Every year at about this time, the popular recruit ranking services update their rankings and invariably some players shoot way up in the rankings or seemingly fall off the charts. Those who follow rankings closely seem to have many questions as to why this always happens, so here goes….
Focus – Scouts do not pay NEARLY as much attention to the 16U teams as they do the 17U teams. There are literally thousands of players in each class per year and the main focus of scouts is always the player who is getting ready to sign next. The players who are preparing to enter their senior years (2008 in this case) are not really watched closely until the tournaments start up in March and really hit a stride in April. Only the TOP level 09 kids are being seen with any regularity right now since many of them “play up” with the 08 players. As the scouts have a chance to firm up their opinions of each player in 08, you will see some kids who were missed from the previous year shoot up (Tyler Zeller is a great example)
Improvement- Some players really do get much better from year to year. From one “scouting” season to the next, there is about 9 months worth of HS basketball, conditioning, individual work, and physical maturity that happens. This is particularly significant between the sophomore summers and the junior summers as this is a time of rapid physical maturity for young men. As a player enters high school, they also often identify themselves as top players and become more serious about basketball and even seek out individual instruction. All of these factored come into play.
Exposure – There are always players who are great players, but don’t play on the right teams. Greg Monroe would be know whether he was on Louisiana Select or the local YMCA team, but the kids who play against him also get exposure from the people watching his games. The top teams have the budgets and contacts to get the right invitations and the right camp placement. Gerald Fitch failed to participate in many of these events and was viewed by many UK fans as a low skilled player due to lack of rankings. Obviously, his only problem was exposure
Incompetence- Some “talent evaluators” are just plain horrible. There are reporters and then there are scouts. A reporter is trained to write articles and interview players and then just happens to go see a kid play out of need. They are paid by media outlets for their writing ability, but college coaches pay no attention to them. Scouts are normally pitiful writers. They are paid by colleges to supply them with talent evaluations for players. They generally have a much better grasp on evaluating talent, but probably don’t spel two whale. From reading this blog, you could probably guess which category I fall into…
Competition- I am positive that many of the “ranking” sources take the other guy’s rankings into account. It’s impossible to have a high confidence in your opinion on every top player in the nations. Even if you see a kid play all weekend, there is always the possibility that his girl broke up with him and he had a bad ankle that weekend. So, when you see someone else rank the player as a top kid, you may be inclined to adjust your opinion. Most of us have people whose opinions we trust for these kinds of issues. I know I do and I’d say it would be stupid to not have a good network of eyeballs.
So, there you go. Feel free to discuss or debate on the blog comments or at www.ukuncensored.com .