Saturday, January 30, 2016

Big 12 Player Development

This is the first of several posts on player development in the major conferences. I basically wanted to look at every player in the top leagues and see who was performing above or below what we should typically expect.

I am sure someone is going to complain that I am not writing enough about all the stats (rebounding, blocks). Ideally I would show 25 stats on every player to tell the whole story, but this is hard enough to read just focusing on scoring and efficiency, so I’m electing not to expand this further. Also, while it may seem odd to focus so much on PPG and playing time, I think that playing time is a very under-rated metric of player quality. A player with a 130 ORtg who rarely plays (like Brannen Greene of Kansas) is clearly not perceived by the coaching staff as one of the team’s most important players.

The minutes’ percentages in the following tables are based on games played, not the full season, so I am showing a higher percentage of minutes for a mid-year transfer like Deonte Burton than you would see on I am going to focus on players that have played over 20% of their team’s minutes when they have played.

Big 12 Freshmen

PPG, Min%, Poss%, ORtg, Player, Team

12.6, 73%, 26%, 108.5, *+Jawun Evans, Oklahoma St.

10.4, 66%, 20%, 111.0, Dean Wade, Kansas St.

9.9, 68%, 21%, 99.6, Kamau Stokes, Kansas St.

8.7, 53%, 23%, 98.3, Barry Brown, Kansas St.

8.1, 54%, 18%, 105.3, *+Eric Davis, Texas

6.4, 42%, 26%, 84.1, *Kerwin Roach, Jr., Texas

6.1, 43%, 24%, 86.7, J.D. Miller, TCU

5.6, 36%, 25%, 90.2, *Tevin Mack, Texas

4.6, 26%, 22%, 110.3, *Carlton Bragg, Kansas

4.5, 46%, 17%, 93.1, *+Esa Ahmad, West Virginia

4.4, 23%, 22%, 104.9, *+Cheick Diallo, Kansas

4.3, 30%, 14%, 120.5, *King McClure, Baylor

3.5, 27%, 19%, 99.3, Dante Buford, Oklahoma

2.8, 31%, 16%, 111.0, Jake Lindsey, Baylor

2.4, 21%, 16%, 91.1, Christian James, Oklahoma
There are other freshmen in the Big 12. Kansas’ Lagerald Vick was even a Top 100 recruit. But the above 15 players are the only ones to earn meaningful playing time. Players marked with a * were consensus Top 100 recruits. Players we pegged as instant impact recruits at are marked with a +. Tempo is playing somewhat of a role here, as Oklahoma is getting about 10% more possessions per game than Oklahoma St. But I didn’t think it mattered enough to warrant listing another number in the table. If you care, you can find pace stats at, but keep in mind that when comparing PPG you should think about raw pace, not adjusted pace.

Cheick Diallo was the only Top 10 recruit in the conference this year and he has struggled for playing time in Kansas’ unsettled six-man frontcourt rotation.  Obviously getting a late start on the season (due to eligibility issues) put him behind the curve. And there were always a chorus of people who said his defense was ahead of his offense. But for Diallo to be sitting at 4.4 PPG and barely playing is hugely disappointing. There was certainly ample reason to think that with his size and athleticism that he would putting home a number of put-back dunks at this point. In fairness, none of Diallo’s per-possession statistics have been terrible, but the coaching staff still does not trust him for major minutes at this point. The same can be said of Kansas’ Carlton Bragg.
Jawun Evans was the only other Big 12 prospect ranked high enough to expect an immediate impact, and Evans has delivered. We pegged Esa Ahmad as one of the next most likely stars based on the fact that West Virginia planned to start him. But while Ahmad has started almost every game for the Mountaineers, he has also been the team’s least efficient rotation player. Ahmad is essentially playing because of his athleticism and reach. He’s among the nation’s best at getting blocks and steals.
Top 100 recruit King McClure should not be viewed as a bust despite his low PPG. Due to his heart condition diagnosis, McClure is not being pushed into major college minutes right away, and his efficiency has been very solid.

