Ranking UVA's recruiting program over the past 5 years

I had a whole Saturday to burn yesterday so I made a spreadsheet and ranked the recruiting success of the top 99 programs in college basketball for the past 5 years. I used the 247 sports website and averaged all the teams yearly recruiting class ranks for a 5 year period which gave me a teams average rank per year. Then I had them ordered 1-99 based on their average. I decided on a 5 year time period because 4-5 years encompasses a recruiting programs entire recruitment cycle. Obviously a teams third and fourth years recruiting could be highly effected by who the team recruited in years 1 and 2. Also, I didnt go with a longer average say 10 years because I feel like just the previous recruiting cycle is more telling of our current program strength vs what successes/failures we had 5-10 years ago. Also…I was exhausted after entering 5 years of data.

So Im interested in everyone’s opinions on the data. I feel strongly that recruiting is the next step in becoming even more dominant in college basketball. We are an elite program when you look at our season records over the past 5 years (2015-16 29-8, 2016-17 23-11, 2017-18 31-3, 2018-19 35-3, 2019-20 14-6). We are also an elite team in the post season after winning it all last year. Where we are definitely not elite is in our recruiting. I find this actually to be a very encouraging and exciting fact. Imagine if recruiting success would become more consistent. Where would that take our basketball program? I feel like we have a higher ceiling for success than many of the other successful basketball programs out there who are hitting home runs with recruits, and having equal success or many times less success compared to UVA when it comes to simply winning.

So please expand on the data, break it down and lets hear what you take from it?

PS. You will see blanks in certain years for certain teams. These are instances where they had a year with no recruits. In these cases, I did not penalize a team for having a zero recruit year…Instead of averaging by 5 years, I took a four year average.

The four-year trendline for Virginia is certainly encouraging: 98 in 2017, 65 in 2018, 23 in 2019, 10 in 2020.

Of course, Texas Tech is better than that: 39, 33, 16, and 9. Those guys would kick our butts if we ever met in a National Championship game.

haha, So I think our coaching makes up for our recruiting shortcomings. We have possibly the best development system in college basketball and I think we make the most of a recruits raw talent more than any other program. Also, dont forget our 2016 recruiting class which was ranked 7th verses Texas Tech 2016 which was an empty class that year…

Another point to consider is I feel like Texas Tech should be the perfect barometer to compare our recruiting success since they are also a defensive focused team and dont have a long basketball history that the blue blood programs have. They were nearly as successful as us last year. Its very interesting that their 2020 recruiting class was ranked 9th and we were right beside them at 10th, bizarrely similar to how we both finished the season right beside each other. Im sure there is some coincidence there, but if texas tech would of been out in the first round of the tournament, would they still have landed a 9th ranked class? I guess no.
So the conclusion I take from our comparison to Texas Tech is to try on average to land a class ranked 9-39. This should be achievable for us, and if we consistently do that then we are at a better place than we have ever been in terms of recruiting. Having that sort of consistency would eventually move us up from our current 38th to in the 10th to 15th range. I think is going to happen. You dont win a national championship and still get out recruited by schools like Utah, Arizona St., and Xavier.

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I haven’t even dug into this yet. But this line is the first step into making you a recruiting addict. haha!! Warning, it’ll mostly drive you crazy until you stop thinking about it in that light. The secret to enjoying it continuously through highs and inevitable lows is just to make it about the players and their stories…from your own perspective. That’s the pleasure. Every player that passes through I know where it all started, how they got here, through MY OWN perspective of events. You’re also going through the process with the coaches, and will gain appreciation of their work and struggles. I think that’s the first realization fans have when they get into it…wow, these guys work a lot harder than I imagined.

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That’s a lot of work. Well done! The issue with looking at class ranking is this isn’t football where everyone takes 20+ players annually. Every team is dealing with unique circumstances. And they also have different roster management strategies.

