NCAA Basketball: What sort of schools serve top NCAA basketball recruits best?
What sort of schools serve top NCAA basketball recruits, similar to Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, best?
I recently read a thought provoking article on SB Nation about Markelle Fultz that questions Washington’s goals as a program and talks about how five-star recruits that don’t want to win National Titles would be better served playing for a low-major program close to home.
Fultz could be a top five pick in this year’s NBA draft, but Washington is in danger of missing the postseason altogether. They are 4-5, have lost four straight and boast the worst defense among the traditional power conferences. This is a similar situation to last season when Ben Simmons went 1st overall in June, but played on a LSU squad that stayed home in March.
The question is, where should top players go? Not every one wants to live in a one-and-done national title college town like Lexington or Lawrence.
Let’s start with Fultz. The 6’4″ phenom is from Upper Marlboro, MD. That places him squarely in Terrapin territory, but other options would’ve existed if he wanted to stay near his hometown. We could’ve watched the potential number one pick play as a Maryland-Baltimore Country Retriever and dominate the American East competition. That would be a much more compelling story than watching him get beat in the Pac-12.
Last year, we could’ve seen the Australian-born Simmons play for the Down Under pipeline that is Saint Mary’s. The Gaels emphasis ball movement and efficiency, which would’ve put Simmons in the perfect position to succeed and make the Big Dance.
The year before that we could’ve seen Minneapolis’ Rashad Vaughn (2015 draft, pick 17) star at any number of the Midwestern schools over his 18-15 season at UNLV.
How beneficial was it for Simmons to attend LSU? Will Washington truly help Fultz’s stock? Should top players go to blue bloods or stay home and crush the local competition? These are legitimate questions to consider.
Nobody can tell a high schooler what their best fit is for college. But, there is a very real argument that kids who don’t want to play for the perennial title teams should opt for easier conference competition in college, especially if it won’t hurt them in the draft. The NBA has opted to continue it’s one-and-done rule. Only time will tell if that will affect the recruiting landscape more in the future.
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