The big surprise is Kansas St. having three of the league’s top scoring freshman. Certainly, any team with Bruce Weber on the sideline is going to play solid defense. But there were a lot of reasons to expect Kansas St. to be horrible offensively this season. Yet somehow, the Wildcats have played well enough on offense to have a Top 50 margin-of-victory. And those three freshman have more than held their own. Notice that no one in Kansas St.’s recruiting class was a consensus Top 100 recruit. And while only Dean Wade has been super-efficient, Stokes and Brown have done quite well for unranked freshmen.

Big 12 JUCOs

PPG, Min%, Poss%, ORtg, Player, Team

11.3, 59%, 22%, 115.2, Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU

11.2, 67%, 26%, 89.0, Malique Trent, TCU

3.0, 31%, 15%, 106.6, Corlbe Ervin, Kansas St.

2.9, 22%, 19%, 93.2, Akolda Manyang, Oklahoma

2.9, 33%, 12%, 104.1, Austin Budke, Kansas St.

2.3, 22%, 15%, 96.1, Teyvon Myers, West Virginia

Austin Budke was recruited as a walk-on, but the JUCO transfer has made it into Kansas St.’s rotation. All of these players (except Budke) were considered Top 100 JUCO transfers, but that label is virtually meaningless. If you learn anything from me about college basketball, please learn that JUCO transfers are lottery tickets. Because of the differences in competition, it is extremely hard to tell what skills will transfer from the JUCO game to the D1 game. If you read the limited scouting on the JUCO ranks, Oklahoma’s Akolda Manyang, Oklahoma St.’s Igor Ibaka, and West Virginia’s Teyvon Myers were the three Big 12 JUCO players that received the most hype. Now Manyang has struggled to make twos on a dominant offense where he gets almost no defensive attention, Ibaka has barely played at all and didn’t play enough to show up in my table, and Myers has fallen out of the deep West Virginia rotation.
Meanwhile, Vladamir Brodziansky received some hype, but over the summer I read that due to TCU’s veteran front-court, Brodziansky was expected to redshirt. And then, lo and behold, Brodziansky became TCU’s best front-court player and stole the playing time away from his teammates. No one can predict JUCOs. You just never know with these guys.

Big 12 Walk-On

PPG, Min%, Poss%, ORtg, Player, Team

3.4, 27%, 21%, 92.1, Matthew Temple, Texas Tech

Somehow Matthew Temple has become a rotation player for Texas Tech. Good for him.

Big 12 D1 Transfers

PPG, Min%, Poss%, ORtg, Player, Team, Former PPG, Former Team

8.9, 40%, 27%, 111.5, Chris Olivier, Oklahoma St., 13.0, Eastern Illinois

8.5, 39%, 23%, 119.9, Deonte Burton, Iowa St., 6.4, Marquette

3.5, 33%, 15%, 100.7, Hallice Cooke, Iowa St., 8.2, Oregon St.

3.2, 37%, 15%, 96.9, Devon Thomas, Texas Tech, 3.2, Missouri St.

3.1, 27%, 16%, 106.6, Shaquille Cleare, Texas, 3.0, Maryland

Shaquille Cleare is mildly disappointing. The former Top 100 recruit has been stuck as the back-up center for Texas even with the injury to Cameron Ridley. But the Big 12’s D1 transfers have all performed about as expected.
Returning Players

I am not going to show stats for the injured Phil Forte, Naz Long, or Cameron Ridley. Obviously injuries to Forte and Long have been devastating to those teams. The loss of Forte turned Oklahoma St. from a dark-horse NCAA tournament team to a team that is barely hanging on in the ferocious Big 12. Oklahoma St. isn’t terrible, but with the league as deep as it is, it is just so hard to win without the team’s lights out scorer. And Long’s injury probably knocked Iowa St. from the ranks of teams likely to make the Elite Eight. It isn’t that Long isn’t replaceable, but Iowa St.’s depth is now sorely lacking. I’m not sure that Ridley’s absence has been a huge negative to Texas, only because Shaka Smart wants to play a smaller lineup, and he has been more empowered to do so with Ridley out.  Notably, Texas Tech’s Isaiah Manderson and Texas’ Jordan Barnett played very little this year, are transferring, and are not included in the tables.

