It seems safe to say there are usually only a handful of elite college freshman that gather significant minutes on a team’s roster. The vast majority come off the bench, plays some minutes, but ready-up for a sophomore campaign or beyond. A really interesting look at re-ranking last year’s top 100 recruits of college basketball gives some insight to that huge talent gap between the best of the lot, and the rest.
Drew Cannon of Basketball Prospectus crunched the numbers, and the results aren’t entirely shocking. But you do get a sense of just how few players can make an immediate impact, and just how lucky we are to be Kentucky fans to see it. You won’t be surprised to see former Cats up near the top of the list. Only 27 players of the top 100 Cannon listed as effective starters, the vast majority being limited to only role players, or playing on unimpressive rosters or in limited time. (as a side note: some notable names from the lowest on his include three Louisville Cardinals)
Here is where our Kentucky Wildcats ranked in the re-rankings of 2011
As a role player, White Boy Academy has high praise from Cannon, despite his game being overshadowed throughout the season. His re-rank being the same as his jersey number must be coincidence.
33. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (ranked No. 19 in 2011)
Wiltjer was used mostly as a spot-up shooter and as a spare big for the national champions, but he performed well in a role limited by the quality of his teammates. His post game is polished and, though we didn’t see it much last year, that should become much more widely-known in the coming months.
Jumping up to the “Effective Starters” bunch, Teague is one of very few freshman in the country to be labeled this by Cannon, and his being the third-highest Wildcat at No. 12 is pretty crazy. Did you know Kentucky had some really good freshman last season?
12. Marquis Teague, Kentucky (ranked No. 8 in 2011)
So this one-and-done thing worked alright for Kentucky last year, huh? Teague’s the third-highest-ranked Wildcat on this list, and here he sits at 12. Only UK and Texas placed three guys in the top 30, and Wildcat Kyle Wiltjer landed at No. 33. It took Teague a while to find his footing (he was left off the eight-member SEC All-Freshman team, in an incorrect but, at the time, shockingly debatable decision), and even by the end of the season it was hard to call him feared, but he ran a totally respectable point guard for a team that will be go down as one of the more unbeatable champions in recent memory. He’ll be in the NBA in 2012-13.
And now the five “Elite” freshmen, that are all no-doubters given their performances a season ago. Obviously Trey Burke will be the biggest head-scratcher for the recruiting gurus who didn’t have him anywhere near their top 50.
5. Trey Burke, Michigan (ranked No. 84 in 2011)
4. Bradley Beal, Florida (ranked No. 5 in 2011)
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kentucky (ranked No. 4 in 2011)
I do think Kidd-Gilchrist became overrated. Now, lower the pitchforks — he’s number three on this list. He’s a relentless defender, a good rebounder, and a capable slasher. He tends to be smart with the ball (though this, particularly, became overrated as the year went on), he’s terrifying in transition, and his heart is undeniable. Yet his offensive contributions were not in the same stratosphere as Cody Zeller’s, even considering how much more Indiana needed Zeller to score. Using noticeably, if not dramatically, fewer of his team’s possessions, MKG shot 54 percent on twos, 26 percent on threes, and 75 percent from the free throw line. Zeller shot 62 percent from the field and 76 percent from the line without ever attempting a three-pointer. Zeller also turned the ball over less. I have more confidence that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be an effective NBA player than anyone on this list outside of the untouchable Davis. But I also have a really hard time understanding the argument that he was better than Zeller in 2012.
2. Cody Zeller, Indiana (ranked No. 14 in 2011)
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky (ranked No. 1 in 2011) I don’t know how to tell you this without scaring you, but Davis, a force of nature on defense, also posted the second-best overall offensive season of any freshman last season (behind Zeller). I’ve probably made this clear by how often I’ve referenced Davis as an unimpeachable gold standard for hundreds and hundreds of words, but the performance gap between Davis and Zeller was enormous. Davis was the deserving National Player of the Year. I’m not very old, but I can’t remember watching any college player better than Davis defensively except for Greg Oden and maybe Shane Battier. If anyone else is drafted first overall, there will be a Twitter riot. Anthony Davis has raised the collective expectations for every No. 1-ranked player to come.
Read the rest of the article to see the full list of Cannon’s re-rankings for 2011. There’s lots of names you won’t remember, and other names you’ll go laugh and go, “oh yeah, him!”
[powered by WordPress.]
Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
9 queries. 0.317 seconds