Senior class shows effects of stripmining

Updated: January 7, 2005, 8:26 AM ET
By Chad Ford | ESPN Insider
The college basketball season is finally underway. Have you seen your collegiate senior lately? NBA scouts are looking for quality in that class, but so far the search is coming up empty.

"It's not going to be as ugly as last year," one veteran NBA scout said. "But that's not saying much. Last year was the worst senior class in the history of the draft."

Since high school stud Kevin Garnett broke the college barrier in 1995 and declared for the NBA draft directly from high school, the number of college seniors in the first round has dwindled at an alarming rate. In 1995, there were 20 seniors taken in the first round, six in the lottery. In 1998, the number dipped to 14 seniors, with five in the lottery, and the slide continued each year thereafter:

  • 1999: 13 first-round seniors; only four in the lottery.
  • 2000: 11 first-round seniors; only three in the lottery.
  • 2001: Four first-round seniors; only one – Shane Battier – in the lottery.
  • 2002: Eight first-round seniors; only one – Melvin Ely – in the lottery.
  • 2003: Nine first-round seniors; only three in the lottery.

    The 2004 draft was among the worst ever for collegiate seniors. Just four – Rafael Araujo, Luke Jackson, Jameer Nelson and Tony Allen – were taken in the first round.

    It couldn't get any worse, could it?

    Chad Ford

    ESPN Senior Writer