I am going to switch the format now to focus more on player development. Thus in the next tables I am going to focus on changes in production. But comparing seasons is a little bit difficult. In particular, most teams are nearly done with their “easy” games and have some of their hardest games left on the schedule. And this has been complicated by the rule changes that have made it easier to score this year.
The table below shows the change in the average opponent defense (this year relative to last year). While Texas Tech has actually played a nearly equivalent schedule of defenses to last year, West Virginia’s opponent’s defenses have been much easier this season. And thus any inflation in the ORtg of players on West Virginia should be discounted slightly.

I also show the change in raw pace and while Oklahoma St.’s games have had slightly more possessions so far this year (compared to the full year last year), Texas Tech’s games have had a full 6 more possessions per game. Pace slows later in the year, so when we have a full season of data, the increases will be smaller. But right now, comparing half a season to a full season, that is the appropriate comparison.

ChOppDef, Team, ChPace

3.3, West Virginia, 3.2

3.2, Oklahoma St., 2.1

2.8, Kansas St., 5.1

2.4, Baylor, 5.3

2.3, Kansas, 3.8

1.6, Iowa St., 4.0

1.0, Texas, 5.1

0.9, Oklahoma, 5.6

0.6, TCU, 5.7

0.3, Texas Tech, 6.1

Taking the difference in defense and pace into consideration, here are the players with the biggest jumps in scoring in the Big 12 relative to last season. I start with the change in PPG, then I show the change in percentage of minutes, then the change in possessions’ used, then the change in ORtg. The current PPG is shown on the far right.

ChPPG, ChMin%, ChPoss%, ChORtg, Player, Team, CurrentPPG

8.5, 3%, 2%, 16.9, Buddy Hield, Oklahoma, 25.9

7.9, 20%, 4%, 18.2, Jaysean Paige, West Virginia, 13.6

7.6, 36%, 5%, 11.4, Leyton Hammonds, Oklahoma St., 9.9

7.4, 32%, 1%, 18.8, +Allerik Freeman, Baylor, 12.2

7.1, 36%, 0%, 11.4, Abdel Nader, Iowa St., 12.9

7.1, 48%, -3%, 6.1, Chauncey Collins, TCU, 10.5

6.5, 15%, 4%, 13.4, Wesley Iwundu, Kansas St., 12.3

5.7, 21%, 2%, 10.2, +Justin Edwards, Kansas St., 12.0

5.6, -5%, 2%, 27.5, Jordan Woodard, Oklahoma, 14.9

5.4, 27%, -2%, 44.3, Aaron Ross, Texas Tech, 8.1

5.2, 41%, -2%, 9.4, Matt Thomas, Iowa St., 10.2

5.1, -1%, 1%, 19.5, Wayne Selden, Kansas, 14.6

As of Saturday morning, January 30th, Oklahoma has the top margin-of-victory in the nation and has been voted #1 by many pollsters. In the preseason, everyone thought this team would be strong, but few experts suspected it would be this strong. At this point, Jordan Woodard has had the biggest improvement in efficiency in the entire Big 12. He did it be reducing his turnovers and improving his three point shooting. But it also helps a lot that Buddy Hield is now drawing a ridiculous amount of defensive attention, making Woodard’s job substantially easier. To say Hield’s improvement is jaw-dropping is an understatement.  Hield improved from 16.5 PPG as a sophomore to 17.4 PPG as a junior. It would be logical for him to improve by another point or two in his senior year. But for a player like Hield, who was not believed to have can’t-miss NBA-level athleticism in the preseason, to somehow increase his scoring to 25.9 PPG as a senior, is ridiculous. And almost all that improvement is due to improved shooting accuracy.

