"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

Thursday, October 22, 2009

5-star Vander Blue leaves MU just a couple of recruits from title contender in 2012

In the first eight years of the Rivals.com database, Marquette signed five 4-star recruits (Dameon Mason, Lazar Hayward and the Three Amigos). However, it wasn’t until this week’s decision by Vander Blue to come to MU that we landed our first 5-star recruit.

Only a couple of dozen players a season achieve 5-star status, so I immediately wondered how much of an impact Blue’s arrival might have on MUs success when he arrives for the 2011 season.

I’ve referenced the “Win Credits” system developed in The Ultimate Hoops Guide , which is a system of measuring a player’s contribution to his team’s win-loss record to determine how many wins he was worth to the team in a given year. Dwyane Wade was worth 9.6 wins to Marquette in 2003, the highest total in MU history.

To try to get a handle on Blue’s potential impact, I went back to look at the number of wins a 5-star player typically creates when he arrives in the Big East for his freshman season, and then how that number grows when he is a sophomore and junior.

This basically boiled down to calculating all player seasons for Louisville, Villanova, UConn and Syracuse since the league expanded, since they had almost all of the five-star players the first few years.

What are the chances of Blue being a Big East superstar immediately as a freshman in 2011? It's a tough conference, and only two 5-star freshman have been immediate Big East stars worth five or six wins their first season - Donte Greene (worth 5.5 wins to Syracuse in 2008) and Samardo Samuels (5.3 Louisville 2009).

What are the chances Blue has a strong freshman season, then takes over as a Superstar his sophomore season in 2012? Three other 5-star players had solid freshman seasons then exploded to be worth six or seven wins as sophomores - Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn (4.4 wins as a freshman, 6.9 as a sophomore), UConn’s Rudy Gay (3.9, 7.1) and Louisville’s Earl Clark (1.4, 6.0). The only bad thing about getting that good is that four of those five left after their breakout season, with only Earl Clark sticking around to post a ridiculous 9.1 wins last year as a junior for Louisville.

How often does a 5-star player not even put up big numbers? The good news is that while the majority of 5-star players don't dominate immediately, only one of 16 five-star players I researched, Curtis Kelly, was a dud. In addition to the five superstars mentioned above, big numbers were put up by Derrick Caracter, Corey Fisher, Paul Harris, Terrence Jennings, Kyle Lowry, Juan Palacios, Stanley Robinson, Corey Stokes, Kemba Walker and Darryl Watkins.

I averaged the Win Credits for these 5-star players during their freshman, sophomore and junior seasons (but not the senior year since most 5-stars are in the NBA by then) and then did the same thing for 4-star, 3-star and other recruits entering Big East play to see how many wins we might expect from each member of the team for the next few years:

How many wins to expect based on a player's year and stars

0-2 Stars0.


The first thing you can notice from this graph is that 4- and 5-star players are able to have an immediate impact in the Big East as freshman, typically worth around two additional wins to their teams during their freshman season. However, a freshman with three or fewer stars typical will have almost no impact their freshman year, which makes it quite possible that MU will get a lot more out of the JUCO players than the 3-star freshmen in the coming season.

If we look at the wins generated by each player in 2009, then how many wins we expect from each MU player during the coming three seasons we get the table below. For the players who already played for MU last year, we look at how far above or below these averages they have been so far in their career, and assume they will improve as much as expected from that point for the coming seasons.

Projected Wins from each player from 2009 to 2012 seasons
Maurice Acker, Sr. G, 0 Stars0.00.8GG
Vander Blue, HS G, 5 StarsHSHS2.44.7
Dwight Burke, Grad F-C, 0 Stars0.1GGG
Jimmy Butler, Jr. G-F, 0 Stars1.32.03.6G
Dwight Buycks, Jr. G, 3 StarsJC2.13.2G
Junior Cadougan, Inj. G, 4 StarsHSRS1.73.1
David Cubillan, Sr. G, 0 Stars0.01.3GG
Robert Frozena, Jr. G, 0 Stars0.00.00.0G
Joseph Fulce, Jr. F, 3 Stars0.00.92.0G
Lazar Hayward, Sr. F, 4 Stars6.36.4GG
Patrick Hazel, Trans. F-C, 3 Stars0.0TTT
Dominic James, Grad G, 4 Stars3.4GGG
Darius Johnson-Odom, So. G, 3 StarsJC1.22.13.2
Jamail Jones, HS F, 4 StarsHSHS1.73.1
Wesley Matthews, Grad G, 4 Stars6.6GGG
Jeronne Maymon, Fr. G-F, 4 StarsHS1.73.14.3
Youssaupha Mbao, Fr. C, 3 StarsHS0.31.22.1
Jerel McNeal, Grad G, 4 Stars7.4GGG
Chris Otule, So. C, 2 Stars0.
Erik Williams, Fr. F, 4 StarsHS1.73.14.3
Projected Wins on known roster25.119.024.925.8+

Key = a number indicates how many wins the player is projected to give MU that season, HS is a player in high school that year, G indicates graduated by that year, T indicates transferred out of MU, RS indicates red shirt season, JC indicates in Junior College that season.

