Jordan Farmar was the cornerstone of the UCLA Class of 2004 that ended up sparking three straight Final Four runs for the Bruins.
While so much is put into ranking recruiting classes when they are signed, we rarely go back and look at exactly how effective individual classes were when all is said in done. With the success that Pac-12 programs had in the mid to late 00's there have been some classes that are much more impressive looking back than they were when they were signed.
Though UCLA dominated much of the last decade in the conference, much of their talent was locked into just a couple of classes that were actually underrated when they were signed and a number of other programs signed classes that ended up being equally impressive in the end. These classes were evaluated for overall success of the players signed throughout their careers and how talented the players ended up being at the end of their career's as opposed to when they signed out of high school.
1. UCLA 2004 - PG Jordan Farmar,SG Arron Afflalo, SG Josh Shipp, PF Lorenzo Mata-Real
This class started UCLA's run of three Final Fours and built a foundation for Ben Howland in Westwood. Farmar sparked the resurgence as one of the best point guards in the nation his two years while Afflalo was the best of bunch and one of the best defenders to ever play in the conference. Shipp was one of the most underrated players in the conference throughout his career and the scorer that usually stepped up when the Bruins most needed it. Mata-Real wasn't flashy but was that tough big, understated big man every great team needs to rebound and block shots.
2. Washington 2002 - SG Brandon Roy, PG Nate Robinson, SF Bobby Jones
Much like UCLA's class of 2004 brought the Bruins back to the promised land, Washington's Class of 2002 brought the Huskies back to respectability and took them further than they ever had been in the modern era. Many laughed when Roy briefly declared for the draft during his senior year of high school, but his confidence ended up being legitimate as he was one of the best all-around players in the nation by his senior season. Robinson made more of an immediate impact with his athleticism and was the vocal leader and most exciting player on the team from day one. Jones was an underrated forward who could be described as a glue guy, but was more than just a role player.
3. UCLA 2005 - PG Darren Collison, SG Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, C Alfred Aboya, SG Mike Roll, PF Ryan Wright
These guys teamed with the Class of 04 to form the nucleus of the Bruins teams that made three straight Final Fours. Collison stepped in after Farmar departed and kept things rolling for the Bruins with his lightning quick speed and defense. Mbah a Moute started in three straight Final Fours and played his best basketball in the 06 NCAA Tournament as a fantastic rebounder and defender. Aboya was a little more athletic version of Mata-Real and a little taller but less talented version of Mbah a Moute and was a solid player throughout his career. Roll started out as an outside shooter off the bench and ended up being a go-to scorer his senior year.
4. Arizona 2006 - SF Chase Budinger, PF Jordan Hill, PG Nic Wise
An impressive trio that disappointed a little bit in the NCAA tournament but was still successful and talented. Budinger was a dynamic scorer and outside shooter from the moment he showed up on campus. Hill came on very strong late in his career and ended up being one of the best big men in the conference and Wise carried the team on his back his senior year after Budinger and Hill had left.
Having two standout seven footers immediately makes this an impressive class and while the Cardinal were never able to put much of a supporting class around them, Fields was an outstanding all-around player that did a little bit of everything well and actually ended up being a better NBA player than college player.
6. Cal 2006 - PF Ryan Anderson, PG Jerome Randle, SG Patrick Christopher, C Taylor Harrison
Anderson came out of nowhere in 08 to lead the conference in scoring and was borderline unstoppable with his outside shooting touch at 6'10, but Randle and Christopher actually ended up leading the Bear to better seasons after Anderson left for the NBA. Randle finished as the school's all-time leading scorer and with Christopher's help, led the Bears to their first regular season conference championship since 1960 in 2010.
7. Washington State 2004 - SG Kyle Weaver, PG Derrick Low, PF Robbie Cowgill, SF Daven Harmeling, SG Josh Akognon, C Chris Henry
The core of the Tony Bennett Cougar teams which reached back-to-back NCAA Tournaments and a Sweet 16 in 2008. A great mix of different kinds of players; Weaver was a defender/scorer, Low a distributer and leader, Cowgill a understated big man and Harmeling a spot outside shooter who always seemed to hit the big shot when they needed. It would have been interesting to see if Bennett could have made it work with Akognon as he ended up being one of the top scorers in the nation after transferring to Cal State Fullerton.
8. Oregon 2004 - SF Malik Hairston, PF Maarty Leunen, SG Bryce Taylor, SG Chamberlain Oguchi, PG Kenny Love
Hairston, Leunen and Taylor formed an impressive trio that teamed with Aaron Brooks to get the Ducks to the Elite 8 in 06. The three were all good/borderline NBA players and played very well together, forming the last good team that the Ducks had.
9. Arizona State 2007 - SG James Harden, SG Ty Abbott, PG Jamelle McMillan, SF Rihards Kuksiks, PF Kraidon Woods
Harden is obviously the headliner and one of the best players to play in the conference in recent years, but Abbott was a great scorer and McMillan was one of the better point guards in the conference during the second half of his career. Kuksiks also had a solid career as an accurate outside shooter.
10. Arizona 2002 -SF Andre Igoudala, SG Hassan Adams, PG Chris Rodgers, SF Chris Dunne
A very top heavy class, but the power of Igoudala and Adams are enough to make this a standout class as Igoudala was a phenomenal all-around player in his two years and Adams was a star throughout his career. Rodgers flashed potential early on but ultimately didn't end up working out in Tucson.
Arizona 2009 (PF Derrick Williams, SF Solomon Hill, SF Kevin Parrom, C Kyryl Natyazhko, SG Lamont Jones), Stanford 2005 (SF Lawrence Hill, SG Anthony Goods, PG Mitch Johnson), USC 2006 (PF Taj Gibson, PF Davon Jefferson, SF Dwight Lewis, SF Kevin Galloway, PF Kasey Cunningham, PF Kyle Austin), Washington 2007 (PF Matthew Bryan-Amaning, SF Justin Holiday, PG Venoy Overton, PF Darnell Gant)