Monday Thoughts, 6/27

This week's Monday Thoughts focus on a key stat indicator for Big 12 champions, and some under-the-radar Lone Star wideouts.

Vital for a Big 12 Champion

After every season, Texas coach Mack Brown brings in consultants to see how the program is running and how it can improve. Included in those sessions is some stat-crunching to determine which areas of the game are most important.

Before last season, Brown said the most important factor, to win a national championship, was scoring offense. In short, teams that won championships typically had higher numbers in the scoring category.

But to win the Big 12, there's an even more important statistic … one that has correctly predicted the winner of the Big 12 title all the way back through 2004. It would have been correct in 2003 as well, had Kansas State not pulled off the Big 12 title game upset over Oklahoma.

To compare: the top scoring offense didn't win the Big 12 in three of the last five years: Oklahoma State last year, Kansas in 2007 and Texas in 2006. And it isn't even scoring margin, which would seem to be the most obvious choice. Those same above teams led the Big 12 in scoring margin in those seasons, but didn't win the league. Neither is it turnover margin, with 2007 Kansas again serving as an outlier.

Without ruining it, I'll just say that we're running an article on it later today. And I'll add that the Big 12 has increasingly become a passing league.

Making up ground

Heading into the summer, the word on star Whitewright quarterback Tyrone Swoopes was that he favored TCU.

But we're hearing that his trip to Texas went incredibly well, and that the Longhorns have made up ground on the 2013 prospect. Swoopes will undoubtedly earn some Vince Young comparisons because of his build — he's 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds — but he seems to have more Cam Newton in him. He's a powerful runner who isn't afraid to get behind his pads and bull for extra yardage. Young had power as well, but it was typically a deceptive strength, when he would slide his eight-foot-long legs through some poor linebacker's arm tackle. Swoopes is more likely to lower his shoulder on that same player.

Swoopes performed well at the Texas camp, displaying better-than-expected arm strength and accuracy to go with his as-advertised athleticism.

As this season plays out, look for Swoopes to make a major push as the state's top prospect for 2013.

Dontre Wilson, where will you play? Midwest Regional Manager Greg Powers and I were talking about Wilson, the talented 2013 running back from DeSoto. While he's an excellent runner, Wilson's strength is his ability to catch passes out of the backfield. In fact, he averaged more than 22 yards per catch a year ago.

Wilson isn't big: he's listed around the 5-10 170-pound range, which leads Powers to believe that his best position will be in the slot at the next level. I don't quite go that far: I think that if Texas offers Wilson, which could well depend on how the Longhorns do with Daniel Brooks in 2012, he'll stay at running back.

Texas offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin values scheme versatility, and having a running back that he can motion into the slot and run routes like a wide receiver is invaluable, even if Wilson doesn't line up in the slot on a permanent basis.


That might be the best description for 2013 wide receiver Matthew Mayle of Cibolo Steele. You wouldn't think that would be possible: Mayle played alongside the top player in the state a year ago, and his quarterback, Tommy Armstrong, is among the most heavily recruited signal callers in the state for 2012. But Mayle is somewhat undersized, meaning he doesn't necessarily pass the proverbial eye test.

Still, a wise man once said to me, "There's always a market for receivers who can get open and catch the ball." That description fits Mayle like a worn-in pair of jeans. He has outstanding hands, runs fantastic routes, is nearly unstoppable with his quickness in and out of his breaks and is a surprising factor on jump balls.

In fact, it's that last trait that has caused Steele coach Michael Jinks to compare Jinks to Jaxon Shipley, whom Jinks coached at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. And Mayle shouldn't be a stranger to college coaches, as he went to, and performed well at, a TCU camp this summer. But in a class that's loaded with wide receivers, don't be surprised if Mayle doesn't emerge for somebody until later in the process. And that's unfortunate.

In the 2012 class, that guy could be Braizon Fresch, but for different reasons. The Round Rock Stony Point receiver has looked like a game-breaker all summer, but this will be his first year starting on varsity. Coach Craig Chessher believes in keeping players on junior varsity for as long as possible to build confidence, and that approach is paying off with Fresch, who's looking like a varsity veteran in 7-on-7.

Fresch isn't big — he's probably around 5-10ish — but he's been clocked in the 4.3s in the 40-yard dash and is dynamite after the catch.

Great spot for Joseph, and other draft thoughts

So often, whether or not a player makes it in the NBA depends largely on which team he joins through the draft. In that regard, Cory Joseph couldn't have asked for a better situation. He's on a team that values role players and guys who play defense, and one that will allow him to grow up in a protective cocoon of sorts. His skill set also fits exactly what San Antonio is looking for: somebody who can hit from the outside and defend multiple positions.

At the same time, I think Tristan Thompson was drafted into a difficult situation. He's joining a Cleveland squad devoid of talent, and one that's going to need him to provide an inside scoring presence sooner rather than later. Still, I know a lot of people who think he's going to make it, if for no other reason than the fact that he's amazingly coachable and has a great work ethic.

As an aside: does anybody else think Cleveland went the wrong way with its No. 1 pick? This guy does. The best talent in the draft was Derrick Williams. But even beyond that, you can't just look at the No. 1 pick by itself: you have to look at how you'll address your No. 4 selection as well. By taking Williams, Cleveland was all but assured of having Kyrie Irving or Brandon Knight slip to them at No. 4. If not, the Cavs would be able to boast one of the best young frontcourts in the league by adding Enes Kanter. Irving and Thompson looks like a nice catch, but not next to Williams and some combination of Irving/Knight/Kanter.

And what's the big deal about the Texas coaches allegedly calling Jordan Hamilton "uncoachable?" Coaches throughout the country do that with NBA prospects all the time. They can't lie about it, or they'll lose all their credibility whenever they need to sell another prospect to the scouts.

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