Playing The Odds

Apr 13, 2018

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I don't follow many Illini people on Twitter. I mostly don't follow those who offer opinions - I don't want their opinions all mixed up with my own in my head because it's impossible to de-tangle. But I've seen some tweets (and retweets) on this recruiting class which make me feel like I'm all alone in my opinion of this basketball recruiting class. Namely, I saw a tweet that said "Rivals ranks this class 13th nationally". Uh, no. No way. Let me explain before you get angry at me.

My #thing with basketball recruiting: odds. I see everything through odds. Are there players ranked in the top-5 nationally who bust? Absolutely. Kelvin Torbert, #2 recruit nationally, at Michigan State. Are there players ranked below #250 who go to the NBA? Yes, every year. Steph Curry was ranked #256 coming out of high school and went to Davidson. Does that mean every player ranked #250 and below has that chance? Sure, but it's a 3% chance. Steph Curry was a 3-in-100 chance that hit. Kelvin Torbert was a 97-in-100 chance that missed.

I had a friend who had an outdoor wedding several years ago on a day with a 90% chance of rain. Knowing that I'm a bit of a weather geek, he checked with me the week leading up to the wedding. I shot him straight - it's almost assuredly going to pour all day. Except it didn't. The storm split around St. Louis - they got hammered to the north and hammered to the south, but the wedding stayed dry. At the reception, I couldn't find the words to explain his luck to him. "You don't understand, man - I told you that 90% chance was true, but it was more like 99%. The next 100 times that type of storm system approaches St. Louis, it's going to pour 99 times. You found the one time it didn't." In his mind, it was as simple as "it was supposed to rain but didn't". For me, it was "nobody understands - this wasn't some '50-60% chance it might rain on and off'. It was going to absolutely pour all day up until it didn't."

I mostly look at everything in the world like that. I find my comps ("when did this happen before?"), I compare them to the current situation ("what might that tell us about what is happening now?"), I come up with a percentage chance of it happening again.

Which is why I'm such a slave to recruiting rankings for basketball. Recruit well and give yourself a 90% chance of being successful. Yes, the occasional Loyola will come along and hit on a 1-in-400 chance to make the Final Four, but I'd prefer to go into every season with the best chance possible. And that comes from recruiting.

(Yes, and coaching. Great systems with great players get great results. But I'm more or less going for those baseball ZiPS projections here, which just looks at the roster, the expected growth curve for each player, and says "with these players, you should win this many games".)

With that established, let's look at this class. And let's look at this class relative to a bar I will set at "this player contributes to an Illinois team that competes for a conference title". The last 10 years we've seen what rosters look like that don't get anywhere close to that (or only have one or two players close to that level, which isn't enough). Given their recruiting ranking and the other teams who offered, what are the odds that each of these players becomes a difference-maker in the Big Ten? For this class, I'd say...

Ayo Dosunmu: 92% chance
Tevian Jones: 47% chance
Samba Kane: 22% chance
Andres Feliz: 19% chance
Alan Griffin: 16% chance
Giorgi Bezhanishvili: 12% chance

Or something like that. Let's start with what I'm not saying:

  • I'm not saying "these players suck". I've written several times that Brad Underwood will look for specific traits (like Giorgi and his passing) that he can fit into this offensive scheme. That's all part of the formula. John Beilein just took a D-III player (Robinson), a player headed to D-II until he got his Michigan offer (Abdur-Rahkman) and a player with only one offer (Wagner) and went to the title game. He needed some help from some teams losing before they faced them, but still, title game. It can be done. (It's just not very likely.)
  • I'm not saying "we're doomed". If there was no Ayo, I might start down that road, but landing true difference-makers is the key to college basketball. We have one in Trent, we're adding one in Ayo, and there's a chance Jones significantly outplays his ranking (and he's a four-star on most sites). That's a start.
  • I'm not saying "there's a 19% chance Andres Feliz ever plays". I'm saying that I want to get back to competing for Big Ten championships, and there's only a 19% chance that Andres Feliz is the type of player who gets us there. He might improve our standing in the Big Ten, and we'll probably be a lot better than we were in 2017/18, but I've drawn the line at "get back to Illinois basketball".

