What Did the Bucks Look Like as Recruits?


High school recruiting for basketball is a little bit more predictive than their football counterpart. If you care to check, go to the 2010 class and compare between the sports, you’ll recognize most of the top guys for basketball. That said it is not some perfect predictor, guys ranked highly frequently become average NBA players instead of the superstars they were predicted to be. So I figured it would be a fun exercise to show you where the Bucks ranked and talk about what has changed the most about these guys as basketball players.

(All rankings shown are 247’s composite which takes their own rankings and aggregates them with other major services. Giannis and Ersan are the only rostered players, not listed, because they were drafted from professional leagues.)

This was one recruiting rank that shocked me, I never knew what Snell was viewed as out of high school but assumed he was a fringe top 100 guy, who showed nice skills in college. Instead he was not really on anyone’s radar, having just one D1 offer. Snell making the NBA would not have been easily predicted, but not only did Tony make it, he was a first round pick!

What’s Changed Most:
Tony is a pretty good athlete even for NBA standards, something most guys in the 400s are not. Unlike the next guy on this list Snell fits in athletically in the NBA.

I was not honestly sure if I would find information about Delly as a recruit, being from an Australian high school his evaluation was likely much less well rounded than his American / Canadian counterparts. Delly had one collegiate offer, which is sort of crazy considering he played 36 minutes per game his first year at Saint Marys and was a 4 year staple in their rotation. Winning the WCC player of the year award as a junior, he was a great collegiate player for Saint Marys. Delly is not really the best chance to assess whether or not recruiting evaluators since they likely saw him less than almost everyone ranked in front of him.

What’s Changed Most:
Delly’s continued grit and hustle could not have been easily predicted. He remains a player that defies expectations, good at most things but great at nothing.

DJ is one of the lower ranked Bucks and is sort of the textbook late bloomer. He grew multiple inches as an upperclassmen in high school, averaged single digit points per game as a junior in high school. Grew a few more inches at Michigan and had a breakout junior year where he finally was a major contributor. A lot would argue you should not draft late blooming role players in the middle of the first round. I think DJ has yet to show us his best basketball.

What’s Changed Most:
In many ways DJ is the same and different. DJ still represents a project, but skills wise he is an entirely different player than he was as a recruit.

Donte was a fringe top 100 guy, but unlike DJ, Donte was the man in highschool. Donte put up 16 points a game in the EYBL (The premier aau circuit) and 23 points a game for his highschool enroute to being named Mr. Delaware Basketball. Of course Donte was a little underrated nationally for what he ended up as in college and being drafted, but playing highschool ball in Delaware likely did him few favors. The Michael Jordan of Delaware got that nickname because of his scoring prowess, but his profile lists him as a well rounded player.

What’s Changed Most:
I don’t think the recruiting gurus understood how athletic Donte was, I also think his basketball IQ came a long way during his career at Villanova, thanks in part to Jay Wright being a great coach.

Brown was a big get for SMU. His fringe top 100 ranking was not indicative of the role he’d play over his college career. Brown making the NBA was a bit of a longshot, but his game came a long way in his 4 years there. To the point where many draft analysts thought his actual draft position was too low. Either way many Bucks fans feel like they got a steal in the second round.

What’s Changed Most:
Brown is listed at 6’4” 190 here, not only is he taller, but he has really put a lot of weight on his frame to give himself the ability to play more positions.

Middleton was a fringe top 100 player, which profiles to be a professional player though perhaps not in the NBA. He was listed as a sharpshooting guard and his IQ is cited as a strength. After three years at A&M, we didn’t know much more about him. In fact his numbers look pretty similar to R.J. Hunter, where when his usage went up his last season, his efficiency plummeted. His shooting was good as an underclassmen, but took a big hit his junior season. Little about his college or high school information would lead one to believe this guy would be a fringe all star.

What’s Changed Most:
I think Khris has improved his conditioning and athleticism significantly since that time, his all around game shines through as a result.

Brogdon was a top 100 recruit out of high school, not unheralded per se, but also not a likely NBA player. He averaged around 26 points and 13 rebounds as a senior in high school, before his standout collegiate career at Virginia. Brogdon probably slightly exceeded his recruiting ranking in college, but his NBA career has been better than anyone could have expected. I think this is largely due to his basketball IQ being head and shoulders above the average player.