Technically Aaron Ross has seen a greater jump in efficiency than Woodard, but Ross was injured last year and his low efficiency should be thrown out.

In the preseason, we picked breakout players at Two Big 12 players, Allerik Freeman, and Justin Edwards, made our list. These are noted with a “+”. Both have delivered. We also predicted a rather substantial leap in efficiency for Wayne Selden. After a strong freshman year, last year’s shooting slump looked like a statistical fluke, and that has proven to be the case.

Jaysean Paige’s development is a key reason West Virginia has gone from a borderline Top 25 team in the preseason to a Top 10 team.

The Big 12’s biggest improvements are impressive. You will not see nearly as many experienced players with huge efficiency gains in the other leagues.

ChPPG, ChMin%, ChPoss%, ChORtg, Player, Team, CurrentPPG

5.1, 33%, -5%, 11.1, T.J. Maston, Baylor, 7.0

4.8, 42%, -3%, 12.6, Devonte' Graham, Kansas, 10.5

4.7, 20%, 1%, 6.5, Jeff Newberry, Oklahoma St., 11.4

4.4, 42%, -1%, -3.4, Jeffrey Carroll, Oklahoma St., 8.4

4.3, 28%, 2%, 19.9, Khadeem Lattin, Oklahoma, 6.3

4.0, 21%, 4%, 1.9, Tarik Phillip, West Virginia, 8.1

3.9, 4%, -1%, 12.3, Georges Niang, Iowa St., 19.3

3.9, 33%, 5%, 0.8, Ishmail Wainright, Baylor, 5.3

3.6, 10%, 3%, 8.8, D.J. Johnson, Kansas St., 6.8

3.5, 7%, 2%, 2.8, Monte Morris, Iowa St., 15.5

3.5, 9%, 0%, 21.5, Toddrick Gotcher, Texas Tech, 10.7

3.4, 9%, 3%, 1.5, Zach Smith, Texas Tech, 9.6

3.3, 12%, 1%, -0.8, Daxter Miles, Jr., West Virginia, 10.6

3.3, 66%, -4%, -40.0, Michael Williams, TCU, 5.1

3.3, -4%, 0%, 22.9, Johnathan Motley, Baylor, 11.0

3.1, 23%, 1%, 20.1, Tyree Griffin, Oklahoma St., 4.6

TJ Maston and Devonte’ Graham’s improvement in efficiency comes with a caveat. They are using fewer possessions.

In addition to Hield and Woodard, Khadeem Lattin has become much more efficient for Oklahoma. He is mostly taking wide-open lay-ups this year, but his two point percentage is substantially elevated over last year.

Don’t overlook the improvement of Georges Niang. Like Hield, Niang is showing that even polished veteran offensive players can get better.

DJ Johnson’s stats are relative to two years ago. He missed last season.

Michael Williams barely played last year, so don’t read too much into his decline.

ChPPG, ChMin%, ChPoss%, ChORtg, Player, Team, CurrentPPG

2.9, 6%, -1%, 10.2, Perry Ellis, Kansas, 16.7

2.8, 10%, 1%, 8.5, Jevon Carter, West Virginia, 11.0

2.8, 10%, 5%, 14.7, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas, 5.7

2.8, 21%, 0%, 13.1, Isaiah Taylor, Texas, 15.9

2.7, 26%, -15%, 30.7, Joe Burton, Oklahoma St., 4.5

2.6, 25%, 1%, 18.1, Justin Gray, Texas Tech, 9.3

2.4, 14%, 4%, -7.8, Mitchell Solomon, Oklahoma St., 3.6

2.4, 27%, -2%, 0.3, Brandon Parrish, TCU, 8.0

2.4, 13%, 1%, -7.0, Devonta Abron, TCU, 5.2

2.3, 19%, -4%, 6.4, Stephen Hurt, Kansas St., 6.6

2.3, 12%, -1%, 12.6, Javan Felix, Texas, 11.0

2.3, 18%, 1%, 10.8, Anthony Allen, Jr., Oklahoma St., 3.9

2.2, -4%, 7%, -4.7, Karviar Shepherd, TCU, 8.4

2.1, 4%, -1%, 21.0, Jonathan Holton, West Virginia, 9.7

2.1, 8%, 0%, 0.4, Devaugntah Williams, Texas Tech, 12.5

No one in the Big 12 has seen a bigger jump in possession’s used than TCU’s Karviar Shepherd, and his efficiency has fallen because of it.