I'd really love to get lucky here. "Lucky" defined as, say, Kevin Turner. A throw-in spring recruit (like these guys) who turned out to be a first-team All Big Ten player as a senior. Yes, again, some of that is coaching and some of that is system and some of that is development. But some of that is also luck - a guy comes in and develops into a high-scoring high-major guard. I'd love to see that from an Alan Griffin.

Unfortunately, I think there's only a 16% chance that happens. Which is why I balk at "13th-best recruiting class nationally". That's only true because there are six players and most classes have 2-4. Yes, a verbal from Ayo - our best recruit this decade - drives the score up high (as it should). But we have to look at this honestly. It's Ayo (a legitimate top-30 guy), plus Jones (a fringe top-100 guy), plus four projects.

Again, I'm not saying that to hate on our recruits. I'm simply trying to be objective as possible. Steve Pikiell of Rutgers went to watch Alan Griffin play twice this winter. He decided not to offer him. We can say what we want about Griffin's senior year breakout and his MVP in the state tournament, but we still have to acknowledge that Rutgers (and several other major conference schools) evaluated him during that senior breakout and decided he wasn't a major conference player.

Did Brad Underwood spot something that all of the other coaches didn't? I hope so. Bo Ryan saw Ethan Happ (with only two low-major offers) and said "that kid is a future first-team All Conference Big Ten performer" (and he was right). Bruce Weber went to see Fred Van Vleet work out in Rockford and decided not to offer... and then he was an All American at Wichita State. Coaches spotting guys ranked too low (or not spotting them) is a big part of that.

But again - it all comes back to odds. When you have a guy like Ethan Happ, there's a 20% chance he's the player we've seen Ethan Happ become. The next four Happs will all fail at their high-major school. It's just how it works. Over time, the higher-ranked, more-pursued players are the ones leading their teams to conference titles and Final Fours.

And I don't think this class gets us there. It's a good foundation - Underwood wasn't going to win with a Te'Jon Lucas so he replaced him with someone he believes is a better fit for these schemes (Andres Feliz) - but these are, in my belief, mostly the bench guys in the future (besides Ayo and Tevian, who I see as future starters). In 2019, Underwood needs to find some more starters.

Some 83-percenters, if you will.


Groundhogday on April 13, 2018 @ 04:15 PM

I agree with most of this, but for big men it is fairly common for high major starters to be projects coming out of high school. You recruit a couple of projects ever year, and some of them become players.

Hobie4u2nv on April 13, 2018 @ 04:39 PM

Aren't you agreeing with Robert? We (like other schools) bought some lottery tickets with Samba and Georgi and are hoping they hit. To disagree, you'd have to be able to say something like "unranked 7 footers signed by Big 10 schools have succeeded at an 80%+ rate" (which I'm certainly isn't suggesting - just a for instance).

Groundhogday on April 13, 2018 @ 04:55 PM

I'm not disagreeing with the odds, just the overall implications implicit ranking, etc... You can have a top 15 recruiting class with project bigs. Most bigs are projects.

AHSIllini32 on April 13, 2018 @ 06:22 PM

Alan Griffin had Syracuse and Providence trying to get him out of his commitment to Illinois.

Samba Kane had Louisville hot after him before reclassifying.

My problem with the odds you listed is that you seem to be looking at it from purely an individual perspective, i.e. Adres Feliz, by himself, only provides a 19% chance to get us BACK. I think the pieces should be evaluated with how the fit into the current/future roster(s) and have their percentages reflect that.

Feliz's abilty to drive and hit the three probably don't do much for us if this class was all about him, or just about he and another player. However, those abilities combined with the current roster makeup are certainly much more favorable.

orangejulius on April 14, 2018 @ 05:48 PM

Do you have a source for this because nowhere can I find that these players were offered by those schools. This is the same thing that always happens with the low ranked players that we bring in. Fans naturally want to be optimistic but a player having late interest from a school is not the same as an offer and does not raise the objective status of the recruit.

Bottom line, I agree w Robert that this is an average at best class with 1 great, 1 good player, and 3 guys other programs on our level had very little interest in.

This is a class just as likely to get a coach fired than it is to lead the Illini to the tournament.

HailToTheOrange on April 16, 2018 @ 03:15 PM

This is a class just as likely to get a coach fired than it is to lead the Illini to the tournament

Given your unwavering defense of Groce in the past (and related discounting of coaching v recruiting) I can't say I'm totally surprised in this comment but I really hope this is just exaggerating to prove a point bc it's an absolutely ridiculous statement on more than a few levels.

