"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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

5-star dominance: WVU last year, Pitt this year, MU in 2011-12

Basketball prospects around the country got a great look at Marquette this week when Rivals posted a lead story about Marquette’s first 5-star, Vander Blue (seeMarquette looks for immediate impact from Blue”):

While Blue should have an immediate IMPACT, history suggests he may not dominate and lead MU to the Sweet 16 until his sophomore year.

5-star SOPHOMORE = NCAA Run?

Eight Big East teams have won between 60% and 70% of their games since expansion, and MU is the only one that has done it without any 5-star players. But come tournament time, the fact is Big East teams make NCAA runs when they have 5-star players on the court with at least a year under their belts. Consider:

Through 2008, the five Big East schools who horded 31 of 36 Five Stars (UConn 9, Louisville 7, Syracuse 7, Villanova 5, Georgetown 3) had combined for 11 Sweet 16s and three Final Fours while WVU, Pitt and MU had many disappointing exits.

In 2008, Devin Ebanks became WVU’s first 5-star recruit and was a decent freshman. In 2009-10, five of seven 5-star sophomores in the Big East exploded - Greg Monroe (16.1, 9.6), Samardo Samuels (15.3, 7.0), Kemba Walker (14.6, 4.3), Yancy Gates (10.4, 5.9) and Devin Ebanks (12.0, 8.1), while only two failed to get double figures. Ebanks actually started slowly before scoring double figures in 17 of his last 19 games including six double-doubles to help senior De’Sean Butler take the Mountaineers to the Final Four.

In 2009, Dante Taylor became Pitt’s first 5-star recruit and showed occasional signs of promise for next year, so he could emerge to lead Pitt this season. Last week I told my counterparts in Pitt about my study showing 5-stars usually emerge to dominate during their sophomore years, and they confirmed that all the talk this year is that Taylor is dominating.

In 2010, when Vander Blue takes the court as Marquette’s first 5-star we can certainly hope he is a star right away like Lance Stephenson was for Cincinnati last year as the only 5-star with a big freshman year. However, it is very rare that a 5-star dominates in his freshman year in the Big East, and even on those rare occasions (Carmelo Anthony and Dante Green are really the only two in recent history), it usually results in them achieving one-and-done status.

If Marquette can develop two 3-stars (Wade and Novak) and three 4-stars (Diener, Matthews and Hayward) into NBA players in 8 years, we certainly can expect our first ever 5-star to dominate. However, while we can expect immediate IMPACT, we probably have to wait until Vander’s sophomore season before we will see DOMINANCE.

Let’s keep expectations for Vander Blue reasonable this year and not panic if he shows the same selfless defense-first attitude that wins him praise in the Rivals piece. As an earlier post documented, the typical Big East five-star is worth about 2.4 extra wins to his team as a freshman, but 4.7 extra wins as a sophomore.

I wouldn't be shocked if Pitt finally breaks through with a Final Four run this year, and Marquette is right behind them in 2011-12, with Vander Blue and Company cutting down the nets after a Regional Championship.

1 comment:

Tim DeRoche said...

These are great posts, but it seems a bit premature to project wins based on recruiting ratings. To read these posts, it sounds like there's no downside...but certainly not every 5-star player is going to play to the average level.

A certain percent overperform (Anthony), and a certain percent are complete busts. So there's a distribution of possible outcomes...and the future is *highly* uncertain (though positive!).

Just trying to keep our hopes tethered to reality...