Be careful what you wish for. That's
the mantra every avid
In the shower, while cooking dinner, while lying in bed at night pondering what could have been. Just remember it doesn't take an American Idol to tell you that you just might get it all.
Thursday night, Matta saw his program make history. Three freshmen were drafted in the first round of the NBA Draft. Two of them, Greg Oden and Mike Conley, his former prize recruits from Indianapolis Lawrence North, were taken in the first four picks of the draft – a feat that is unprecedented for high school chums in the same draft, the same season.
"Can you imagine the team we would have had next season?" Matta asked rhetorically in the Columbus Dispatch.
Matta didn't get the chance to find out with Oden, Conley and Daequan Cook all declaring after their rookie seasons for the bright lights and fast pace of the NBA. While Oden's departure wasn't so sudden and terribly unexpected, the sting of only having Conley for one season was probably a bit new to the young Matta.
Thus begins what I see
as a continuing trend with
That's the bad news. The good news: would anyone in their right mind trade that National Championship appearance, and instead, revert back to Jim O'Brien's recruiting philosophy?
Absolutely not, I imagine.
Certainly Matta is far from doomed. But it is proof positive that even Matta's incredible run of good fortune is not immune to being snake-bitten by today's landscape of college basketball.
Oden, Conley and Cook's departures were Matta's first taste in the dark side of recruiting at the utmost highest level. The elusive power forward often escaping Matta on the recruiting trail (i.e. Raymar Morgan, Delvon Roe and now Luke Babbitt), is just another obstacle he's learning about on-the-job.
This, I recall, is in fact what people wanted.
Very few coaches have been privy to the magical secret at winning very early in their careers. The ones that did are probably in the Hall of Fame to begin with.
My hunch is that Matta
is no exception. It's hard to picture the next few years having any better a
Am I saying
Perhaps the cynics are
correct. Perhaps Matta's surreal recruiting is a blessing in disguise to rivals
of the Buckeyes. Maybe, just maybe,
Do you think Billy Donovan had the Midas touch immediately?
A quick review of
Donovan's past recruiting classes would suggest otherwise. Sure, back in 2000,
Donovan, like Matta, led a young up-and-coming program to the National
Championship. This time, it was the Big Ten team (
On the surface it seems Donovan's back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007 were the product of a consistent, successful recruiting effort in the past 10 seasons. However, statistically, it appears Donovan slightly changed up his recruiting philosophy.
Back in 1998, Donovan's first major recruiting class, he brought in Miller, Teddy Dupay, Ladarius Halton and Udonis Haslem. Using RSCI rankings for the top three players in each class, Miller, Dupay and Halton ranked an average of 28.6.
The 1999 class averaged
15.3 for the top three players:
The 2001 class was a monster. However, the two best players didn't even make it to campus. Kwame Brown (No. 6) and DeSagna Diop (No. 8) gave that class an 8.0 average for the top three players including David Lee (No. 10). In 2002, the average dropped to 36.3 with Anthony Roberson (16), Matt Walsh (40) and Mario Boggan (53).
From 1998 to 2002, the
average RSCI ranking of the top players in
You think that it's possible Donovan got sick of being burnt? It seems as if he's since begun searching for players that will stick around a little longer.
In 2003, the class of this past year's seniors, Chris Richard (No. 43), Mohamed Abukar (No. 46) and Ryan Appleby (No. 90) combined on a 59.7 average. While Abukar and Appleby left the program, unranked Lee Humphrey became one of the backbones of the Gator program with his uncanny shooting. The following 2004 class (48.0 average RSCI for the top three players), became the crux to the back-to-back titles.
Corey Brewer (25), Al Horford (47) and Joakim Noah (72) combined with unranked Taurean Green and Cornelius Ingram. The former four have been solid starters the past few years. Meanwhile, the 2005 class followed with only Derwin Kitchen (63) ranked in the top 100 in the RSCI. Walter Hodge, Jimmie Sutton and David Huertas also were a part of the group. Marreese Speights (No. 60) and Doneal Mack (84) were the top two players in the 2006 class.
Since 2003 using just
the ranked players alone, the average dropped from 22.3 to 58.9 in the RSCI.
The moral of this story is that talent is only one form of the equation. In my estimation, perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if Matta went on a diet and cut back on a few McDonald's burgers every so often. It doesn't seem the juice is necessarily worth the squeeze.
But hey, I don't hear anyone complaining. Nor should they – but at least people are getting what they wished for.
I'm sure it didn't help the bittersweet heartburn Matta had watching the draft on Thursday.