Groundhogday on April 16, 2018 @ 03:27 PM

There was some smoke regarding interest from Syracuse and Providence, but it isn't clear that these actually came to offers. It also isn't clear whether some of that interest might have been due to his younger brother. No doubt he had a great senior year. We will see how that translates to the next level.

Joe Edge on April 18, 2018 @ 04:17 PM

I understand what you're saying ..... However, my question is: Does it really matter if another P5 program is after a recruit, or does it matter MORE, if said recruit fits a 'system' that a coach wants to employ?

DB50 on April 13, 2018 @ 08:37 PM

AHS is spot on, the sum of the parts is what Underwood is looking at. Each one of these players bring a specific skill set to the team. BU understands this and to assign % chances of succeeding to each player is missing the point. How well they meld together in BU's system and play as a team is the end game. I am more than willing to give BU the leeway to get his players in here and develop his style of play.

Worra89 on April 13, 2018 @ 08:51 PM

A head coach has to be good at many things to be successful:

  • Recruit evaluation and fit
  • Signing recruit
  • Culture
  • Player Skill Development
  • Scheme
  • Scouting Opponents (recognizing and exploiting weakness)
  • Player game preparation
  • In game adjustments (aka coaching), to include halftime adjustments
  • Team and Individual Psychology

This is not an all inclusive list - obviously, and doesn't list externals, such as fans, boosters, AD, press, social media, etc.

You can pick out where some coaches failed, and some excelled. Bo Ryan excelled at recruit evaluation and fit. Bruce Weber excelled at scouting opponents (but was weak in game adjustments), and perhaps missed more than he hit in evaluation.

But what I'm cautiously optimistic about the direction our program is going, is this recruiting class points to Brad Underwood understanding his program/system and picking players who fit. Whether he was right or wrong, will take time to evaluate. I'm glad the AD has apparently given him time to evaluate.

NC_OrangeKrush on April 13, 2018 @ 11:09 PM

I only care about grit and toughness to go with some skill. If attitude and confidence is the measure we shall see what the system does... But Robert is right, skill is needed to.. Chester Frasier was tough but this board and fans were looking for more than his toughness looking back....and he was great.

larue on April 13, 2018 @ 11:20 PM

I'd rate Kane higher, otherwise I think this is pretty reasonable. Jones is an athletic, fringe top 100 player. Could be Trent Frazier/Luther Head, could be Calvin Brock/DJ Williams. Griffin might be solid in a year or two, or might be recruited over if things go well. Giorgi may have an offensive skill set, but can he guard anybody or rebound?

A guy with Kane's length and athleticism is probably going to figure it out at some point. If that happens relatively soon and Jones turns out better than his rating, this is a pretty solid class to build on.

iluvrt on April 14, 2018 @ 12:28 AM

It's like you are just making numbers up. Oh 16%, 92%...I can pull other %'s out of my arse and come to a wholly different conclusion than you do, though you really do not conclude anything other than "we will suck"

Robert on April 15, 2018 @ 02:28 AM

I'm just going off 20+ years of obsessively following basketball recruiting. When I see a guy like Giorgi sign somewhere, it works out about 1 in 10 times. When I see a guy like Ayo sign somewhere, it works out about 9 out of 10 times. Those percentages are my attempt at quantifying that.

HiggsBoson on April 14, 2018 @ 01:49 AM

Robert, your statistics may make sense to you, but I don;t think they have any significance out in the real world other than as an excuse to whip yourself into a depression. Rankings outside the top dozen or two are suspect at best. And you seem to mostly miss the point that basketball is a team sport, not a bunch of individual rankings being added up.

The class looks better than what I expected (more Matics), but it remains to be seen whether they gel into a team that can do what Underwood wants. Or whether there is a huge turnover ever year like there has been for Underwood's first two teams. If so, they'll never have enough experience to win. And winning is what brings in top talent.

steveinseattle on April 14, 2018 @ 01:54 AM

The roster also has to fit the system and recruit ranking don't reflect that. What happened to the highly ranked Class of 2010?

