advantages but managed to get everything possible out of his career and that’s something you have to respect.
Most Disappointing in the League
Darius Miles (#3) – Forward (East St. Louis in East St. Louis, Illinois)
Darius Miles is famous for all the wrong reasons. Miles is part of a select group of athletes that helped to make the NBA decide to stop allowing high school players to enter the league. He had all the physical gifts but much like the likes of Stromile Swift and Kwame Brown, mentally Miles was nowhere near ready for the NBA. Did it help he was drafted by the disfunctional Clippers? Absolutely not. However, Miles career should be remembered for more than dunking on some dudes off the bench for marginal Clippers teams.
Best College Player
Eddie Griffin (#2) – Forward (Roman Catholic in Philadelphia)
For one tantalizing season at Seton Hall, Eddie Griffin was a bucket. Averaging 18 and 10 as a freshman is truly impressive and it earned him all of the national freshman awards. On top of all of that, he made second team All-Big East and turned one great season into the number seven pick in the NBA Draft. Although the league didn’t work out due to his tragic passing in a car accident, Griffin’s one year as a Pirate remains the stuff of school legend.
Player I Completely Forgot Existed
DeShawn Stevenson (#6) – Guard (Washington Union in Fresno, California)
Do you ever see a name and have an absolute blast from the past? For me that happened with DeShawn Stevenson, No Chill Gil’s back court mate when they were facing off with a young LeBron. Remember when LeBron could only beat one team in the playoffs, and it was the Wizards? Anyways, I have nothing else to say about Stevenson other than those Wizards teams are definitely worth a YouTube search.
Class Grade- D
The only reason this class doesn’t get a F is because the role players were so solid. Otherwise, zero elite players, zero major college award winners outside of Griffin and Ridnour and no All-Americans, this was not the class to hitch your wagon to if you were a struggling program. In the league they competed hard and earned their money and minutes, something worth respecting absolutely but, busts like Miles make it hard to give this class anything higher than a D.