You mentioned Villanova without a 2020 recruit. That’s a choice. If they take say the 100th ranked recruit this Spring, now they have a bad class ranking. While also lowering their 2021 ranking because that’s one less player taken there. So the class ranking for both years goes down. But you can believe if Jay Wright decides to do that, he believes it’s made his program better.

That’s only one nitpick. You also have the hidden aspect of transfers and how that impacts. And then just the general flaws for how class rankings are calculated, which is more designed for football.

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I’ll definitely take your word for it since youve been at it for a long while now. Im going to keep in mind that there will be down years, and that often is a result of good years prior. So I can understand focusing on the personal stories of the players and watching them grow through development. I believe this change of focus would be especially wise when recruiting is in a disappointing year.
But with that said, I cant help but thinking that our recruiting on average can improve, and should improve. Guess youve been there, and I think part of the recruiting game is you miss a lot more than you make. Most UVA fans are accustomed to winning more than losing, so I get the idea that maybe you are mentally preparing me for the reality of the recruiting world.

I can only speak for my own experience. I’m sure some can be only about the results and still happily follow along. I always come back to an observation. Go visit a Kentucky message board during the heat of Fall recruiting. They get nothing but 5-stars and are the most miserable group of fans imaginable. Most people aren’t capable of making only about that and still enjoying. They want higher rated players, then even higher rated, then more of them.

I’d also be careful about judging by rankings during the process. It’s a lagging indicator. The ones at the end of their final AAU summer are fair. Until then it’s a work in progress.

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When I was plotting the numbers, I definitely noticed that there some outliers similar to your example that could skew the numbers. Arkansas had one recruiting year with 1 low three star recruit and like 5 transfers which resulted in like the 100+ worse class…I knew it wasnt accurate and just left it out. However, I also noticed that the overall picture was likely fairly accurate because it averages out over time to a certain extent. Its definitely not perfect, but I think generally speaking it shows the over all recruiting spectrum quite accurately and you can use it to arrive at some interesting conclusions…
For instance, Is it a surprise that a poorly preforming Miami team has had lots of recruiting success? It makes perfect sense to me. Perhaps they are good at attracting talented basketball players that want to study south beach more so than academics or basketball for that matter. Of course not all their recruits are that way…but I do think geography does have an impact on recruiting and Im guessing that is why Miami, USC, and UCLA(Plus their history) have had lots of success recruiting as the chart shows.

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Miami does a good job of evaluation and targeting players early, then recruiting them harder…just like Bennett. Chris Lykes for example. They were on him when others thought he was a mid-major. But if we’re being honest, they probably also let Adidas buy a couple. lol They were caught with their hand in the cookie jar trying with Nassir Little. There were rumors surrounding Lonnie Walker, and it wouldn’t be hard to figure out another guy they got around the same time that didn’t belong.

USC’s coach came in very popular with recruits because of the up and down style he used at FGCU. Then he hired a guy on staff not only connected to SoCal’s top AAU program, but with 2 highly rated sons. So that definitely helped the cause. UCLA is UCLA, the brand carries weight for sure.

And I forgot that USC was also caught buying players. lol Can’t remember the details but it was the old fashion coach delivering an envelope. Player decommitted, and is now at Arizona State. But there were surely others.

It’s probably not a total coincidence that the height of the shoe company stuff was in '17 and '18. I don’t think it specifically hurt us with anyone. I know Quinerly was accused and all but it was at a point where UVA was fading anyway. What did hurt was I think every clean program was the uncertainty. Coaches knew it was happening, and didn’t know who to trust. Which kids are they wasting their time on? Stuff like that. I honestly believe the shoe money is gone now, at least for the time being. With the exception of the legal variety, giving dad’s AAU team a spot on the EYBL with a nice salary.

