PennStateHoops.com Discussion Forum

General recruiting stuff

Started a new thread for this, I know that some people (read: me) look to the Recruiting 2.0 thread (and get excited about new posts) because they want information specific about Penn State and its recruits.

Myles Dread’s dad is quoted in the article:

(The author of this, Eric Dixon, is the father of Villanova player Eric Dixon. He’s a contributor to The Black Cager and is not only plugged in, he’s clearly an experienced writer/reporter who knows what he is doing.)

I found this interesting:

Conflating this mixture of messages is the inability of college coaches to be effective talent evaluators. “You’d be surprised how many college coaches ask me what level I think a kid is after watching him play” said Duval Simmonds, a long time trainer from the DMV area. Simmonds, who has been training kids since 2001, lamented, “It’s hard for a player to know where he belongs if the guys recruiting him don’t even know.” This makes it difficult to allow the market to determine a player’s worth.

Look at the curious recruitment of the aforementioned Sessoms, who will take his considerable talents to the Penn State this fall. Coming out of high school no scouts thought he was ready for the Big Ten. He was a 2000 point scorer in high school, played for a premier AAU team and, by all accounts, did everything the right way. Still, just one Division 1 school, Binghamton University, deemed him good enough to play at that level. Many of us who actually saw him play were befuddled.

One possible explanation, according to one D1 coach unfamiliar with his recruitment, is his lack of height for the position and other physical metrics. It’s impossible to truly know now why at least local mid-majors didn’t see the potential in his impressive game but Simmonds offered one hypothesis.

“A lot of times coaches don’t know and like to wait to see who else offers,” he explained, adding that some coaches don’t “trust their eyes” if other programs don’t seem to see what they see.

My own guess:

  • It’s hard to project most kids to the next level with high accuracy
  • The herd mentality takes over
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Excellent article. My favorite quote:

“Ball without books is empty.”

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Final 24/7 rankings (not composite, just 24/7 itself):

DJ Gordon - 89 (3*) - #7 player in PA - #244 nationally
Dallion Johnson - 88 (3*) - #1 player in MA - #264 nationally
Valdir Manuel - 88 (3*) - #2 JuCo center - #10 JuCo nationally
Caleb Dorsey - 87 (3*) - #13 Player in PA - #391 nationally

We finished #73 nationally, #11 in the B1G, #14 in the B1G in average star ranking.

Past 3 years of recruiting performance:

2018 - #57 nationally, #11 B1G, #12 in the B1G in average star rating
2019 - #84 nationally, #12 B1G, #14 in the B1G in average star rating (and Abdou still hasn’t made it to campus).

The transfers in: Brockington (2018) and Sessoms (2020). It’s becoming clearer that the transfer portal is of vital importance to the overall talent level of this team. Past 3 classes have been near bottom of the B1G in average talent composite. 2021 is a big class for us.

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The transfer portal isn’t going to confer any advantage to Penn State. It’s got the same hierarchy that exists for high school recruits. 1. Blue bloods. 2. High majors by program strength/perception 3. Everybody else.

I think the core identity of this program is Philadelphia. That’s something solid Penn State can build on. Chambers has used the portal to shore that up.

The 2018-19 season was a repeat of 2009-10, a dip following an NIT championship. Chambers still nabbed Lundy and had a shot at Donta Scott, but that losing season put all the recruits and their influencers back on the fence (at least) about whether Penn State was viable.

This past season was great, but it is probably not enough to change Penn State’s recruiting fortunes on its own. It appears the staff feels it is on the right track, though, and committed to building what it sees as the best way. Philly tough probably the best way to describe it.

