Fun With Recruiting, Part 1
I’m a fan of a college basketball team that is not one of the big dogs, it’s one of the lower echelon BCS conference schools. Fan bases of schools like these are constantly in search of the big recruit, the guy who is going to turn the program around by choosing to come to your school. I began to wonder: how often do top recruits actually pick “the little guy”, and what kind of impact do they have when they get there?
I created a database of the top 50 Rivals recruits from 2005-2009, a five year period. I didn’t include the 2010 class because I was planning on doing analysis on the impact of these recruits and it’s far too early for that. So, what did the data tell me?
Here are the top schools, recruiting-wise:
North Carolina 11
Ohio St. 8
Georgia Tech 8
Oklahoma St. 7
Some mild surprises in that last, perhaps, but nothing too shocking. The recruiting successes have not always translated into NCAA tournament victories (if I had more time and talent I’d try to figure out the correlation coefficient). Florida has reaped the benefits from their National Championships on the recruiting trail, but has no NCAA wins over the last four seasons. Georgia Tech has had little tournament success. In general, however, the recruiting successes have translated well to tournament victories.
More interesting to me are some of the schools that have gotten only one top 50 commitment in the five year period: Pitt, Maryland, Texas A&M, West Virginia and Wisconsin among others. Maryland’s performance (3 NCAA wins in the last 5 years) is mediocre, for them, and it’s clear that Gary Williams needs to improve the talent level. The other four schools have overachieved relative to their recruiting:
My original reason for looking at this was to examine the little guy, the mid-major. First of all, I personally don’t consider Memphis, Gonzaga or Xavier mid-majors at this point. UNLV is tough to categorize for me, but let’s leave them out of this as well. All of those schools have gotten top fifty commitments.
Out of the 250 players on the lists, only five chose to attend “mid-majors”. New Mexico St., Nevada, SIU, SDSU, and Akron were the beneficiaries. Herb Pope chose NMSU in 2007, stayed one year and then moved on to Seton Hall, where he has played well and had some controversy. Luke Babbitt stayed two years at Nevada, led them to zero NCAA tournaments, and left for the NBA. Anthony Booker spent two years at Southern Illinois. His scoring average topped out at 6.4 ppg. He transferred to Iowa St. Kawhi Leonard averaged 13 and 10 as a freshman and is close to 16 and 10 this year for a San Diego St. team that is currently ranked seventh. He is truly an inspiration for the small schools. Zeke Marshall averaged 5 points and 4 boards for Akron last year as a freshman, and is scoring over 10 ppg this year for a 7-4 Akron team.
Clearly, the lower level school corralling a “program changer” is a long-shot.
One last thing to look at: Which BCS schools have been dealt a shutout on the (top 50) recruiting trail over the five year period? There are thirteen of them:
SEC: South Carolina
ACC: Virginia, Virginia Tech, Boston College
Big East: Providence, Seton Hall, St. John’s, South Florida, Notre Dame
Pac 10: Washington St., Oregon St.
Big 10: Northwestern, Penn St.