Bear8287 on April 17, 2018 @ 03:52 PM

As GHD pointed out here, that class was also ranked 13th.

After having Alstork go from the Horizon to the B1G, it's interesting to look at Nunn going from the B1G to the Horizon. Nunn was the Horizon POY last year averaging 25.9 ppg. Nunn was already getting a ton of minutes at Illinois (35.1) and that went up to 37.9 at Oakland. Nunn had also averaged 15.5 ppg his last season at Illinois. His 3-pt percentage didn't change very much though (.391->.394) whereas Alstork's fell off of a cliff (..387->.241). Alstork's minutes also went down considerably (30.2->22.6) even though he started all 32 games last season.

Bear8287 on April 17, 2018 @ 08:02 PM

Actually, GHD referenced the 2013 class as being #13 (Hill, Nunn, Colbert, Morgan and Tate).

Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 20 Rivals: 18 247Sports: 20 ESPN: 15

2010 was Leonard, Head and Richmond. (At least they all were on a team that played in the NCAA tourney their freshman year.)

Overall recruiting rankings: Scout: 11 Rivals: 13

Joe Edge on April 18, 2018 @ 04:21 PM

The only problem with your analogy is that Nunn didn't leave the team because he wasn't a 'good' basketball player... He left for other reasons....

Bear8287 on April 18, 2018 @ 06:06 PM

Not sure that I get the "analogy" part. It was just a comparison of two players swapping the same two conferences.

Alstork didn't leave his team because he wasn't a "good" basketball player either...

ATOillini on April 14, 2018 @ 02:38 AM


I'm really surprised at the general direction of your post here. Just not sure what's going on in your brain. I agree with Higgs B as it seems you are whipping yourself into a depression for the wrong reasons.

We are simply not going to have recruiting classes like Duke (last I heard the top 3 players from this class), NC, Kansas, Kentucky. I believe we have to recruit understanding that. We have to trust Underwood and his staff at this point. If a few years from now the results are bad, then maybe time to be negative. Not now.

There will always be players that don't pan out. Fair to say you (and I and many others) were extremely excited about Aaron Bailey, Gabe Megginson and Mark Smith as 3 examples. None came even close to expectations. You can argue that's why we need to stockpile 4* and 5* players. I'm just not sure that will ever be realistic for us. Whatever you say about Bo Ryan he exceeded expectations for how many years? I think we can recruit better than WI did and if our coaching is good.....

Go Illini.

Robert on April 15, 2018 @ 02:48 AM

I wouldn't say I'm "depressed". As I said last week, after learning of the Underwood offense when he was hired, I predicted that he'd add some head-scratching recruits simply because he saw a certain thing in their game. I'm banking on this being that.

I would say that I'm a bit disappointed, though. Mostly due to the fact that we had to chase spring projects. We had three scholarships to give last fall and could only find one taker (our best recruit in 10 years, but still, only one). That left us scrambling in the spring, and when you scramble, you usually end up with longshot players. I think three or four of these guys should be considered longshot players.

As for four-stars not working out, that's kind of my point. Bailey and Megginson not working out was the exception, Rashard, Juice, Benn, and O'Donnell leading us to the Rose Bowl was the rule.

NC_OrangeKrush on April 16, 2018 @ 11:15 AM

And with Bailey and Meggison, it was partially the system that affected the outcome...

LincolnJT24 on April 14, 2018 @ 06:50 AM


Love the blog. Longtime reader but this post has inspired me to comment. I’m a former writer myself so forgive me if this runs long.

I’ll begin by saying I share your affinity for odds/quantitative analysis. I read fangraphs baseball analysis religiously. I’m that guy in my fantasy football league who comes to draft day with detailed spreadsheets that include strength of schedule rankings and “value based drafting” methodology scores. So, on the need to quantify things, I get it.

However... I think you’re really devaluing the role of player development and having a system in college basketball. You sort of alluded to it in your “basketball whisperer” post about Underwood when he was hired.

As much as we love numbers and odds, we have to confront that there’s more outliers than just Michigan and Wisconsin. I think the better comparisons for the type of program we’re trying to become are Virginia under Bennett, West Virginia as Press Virginia, Syracuse’s 2-3 Zone, or Nolan Richardson’s 40 Minutes of Hell. That’s really what we’re attempting to be, in our own way.