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Our top performers last year (and 24/7 final recruiting ranking in parentheses)

Myreon Jones - 3.4 PRPG (#89 nationally)
Lamar Stevens - 3.3 PRPG (#92 nationally)
Mike Watkins - 2.9 PRPG (#125 nationally)
Myles Dread - 2.1 PRPG (#173 nationally)
John Harrar - 1.9 PRPG (#591 nationally, though skewed due to football pledge)
Seth Lundy - 1.5 PRPG (#209 nationally)
Izaiah Brockington - 1.4 PRPG (unranked)
Curtis Jones, Jr. - 0.9 PRPG (#72 nationally)** (only one year in program)
Jamari Wheeler - 0.4 PRPG (#391 nationally)
Trent Buttrick - 0.2 PRPG (#527 nantionally)

I don’t want to rehash the McKoy, Lundy, Scott scenario since we’ve done that a lot in the past and our views are known. What I am looking at is whether the recruitnicks are doing a decent job measuring our overall talent level as a team and individually. The one area I think we both agree on is that stars matter. What I’m looking at is where we’re going on a relative basis and whether we’re keeping up with our peers. In the window where we had more reliable data, we’re slipping. Certainly that was impacted by the down year post NIT and rumblings about Chambers job status. No one would argue that. The 2020 class would not reflect the success we had this season since it was too late. We nabbed a top 20 transfer guard in Sessoms. That’s a bit of the success bleeding into the transfer market and also our reputation with Philly kids helping out, too.

As for 2021, it remains to be seen, but I think recruiting rankings in general this year are going to be a crap shoot. AAU is vitally important to the evaluations for guys like Jerry Meyer, Brian Snow and Evan Daniels, all of which are really good at their jobs in their own right. There is a ton of local HS talent, but we’re largely out of the bigger fish (Diggins, Warley, Kepnang) already, those kids have gone national. What we’ll be judged on this year is whether in a deep talent pool regionally we were able to capitalize on success. This year and 2022 class are the one’s we’re recruiting off of post ranked season. These 2 should to be ones that get the talent composite back up.

Regarding this class, I think a few of us have a general idea of who’s coming this week (or very soon after). One of them doesn’t look to be a regional/Philly guy. Del’s got a second guy supposedly close to hopping on board.

If “recruit rankings have a moderate positive correlation with college performance” is where you are, then we do!

Penn State is in a position similar (though much, much less lofty) than Villanova found itself after its first Final Four, and trying to use the lesson: Recruit on fit rather than reputation.

This is a bit of myth-making on Jay Wright, but the arc appears dead-on from the outside:

After 2009 [and a Final Four], it was supposed to be simple. Instead, it became much harder. Wright has admitted that he lost his way, blinded by his own success and starry-eyed at the players who wanted to join his team. He made huge mistakes and costly ones, recruiting kids who topped the rankings but didn’t necessarily match the prototype he had recruited his whole career.

The bottom dropped out in 2011-12, when the Wildcats finished 13-19, but it had been coming for years. Wright knew it. He saw it coming. He just couldn’t stop it.

“Villanova got so good so fast,” [Former assistant Billy] Lange said. “Things start to deteriorate underneath you, and you don’t even know what’s happening. You spend so long trying to get it back, to keep people to respecting you, and then all of a sudden, it happens. He got caught up in it. Who wouldn’t?”

Players who were evaluated as one-and-dones stuck around longer than they would have liked, and a program on the rise couldn’t get out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Wright has admitted to some serious soul-searching. Although his administration never pressured him – “He was never on the hot seat with us,” Nicastro said – Wright pressured himself to change.

The coach, along with his staff, made a conscious decision to stop recruiting players who merely wanted to play at Villanova and instead target players Wright wanted to coach at Villanova.

It’s a nuanced difference but a big one. There are no obvious NBA first-round draft picks on this year’s roster. There isn’t even a first-team All-American. Jalen Brunson is the lone McDonald’s All American; the next highest-rated player coming out of high school was Ryan Arcidiacono, who was 46th in his class.

“He decided to stop playing the game,” Lange said. “He wasn’t going to worry about out-recruiting whatever school name you wanted to insert. He wasn’t going to out-whatever some other school. He kept saying, ‘I’m going to do Villanova.’ That wasn’t easy to do, and it took some guts, but that’s what makes him him.”