2010 Outlook – 19.0 wins on roster. We already know there were 25 wins in 2009, and how top heavy MU was with great seasons from the Three Amigos and Lazar, but a lot of ZEROS on the roster. Buzz has obviously brought a lot more balance to the roster, but the roster only shows 19 wins this season. The Three Amigos were WAY ahead of the average pace for 4-star freshmen, so if 4-star freshmen Jeronne Maymon and/or Erik Williams are anywhere near Dominic James’ ridiculous 5.4 wins his freshman year, instead of the 1.7 we would normally expect from a 4-star freshman, then MU could certainly be better despite the painful season-ending injury to Junior Cadougan, the highest rated of this year’s 4-star freshman. On average though, we would expect juniors Dwight Buycks and Jimmy Butler to be on par or slightly ahead of the 4-star freshmen at about 2 wins each, meaning Hayward does need to post another 6+ win season and Cube and Acker need to get back to their levels from two years ago to add a little from the backcourt.

2011 Outlook – 24.9 wins on roster - equal to 2009. The great news is that with the arrival of Cadougan and Blue in 2011, and the anticipated improvement of everyone else, MU would be expected to return right to where we were in 2009 with about 25 wins. In addition, the production would be much more spreadout, meaning one injury wouldn’t end the season like it did after DJ went down last year. In addition, the production would be coming from all five positions as long as Mbao and/or Otule develop.

2012 Outlook – 25.8 wins PLUS three more players. What is really mindboggling though is the 2012 season. At first glance it appears the 2012 roster only looks about one game better than the 2011 roster. However, the 2011 roster anticipates 24.9 wins from 11 players. The 2012 roster shows 25.8 wins from only eight players. MU will have three new players by then, and if it were, for example, a 3-star JUCO (2.1), a 4-star freshman (1.7) and another 5-star freshman (2.4), we would anticipate 32 wins!

That’s a potential national title contender.

Obviously injuries, transfers and under performances could lower any of these individual player Win Credits. However, the numbers are just as likely to be higher for players that perform above the average like the Three Amigos and Lazar have been doing their whole careers, or for upgrade recruits that transfer in or take the spot of any of these players that cannot play for any reason. The overall pool of talent that Buzz has put together is so much deeper and more balanced than the past teams, that right now we are on course for a regroup/winning season this year even with no bust outs, being back to last year’s level by the 2011 season, and then the sky is absolutely the limit for 2012.

Patience is tough when we’ve been spoiled by being so good every year in the Big East so far, but one step backward this year could easily be followed by giant steps forward.


Unknown said...

It would be great if we can stay in place this year instead of taking a step backward. If Jimmy Butler and Maymon can step up to the level of an Amigo and then another player step up to the level of one of the Amigo's we could be there. Come on Erik Williams, DJO, Dwight, Fulce and Otule! The challenge is there!

JohnPudner said...

Agreed - this is purely by the numbers, but I sure love having a two-star sophomore and a three-star freshman both around 7-feet tall. Would certainly seem to be more upside to them as well as the others.

Oliver said...

I love the analysis, but my only question is the lack of data regarding the interaction of players. A team full of 10 five-star recruits cannot win 60 games.

Obviously our 2012 team has good potential, but assigning wins based on players is a tricky business once you are over a certain number of players.

Unknown said...

I have to admit, when I read the beginning of that headline, "5-star Vander Blue leaves MU..." my blood pressure jumped. Can't wait until he actually signs.

Championships Matter said...

Some of this statistical stuff is mumble jumble. What I like though is the notion that highly touted college basketball players are considering Marquette.

Will Vander Blue bring us 11 more wins? I hope he brings us more than that. But you have to temper your enthusiasm with the reality that he's never played a college game in his life.

Is he the second coming of Michael Jordan? Be nice, but probably not! Is he the second coming of a host of touted recruits that never cut it (Tony Reeder, Gerald Posey)? I sure hope not.

I'll take someone who can play as a teammate, fit into a system and lead us to the Final Four. Oh yeah, I guess I want another Dewayne Wade or Butch Lee!

Yeah, I know, Championships Matter!