April 7, 2004

2004 Class is coming to a close

With their 2003-04 season and the all-star games in the history books, the 2004 class is coming to a close. Graduation day is slowly approaching and the nation's top prospects will be getting ready to head to their future collegiate and/or professional homes in the next couple of months. Rivals.com has released its latest rankings for the senior class.

Howard, Livingston and Smith hold their spots

Dwight Howard claimed the top spot on the Rivals150 list this time last year, over the course of the last 12 months he did nothing to diminish his reputation as the elite player in his class. Shaun Livingston and Josh Smith were fixtures at the two and three spots, but the rest of the top 10 was not decided until recent weeks.

Stock climbed during senior season and all-star events

Small forward J.R. Smith makes the largest leap among the nation's top 30 prospects, jumping 11 spots from No. 19 to No. 8. Smith, 6-foot-6, 220-pounds, has had strong showings on the all-star circuit, displaying the range to stretch defenses along with the ability to attack the rim. This wing player with an NBA body is strongly considering entering the draft instead of going to North Carolina.

Connecticut-bound Rudy Gay moves from No. 14 to No. 5. College coaches love the versatile big man, and in the recently played Hoop Summit game, the 6-foot-8, 205-pounder did much more than stroke threes from the wing. He scored in the post, in the mid-post, and by pulling up from mid-range. At only 17 years of age, Gay is probably one year in the weight room away from a NBA career.

Although there wasn't a lot of room for him to move up, 6-foot-9, 260-pound center Al Jefferson slides into the 4th spot. Jefferson is more than a back-to-the-basket player; he can run the floor and is effective from midrange. With his improved conditioning and strong all-star performances, it appears more likely that he will bypass college and make the jump straight to the NBA.

The steady and impressive Malik Hairston parlayed a solid senior season and all-star showing into a top 10 ranking at No. 7 overall. The 6-foot-5, 190-pounder is both fundamental and explosive. Expected to make a decision soon, Hairston is the type of player that can catapult a team in the rankings.

Center Randolph Morris more than held his own against some of the nation's top big men this year, including two head to head match-ups with Rivals.com's No. 1 rated prospect Dwight Howard. Morris, 6-foot-11, 250-pounds, is a big man with a throw back, back to the basket game. The verdict is still out on whether he will be at Kentucky, Georgia Tech or in the NBA next season.

Russell Robinson moves up five spots and cracks the top 30 for the first time this year. The one word to describe the 6-foot-1, 180-pound point guard is "winner." Robinson comes from a great high school program at Rice in New York and has the ability to take over a game with his scoring or passing. Robinson will take his winning ways to Kansas next fall.

The impressive poise and basketball I.Q. of UCLA commitment Jordan Farmar proves he is capable of leading a basketball team as a freshman. It's a good thing because Bruin head coach Ben Howland will expect the 6-foot-2, 170-pound point guard to do exactly that next season.

To see the final rankings click here.

Rivals.com summer circuit coverage will kick off this weekend

The month of April will kick off a four month period where Rivals.com will provide coverage of the AAU circuit. In all, the RivalsHoops.com staff will attend over 25 national events.

Here is an early look at some of the upcoming events we will cover:

April 9-11 - Boo Williams Invitational
April 9-11 - Las Vegas Easter Classic
April 16-18 - Double Pump Easter Tournament
April 16-18 - Las Vegas Spring Showcase
April 16-18 - Charlie Weber's Capital Invitational
April 17 - Jordan Brand Capital Classic
April 23-25 - Kingwood Classic
April 30 - May 2 - Spiece Run N Slam Classic

Coaching contact period begins Wednesday

April's contact period begins Wednesday at 8 a.m. ET and will continue through Sunday night. Coaches will not be allowed to contact recruits during the "dead period" from April 12-15, but after that they will be allowed to contact recruits through the end of April.

Only two coaches from a school will be allowed to be on the road recruiting. In addition coaches will only be allowed to attend certified events that have been approved by the NCAA. Saturday and Sunday will be the only two days college coaches are allowed to attend. The "live period" ends at the end of the month and reopens on July 7.

Boo Williams Invitational and the Las Vegas Easter Classic will be loaded.

The upcoming weekend will be the first two events on the RivalsHoops.com schedule and will have plenty of talented players.

Some of the best players on the Nike circuit will be at the Boo Williams Invitational in Hampton, Virginia. Players such as Curtis Kelley, Julian Wright, Jon Scheyer, Calvin Miles, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Eric Price, Kevin Durant, Jamont Gordon, Tyrell Biggs, and Brandan Wright along with many others that will be in attendance.

In Las Vegas, we will see the powerful Houston Hoops as they try to defend their title in Sin City. Rashad Woods, Fendi Onobun, Jamal Boykin, Brett Hoerner, Ed White, Taylor King, Kevin Love, Joe Darger, Brian Harvey, Marcus Lawrence, Emeka Iweka, Marquis Johnson, Chad Millard, Marcus Johnson, Brian Harvey, and Andre McGee are among the national players looking to make their reputation.


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