"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Matthews on pace to be one of top MU NBA scorers of all-time; 1st time 4 MU players in NBA since 1987

Despite a bad day for Milwaukee in the NBA with the Bucks being eliminated and the Jazz losing their opener against the Lakers, Wesley Matthews had another solid performance.

It’s worth noting that this year marked the first time since 1987 that four former Marquette players were in the NBA in the same year. That year it was Maurice Lucas, Doc Rivers, Jerome Whitehead and Michael Wilson, while this year of course it was Matthews joining Travis Diener, Steve Novak and Dwyane Wade.

Baring injury, Wade will become Marquette’s all-time leading scorer early next year, needing only 346 to pass the great Maurice Lucas, now a coach with the TrailBlazers. But I believe what Wade’s incredible numbers eclipse is the fact that if Matthews just keeps his current pace he would have more than 3,000 regular season points by the end of the 2013 season, which would mean in just four seasons he would have passed greats like Dean Meminger and Tony Smith to be 8th among MUs all-time NBA scorers.

Top MU grads in NBA scoring:

1, Maurice Lucas 12312; 2, Dwyane Wade 11967; 3, Don Kojis 9931; 4, Glen (Doc) Rivers 9418; 5, George Thompson 8128; 6 Jim Chones 7663; 7, Jerome Whitehead 4531; (Matthews would top 3000 by 2013 at his current pace); 8, Dean Meminger 2538; 9, Larry McNeil 2525; 10, Earl Tatum 2515.

11, Tony Smith 2514; 12 Chris Crawford 1663; 13 Lloyd Walton 1432; 14 Jim McIlvaine 1083; 15 Travis Diener 854; 16 Steve Novak 791; 17 Alfred (Butch) Lee 778; 18 Wesley Matthews 769; 19 Maurice (Bo) Ellis 605; 20 Bob Lackey 412.

With the fierce competition from overseas as well as 347 Division I teams and Division II powerhouses, only 19 teams have more players on NBA rosters than Marquette. The fact is that it is such a tiny percentage of players that make an NBA roster, that having two producing at the level of Matthews and Wade this year is fantastic for the program. Marquette’s NBA presence is even stronger when you add coaches, as Jim Boylan (Bucks), Maurice Lucas (Trailblazers) and of course Doc Rivers (Celtics) give MU seven players or coaches, more than all but 12 other colleges (Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgia Tech, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas and UCLA).

Importance for Recruiting

Obviously the importance of MUs strong NBA presence cannot be overstated, as 4- and 5-star players want to know that the school they choose has a history of producing NBA players. It’s unlikely we catch the rest of the class without Doc Rivers and Dwyane Wade being ambassadors for the school, and certainly Matthews is continuing to make the case.

The six NBA factories – UConn, Duke, UNC and UCLA are the only four schools with 12 players on NBA rosters, and Kentucky and Kansas are about to rejoin that distinction – are going to get the first looks from the 5-stars, but Marquette is carving out a nitch in that next bigger tier of potential destinations.

Historical perspective

I also continue to maintain that a player proving he can make it on the next level is often a vindication of how great a player he was at MU, even if it doesn’t come out completely in his stats while at Marquette. Doc Rivers stats weren’t phenomenal at MU as defenses sagged and stalled without a shot clock rather than challenge him. Tony Smith’s stats were not great until his senior year, and his best record was 15-14 because he was doing it by himself. Matthews was an incredibly unselfish player who stepped aside for DJ while he was dominating, and often for Jerel during his All-American campaign, and continued to simply box out opposing big men so that other players could grab the rebound stats.

When I update my rankings of all-time MU greats after each season, I believe I am correct to include a small factor for what they are doing in the NBA, as a true indication of how great a player they were at MU even if they chose to be unselfish until the team needed them to be the scorer.

As for MUs all-time mark in the NBA, it happened during both the 1979 and 1980 seasons in the wake of the National Championship. Both of those seasons, there were eight Marquette players on NBA rosters. They included Jim Chones, Bo Ellis, Butch Lee, Maurice Lucas, Earl Tatum, Lloyd Walton and Jerome Whitehead both years. In 1979, Larry McNeill finished his last season to make it eight players, and in 1980, Bernard Toone tooks his place as the 8th player.

No comments: