Simply Duke Basketball – “Ro on Recruiting” – The Changing Mindset of Recruits

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In this, his 5th installment, Rowan Shiell examines the changing mindset and requirements of recruits as the “one-and-done” era continues …

Jeff Goodman thinks there is a cloud hanging over North Carolina’s head regarding the academic scandal, and that might be why so many 2015 Recruits spurned North Carolina.  While that may be an issue it is not the only factor that affects UNC.

North Carolina has been a victim of their own recruiting success.  They have too many interchangeable players at certain positions.  The problem with this is that kids play with one eye on the Court and another on the Bench.  They know if they make a mistake they are easily replaced.

That’s why it is the teams with short rotations that are normally the most successful.  If coaches empower their athletes they will perform better. They can focus on the game and not get distracted with their playing time.  Just look at the last four teams in the Final Four.  All those teams kept a short rotation, even Kentucky, as their best players played the most minutes.

Roy Williams has always played with a deep rotation.  That’s probably not going to change, as when you recruit “one-and-done” players they need to be showcased.  They don’t want to be stuck in a platoon system, a lesson John Calipari recently learned the hard way.  After going 38-1, he now sees kids that normally rush to commit to his program, go elsewhere.

Apparently, opposing coaches used that platoon system against him, leading Calipari to vent on his website declaring that platooning was probably is a onetime affair.

If kids don’t want to go to Kentucky because they fear platooning, then they will eschew UNC for same reason.

  • Why would Jaylen Brown or Brandon Ingram want to share playing time with Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson when they can go elsewhere and get as much playing time as they need ???
  • Why Would Ivan Rabb want to play with established Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson ???
  • Stephen Zimmerman is a top Center, where would playing time come for him ???

The days of stockpiling recruits and letting them learn behind upperclassmen are over.

Roy Williams should probably have been concentrating on recruiting one or two guys that can shoot, as that is currently a glaring weakness for the Tar Heels.  Unfortunately, he is trying in vain to recruit these elite players at positions he already had filled makes no sense.  That’s one reason why top recruits didn’t even want to visit UNC.

Another factor that might affect North Carolina’s recruiting negatively is the play of Justin Jackson, Theo Pinson and Harrison Barnes.  Duke basketball Report defines a “potential one-and-done” recruit as a player who is ranked among the Top 10 prospects in his high school class.

Jackson and Pinson were ranked 8th and 10th respectively by ESPN, which meant that they were ideal candidates to play only one season in college. Pinson got injured in January but before that, he did not play like a “one-and-done” candidate, and even as he got healthy was played sparingly.

Jackson had a better season, but he had a bad start to the season, shooting 9-of-52 3-Pointers in his first 25 games.  He did not look like an early NBA Draft entry candidate, according to, and will be back for another season along with Pinson.

It is hard to believe that these two were ranked ahead of Justise Winslow (15th according to ESPN).

Since 2010, Coach K has a 100% record of having his Top 10 recruits getting drafted high at their earliest opportunity.  That is probably closer to the real reason Ingram chose Duke over North Carolina.

When you recruit potential “one-and-done” players, and they do not leave after their first season, it is a blight on your program in this day and age.  It gives an edge to rivals in the recruiting process.

In the last seven years, every #1 rated recruit by ESPN has spent only one year in college except one:  Harrison Barnes, the top recruit in the 2010 class. Barnes had a solid, if not inconsistent, Freshman season then returned to North Carolina for his Sophomore season and was then drafted 7th by Golden State Warriors in 2012.

Barnes was projected as a Top 5 pick, if not Top 3 after his Freshman season. Regardless of the circumstances that made Barnes return for the second stint, the fact that he lost ground in the Draft is more fodder for rival recruiters.

If you compare Barnes’ Freshman stats to Andrew Wiggins’s Freshman stats, there isn’t much of a difference.  Yet Wiggins was taken 1st in the Draft after being a projected Top 3 prospect, (not that Golden State is complaining).

It took Coach K a while to convince elite recruits that Duke was a great place to play, now Roy Williams is falling into the same boat.


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