Two methods to recruiting (In my mind anyway)
There are two ways a college basketball coach can recruit. You can go the John Caliper method of high turn over and a young team full of raw talent and ability. Option 2 you can build a program with skill and age, like Tom Izzo.
Where’s that leave Kansas? Right dab in the middle, purgatory you might say. Look it’s a no win situation for Coach Self. If you aren’t bringing in top 25 talent, then you are a bad recruiter(said by many on this board and the old in the past) if you bring in guys like a Wiggins, and he doesn’t take over games you’ve failed in using your talent correctly.
Coach Self isn’t the only coach stuck in this mud hole. Coach K, had his run in with OAD’s and was losing in the first round as a 2 seed. Roy Williams had the same issue. It’s gotta be hard to not go after top tier talent, instead of talent that fits your mold and program. If you met with Andrew Wiggins and his family and asked him to come to KU but had no idea where he was going to go and he announces he is going to KU, as a coach do you turn that away?
Not to bash another thread or a poster here, but the question shouldn’t be another Big12 title or a Final 4 appearance. It should be do you take the Caliper road and go after top recruits and have high turnover of elite talent, or do you go after 50-100 ranked players and build the program around glue guys and program guys?
“There’s Clown’s to the left of me, Jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” This is the quandary that Bill Self is in right now.
He has guys like Seldon, Mason and Green, even Traylor he can build a program around, but he keeps losing guys, like Oubre, Wiggins, Embiid, and Mclemore, that leaves a void in experience and talent, when they are replaced by each other year after year.
I don’t fault Self in bringing these players to KU, I don’t fault players for staying and taking up scholarships either, they chose to come to KU, represent KU and they want to play for KU.
People slammed KU for playing Brady Morningstar, well maybe KU needs a guy like him on the floor the past two years to be a leader, a floor general? People go after Self for taking Wiggins and not developing White III, maybe he didn’t work hard on the D end of the floor, maybe he wasn’t the shooter everyone was made to believe?
I believe in my opinion that he has to choose one or the other ideologies of recruiting though. That and the fans need to be OK with it as well, be it high turnover year after year and not knowing the players, or they need to be OK with KU not bringing in the top elite talent and let guys mature and age well within the program.
But if you go back on this board and the old one you will be able to tell that no matter what Self does, he won’t make people happy in his recruiting strategy. Perhaps he needs some help from the NBA and adjusting the age limit or years out of HS before they can go pro?
“Well I’m trying to make sense of it all, but I can see it makes no sense at all…” Stuck in the middle, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
Izoo still gets highly ranked players. He’s got Davis in the McDonald’s game tonight. He also takes talent just like Self does and makes them better.
Self has a top 5 program. It’s elite, he has to attract elite talent to come here and enhance the brand because there isn’t 10 Perry Ellis’s to get in the state every year. Sometimes the Elite of the elite talent hasn’t worked out, and other times it has. Self has a demanding system, he demands a lot just like Izzo. Izzo has been lucky that his star players tend to stay in college longer although last year Gary Harris left after 2. It happens to all the big programs, its coaches responsibility to fix it
It appears based on the last couple of years, that HCBS isn’t stuck in the middle - he is fully committed to the UK and now Duke (and also Arizona) approach - go all in on OADs (which I still believe is a (over)reaction to the 2012 loss to UK). There are at least 5 problems with this approach.
First, OADs don’t fit his system - apart from learning the nuances, it requires strong fundamental skills (e.g., passing into the post) that too many OADs obviously lack, and devalues individual creativity (other than at the end of the shot clock). Two, it leads to recruiting over current players, resulting in transfers and even more program turnover, and may make it more difficult to get really good 3-4 star players (particularly to commit early). Three, there are only 10-15 prospective OADs in each class, and only half of those actually live up to the hype - and, you can’t really know in advance which those will be. Four, at least as long as Calipari is at UK, it’s pretty clear that is the first choice of most of the elites, which means we will be at best a second choice - and have to wait until the dust settles to figure out how the class is shaping up - and, which means that if you strike out, you are in full desperation mode trying to fill with 3 stars that no one else wanted, de-commits, and graduate transfers. Five, and most importantly, based on the results from the past 3 or 4 years, it appears that the OAD approach only succeeds if you are really able to get multiple guys at the top of the class to commit - being able to put overwhelming talent on the floor, regardless of (in)experience level.
I would argue that we’ve seen all 5 problems manifest themselves at KU the past few years. We’ve had the consensus 2nd and 4th ranked classes the past two years (and 13th and 18th before that) - with 9 and 10 loss seasons and early exits to show for it. This year? Maybe we will end up with Diallo or Maker and Newman or Brown, but we could very well strike out. The only one that we are slight favorite to get according to the “experts” is Diallo.
