Bossi's Best: Ten seniors who have exceeded expectations
These days, the headlines go to big-name freshmen or NBA-bound players in college basketball. However, not many teams are winning without major contributions from their most experienced players, their seniors.
In this week's edition of Bossi's Best, we take a look at 10 seniors – six who ranked in the Rivals150 as high schoolers, four who were not – that have outplayed their high school ranking and expectations.
High School: Known as a tough wing who had a very good mid-range game, Hill's ranking slipped some in high school over concerns about his deep shooting and overall athleticism. He chose Illinois over Xavier, Missouri and Kansas State at the beginning of his junior season and stuck with the Illini when John Groce took over for Bruce Weber.
College: As a junior, Hill was the only player in the Big Ten to lead his team in scoring, rebounding and assists while earning All-Big Ten second team honors. Most impressive is that he has played all over the floor for the Illini and turned himself into a tough matchup because of his skill and ability to play multiple positions. Looking back, his ranking isn't that far off, but he probably should have stayed in the national top 50.
High School: Originally a member of the class of 2012, Mason first signed with Towson. After a huge senior season, he decided to go to prep school and fought for a release from his letter of intent to Towson. Despite a great summer between high school and prep school, Mason looked like more of an undersized shooting guard than a true point guard and a reach for Kansas when he committed in the Fall of 2012. During his prep school year, Mason burst into the rankings thanks to his toughness and productivity.
College: At Kansas, Mason started all 74 games during his sophomore and junior seasons while making the All-Big 12 second team each year and earning All-Big 12 Defensive Team in 2015-16. His toughness has served him well and he has emerged as a potential All-American for what should be one of Bill Self's best Kansas teams. Like Hill, Mason isn't one that was terribly ranked but he's also surpassed even the most optimistic expectations.
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High School: Whether it was with his high school team or his summer program, Team Takeover, Hart was one of those guys that was fun to watch. Essentially, questions about his shooting and true position were outweighed by his defense and the tenacity with which he competed. He chose the Wildcats over Rutgers and Penn State.
College: All Hart has done since arriving at Villanova is win a national championship, make the All-Big East team as a junior and win the conference's sixth man award as a sophomore. The high school scouting report on him was pretty much dead on other than him ending up to be a much better jump shooter (38.1 percent from three) than expected, which has allowed him to blossom as a scorer. He is expected to compete for National Player of the Year honors and looking back he should have been a top 35-40 player coming out of high school.
High School: When he committed to Iowa State, Morris looked like a very nice pickup. He was a clever floor general with athleticism but he lacked strength and didn't have unusual size to make up for what was considered to be a somewhat suspect jump shot.
College: Morris has developed into an All-Big 12 player and potential first-round NBA Draft pick. He's gotten bigger and stronger since high school, has been a reliable shooter and has done a remarkable job of taking care of the ball, which is evidenced by his incredible 4.5/1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He should have been ranked among the top five point guards in his class coming out of high school.
High School: Young was a very solid high school player who was most renowned for his overall skill level. He could shoot the ball very well from mid-range and it helped to compensate for relatively average athleticism and just OK size for an ACC-bound power forward.
College: Maybe the biggest worry with Young coming out of high school was that he would settle for too many low-percentage jumpers. As it turns out, he's been highly efficient while shooting just over 53 percent from the field during his sophomore and junior seasons. He's one of only three returning All-ACC players and should be a favorite for those honors again. Kevin Stallings is certainly glad to have him this season and he's outplayed his high school ranking.
High School: When he picked Clemson, Blossomgame looked like a nice pickup. He was an athletic, high energy and long-armed power forward who was a bit on the skinny side and had to improve his overall skill level.
College: Blossomgame may be the best example of why a redshirt year can be beneficial. He's still not a power player by any means, but the additional year to develop and the vast improvement in his jump shooting – he shot 20 percent on three-pointers as a freshman, 48 percent with twice as many attempts as a junior – have turned him into a potential NBA player. Like Young, he's one of only three returning All-ACC performers (Duke sophomore Grayson Allen is the third) and he's been a huge surprise.
High School rep: When Gibbs picked Davidson he looked to have been making a solid choice. He had visited Akron and Creighton. Though a sub-6-footer, he was tough and could play at either the point or shooting guard position.
College performance: Gibbs totally exploded during his junior season. He was sixth in the NCAA in scoring with more than 23 points per game and he was a All-Atlantic 10 first team. He does take a fair number of shots to get his numbers, but even though defenses know what's coming they have a hard time stopping him. Looking back, he was never even in the discussion for the Rivals150 and he's somebody we missed on.
High School: Hayes was always seen as a big-hearted, but undersized and slightly under-skilled high schooler. He had athleticism and toughness but the question was whether or not he would be able to handle high-major big men after he selected Wisconsin over Ohio State.
College: His first two seasons, Hayes caught the college basketball world by surprise with his efficiency and productivity. As a junior, his shooting numbers suffered quite a bit – he shot 36.8 percent from the floor after shooting 49.7 percent as a sophomore – so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back as a senior. He's got the tools to contend for All-American honors this year and it turns out we had him on the wrong side of the rankings bubble.
High School: Coming out of high school, Perrantes was known as a winner and a heady point guard who made good decisions. However, we saw him as a bit of a reach at the ACC level because of a lack of speed and suspect shooting ability.
College: So far, Perrantes has started 100 games during his career in Charlottesville and he's likely to start every game he plays as a senior. His numbers are not overwhelming but he has averaged more than four assists per game during his career. As a junior, he raised his overall shooting percentage to 43.9 percent from 35.4 percent as a sophomore while making nearly 49 percent of his three-point attempts. Perrantes isn't flashy but he takes care of the ball, defends, leads and wins. He's another that was just on the wrong side of the bubble.
High School: Several high-major programs were starting to sniff around on Peters when he decided to pull the trigger on Valparaiso. He was a sharp shooting and skilled four man who looked at the time to be a huge steal for the Crusaders.
College: As much as we knew that Valpo had stolen one from the big boys, we never envisioned him being quite so good. He's grown to 6-foot-9, but his shooting, rebounding and overall game made him a two-time All-Horizon selection, and he's a potential All-American as a senior. Barring injury he should finish his career with well beyond 2,000 points and he has a good chance at passing 1,000 rebounds as well. Given how much of a steal we thought he was, we should have known better than to leave him as an unranked three-star.