Kyle Singler was the perfect college basketball recruit.
The Duke forward is a great player who stayed in college three years (at least) and who has hoisted a national championship trophy.
Great players who play three years of college basketball, however, have become increasingly rare.
Singler, who has not announced if he will return for his senior season at Duke or enter this June's NBA Draft, is the only player who was ranked among Scout.com's top 10 high school seniors in 2006 or 2007 to have played college basketball this season. (Singler was rated the No. 6 recruit nationally in 2007.)
But it's not just the top 10 who left college early. Fifteen of the top 20 players from 2007 and 14 of the top 20 from 2006 already have jumped to professional basketball.
Singler was not the only top player to stay at Duke, however.
Eleven players from the top-20 classes of 2006 or 2007 played college basketball this year. Duke's championship run was fueled by three of the 11 - Singler, Lance Thomas (No. 18, 2006) and Jon Scheyer (No. 20, 2006).
The other former top-20 players from the classes of 2006 and 2007 who played in this year's NCAA tournament also are familiar names. The college remnant of the class of 2006 are Sherron Collins (No. 12, Kansas); Quincy Poindexter (No. 16, Washington); Vernon Macklin (Florida, No. 17); and Damion Jones (Texas, No. 19).
The holdovers from the top 20 in the class of 2007 included Patrick Patterson (Kentucky, No. 12), Austin Freeman (Georgetown, No. 15), James Anderson (Oklahoma State, No. 18) and Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech, No. 20). Of the juniors, only Singler and Freeman have not announced for the NBA Draft.
The ability to keep players in the program was a major factor in North Carolina's 2009 NCAA championship. The Tar Heels featured senior Tyler Hansbrough (No. 7 in 2005) and juniors Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, Nos. 5 and 7, respectively, as high school seniors in 2006.
Butler's recruits: If Duke, which started four McDonald's All Americans in the title game and had three more on its bench, is at one end of the recruiting scale, Butler is at the other.
To put Butler's accomplishment of reaching the NCAA championship game in perspective, try to name the other nine members of the Horizon League.
The league also includes Cleveland State, Detroit, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola-Chicago, Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State and Youngstown State.
The Bulldogs do not have a player in their program who was ranked in the top 100 coming out of high school.
Scout.com ranks high school players from one to five stars, and Butler's highest-rated starter was Matt Howard, a three-star player from Connersville, Ind., who drew recruiting interest from Indiana, Xavier and Miami-Ohio as a senior.
All of the Bulldogs' other starters in Monday's championship game were ranked by Scout.com as two-star players.
Duke has not signed a high school recruit ranked with less than four stars in at least nine years. Of course, being recruited by Duke sometimes earns a recruit more star power.
Millbrook back gets attention: Millbrook sophomore running back Keith Marshall is getting national recruiting attention.
"Colleges can't make formal scholarship offers until he is a junior, but Keith already has verbal offers from North Carolina, Duke, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame," Millbrook coach Clarence Inscore said.
Marshall runs 40 yards in about 4.3 seconds and carries an overall grade point average of better than 4.0 on a 4.0 scale, with credit for advanced courses.
"We knew he was going to be special," Inscore said. "He was hurt much of his freshman year. He is very fast and is strong as an ox."
Marshall rushed for 1,166 yards in nine games during the Wildcats' 6-6 season.
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