When you have a defined system, I think it requires a more sophisticated look at recruiting. You see it other sports too with how they draft and develop talent; look at the St. Louis Cardinals and how they always have young talent (from a Cubs fan) or Belichek’s Patriots always finding productive role players that are Day 3 picks or undrafted. It can be done.

Underwood wants to have a system where we force turnovers defensively and get more shots up than the opponent, which becomes especially potent when you have a highly efficient offense. I view this class through that prism and I see fits for each player:

Ayo - Disruptive defender, elite craftiness as a finisher at the rim which will make him an efficient scorer Jones - Disruptive defender, potential to be an elite finisher at the glass because of his athleticism. If he shoots 37 percent from 3, even more efficiency! Kane - Rim protector who will allow for more aggression/gambles on perimeter defense and hopefully more turnovers. Probably won’t score that much but, should be efficient on points per touch. Griffin - Possibly an elite shooter who doesn’t kill you on defense. Giorgi - The passing big/pinch post position is the fulcrum for this offense when it’s really cooking. Broken record, I know, but: offensive efficiency.

Underwood has proven he can run an efficiently offense, famously being #1 in KenPom’s offensive efficiency ratings in 2017.

Yes, it’s would be nice to overwhelm people with top 60 recruits. I know that’s what you want. But I fear you’re waiting for a train that’s just not coming. I don’t know thatbthe Underwood train is certain to take us back to relevance, but it isn’t guaranteed to derail due to recruiting service rankings either.

Keep up the good work Robert!

larue on April 14, 2018 @ 02:50 PM

Weber has a system, and when his recruiting was distinctly sub-par here, people kept saying he was recruiting to his system. That didn't work out so well.

Guys who are available and have no red flags in the spring generally get recruited above their real level, as Mark Smith did. When you're taking guys in the spring who have minimal or no other interest from high major programs you're mostly looking at long shots. Doesn't mean they won't work out, but what would be saying if one of our rivals signed a guy who averaged 8 ppg in high school?

Illinimac68 on April 16, 2018 @ 03:54 AM

I don't remember ever seeing anyone say Weber recruited to his system. As we saw, his later teams rarely understood Weber's motion offense in the way that the 04-05 team did. Weber's problem was taking the highest rated players available whether they would prosper in his system or not. Jereme Richmond, who by the way came with plenty of red flags, did Weber in -- that and the fact that Weber's system apparently didn't permit a low post entry pass to a player who was ultimately drafted 11th in the NBA draft.

Bear8287 on April 17, 2018 @ 03:38 PM

Weber's problem was taking the highest rated players available whether they would prosper in his system or not.

Yes, it seemed like he felt a lot of pressure to try to get big name recruits whether they fit his system or not. Actually led to a drop in team performance overall and eventually Weber's demise as a coach at Illinois.

Another issue was that with Painter at Purdue, there were two coaches from the same Keady coaching tree in the B1G and Painter owned Weber. Weber is a solid coach (>> Groce), but it was clear that he wasn't going to be able to keep the program at the levels that Henson, Kruger and Self had.

neale stoner on April 14, 2018 @ 03:12 PM

Simply put, you have too much faith in recruiting rankings. The raters are not people making millions of dollars per year evaluating and developing players; they are the guys who wish they were. In addition, the ratings lag player development. Kids play all year. Some rater tags a 16 year old in the spring of his junior year. He plays summer camps and AAU and his senior year. His body develops and he’s a different player a year later. A different player may have a junior season that exceeds his senior year. The ratings rarely catch up to either kid.

You are correct that this is not a Kentucky one and done class. But you are too easily writing off the potential of youth.

larue on April 14, 2018 @ 04:02 PM

And the guys who do make millions to evaluate players were mostly ignoring at least three of our recent signees.

Groundhogday on April 16, 2018 @ 03:35 PM

This is what I look at more than ranking: who offered, who recruited a kid hard. Clearly, some kids who turn out to be terrific college players didn't receive much high major recruiting interest. But those odds aren't good. No add in the spring scramble factor, which annually inflates the value of marginal recruits, and there are reasons to be cautious.

Really good chance Ayo is a player, good chance for Tevian. Feliz was signed to fit a specific role, probably off the bench. Then role the dice on Samba, Giorgi and Griffin.