Penn State is not anywhere near the Villanova’s status being discussed here, and Chambers was out after that initial Final Four. But he and Wright have no doubt remained close and he may have learned a lesson.

Point of all this: My gut is that Penn State may no doubt still wants Warley, Diggins and Kapnang, but after that, they’re going for ‘their guys’ over where the rest are ranked, or who is recruiting them - even if the past season gave Penn State a little reputation bump up.

I think it runs a bit deeper than this, to be honest. There’s still a pretty big gap in between evaluations and offers for guys like John Camden or a Wooga Poplar or a Gabe Dorsey vs. guys further down the board. I also think there’s been a lot more of a ‘bird in hand’ approach with this staff. They throw a lot of offers out there and it seems like most of them are ‘green light’ type of offers based on upside potential. If you get one, odds are in most cases they take the commitment vs. say a ‘camp offer’ where you offer a kid and it’s greenlit contingent on how the staff sees him in person at a camp or on the circuit. They did that with McKoy vs. Donta Scott. They did that with Ra Bolton vs. Dwayne Cohill and I can think of a few other examples over the years (Kasatkin is a prime example here, too). I think that strategy can be aggressively debated here on merit and whether it’s worth doing it this way. Some may say it was based on necessity (I don’t necessarily agree with that, it’s on a case by case basis). Especially since it’s getting tougher to argue that our best players aren’t matching up with recruiting rankings.

But the bigger thing now, is the transfer portal is becoming increasingly relevant to this staff’s strategy in how they recruit. If you go back and listen to Del’s interview, Pat had some pretty poignant comments on how they view that vs. HS recruiting.

Chambers and his staff are very good at talent evaluation and finding the right kind of kids for the program they want. When you’re constantly fighting as an underdog like they are, getting players to relish that and want to build to be more than that is not exactly an easy thing to do.

The stars vs. program fit argument is always going to be a tough one to really parse, but this staff probably deserves the benefit of the doubt at this point. They have found a formula to make Penn State a consistently competitive Big Ten team, even though 18-19 was a disappointing season, we ended up winning 7 conference games. That’s not anything great or memorable, but it’s not the same as going from 10-8 to 3-15 in conference. I’m sure it didn’t help on the recruiting trail, but we’ve had a bye in the Big Ten Tournament three seasons in a row, and four of the last five. Who knows what a college basketball season even looks like in 20-21, but we have a great chance to extend that to five of six seasons. The staff is doing something we normally didn’t do before them, be competitive every season.

The bird in the hand approach has been working well for the program. Sure, it would have been nice to get Donta Scott, but he was hardly a guarantee to commit here. The argument was never Justin McKoy versus Donta Scott, it was Seth Lundy versus Donta Scott. Scott had a great visit per Del, and iirc, he was told that they have one spot available, if he wanted it, it was his, and he didn’t take it. We ended up getting Seth Lundy, someone who looks set to be a prominent part of our program for the next three seasons. Obviously it would have been great to have Scott and Lundy, but that wasn’t the option and there’s not a reason to think it would’ve happened either.

As far as Ra Bolton vs. Dwayne Cohill, Bolton has had a better career, and Cohill really has not played much for his first two seasons. Considering Bolton transferring out led to the emergence of Myreon Jones and allowed us to get Sam Sessoms to transfer here, I think that’s ended up working out well for us. Cohill’s not really done much in his career so far, so having any sort of opinion that we should’ve waited for him is misguided imo. We’re fine where we are.

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The reason this wasn’t the option is because we took McKoy. Just want to be clear on that. But again, would prefer looking at total talent now and see how recruiting picks up (or doesn’t) for this cycle and 2022 rather than rehashing that again.

