College Basketball Recruiting Rankings: Not an Exact Science

A young Dwyane Wade

As a new list of player rankings come out, many young players look to see where they are ranked. Although recruiting analysts spend a lot of their time making these rankings, they are not an exact science of what will happen in the future. In this article, we will look back at careers of NBA stars that slipped through the cracks and were not highly rated coming out of high school.


Victor Oladipo:

Oladipo played high school basketball at national powerhouse DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Maryland. As a senior he averaged 11.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. Oladipo was named to the Washington Post 2010 All-Metro First Team, but only ranked him as the 39th shooting guard in his class. Scouts still just saw him as an athlete with limited basketball skills. After committing to Indiana University, Oladipo worked relentlessly to develop his basketball skills in order to become a better-rounded basketball player. By the end of his junior year, Victor was a 1st team All-American and Sporting News Men's College Basketball Player of the Year. Victor declared for the draft at the end of his junior year and was drafted 2nd overall in the 2013 Draft by Orlando.


Damian Lillard:

Lillard was a standout for both Oakland High School and his AAU team, the Oakland Rebels. However, many of the top schools had their focus on another Oakland AAU team, the Oakland Soldiers, and their star point guard, Brandon Jennings.  Lillard was only regarded as a two-star prospect by and was not heavily recruited. As a freshman at Weber State, Lillard was voted first-team all-conference. By his redshirt junior year, Lillard had won Big Sky Conference Player of the year twice and was second in the nation in scoring. Damian declared for the draft at the end of his junior year and was drafted 6th overall in the 2012 Draft by Portland. He was voted unanimously as the 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year and is regarded as one of the league’s uprising stars.


Dwyane Wade:

Wade attended Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, but really didn’t get that much playing time until he grew four inches the summer before his junior year. From there, his game began to flourish and by his senior year he averaged 27.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. Still, Wade was only seventh in the voting for the Illinois Mr. Basketball Award and only three college basketball teams (Marquette University, Illinois State, and DePaul University) recruited him due to his academic problems. After sitting out his freshman year at Marquette due to academics, Wade exploded onto the college basketball scene. In his junior year, he led them into the Final Four, including recording a triple double against a top-ranked Kentucky team in the Elite Eight game. Wade has played with the Miami Heat his entire NBA career and is a 9-time NBA-All Star and 3-time NBA Champion.


Paul George:

George did not play organized basketball until his freshman year at Pete Knight High School in Palmdale, California. As a sophomore, he began the season on the JV team, but was moved up to the varsity after the season started. By his senior year, George led Knight to the Golden League championship and was named the League Most Valuable Player. However, only had him ranked as a 2 star prospect, he wasn’t even the best player on his AAU team (that title belonged to Jrue Holiday.) Ultimately, he chose Fresno State over offers from schools like Georgetown and Penn State because of greater opportunities for playing.  George’s work ethic showed as he upped his numbers following his freshman year from 14.3 to 16.8 points per game, 6.2 to 7.2 rebounds per game and 70 percent free throw shooting to 91 percent. George declared after his sophomore year and was drafted 10th overall in the 2010 Draft by Indiana. George has continued to put in the work to develop into something special as he was voted to his first All-Star game in 2013, along with the winning the NBA Most Improved Player award.


Stephen Curry:

Curry attended Charlotte Christian School in Charlotte, North Carolina. At Charlotte Christian School, Curry was named All-State and team MVP while he led his team to three conference titles. Despite Curry’s success, he did not receive any scholarship offers from major-conference schools. only had him as the 36th ranked point guard of his class, many recruiters were questioning Curry’s, 6’0 160 pound frame. Even Virginia Tech, where Curry's father, Dell, is in their Hall of Fame, would only offer him a walk-on player. After receiving offers from Davidson College, Virginia Commonwealth, and Winthrop, Curry chose Davidson College. In his freshman year, Curry led the Southern Conference in scoring, averaging 21.5 points per game. In his sophomore year, Curry led his 10th seeded Davidson team all the way to the Elite Eight and was even nominated for an ESPY in the Breakthrough Player of the Year category. After leading the nation in scoring his junior year, Curry declared for the draft and was drafted 7th overall in the 2009 Draft by Golden State. After injuries plagued him early his career, Curry broke out during the 2012–13 NBA season, setting a record for three-pointers in the regular season and many memorable individual performances during the playoffs.