FWIW, I put Golden closer to Tevian, despite his ranking. Guy had legit offers from Maryland and Pitt before his senior year, then had a terrific senior year.

NC_OrangeKrush on April 14, 2018 @ 03:59 PM

Although I still agree that Robert is a little pessimistic here... For everyone else...

The bar set for the discussion was.."relative to a bar I will set at "this player contributes to an Illinois team that competes for a conference title".

Top 2 or 3 teams in the B1G conference with this group.... Still need 2019 recruits for that I think..

orangeandblue on April 15, 2018 @ 01:47 PM

I think Robert is spot on. The standard for Illinois basketball is competing for Big Ten Championships and being in the Sweet Sixteen. This is not a recruiting class that gets us there. It is an upgrade in that the players fit the scheme better. I think this team will help us take the next step from bottom of the B1G to middle of the pack. But this isn’t the group of players that puts us back where we want to be. You have to start somewhere though.

Illinimac68 on April 16, 2018 @ 12:48 AM

I'm not sure what the point is here. Yes, this isn't Dee, Deron and James Augustine, though I recall Deron wasn't even the highest rated recruit on his high school team. It's a class of individuals that fit the system and seem to have that Lucas Johnson quality about them. In terms of quality we're really punching above the weight class of a 14-18 team. Underwood's second year will be better than his first and the team will improve in years to come with these recruits. Who expected a Big Ten champion next year anyway?

orangejulius on April 16, 2018 @ 02:22 AM

The problem is that Underwood has not proven to be a good recruiter and this class does little to change that. Of all of the players he has recruited to Illinois, only one was a RSCI Top 100 player, and that is Ayo. Yes, he landed Ayo, and he's a great recruit, and he should be commended for that. Tevian Jones, sure, a good recruit. Not counting the Groce recruits (Williams, Frazier), I think maybe 1-2 high major offers between all of remaining 6 players Underwood has brought in? Robert did a good job pointing out, this doesn't mean they will be bad players, just that this is not likely the class which gets us to where we want to be as a program.

Biggie on April 17, 2018 @ 02:59 PM

What about Mark Smith? It was a big deal when we closed on him.

LosAngellini on April 16, 2018 @ 02:48 AM

Agree with Robert. There is much wishful thinking because the alternate is too awful to contemplate. Yes, the sum maybe greater than the parts but the limitations of the parts will also limit the sum.

I hope we beat the recruiting odds, but that is what will have to happen for this class to compete for the top half of the B10. Which front court player will replace Finke or Black’s final seasons? I’d feel a lot better if we had THT, Castleton, or Nolley. Giorgi is far less likely to even see any playing time in conference, much less make an impact.

HailToTheOrange on April 16, 2018 @ 03:22 PM

While it's a pretty interesting take and the ensuing discussion reveals passion and some additional insights, ultimately this is all just navel-gazing. I think this is the kind of post that will be super interesting to refer back to in 10 months. We won't have all the answers then but we will certainly know directionally whether recruiting to a system wins out over attracting players (annointed) others agree are "valuable".

See y'all next March.

Go Illini

Efrem on April 17, 2018 @ 04:10 PM

There are so many things wrong with this post Robert - I almost don't know where to start.

I think everyone needs to really internalize that all your percentages are completely made up with no real basis to them at all. You make it seem like you actually tracked all the players ranked where these guys were and what percent of them played on a B1G contender. And you didn't. You claim to see everything through odds - but the ones you base your entire opinion of the recruiting class on are totally made up.

Next - you base your "odds" on a claim to set a bar at "this player contributes to an Illinois team that competes for a conference title". But you move the goalposts in the same paragraph changing it to "what are the odds that each of these players becomes a difference-maker in the Big Ten?" Hopefully even you can see those are two different things. Which is it?