Your point about two approaches to getting to the mountaintop is a good one. You point to MSU and Wisconsin this year. Illustrative to look at their class rankings over the past 4 years (basically comprising their current rosters): MSU - 50th, >50th, 12th and 23rd. Wisconsin - >50th, 45th, 45th, and 50th. @BeddieKU23 Izzo does recruit and occasionally gets elite players, but it certainly doesn’t appear that he is all in on OADs. Over the past 5 years, including the incoming class, I think he’s had just 3 5 stars - Dawson, Harris and Davis. Trice was a 3; Valentine a 3 or 4. Ryan has had just 1 - Dekker. Kaminsky and Jackson were 3s.
Apart from MSU and Wisconsin this year, look at 3 of the last 4 champions - Louisville and UConn twice. None of them had OAD stacks - I don’t think they had any OADs - characterized by veteran teams that played defense and had great guard play.
We may be stuck in no man’s land right now, but it is the result of pursuing the one approach and foregoing the other.
“I believe in my opinion that he has to choose one or the other ideologies of recruiting though.”
Really nice post.
As @DCHawker stated… we are “all in.” Those executive suites aren’t being built for recruits in the 50-100 bracket.
I don’t really care if we go after the top guys, the middle guys, or both. Ultimately, I think our goal should be grab the best talent that FITS in with the team we have. We have to spread things a bit and try to prevent having years where our first 7 guys are going to leave in the same year. That was devastating two years ago and we are still trying to get back to a mix of players.
The real key is DEVELOPMENT! To the best of my knowledge (please someone prove me wrong) our current crop of assistant coaches are here because they are recruiters and all have geographies where they recruit. Someone must not be doing their job if we can’t even fill a roster with scholarship guys. What is that number… 12? So if these guys aren’t getting the recruiting done and they aren’t development coaches… what they heck are they doing?
Personally… seriously… we need a DEVELOPMENTAL STRATEGY! One that addresses the super uber athlete, right on down to the guy who sits on the 100 spot in the charts. How are we going to make these guys better? If we figure that one out, our recruiting issues are over, and so is our problem advancing in March.
We should have paid closer attention to last year. We had the #1 and #3 draft picks. Okay… we lost JoJo… but even with JoJo there was no guarantee we would have even got past Stanford (NIT Standford). If Wiggins had played half as well as he is playing now (in a league 10-times more talented than college ball), then we should have been a Final Four team last year. It wasn’t Wigs fault. We didn’t use him properly. We didn’t develop him in the small time we had him either. We could have taught him a few simple pull up moves. A bit of advice about when to take it to the rim and when to pull up. It really got old watching Wigs follow Self’s instructions to muscle it to the hole. That was pathetic. And it put Wigs at risk, too.
Truth is… we can’t coach offense. Our only ace in the hole in the past was having Danny Manning to teach our bigs for the hi/lo.
All this talk about recruiting strategies is giving me a headache. I don’t think it will impact our program unless we can get 9 or 10 McDs AAs like Calipari has. Even then… what is making them a contender this year is that most of them are returning for year 2.
This is going to get worse if we don’t address this. The frustrations will grow even more if we continue to get the elite recruits and still puke out in March.
What good does it do to have a group of HS stars that don’t even know how to use a simple shot fake? Or have a highly-touted footer that doesn’t know how to seal off the boards?
This is the stuff that makes me tired of watching Kansas basketball. Guys so very very underdeveloped. The second issue I have is we aren’t properly motivated in March. We come out and play stiff. Fix those areas and Kansas will kick some big time butt in March! Something we can COUNT ON!
i think the number is 13 for scholarships. Anyway we robbed ourselves of 2 possible players who could have been sophomore’s or if we had gone the transfer route maybe another upperclassmen. This upcoming year we better not save any because we will have plenty of open spots regardless of any guys going pro.
@BeddieKU23 we robbed ourselves of 2 possible players who could have been sophomores?
@DCHawker Damn fine post.
Next year should prove if going with upperclassmen and experience is the way to go for Bill Self.
Self will most likely have a starting lineup consisting entirely of upperclassmen. (Ellis, Lucas, Greene, Selden, Mason) Bragg could potentially work his way into the starting lineup if he can play D in the post and Svi could potentially beat out Greene for the starting 3 spot. Regardless, that will be the most experienced lineup Self’s had in a couple of years.
The experience v OAD debate could be settled next year, as Kansas quite likely will not have a single OAD on its roster. It will especially be settled if KU can be successful without any OAD talent AND without a skilled 5 on the roster.
@JRyman said: " Where’s that leave Kansas? Right dab in the middle, purgatory you might say." Perfectly said.
I meant by keeping 2 unfilled scholarships this past year. We should at least gotten one more guy but we couldn’t have predicted conner would chicken out.