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View Full Version : Should big time HS kids sign with a nontraditional powerhouse?



MDABE80
08-31-2016, 08:54 PM
This is a good ESPN article from earlier today Brings up lots of questions. It asks some key questions. I suppose by "nuance" it includes Gonzaga as well. Pretty thoughtful. Enjoy . Abe









6:23 AM PT
John Gasaway
ESPN Insider








Anyone who remembers Jahlil Okafor or (reaching way back to ancient times) Anthony Davis knows that freshmen can be amazing. In fact even a somewhat less celebrated one-and-done performer like Jabari Parker was both a statistical wonder and, like Okafor and Davis, a consensus first-team All-American.

But those guys all played for Kentucky or Duke, and, as detailed below, one thing we've haven't seen in the last five years is an Okafor- or Davis-level immaculate season from an elite freshman at a program other than one of the "usual suspects." For example, LSU's Ben Simmons earned some All-American nods on his way to being the No. 1 overall pick, yet a season in which the Tigers missed the NCAA tournament and where SEC player of the year honors went to Kentucky's Tyler Ulis was, often as not, termed "disappointing."Living up to the hype as an elite freshman is very difficult. And, apparently, one thing that's even more difficult is living up to that hype for a team that stands just outside the very top echelon of college basketball.

This is the tendency that an extraordinary talent like Washington's Markelle Fultz will be going against this season at Washington.



Placement on all-conference teams

Reasonable observers can disagree on what exactly constitutes the "usual suspects" or "blue-chip programs" in terms of signing elite talent, but based on my read of the data the following six teams have recruited better than the rest of Division I over the past decade: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Arizona and UCLA.

Of course these six programs, as elite as they are, can hardly maintain a monopoly on talent. In fact in 2015-16 something close to the opposite occurred. A remarkable seven of the top 10 players listed in the 2015 ESPN 100 went elsewhere. Ben Simmons (LSU), Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb (California), Henry Ellenson (Marquette), Diamond Stone (Maryland), Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) and Malik Newman (Mississippi State) all chose to play for teams not listed above as a top destination.

In a season where the freshman class was widely regarded as "down," the result of all that talent going elsewhere was nevertheless the best year posted by freshmen outside the blue-chip schools in recent memory. Simmons, Brown and Ellenson were all named first-team all-conference in their respective leagues.

Those three players, however, are the exceptions to the rule. In the past five years we've seen 19 top-10 players go to teams outside the "big six" programs, and of that group only six of the freshmen earned first-team all-conference honors in their first seasons (the three named above, plus Anthony Bennett at UNLV in 2012-13, Marcus Smart at Oklahoma State that same season and Bradley Beal at Florida in 2011-12).



Former UNLV Rebel Anthony Bennett was selected No. 1 overall by Cleveland in the 2013 NBA draft. Jake Roth/USA TODAY Sports

You can make a case that six out of 19 isn't a bad hit rate, and, anyway, it's not dramatically worse than what we've seen from top-10 freshmen over the same period who've said yes to the top six recruiting programs. (Since 2011-12, 11 of 30 top-10 freshmen at so-called blue-chip programs have been named first-team all-conference in their first seasons.)

Still, the next time you hear an incoming freshman being praised as transformational for an up-and-coming school, keep these numbers handy. Other things being equal -- and bearing in mind always that many all-conference "first" teams include more than just five honorees -- history suggests a freshman in Fultz's position might have roughly a one-in-three chance of making first-team all-conference in 2017.

Is there a performance price to be paid by saying no to the blue-chip programs?

Using this same group of 49 elite recruits from the past five seasons, I looked at the freshman statistics left behind by all of them at kenpom.com. It won't surprise you to learn that freshmen who play for one of the 345 "other" teams outside the top six recruiting destinations are called upon to (or just do) use more possessions than do first-year players for Kentucky, Duke, et al.

What might surprise you, however, is that the difference isn't all that large. Elite freshman for "other" teams have used an average of 23.8 percent of their teams' possessions, while first-year players for big-six programs have posted an average percentage of 22.2 in terms of usage. Similarly, freshman-year minutes played are almost identical across the two groups.

But that's where the similarities end. The difference in average offensive rating posted by these two groups is striking: 113.6 for top freshmen at the big-six schools, vs. 103.7 for equally elite first-year players everywhere else.



Former LSU Tiger Ben Simmons failed to make the NCAA tournament during his one year in Baton Rouge. Frank Mattia/Icon Sportswire

Naturally we'd expect that freshmen blessed with superior teammates would record better stats than first-year players surrounded by less talent. What's intriguing to me about these numbers, though, is that we'd also assume this same dynamic would apply to sheer workload on offense. Instead, the difference in usage is relatively small, and the disparity in bottom-line results (granted, on offense only) is much larger.

