Duke’s Title Driven by Experienced Top Talent

The Charlotte Observer had an interesting item in today’s paper. Unfortunately, the web version of story does not include the graphic that helps the reader visualize the magnitude of the statistic.

The chart showed the rankings of the Top 20 High School players from 2006 and 2007.

From 2006, only six players remain on college rosters…and it just happens that five of those players brought up the rear of the rankings at #16-#20. Those players were as follows:

(12) Sherron Collins – Kansas – Won Big 12 title and played in NCAAT
(16) Quincy Poindexter – Washington – won Pac 10 Title and played in NCAAT
(17) Vernon Macklin – Florida – NCAAT appearance
(18) Lance Thomas – Duke – Won ACC and National Title
(19) Damion Jones – Texas – NCAAT appearance
(20) Jon Scheyer – Duke – Won ACC and National Title

From the 2007 class, only four players participated in college basketball this past season:

(6) Kyle Singler – Duke – Won ACC and National Title
(12) Patrick Patterson – Kentucky – Won SEC title and made NCAAT appearance
(15) Austin Freeman – Georgetown – NCAAT appearance
(18) James Anderson – Oklahoma State – NCAAT appearance
(20) Gani Lawal – Georgia Tech – NCAAT appearance

In short — EVERY school with a Top 20 player from these classes participated in this year’s NCAA Tournament. And, the only school with multiple players – Duke – won the NCAA Championship.

Of course, in the near future, proclaiming that a school participates in the NCAA Tournament won’t mean a damn thing. But, for now, I found this correlation of talent to performance very similar to the annual comments made about needing a McDonald’s All-American to advance to the Final Four.

The following was taken from the piece and was also very interesting:

The ability to keep players in the program was a factor in North Carolina’s 2009 NCAA championship. The Tar Heels had senior Tyler Hansbrough (No. 7 in 2005) and juniors Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, Nos. 5 and 7, respectively, as high school seniors in 2006.

Butler’s recruits : If Duke, which started four McDonald’s All Americans in the title game and had three more on its bench, is at one end of the recruiting scale, Butler is at the other end.

To put Butler’s accomplishment of reaching the NCAA championship game in perspective, try to name the other nine members of the Horizon League.

The league also includes Cleveland State, Detroit, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola-Chicago, Valparaiso, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Wright State and Youngstown State.

The Bulldogs do not have a player in their program who was ranked in the top 100 coming out of high school.

Scout.com ranks high school players from one to five stars, and Butler’s highest-rated starter was Matt Howard, a three-star player from Connersville, Ind., who drew recruiting interest from Indiana, Xavier and Miami-Ohio as a senior.

All of the Bulldogs’ other starters in Monday’s championship game were ranked by Scout.com as two-star players.

Duke has not signed a high school recruit ranked with less than four stars in at least nine years. Of course, being recruited by Duke sometimes earns a recruit more star power.

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5 Responses to Duke’s Title Driven by Experienced Top Talent

  1. Alpha Wolf 04/11/2010 at 9:46 AM #

    If you can’t recruit, you can’t win, outliers aside.

    Since the McD AA game started in the late 1970s, precisely one winner of the NCAAT had no McD AA’s on their team (Maryland.) The rest, even NCSU, had one or more on their roster.

    With all due respect to Butler, were they in a power conference and had to play a power conference’s league slate, they probably would have lost a few more games than they did.

  2. Rick 04/11/2010 at 12:50 PM #

    While I agree they had talent it was more than just that.
    Kentucky had more talent than Duke. Kansas had more talent than Duke. I am sure there are others (Syracuse maybe).

    What Duke had was hard defense, role players that knew what to do, experience and most importantly they played like a team. Those are the things areas K where excels. It is why I see NCSU having a Ga Tech type program as long as Lowe is around. If he gets a ton of talent he might be able to make the tournament but his teams have not shown the ability or desire to do the little things that make good teams great.

  3. PapaJohn 04/11/2010 at 7:12 PM #

    Recruiting isn’t enough, you have to know what to do with the players when you get them.


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