ESPN basketball recruiting guru and San Antonio Spurs scouting coordinator Dave Telep broke down last week which colleges have had the most success on the recruiting trail in the past five years. Telep’s methodology was simple: Which schools had recruited the most recruits ranked in ESPN’s Top 100 in their class.
Per Mike Waters of Syracuse.com, here is the Top 10 — actually 12 due to ties:
1. Kentucky (23 Top 100 recruits)
2. Arizona (16)
North Carolina (16)
4. Duke (14)
6. Kansas (13)
7. Syracuse (12)
8. Baylor (11)
And now, each team’s record in the NCAA Tournament over the past four seasons:
1. Kentucky (13-2) — 2012 NCAA Championship
2. Duke (11-3) — 2010 NCAA Championship
3. Kansas (11-4)
4. Syracuse (10-4)
5. Baylor (6-2)
6. North Carolina (7-3)
7. Arizona (5-2)
8. Indiana (4-2)
9. UCLA (1-2)
10. Texas (1-3)
11. Memphis (1-3)
12. Villanova (1-3)
What do we glean from this?
First and foremost, recruiting is only one of many components that is needed to have success. It very well could be the most important, but seeing as schools like UCLA, Texas, Memphis, and Villanova have won just one NCAA Tournament game since 2010 suggest there are other factors in play. Is the head coach squandering talent? Perhaps the program is victim of several recruits who were “one and done” type players? Were key players injured during the season? Maybe a team just got unlucky?
There are no clear-cut answers. Many pundits would claim that Villanova’s Jay Wright is a better coach than Baylor’s Scott Drew, yet Drew is the one with a 6-2 NCAA Tournament record in this time frame. And then there is John Calipari, who has always been suspect as an in-game coach, but a master recruiter. The job he did with the 2011-12 Kentucky team seemed more to be about managing all of the talent on the team and using it in the most opportune way, rather than actually coaching — it worked.
What is interesting to note is that two of the past four National Champions are not even on this list: Connecticut (2011) and Louisville (2013). Even crazier to think is that Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith didn’t even make ESPN’s Top 100 lists for their respective classes, meanwhile these two will make preseason All-American teams.
The moral of the story is: recruiting, in any sport, is an inexact science.