Every B1G championship team I looked at the last 5 years had lesser ranked guys that contributed to them winning the B1G regular season title (for the purpose of this post I define contributing as them being in the top 7 in scoring/minutes): 2018 - MSU: Gavin Schilling: ranked 174 2017 - Purdue: Dakota Mathias: ranked 218, PJ Thompson ranked: 354 2016 - Indiana: Max Bielfelt: ranked 321, Nick Ziesloft: not ranked 2015 - Wisconsin: Traevon Jackson: ranked 223, Josh Gasser: ranked 197 2014 - Michigan: Nick Stauskas: ranked 110, Caris Levert: ranked 239

What's my point? Your overall point is faulty. Lesser ranked players contribute to nearly every team that wins the B1G title - let alone competes for it literally every year. And I only spent 10 minutes looking this up. I bet if spent that much time on the inverse, I would also find teams that finished in the bottom third of the B1G every year had guys you would put a high percentage next to

Your ability to judge the impact of basketball players on a college team is suspect in general, and you've demonstrated this on this very blog. You were very public about the importance of DJ Williams (who couldn't get a better offer than George Washington) and two years ago you suggested Tim Finke would be as good as Sam Dekker (going so far as to create a hashtag describing him as #OurDekker)

Look - I'm not sure if these guys will contribute to a title contender or not. If you want some real odds in this thread - as Underwood says - 40% of a teams roster turns over every 2 years. So likely several of these kids will finish their college career somewhere besides Illinois. Historically kids who transfer out of a power 5 school do not go to a better program than the one they're on.

They are all at Illinois now and if they are going to play for a B1G title contender - it's going to be here. So really - Ayo's odds of contributing to a conf title team are pretty much the same as Griffin's or Kane's because of the sunk cost of their commitment decision.

I agree with some of the other posters here - you seem depressed, or at least pretty focused in seeing the worst here.

You never know what you'll get with kids before they play (as Mark Smith painfully reminded us), but the range of rankings of this class of kids isn't that far away from those of the teams who've contended for B1G titles the last 5 years with few exceptions like MSU this year who started a group of top 50 kids

Almost every team that contends has a highly ranked kid or 2, a few more top 75 - 100ish guys, some lesser ranked role players and a few diamonds in the rough that over perform their ranking. We're not that far off of the general make up of a B1G title contender. The X factors are coaching and experience - and we just have to wait to see how that turns out

If you wanted to have a real discussion on the value of this class, or make more realistic guesses about their potential - you should chart them and their rankings vs. the B1G teams that have finished in the top 4 the last 10 years.

Otherwise it's like you're trying to find a reason to be bummed out and make everyone else depressed - and trying to justify your opinion with no basis in reality or context factored in at all

Bear8287 on April 17, 2018 @ 04:58 PM

If you wanted to have a real discussion on the value of this class, or make more realistic guesses about their potential - you should chart them and their rankings vs. the B1G teams that have finished in the top 4 the last 10 years


This would be interesting to see. Robert even wrote On Paper a couple of seasons ago and pointed out how the Illini were #3 in the B1G (on paper) at the beginning of the season with a ton of experience.

So how did that work out? (Yes, there's a reason John Groce is now coaching at Akron rather than Illinois.)

Bear8287 on April 17, 2018 @ 04:55 PM

as Underwood says - 40% of a teams roster turns over every 2 years.

Ok, is it just me, or does this number seem too low to everyone else too?

Let's just say for instance that we take 13 scholarships and break them up so that if every player recruited, redshirted and stayed in the system for 5 years, then each year (on average) 2.6 new players would enter the system and (on average) 2.6 players would graduate and leave as 5th year seniors. After 2 years (on average) 5.2 new players would have joined the team and 5.2 players would have left. 40% of 13 is: 5.2.

The 40% number, with the number of transfers and players leaving for various other reasons (personal, academic...), seems almost ridiculously low to me. Heck, Mark Alstork alone played for 3 different Div 1 teams in 5 years.

If you just cycled players through on a "regular" 4 year basis, one quarter of the team (on average) would graduate every year and in 2 years 50% of the roster would turn over...

Can anyone explain where this 40% turnover every 2 years comes from? Dare I say that maybe some programs nearly turn over 40% (~5 players) every year?

HiggsBoson on April 18, 2018 @ 04:07 PM

It's seems to be too low for Underwood who has been turning over approximately half the roster each year he has been at Illinois.

Joe Edge on April 18, 2018 @ 04:31 PM

It takes time ... Being able to sign better recruits / players, takes time and wins... How long did it take Lou to start getting the 'good recruits' on a regular basis? It took him several years to get good enough players, who could win enough games to get to the NIT....Let alone the NCAA tourney.... Problem is that now-a-days, nobody wants to wait... No one wants to 'take' the time...

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