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April 27, 2010

These five-stars aren't college stars yet

Not all five-star prospects have five-star freshman seasons.

As the late signing period comes to a close, here's a sobering reminder that not every top prospect is ready to go to the NBA draft after one season.

At least 10 freshmen have declared for the 2010 draft, though some could remove their names in the coming weeks. But many more five-star freshmen have work to do before reaching their potential.

Here's a look at the top prospects from the Class of 2009 who were far from superstars in their first seasons on campus.

Call them the "hoping-to-be-Elite Eight."

F John Henson, North Carolina
RANK: Fifth in class
BUZZ: Henson came to North Carolina at 6 feet 10 and 195 pounds, and it became apparent Henson needed to add bulk before he could compete in the ACC - especially now that Henson is actually playing closer to the basket. He began the season on the wing, but he finished playing in the low post. In fact, Henson was at his best after Ed Davis' season ended with a wrist injury. Henson averaged 9.7 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over the final 12 games of the season. Now that Davis has declared for the draft, North Carolina hopes Henson's hot finish is a sign of things to come.
F Mouphtaou Yarou, Villanova
RANK: 10th in class
BUZZ: The 6-10, 250-pound Yarou arrived at Villanova with the goal of giving the Wildcats a legitimate frontcourt presence. He started his first two games, but illness limited him the rest of the season. Yarou was diagnosed with hepatitis B in November. He didn't return to the lineup until Jan. 6 and didn't play regular minutes until late February. By the NCAA tournament, he was a bigger contributor. He scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first-round victory over Robert Morris.
G Abdul Gaddy, Washington
RANK: 13th in class
BUZZ: Gaddy started 29 games for a team that went to the Sweet 16, but he was far from the centerpiece of the backcourt. He wasn't a huge scorer in high school, but everyone figured he would average more than 3.9 points per game. Gaddy didn't score in double figures after Jan. 26. Part of the reason for his lack of scoring is that Washington featured established guards in Isaiah Thomas and Venoy Overton. Gaddy did finish third on the team with 81 assists.
F Dante Taylor, Pittsburgh
RANK: 14th in class
BUZZ: Taylor was Pittsburgh's first McDonald's All-American signee in 22 years. Taylor averaged 13.9 minutes per game and even fewer in Big East play. Most of his minutes came as the backup center to Gary McGhee, though Taylor's best position may be power forward.
F Wally Judge, Kansas State
RANK: 18th in class
BUZZ: Considered the top freshman in Kansas State's signing class, Judge didn't have the impact expected in his first season. The Wildcats did fine without a huge season from Judge, reaching the Elite Eight before losing to Butler. Judge played in all but one game, but he had a hard time cracking the rotation. It wasn't for lack of effort, though. Judge won the team's hustle award.
F Ryan Kelly, Duke
RANK: 20th in class
BUZZ: Kelly averaged 6 minutes per game for Duke this season. Senior big men Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas flourished in their roles supporting Duke's "Big Three" of Kyle Singler, Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith. Even though Zoubek and Thomas are gone, Kelly still will have to fight for playing time behind Miles and Mason Plumlee, 6-10 forwards who averaged at least 14 minutes per game apiece this season.
G Elijah Johnson, Kansas
RANK: 24th in class
BUZZ: As with Kelly, Johnson wasn't rushed into the starting lineup; KU had Sherron Collins firmly entrenched at point guard. Johnson didn't play much after Jan. 1, but he was productive when he did play. In the six games this past season in which Johnson played at least 10 minutes, he averaged 7.5 points per game. Of course, that was against teams such as Central Arkansas, Hofstra and Tennessee Tech.
F Milton Jennings, Clemson
RANK: 25th in class
BUZZ: Jennings is another five-star freshman who arrived in the ACC needing to add a little bulk before playing more minutes. At 6-9 and 225 pounds, Jennings wasn't going to take away minutes from leading scorer Trevor Booker. Jennings averaged only 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds. A South Carolina native, Jennings could be a building block for new coach Brad Brownell.

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.

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