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The Top 100 Recruits After Two Months, Part 1

The Top 100 Freshmen

On a weekend when Andrew Wiggins was 4 of 14 from the floor and Kansas couldn’t get Joel Embiid the ball in scoring position, the only Kansas freshman to get hot was Frank Mason. Mason isn’t going to be confused with an NBA lottery pick any time soon. But his performance does make it seem like it might be a good time to look at how ALL the elite recruits are doing this year, not just those at the top. The following tables show the RSCI Top 100 freshmen and how they are performing based on standard metrics.

Rnk = Consensus recruiting rank

PPG = Points per game

Min Pct = Percentage of minutes on season

Poss Pct = Aggressiveness, percentage of possessions used

ORtg = Points created per 100 possessions

OR Pct = Offensive rebounding percentage

DR Pct = Defensive rebounding percentage

Ast Pct = Assist rate

One thing we should be concerned about when looking at the numbers is how unequal the schedules have been to this point. And that is a reason that I would put more stock in things like minutes and aggressiveness than true efficiency at this point. But for what it is worth, on average Kansas, Xavier, Wisconsin, and Tennessee have played relatively tough defenses.  And on average TCU, Indiana, UNLV, Arkansas, Illinois, UCLA, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Purdue, Washington, California, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati have played weaker defenses. Almost everyone’s efficiency will fall in conference play, but this will be particularly true for the players on teams in that second group.

Rnk

Player

Team

PPG

Min Pct

Poss Pct

ORtg

OR Pct

DR Pct

Ast Pct

1

Andrew Wiggins

Kansas

15.8

79

24

112

7

13

9

2

Julius Randle

Kentucky

18.1

74

30

115

14

23

12

3

Jabari Parker

Duke

20.4

75

31

115

7

23

12

4

Aaron Gordon

Arizona

12.4

76

23

107

11

19

9

5

Andrew Harrison

Kentucky

11.2

73

22

107

2

6

20

6

Aaron Harrison

Kentucky

14.7

75

22

119

2

9

15

8

Noah Vonleh

Indiana

11.8

57

24

113

13

29

5

9

James Young

Kentucky

13.8

78

22

111

4

9

11

9

Dakari Johnson

Kentucky

3.6

23

20

110

19

16

3

-The knock on Andrew Wiggins so far has been his aggressiveness. While Julius Randle and Jabari Parker have usage rates over 30%, Wiggins usage is at 24%.

-Dakari Johnson is really being hurt by Kentucky’s front court depth. He is playing less than 25% of Kentucky’s minutes at this point. That’s a very low figure for a player that many recruiting services had in the Top 10.

Rnk

Player

Team

PPG

Min Pct

Poss Pct

ORtg

OR Pct

DR Pct

Ast Pct

11

Kasey Hill

Florida

7.6

41

20

106

1

8

27

12

Jarell Martin

LSU

8.0

43

20

96

6

11

5

13

Wayne Selden

Kansas

8.5

65

19

97

5

8

15

14

Bobby Portis

Arkansas

12.8

61

21

131

11

16

13

14

Isaiah Hicks

N. Carolina

1.9

22

12

103

8

11

5

16

R. Hollis-Jefferson

Arizona

8.4

58

19

124

11

14

12

16

Joel Embiid

Kansas

10.8

54

23

120

13

24

11

18

Marcus Lee

Kentucky

3.6

15

18

134

15

14

3

20

Austin Nichols

Memphis

8.5

53

17

108

7

14

2

20

Jabari Bird

California

11.3

61

22

111

4

10

9

-Florida’s Kasey Hill has missed time due to injuries, Jarell Martin was out at the start of the season, and Kansas’ schedule has been brutal, giving Wayne Selden little time to gain confidence. Still, the drop-off from the Top 10 to the next 10 is rather remarkable.

-Though inflated by the weak set of defenses faced so far, no one has talked much about Bobby Portis’ first year efficiency. He was a perfect 8 for 8 from the floor against his final non-conference cupcake on Saturday.

-It is amazing how much a player’s struggle can be about a lack of opportunity. Isaiah Hicks has been outplayed by fellow UNC bench paint players Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson and even after Joel James went down, he has struggled to get enough minutes to show his ability. Similarly Marcus Lee is buried on the Kentucky bench.

-Joel Embiid has the most blocks of any Top 20 player. Embiid’s rise continues to amaze me. As they noted again during Sunday’s telecast, he has only been playing organized basketball for three years. He was a late riser, and some of the later recruiting rankings even put him in the Top 10. And now some scouts view him as the top prospect in the NBA draft. Given Embiid’s raw talent level, I think it is phenomenal that he is posting an ORtg of 120 at this point. If he is this good now, it is scary to think how good he might become.