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I happened on a Kentucky site a few weeks ago. Cant remember who they played but they had just lost.It shocked me that so many fans were ripping Cal apart and some players also. They were merciless . If that had of been a UVA site I would have went off on a few of them

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Another thing these number do judge well is this. They do tell you which teams are good at attracting the most sought after talent at the time of their recruitment. Its kind of a popularity contest. At this present moment the results are an indicator of how current recruits in general may value various basketball programs in general. Its not an accident that Kentucky and Duke stand alone. Its also not a coincidence that Texas is third because they have the greatest name attached to their school in the one-and-done era in Kevin Durant as well as a bunch of other NBAers after that. I also see legitimate reasons why we are at 38 over the past 5 years with our previous post season disappointments.
Also admittedly there are some teams with lots of success that I really have no explanation for…LSU, Arkansas, and Washington make no sense to me…But I bet there is a legitimate reason.

LSU makes strong ass offers. lol Have been before Will Wade. I’ve always believed LSU’'s (Nike’s) stealing of Antonio Blakeney back in '15 is what turned Rick Pitino to using Adidas. Heck he talked openly about it, that Adidas was putting them at a disadvantage to Nike. It’s just that people didn’t fully understand what he meant at the time.

Arkansas’s old coach used to overrecruit and push the disappointing ones out. So they constantly had big classes. Recruits love the new coach there because of his NBA background and free style of play. Kids loved Lorenzo Romar at Washington. They were caught a little bit in the paying scandal but it was mostly about him. Just a great guy who let his kids play, and they might not have won but those dudes got their payday on draft night.

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Interesting about the shoe thing happening around ‘17 and 18’, our least successful recruiting years…We had lots of different factors going against us during that time that I didnt realize.

“At least five Division I programs have received an NCAA notice of allegations related to the federal investigation into college basketball corruption: TCU, Kansas, NC State, Oklahoma State and USC. Sources previously told ESPN that Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Louisville and LSU were also under scrutiny by NCAA investigators.”

I saw this espn article the other day. Found it interesting that our overall win/loss record over the past 5 years is better than any of these teams, yet 8 out of 10 of these teams on average has out recruited us. Now I hate conspiracy theories. But I do ask what does teams like LSU have that draws such highly ranked recruits that we dont? Its an honest question and Im ignorant on the subject. All of these programs may be doing things quite legitimately. I know nothing about them. But it does kind of peak my interest a bit.

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The data that would be more interesting to me is to chart the number Top 20 freshman Top 50 sophs And top 100 upperclassmen each team has. Those are arbitrary but generally give you the time frame that each are expected to make a major impact. Could be wrong but I suspect you’d find UVA matches up pretty well most years.

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Ok HGN. Your turn to plot some numbers. haha

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I was curious about this as well, so I compiled sports-reference.com data on recruiting rankings. They use RSCI rankings, which are a combination of a bunch of different recruiting rankings. I have no idea if they’re trusted or not.

The excel file has the total number of players on each team that fit in one these three groups:

  1. Top 20 ranked Freshmen
  2. Top 50 ranked Sophomores
  3. Top 100 ranked Upperclassmen

Right now it doesn’t distinguish between the three; it just shows the total. If you’re interested in just one or two of the groups and/or any of the raw data/code, I would be happy to provide it.

It’s currently sorted by 5-year average, but please feel free to download/investigate in more detail. You were right in thinking Virginia would look better by this measure-their five-year average is ranked 21st.

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Goodness gracious Rob! You are my hero. I thought maybe someone would take the challenge for the ACC for this season or something, not this. Bravo!!

First glance reaction. I actually thought UVA would be a little higher on the 5yr rank but it’s a small gap up to UConn. Stanford being so high is surprising but makes sense when I think it over. Villanova is obviously where we want to be. They’ve mastered the balance of get old while sprinkling in a few high ranked short termers in recent years.

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I also feel like uva hit on a few guys in the 100-150 range that don’t show up in this too

Yeah in hindsight 150 would be just as good for upperclassmen. Hall Perrantes etc. If guys ranked make it to their Jr. year, they usually pay off.

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