ChPPG, ChMin%, ChPoss%, ChORtg, Player, Team, CurrentPPG

2.0, -7%, 3%, 3.4, Norense Odiase, Texas Tech, 9.0

1.9, 29%, 0%, 2.0, Jameel McKay, Iowa St., 12.9

1.7, 5%, 0%, 11.9, Elijah Macon, West Virginia, 6.0

1.7, 0%, 2%, 6.7, Devin Williams, West Virginia, 13.1

1.4, -1%, 1%, -9.6, Tavarius Shine, Oklahoma St., 4.8

1.4, 4%, 2%, 9.2, Lester Medford, Baylor, 9.0

1.4, 3%, 0%, 10.2, Isaiah Cousins, Oklahoma, 13.1

1.4, 13%, -2%, 5.6, Keenan Evans, Texas Tech, 7.1

1.3, 11%, -2%, 5.8, Connor Lammert, Texas, 6.4

1.2, 10%, 0%, -1.7, Taurean Prince, Baylor, 15.1

1.1, -11%, -1%, 13.6, Brannen Greene, Kansas, 6.8

1.1, 12%, 0%, 6.9, Prince Ibeh, Texas, 3.2

1.1, 4%, 0%, -0.1, Ryan Spangler, Oklahoma, 10.7

Tavarious Shine’s efficiency is down, but in fairness he is returning from an injury AND he didn’t get to play as many cupcake teams in the preseason.

ChPPG, ChMin%, ChPoss%, ChORtg, Player, Team, CurrentPPG

0.9, -6%, 0%, 6.4, Rico Gathers, Baylor, 12.5

0.8, -4%, 2%, 0.5, Frank Mason, Kansas, 13.4

0.8, 8%, -3%, 9.7, Dinjiyl Walker, Oklahoma, 4.1

0.5, -3%, 1%, 13.6, Landen Lucas, Kansas, 4.0

0.5, 11%, -3%, 14.7, Hunter Mickelson, Kansas, 2.8

0.5, 0%, -1%, 5.9, Nathan Adrian, West Virginia, 3.3

0.2, -32%, 5%, -24.3, Chris Washburn, TCU, 7.2

-2.1, -18%, -3%, 9.3, Jamari Traylor, Kansas, 2.7

-3.7, -34%, -2%, -11.1, Demarcus Holland, Texas, 3.4

-3.7, -33%, -3%, 4.9, Kendal Yancy, Texas, 2.6

Kansas’ Frank Mason got a lot of love in the preseason, but he hasn’t delivered. Part of that may be because of the increased defensive attention he is facing, but if you want a reason why Oklahoma has risen and Kansas has fallen relative to preseason expectations, here is a pretty clear explainer. Mason plays the most minutes for Kansas and he is not any more efficient than last year. Meanwhile, Buddy Hield plays the most minutes for Oklahoma and he has gotten substantially better.
Chris Washburn’s numbers are way worse than last year, but in fairness he is returning from an injury AND he didn’t get to play any cupcake teams in the preseason.

As a freshman and sophomore, Texas’ Demarcus Holland struggled to make three point shots. Then as a junior, he suddenly shot 46% from deep. This year, as a senior, he is struggling again. His good junior season appears to have been a fluke.
Is Kendal Yancy going to transfer out of Texas? His minutes have ticked up some lately, but that is a pretty serious decline in playing time. Most players won’t accept that.