All-Decade: Dynamic duos
Today in our All-Decade series, we take a year-by-year look at the 2010s to see which schools enrolled the best duos. How did they come together? Did they live up to the hype? Some of the places that landed the best duos might surprise you.
2010 - Harrison Barnes (2 - national ranking) and Reggie Bullock (10), North Carolina
They didn’t win a national championship together, but Barnes and Bullock did have two pretty strong years together in Chapel Hill. The duo was part of ACC regular season championships and Elite Eight runs in both 2011 and 2012. Barnes was a top 10 pick in 2012, while Bullock was a first-rounder in 2013.
2011 - Anthony Davis (2) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (3), Kentucky
Bossi’s analysis: Now, this duo paid huge dividends for Kentucky. Kidd-Gilchrist committed fairly early to the Wildcats, making the call in April of his junior year. Coincidentally, that was about when Davis came out of nowhere to explode on to the national radar, and by August before his senior year he was committed as well.
During their lone season together, they led UK to an SEC regular season title, won the national championship and Davis was the National Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. They went first and second in the 2012 Draft and Davis has become one of the game’s superstars.
2012 - Shabazz Muhammad (1) and Kyle Anderson (3), UCLA
Bossi’s analysis: UCLA has always landed some big-name recruits, but with how up-and-down things have been in Westwood for a while now, you might be surprised to see them on this list. Anderson chose the Bruins over Seton Hall and others, while Muhammad’s recruitment went down to the wire with UCLA beating out Duke and Kentucky.
The two only played one season together, during which they won the Pac-12’s regular season title and made the NCAA Tournament. Muhammad was taken in the first round in 2013, while Anderson stuck around one more season and helped the Bruins win a Pac-12 Tournament title in 2014 before getting drafted in the first round. Anderson is still in the NBA with Memphis, while Muhammad is currently out of the league.
2013 - Julius Randle (2) and Andrew Harrison (5), Kentucky
Bossi’s analysis: A pair of Texans found their way to Lexington and helped John Calipari achieve a lot. It took a while for Randle to commit, waiting until March of his senior year to choose UK over Florida, Kansas and Texas, whereas Harrison and his twin brother, Aaron Harrison, committed earlier.
Randle was a total monster as a freshman but the team underachieved a bit until Calipari’s famous postseason “tweak” led to a Cats run to an SEC title and ultimately the 2014 national championship game. Randle left for the NBA after that year, while Harrison returned and helped UK to another Final Four in 2015. Randle is on his third NBA team - the Knicks - but has had a successful career, while Harrison is currently playing in the NBA G League.
2014 - Cliff Alexander (4) and Kelly Oubre (6), Kansas
Bossi’s analysis: When he committed to Kansas on national TV, Alexander delivered one of the more memorable - for better or worse - moments of the decade when he pump-faked an Illinois hat before putting on a Kansas hat. Oubre’s selection was a little more simple as Kansas was heavily favored to land him even though other big-time programs were involved.
Like most players at Kansas, they were part of a Big 12 Conference championship team, but they lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Oubre made All-Freshman Team in the Big 12, while Alexander sat the last part of the season as the NCAA investigated a loan. Both left after one year, with Oubre getting taken No. 15 and Alexander not getting picked in the 2015 NBA Draft. Oubre has hit his stride with the Phoenix Suns this season, while Alexander only played eight NBA games.
2015 - Jaylen Brown (3) and Ivan Rabb (7), California
Bossi’s analysis: Here’s another one that probably comes as a bit of a surprise, especially since Cuonzo Martin and his staff had to lure Brown all the way across the country, and because they beat out Kentucky. They had to beat another recruiting juggernaut, Arizona, to get Rabb, and it took him a while to decide, but the Golden Bears were also essentially the hometown school for him.
Brown was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Rabb made Second Team All-Pac-12, and they helped lead Cal to third place in the conference and the NCAA Tournament in 2016. Brown then left for the NBA, getting taken No. 3, while Rabb came back for one more year and was First Team All-Pac-12 on an NIT team before getting taken in the second round of the NBA Draft in 2017.
2016 - Harry Giles (2) and Jayson Tatum (3), Duke
Bossi’s analysis: There was never much doubt about where either Tatum or Giles, who grew up in North Carolina, would go to school so it was no surprise to see either pick the Blue Devils.
Both Giles (knee) and Tatum (foot) began their single season in Durham by missing games due to injury. Tatum recovered to make the All-ACC freshman team and was a big part of a Sweet 16 team, while Giles was never really healthy enough to do much. Both went in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft, and while Tatum is an emerging star for the Celtics, Giles continues to battle injury issues with the Kings.
2017 - Marvin Bagley III (2) and Trevon Duval (5), Duke
Bossi’s analysis: The Blue Devils probably didn’t get quite as much out of this duo as they had hoped. Duval landed in Durham after an extended recruitment, choosing the Blue Devils in May of his senior year. Bagley reclassified from 2018 in the late summer of 2017 to enroll a year early.
Bagley held up his end of the bargain by winning the ACC Player of the Year award and making First Team All-American while leading a charge to the Elite Eight. He went No. 2 in the draft, while Duval went undrafted after a relatively pedestrian year relative to expectations. Bagley’s career is off to a very promising start in Sacramento, while Duval’s rookie season only last three NBA games and he’s currently in the G League.
2018 - R.J. Barrett (1) and Cameron Reddish (3), Duke
Bossi’s analysis: One of the top players that Canada has ever produced, Barrett picked Duke over Oregon, Kentucky and others during November of his senior year. Reddish, on the other hand, committed earlier in the process and was mostly considered a lock to land in Durham.
They helped Duke make it to the Elite Eight in 2019. Barrett was a First Team All-American and Reddish had several big games and they were both lottery picks in 2019. What’s notable is that they were each overshadowed and outplayed by the third-highest ranked member of that 2018 Duke recruiting class - some guy named Zion Williamson.
2019 - Isaiah Stewart (2) and Jaden McDaniels (7), Washington
Bossi’s analysis: Mike Hopkins and his staff had to work hard to land their five-star duo. Stewart seemed to be leaning to whichever school he visited last and had a very topsy-turvy recruitment before committing to the Huskies in January of 2019. A local, McDaniels waited all the way until late May to commit before choosing Washington over Kentucky.
How they will pan out remains to be seen, but expectations are high in Seattle and the duo is combining for 27.6 points and 13.8 rebounds per game through their first four contests for the No. 25 ranked Huskies.