What’s Changed Most:
Brogdon has gotten the most out of his frame and really developed his shooting ability in college.

Connaughton was a three sport stud in high school. Being a letter-winner in Football and an ace in Baseball. Heck as far as I know he is the only guy on this roster that played multiple sports in college. His high school stats were absurd averaging 23 points 17 rebounds and 8 assists a game his last year. He started a large chunk of games as a freshman for Notre Dame, and had a fairly good four year career there. Before parlaying that into a role on the Trail Blazers, and well last season might not have been a big “breakout” he did average 18 MPG and appear in all 82 for Portland.

What’s Changed Most:
He has developed into a solid NBA player, a lot of his value come from feel and instinct, but since his senior year of high school he has come a long way as a shooter, which is what really matters in 2018.

Eric Bledsoe was sort of a meh prospect, committed to play PG at UK the same year as John Wall. A sort of odd decision considering Wall was ranked second in the country at the time. Which as a result forced Bledsoe to transition off ball more, and rework his game. Bledsoe likely could have gone much higher in the draft if he got to showcase his game a little more. I think the rankings did not really capture how athletic and explosive Bledsoe was. His first few seasons he was a 99th percentile athlete.

What’s Changed Most:
Bledsoe was labeled as a pure point guard as a recruit, words I don’t think anyone would use at this point.

Lopez was very highly ranked coming out of highschool, and he did not disappoint in college. Averaging 12 points and 6 rebounds a game as a freshman, and then 19 points and 8 rebounds a game as a sophomore, he was a man amongst children. I think his ranking even fits as professional, he is a career 21 point per game guy. Brook has only made one all star game, but could have easily made more if he had stayed healthy early on or his teams had won a handful more games. Is he a hall of famer? No, but even if he retired tomorrow it’d be tough to call his NBA career anything below good.

What’s Changed Most:
It is a recent change, but the most impactful in 2018: Brook can shoot from distance. Never really being a perimeter player growing up, he adjusted with the league and is now a threat from deep.

Thon is the most recent recruit on the roster, which is somewhat shocking considering there have been two drafts since Thon was drafted, but Thon’s situation wasn’t traditional. He went straight from high school to the pros through an odd loophole. Thon is also perhaps the most high profile recruit on the roster since Jabari has departed. Thon had a massive amount of mixtape hype because of how his skill played up in high school. Thon resembles very little of that currently, no longer the “Next KD”, he is now a center who shoots okay and plays good defense.

What’s Changed Most:
Thon has not really been an elite handles guy in the NBA, actually whether or not he has hands is up for debate at this point. Thon looks very little like the recruit he was marketed as, not to say he is not capable of being a positive NBA player, but if he does it likely won’t be as a ball handling 7 footer.

(I’m not sure why Zeller’s 247 profile doesn’t load, his recruiting info is the oldest so that is my guess, but for what it’s worth ESPN had him 7th in his class)

Zeller is more or less the same guy he was as a recruit, a big body with lots of skill, but lacking standout athleticism. He has added a little bit of shooting ability and in general adjusted well to the pace of play as his career has gone on, but his physical tools limit his ability to impact the game beyond the level he currently does.

What’s Changed Most:
Not much honestly, I guess you’d have to say shooting, but his shooting is not the standout factor that it was for Lopez where you feel like it must be mentioned.

Henson was a big deal in high school, a top player in his class, he had his pick of colleges. Somewhat ironically his recruiting profile says that he is a year or two away from growing into his frame, this was written sometime in 2009. An interesting thing about Henson is that he played three years of college ball, a very rare trait for guys ranked in the top ten. Henson was just a man among boys in high school averaging a double double and blocking shots like crazy.

What’s Changed Most:
The NBA around John, any decade prior to the current one Henson is a PF, but with the way the league has changed he is a C and only a C.

The most touted Buck as a recruit, Muhammad was a weird recruit, he dominated camps, high school, and AAU alike, but late in his senior year it was revealed his dad had lied about his age. Shabazz was actually one year older than previously advertised, you can still be a good prospect despite that fact, but it is very difficult to be a transcendent one.

What’s Changed Most:

Shabazz doesn’t pass, shoot, or defend. Despite being marketed as a guy with a polished alla round game little of that has translated.


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