Rnk

Player

Team

PPG

Min Pct

Poss Pct

ORtg

OR Pct

DR Pct

Ast Pct

22

Robert Hubbs

Tennessee

5.1

46

18

94

5

5

7

23

Tyler Ennis

Syracuse

11.6

81

21

122

2

10

32

24

Anthony Barber

NC State

12.0

73

26

103

2

9

29

25

Jermaine Lawrence

Cincinnati

4.2

43

18

88

10

12

8

26

Rysheed Jordan

St. John's

6.9

41

25

96

8

8

24

27

Keith Frazier

SMU

6.5

40

19

108

3

9

15

27

Nigel Williams-Goss

Washington

12.3

79

23

99

4

12

27

29

Zak Irvin

Michigan

8.2

43

20

120

5

10

8

30

Kuran Iverson

Memphis

2.1

16

22

74

9

11

17

30

JaJuan Johnson

Marquette

6.1

36

17

117

1

7

14

32

Semi Ojeleye

Duke

2.6

9

20

114

12

11

3

33

Demetrius Jackson

Notre Dame

7.4

61

15

120

2

11

13

34

Matt Jones

Duke

2.8

20

19

98

5

6

4

34

Sindarius Thornwell

S. Carolina

10.8

64

24

101

5

11

14

36

Branden Greene

Kansas

2.3

12

20

88

0

12

9

37

Tyler Roberson

Syracuse

2.9

15

21

93

10

23

7

38

Jordan Mickey

LSU

14.1

78

21

109

9

16

6

39

Eric Mika

BYU

13.9

62

23

116

13

12

8

40

Conner Frankamp

Kansas

1.7

13

17

91

2

11

10

40

Nick King

Memphis

5.8

25

29

100

14

21

6

42

Johnathan Williams III

Missouri

6.8

68

16

112

16

16

5

44

Derrick Walton

Michigan

7.6

62

20

98

1

11

20

45

Christian Wood

UNLV

5.0

27

18

116

7

19

6

46

Roddy Peters

Maryland

6.6

51

23

94

2

5

32

47

Moses Kingsley

Arkansas

6.1

26

21

136

19

21

4

49

Zach LaVine

UCLA

12.4

63

19

124

2

9

14

50

Anton Gill

Louisville

1.6

11

16

105

3

17

5

Outside the Top 20, there are no guarantees. Tennessee’s Robert Hubbs, Cincinnati’s Jermaine Lawrence, and Memphis’ Kuran Iverson all have struggled with turnovers or shot selection this year. But the point of these tables isn’t to pick on the players with slow starts. The point is to praise players, who despite not wowing every recruiting service have dominated for their team.

For example, UCLA’s Zach LaVine has been much better than similarly ranked players. Thanks to his team’s tempo, his impressive efficiency, and his ability to earn his coaches trust and get playing time, LaVine has been scoring at an impressive rate this year.

And everyone has been raving about Tyler Ennis. His assist rate of 32 is tied for the top rate in the Top 50. But what makes it all the more remarkable is his extremely low turnover rate. It is shocking for someone that handles the ball as much as Ennis to turn it over only 11% of the time. His ability to create for others in such an efficient manner means that even when Ennis doesn’t have a big scoring day, he still makes Syracuse better.

Yes, Syracuse struggled against Miami on Saturday thanks to Cooney’s poor afternoon. But with Cooney’s shooting last year, and Ennis’ non-elite recruiting rank, I expected there to be a lot more frustrating afternoons for the Orange this year. Instead Ennis’s steady play has turned Syracuse from a Top 10 team into the clear ACC favorite.

And Ennis’s production is even more impressive when you compare him to other PGs outside the Top 20. St. John’s Rysheed Jordan was similarly ranked, but his inability to make 3’s or intermediate jumpers has hurt his overall game and limited his playing time. Michigan’s Derrick Walton has a less than impressive assist-to-turnover ratio and is not a reliable creator. Maryland’s Roddy Peter’s really struggles with TOs. And in the end, St. John’s, Michigan, and Maryland have all been disappointments. It is not automatic that PGs outside the Top 20 will step in and dominate, and that’s why Ennis deserves all the more praise for his fine play.

A few other thoughts:

-If anyone should be complaining about playing time, it is Duke’s Semi Ojeleye. But Duke’s biggest weakness is the lack of a shot-blocker in the middle, and as an undersized forward Ojeleye can’t fill that role.

-SMU resurgence has mostly been fueled without Top 100 recruits, but it doesn’t hurt to have one on the roster. With the SMU-Connecticut game tied on Saturday, Frazier’s assist, three, and driving basket in transition broke the game open in SMU’s favor.

-LSU’s Jordan Mickey has 43 blocks so far.

-Missouri’s Johnathan Williams hasn’t been asked to score much given the Tigers talented guards. But his offensive rebounding has still been a huge asset.

-Michigan’s  Zak Irvin is a big wing/guard, and I wondered whether he was going to get stuck behind Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson. But what I forgot was that John Beilein really knows how to find shooters. Even at 6’6”, Irvin has a natural 3 point shot, and you can never have too many outside shooters. Irvin’s points were particularly valuable in the Minnesota game given that Glenn Robinson went down early with an injury.

Click Here for Part 2

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