When Cashmere Wright signed to play at Cincinnati in the class of 2008, he became one of most highly considered prospects of the Mick Cronin era. Depending upon the service, he ranked somewhere around the top 100 and among the top 20 point guards coming out that year. He took a chance on a UC program he believed could turn the corner on his watch.
Five years later, he concludes one of the more productive careers in recent memory for a point guard at UC with he hopes three consecutive trips to The Dance and proved to be one of the top recruits among his class. How close to the top was he? Because us media types love to poke into these types of lists I did some research to break down the rankings.
Let's take a look at the top 20 point guard rankings from Scout.com, plus the best of the rest of the three-star or higher recruits from his draft class and see how Cashmere Wright's career stacked up (Hint: Very well).
2008 Rank/Player/School (Stars): Career breakdown
1. Brandon Jennings, Europe (5): Never played a minute of college basketball, went to Europe then the NBA and stars for the Bucks
2. Kemba Walker, UConn (5): Big East title, national title, Charlotte Bobcats. You know the story.
3. Jerime Anderson, UCLA (4): Never topped 8.8. points in a season, dramatically underachieved.
4. Larry Drew II, UNC/UCLA (4): Struggled in two years at UNC, transferred while ripping Heels, avg 7.3 pts/7.8 assts for Bruins
5. DeAndre Liggins, UK (4): Mediocre player for UK, never averaged better than 8.6 points or 2.8 assists.
6. Andre Young, Clemson (4): Solid, consistent four-year career. 1,223 points, 342 assists, 184 steals. Had one tourney win.
7. Korie Lucious, MSU/ISU (4): Flamed out at Michigan State before transferring to Iowa State. OK there, averaging 10.1/5.6 assists
8. Damier Pitts, Marshall (4): Great for the Herd. 1,551 points, 517 assists, 101 steals. However, never made Big Dance.
9. Andrew Steele, Alabama (4): Bust. Never topped 6.6 points or 2.7 assists for Tide
10. Courtney Fortson, Arkansas (4): Two great years, went pro (16.0/5.1 assists/5.4 rebs). Hogs under .500 both years.
11. Bud Mackey, Nowhere (3): Never made it to college, ran into big problems with law.
12. Cashmere Wright, UC (3): 1,267 points, 468 assists (1.78 A:TO), 193 steals (school record). Three tourney wins.
13. Demetri Goodson, Gonzaga (3): Quit basketball to pursue college football at Baylor
14. Jio Fontain, USC (3): Transferred to USC two years and averaging 9.5 points and 5.2 assists this year.
15. Jordan Theodore, Seton Hall (3): Great career, 1,371 points, 541 assists, stellar senior year. But: zero NCAA trips
16. Tu Holloway, Xavier (3): You know the story: 1,833 points, 473 assists, Sweet 16 runs, did it all for X.
17. Dash Harris, Texas A&M (3): Never better than 6 points and 4.2 assists
18. Tray Woodall, Pitt (3). Similar productivity to Cash. 1,059 points, 572 assists, 115 steals. Longtime starter on good teams.
19. Paul McCoy, SMU/SMC (3): Bolted SMU for St. Mary's and flaming out there. Only 12 points in 47 min this year.
20. Kevin Dillard, SIU/UD (3): Productive at both (878 points last two years at UD).
BEST OF OTHERS
21. Mark Lyons, X/Arizona (3): Again, you know the story. Great player, but major chemistry issues at X.
25. Erving Walker, Florida (3): Killed it for UF. 1,777 points, 547 assists, 159 steals. Tourney runs.
26. Darryl Bryant, WVU (3): Solid contributor, scorer, but nearly one turnover for every assist.
30. Jordan Taylor, Wisky (3): His junior year in contention for NPOY -- 1,533 points, 464 assists, 159 steals (Huge #s for UW)
44. Isaiah Thomas, Washington (3): Stellar three years before going pro -- 1,721 points, 415 assists, 122 steals.
If you are weighing best contributions and production for the schools they committed to (eliminating transfers), the bucket would trim down to these 12: .
Kemba Walker, Andre Young, Damier Pitts, Courtney Fortson, Cashmere Wright, Jordan Theodore, Tu Holloway, Tray Woodall, Erving Walker, Darryl Bryant, Jordan Taylor, Isaiah Thomas.
Now, you have to eliminate those that didn't experience postseason success. College basketball is all about March and March is all about guards. If you didn't win there, you didn't win. That eliminates these three:
Damier Pitts (no tourney), Courtney Fortson (under .500 both years) and Jordan Theodore (no tourney).
That leaves these as the final nine. Up for debate how they'd rank, but mine looks something like this with Cash in a debate for the top five in his class -- tightly bunched with Holloway and Woodall -- when you weigh numbers, team success and tournament success:
Moral of the story -- it's easy to swing and miss in recruiting. Just look at that top 20 . Cashmere Wright not only didn't miss, but turned into one of the top 10 most productive careers nationally for his school of all those point guards in his class.
I want to hear from you! Send any questions, comments or your own memories of Cashmere Wright to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.