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Starting Five: Five biggest five-star surprises in the last five years

Zion Williamson and family
Zion Williamson and family (Paul Strelow)

Over the weekend, 2018's No. 3 ranked player Zion Williamson turned the recruiting world upside down with his surprise pick of Duke. His choice was easily one of the five most surprising picks made by a five-star prospect in the last five years. Who were the others? Let's take a look.

More: Analysis from Zion Williamson's peers | Impact of Zion Williamson's commitment


The contenders: Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The decision: Heading into decision day, Clemson was the huge favorite and nobody gave Duke much of a chance or predicted Williamson to end up there. When he picked Duke at his press conference on Saturday night, the recruiting world was caught by complete surprise.

The aftermath: We don't yet know how Williamson will play during his time in Durham, but his decision is already historic. For the first time in history, one program has the No. 1 (R.J. Barrett), No. 2 (Cameron Reddish) and No. 3 (Williamson) players in one class committed to play for them. As if that wasn't enough, the Blue Devils have also locked up 2018's No. 1 ranked point guard, Tre Jones.

The contenders: Arizona, Creighton, DePaul, Louisville, Michigan State, Oregon and Texas.

The decision: One of the very last players to make his decision in the class of 2017, Bowen was rumored to be leaning in several directions during his recruitment and pushed back his commitment time frame multiple times. Louisville didn't get involved until the last couple of weeks of his recruitment, he took a visit there and committed in early June of 2017.

The aftermath: So far, the aftermath hasn't been pretty. Bowen was linked to allegations of pay for play that came out against Louisville during the federal government's investigation into college basketball. As a result, Rick Pitino and two assistants lost their jobs. Louisville held Bowen out of action and he recently transferred to play for Frank Martin at South Carolina. Bowen's eligibility status remains up in the air.

The contenders: Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, Missouri and North Carolina.

The decision: Kentucky wasn't totally ruled out as an option for Knox, but by the time he announced his decision in early May, most expected that he would end up at Duke and if not there, North Carolina or Florida State. It was the rare time where a top 10 player surprised the recruiting world by selecting to play for John Calipari.

The aftermath: Knox's decision gave Calipari and Kentucky a 2017 recruiting class that featured five five-star prospects. As a freshman, Knox is averaging 14.3 points and 5.6 rebounds for the 14-5 Wildcats. He's expected to enter the NBA Draft after this season.

The contenders: California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, UCLA and others.

The decision: Brown ran his recruitment with the precision of a surgeon and when interviewed sounded like a seasoned politician. However, when it came time for him to make his choice in early May of his senior year, most believed that the No. 3 player in the class would pick Kentucky or another big name program. Instead, he surprised with a Friday night pick of California.

The aftermath: At Cal, Brown teamed up with fellow class of 2015 five-star prospect Ivan Rabb in a signature class for Cuonzo Martin (who is now at Missouri). During his lone season at Cal he was first team All-Pac-12 and the Pac-12 Freshman of the year while leading them to the NCAA Tournament. He left for the NBA after one year where he was taken No. 3 overall by the Boston Celtics. Brown is currently averaging over 14 points and five rebounds per game during his second season in the NBA.

The contenders: Florida State, Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and Ohio State.

The decision: Getting Wiggins to give any hint as to where he might be leaning was nearly impossible throughout the recruiting process. But, he had heavy family ties to Florida State and seemed to have a real affinity for John Calipari and Kentucky. When it came time for him to decide there were even rumors that rapper Drake would show up for his announcement. During a small press conference, Wiggins picked Kansas. To this day, Bill Self says he didn't know Wiggins was coming to Kansas until he made his announcement.

The aftermath: Wiggins played one season in Lawrence where he helped the Jayhawks win another Big 12 title while earning freshman of the year, first team All-Big 12 and second team All-American honors. The No. 1 pick in the 2014 Draft by Minnesota, Wiggins earned Rookie of the Year honors during the 2014-15 season and signed a five-year max contract extension worth nearly $150 million.