Frank Haith’s tenure at Missouri as not been long, but he’s already won over the good folks in Columbia as well as just about every media member this side of Dan Wolken.
And while Wolken has a valid point about Haith’s past, the fact of the matter is that he has Missouri in a position few thought it would ever reach during his watch, let alone just 14 months after his hire. When Haith took the job, he was taking over a team that had lost their cohesiveness in 2010-2011 and was heading into the 2011-2012 season without any depth and with arguably their best player — Laurence Bowers — laid up with a torn ACL.
Fast forward to this spring, and Missouri left the Big 12 as conference tournament champions and enters the SEC as the favorite to challenge Kentucky for league supremacy. Last season’s success was the result of Haith getting his team to buy into the idea of playing for each other and having a perfect mix of maturity, positional versatility and three-point shooting to survive.
But the Tigers graduated four members of their seven-man rotation, meaning that Haith needed to find a way to rebuild with instant impact additions. And he did just that, by corralling seemingly every single big name transfer — Keion Bell, Earnest Ross, Jabari Brown and Alex Oriakhi.
And according to Dan Hanner of RealGM.com, Haith may have very well put together the best class of transfers. Ever:
Has anyone ever brought in a transfer class that included a former national champion who was once a consensus Top 20 recruit, another consensus Top 20 recruit, the second leading scorer in the WCC, and the leading scorer and top minutes player on an SEC team in the same transfer haul?
In his post, Hanner uses the Points Produced stat (I’ll urge you to read it to find out exactly what it means, but it essentially factors in points, assists and offensive rebounds and spits out a number) and determines that, at 980 points produced, this is the most productive transfer class since 2005. And that’s not even the most accurate depiction of this group:
This probably understates how prolific these players were. Keion Bell was once responsible for producing 557 points in a season, but he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team in his last year at Pepperdine. Alex Oriakhi created over 403 points in UConn’s national championship season. And Jabari Brown played only 2 games last season before he decided to transfer. But even using these non-peak statistics, from 2005 to 2012, no team came close to bringing in this kind of production in one transfer class.
Chemistry could be an issue, yes, but chemistry was the issue for the team Haith took over last April. Look where they ended up.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.