Brandon Jennings was the No. 1 prospect in Scout.com's Class of 2008 rankings.
Samardo Samuels was No. 2.
B.J. Mullens was No. 3.
The rest of the top 10 consisted of Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, DeMar DeRozan, Greg Monroe, Devin Ebanks, Ed Davis and Scotty Hopson. What you might notice from that list is that every one of those guys except Hopson -- who was ranked sixth, right between DeRozan and Monroe -- has already played for an NBA franchise, which is evidence that Hopson didn't spend his first two years at Tennessee living up to expectations.
He spent Saturday doing it, though.
The 6-foot-7 guard took 13 shots, made 10 and finished with a career-high 27 points to help the 11th-ranked Vols to an 83-76 upset of No. 3 Pittsburgh. No, the game wasn't played on campus at the Peterson Events Center. But it was still in the city (at the new downtown home of the Penguins), and that means it was the Panthers' first non-league loss in Pittsburgh since January 2005 -- otherwise known as back when Bruce Pearl was coaching Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and long before every conversation about UT revolved around the NCAA investigation into its men's basketball program.
Honestly, that was the only bad thing about the win for Tennessee.
The Vols were so dominant from start to finish -- they led by 10 points eight minutes in, by 12 points at halftime and by 21 points midway through the second half -- that ESPN's Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas had plenty of time to drift away from the action on the court and discuss Pearl's acknowledged violations, which is never a good thing for Pearl. But it was a small price to pay for an overwhelming and resume-building win that will launch the Vols into the top five of the Top 25 (and one) when the rankings are updated late Sunday, and Hopson is a big reason why all this is happening.
He's been consistently good in Tennessee's past three games -- wins over Villanova, Middle Tennessee and Pittsburgh -- and made 21 of 33 field goal attempts while averaging 21.3 points. More impressively, he's just looked dominant. No blending in. No disappearing. Hopson is finally playing like the guy who belonged in the top 10 of the Class of 2008. And if he keeps this up, he'll join all those classmates in the NBA soon enough.