Also, I think the ‘bird in hand’ approach is fairly recent (as in from the past 3 or 4 cycles). Whether it’s working? Debatable. Examples of ‘bird in hand’ guys:

Daniil Kastakin - not here
Ra Bolton - not here
Justin McKoy - not here
Patrick Kelly - TBD

Seth Lundy is absolutely not one of those cases. Seth was a prime target for us for years and arguably the top target in the '19 class. He was recruited since his frosh year and was the guy we were hoping was gonna continue the Team Final/Roman pipeline to state.

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And again, these comments aren’t to criticize, they are to analyze. We don’t recruit in a vacuum and our competition is the benchmark.

The benchmark for me is finish in the Big 10.

Everything else flows from finishing in the top half.

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For sure, but it sure helps to have the horses to get you there. Part of the reason I love Torvik’s site, lets you see who’s performing to ranking and isn’t and as a byproduct how that impacts your team’s success.

I’m not sure I’m willing to give them “consistent” or “competitive” yet, let alone “consistently competitive”. Think we need a bit more success and a bit longer timeframe to start using those terms.

Not trying to nitpick, just feel we may be getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve had a really good 4-6 week run in each of the last 3 seasons, with the rest of those seasons mostly filled with very inconsistent and mostly not great basketball.

Jay Wright can recruit guys that fit his system because he has a real system that we can all look at and identify the components of it. I’m still not positive what the hell Pat intends to do offensively most nights, and I’ll be really interested to see what he does now without Lamar to lean on when things break down.

What does a Pat player look like exactly? I’m not sure we know after a decade.

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Brock, Josh, DJ, Jamari, Lamar, Johnny H.

That’s why I like Hysier Miller. That’s the mold.

Edit add: Sessoms, too.

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I don’t think it’s ahead of ourselves to say that Pat Chambers has us more consistent year to year than we’ve been since we’ve joined the Big Ten. Consistently competitive doesn’t mean ‘winning every game’ or making the NCAA Tournament on a regular basis, it means that we’re not in the basement of the conference on an annual basis. Whether that meets your criteria for consistent is irrelevant. Teams that finish 10th in a 14-team conference are not going to be consistent on a performance or result basis, and they’re going to go through patches where they play well, and when they don’t play well. Consistently competitive, to me, means we aren’t far from making a leap to a postseason spot, which I think is a perfectly accurate description of where we are right now.

Is it hurting the program? Not at all.

No more or less relevant than anybody else, I think you’re rating our performance higher than I would. That’s my point, I don’t agree that just peaking our head out of the cellar for 3 years qualifies as “consistent competitive”. What are we ‘competing’ for?

9-9 (6th)
7-13 (10th)
11-9 (T 5th)

Reminder that only one of these seasons was going to result in a NCAA tournament bid, and the middle one we couldn’t even qualify for ANY postseason play because we were 4 games under .500

We’re getting ahead of ourselves.

Brock and Reaves I get the comparison… neither reminds me of Jamari except that both Josh and Wheels happened to be good defenders (but in completely different ways).

Harrar and Lamar are nothing alike, and neither reminds me of the other three.

I’ve already made the comparison of Hysier to DJ, but I don’t think either looks like Sessoms.

It sounds like you’re saying you just like “tough” guys who play “hard”. As if that isn’t what every team in the country is looking for in every recruit :rofl:

Pat took over in June of 2011… when DeChellis bolted. No chance to recruit and was left with EddieD’s class. Then just when his first season starts all the Sandusky crap hit the fan which definitely set him back in recruiting.

But he has steadily made this program relevant going from #127 (22-41) his first two years to #92 (50-50) his next three years to #34 (76-59) over these last four years! He has done it with mostly 3* kids. And they’ve been his kids.

I love This class coming in with Manuel, Gordon, Johnson, and Dorsey. All of them can play. Sessoms next year is a great replacement for Wheeler. Can’t wait for the 2021 and 2022 classes as there is some real good talent in the region.

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This is where opportunity cost needs to be factored in. Part of what makes following recruiting interesting. This is also where I refer to the transfer portal and why it’s pretty damn important. You can make the case it does hurt the program dependent on who/what that scholarship is used for and who you lost out on because of it.