Fultz, Washington and the next level






Maybe the blue-chip schools are just better at recognizing the "true" talent behind the similar player ratings (though the examples set at big-six programs by past top-ranked freshmen like Cheick Diallo and Kaleb Tarczewski would hardly seem to lend credence to that theory). Alternately, it might be the case that in D-I basketball the rich get richer in ways we don't yet fully appreciate, and that even the most talented freshmen require something more than simply one-and-done talent to truly excel at the college level. Perhaps those freshmen also need some kind of preexisting programmatic superstructure to tap into, one that has been built over years if not decades.

Which brings me back to Fultz. Washington has a proven track record of putting players into the NBA (e.g., Marquese Chriss, Dejounte Murray, C.J. Wilcox, Tony Wroten, Terrence Ross, Isaiah Thomas, Quincy Pondexter and Spencer Hawes), and Fultz is primed, should he choose to do so, to join that list next summer. But projecting the exceptionally talented point guard's potential over the next six or eight or 10 years is arguably the easy part.

What's more difficult is knowing what impact Fultz will have in D-I in the relative blink of an eye supplied by the 2016-17 season. History suggests that if the Huskies' point guard is able to deliver on his vast potential in (what might well be) his one and only college season, he will have bucked the odds. And when he does just that you might hear that it was all a foregone conclusion. Maybe so, but I for one will offer a hearty salute to Fultz for blazing a surprisingly unique performance path.

Ekrub
09-01-2016, 05:38 AM
Brandon roy too

willandi
09-01-2016, 06:54 AM
Interesting read. Also interesting that minutes and shots are fairly equal, but that the scoring rating is not.

My take is that much is perception. Not statistical perception, but the belief that the one and done players SHOULD be better, and so sub conciously are given a bigger margin of error.

Most don't deny that Okafor was a great college talent, but how would he have been if each time he lowered his shoulder to clear space, it had been called as the offensive foul that the rules state it was?

The same applies to many of the elite guards. Jumping into the defender is supposed to be an offensive foul, not a chance for an 'and one', but the perception that these are elite players has allowed them much more freedom to be aggressive in their approach.

Just my two cents worth, but a great read. I would like to see a national organization of collegiate officials, one that changes/rotates conferences coast to coast and is taught to call the game the same way no matter what name is on either side of the jersey.

seacatfan
09-01-2016, 10:51 AM
Depends on what the recruit's goal or goals are. If it's to win a National Championship, choosing a blue blood makes the most sense, but no guarantee. If it's to be named an All American during the 1 or 2 years spent in college, maybe going to a traditional powerhouse helps, but that can go either way. If it's just about getting to the NBA as quickly as possible, I don't think it matters which school they choose. If a kid comes in with a 1 and done reputation, unless he's just horrible during his Fr. year he's gonna get drafted whether he went to Duke/Kentucky or East Podunk U. Doesn't matter.

I'd single out Kansas as a school that gets a bunch of McD's AA recruits, several of whom were quite underwhelming during their 1 year on campus, but still declared and got drafted.

titopoet
09-01-2016, 11:06 AM
Depends on what the recruit's goal or goals are. If it's to win a National Championship, choosing a blue blood makes the most sense, but no guarantee. If it's to be named an All American during the 1 or 2 years spent in college, maybe going to a traditional powerhouse helps, but that can go either way. If it's just about getting to the NBA as quickly as possible, I don't think it matters which school they choose. If a kid comes in with a 1 and done reputation, unless he's just horrible during his Fr. year he's gonna get drafted whether he went to Duke/Kentucky or East Podunk U. Doesn't matter.

I'd single out Kansas as a school that gets a bunch of McD's AA recruits, several of whom were quite underwhelming during their 1 year on campus, but still declared and got drafted.

What is interesting to me is how some programs like Michigan State produce (and in some cases) better programs than the big 6 with UCLA and Arizona. A NC would more likely at MSU than Arizona or UCLA. North Carolina also has produced up and down seasons.

seacatfan
09-01-2016, 11:26 AM
What is interesting to me is how some programs like Michigan State produce (and in some cases) better programs than the big 6 with UCLA and Arizona. A NC would more likely at MSU than Arizona or UCLA. North Carolina also has produced up and down seasons.

Well, Izzo might just be the best coach in college basketball. He gets a few blue chippers there, but also does just fine when his roster isn't loaded with future NBA players (in fact I think the year they lost against North Carolina in the Championship Game they didn't have a single future NBAer on the roster).

I think all of the blue bloods have had up and down seasons. Kansas wins the Big 12 EVERY year, but have had their fair share of early round flameouts. Duke has had some quite famous huge upset losses in first round games in the not too distant past and actually hardly ever win the ACC regular season anymore. Kentucky probably has been the most consistent making deep runs, but missed the Tourney entirely 5 years ago or so and was fairly mediocre a couple years ago...until they got hot and made it all the way to the Title Game against UConn.