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Are Elite High School Recruits Necessary To Reach The Final Four?

If that last few years have proven anything, we've learned that you do not need to have a team filled with Top 100 high school recruits to reach the Final Four. It certainly helps, but George Mason and Butler have shown you can make it to the Final Four even without those types of players. (VCU also had limited Top 100 talent, but Jamie Skeen was an RSCI Top 100 selection out of high school.) 

But having few Top 100 recruits is the exception, not the rule. Here are the 36 most recent Final Four teams and the percentage of minutes each team gave to RSCI Top 10 and Top 100 recruits: 

Year

Team

Perc.

Min.

Top100

Perc.

Min.

Top10

2008

North Carolina

96.4%

41.9%

2009

North Carolina

96.3%

51.8%

2008

Kansas

96.0%

14.5%

2004

Duke

93.9%

45.9%

2010

Duke

93.0%

18.0%

2004

Connecticut

92.5%

15.2%

2010

Michigan St.

92.2%

10.3%

2005

North Carolina

87.7%

51.4%

2011

Kentucky

85.4%

18.0%

2009

Connecticut

78.7%

0.0%

2011

Connecticut

78.7%

0.0%

2005

Michigan St.

78.6%

36.5%

2007

UCLA

72.2%

0.0%

2005

Illinois

72.1%

0.0%

2007

Ohio St.

71.2%

11.8%

2009

Michigan St.

71.0%

9.0%

2003

Kansas

69.5%

0.0%

2004

Georgia Tech

69.1%

0.0%

2008

Memphis

69.0%

14.5%

2006

UCLA

68.0%

0.0%

2003

Syracuse

65.5%

18.1%

2008

UCLA

64.9%

14.8%

2003

Texas

61.4%

0.0%

2007

Florida

57.5%

0.0%

2005

Louisville

57.0%

0.0%

2003

Marquette

53.5%

0.0%

2010

West Virginia

51.8%

0.0%

2009

Villanova

48.0%

0.0%

2006

Florida

48.0%

0.0%

2006

Louisiana St.

37.4%

17.1%

2007

Georgetown

24.2%

0.0%

2004

Oklahoma St.

19.3%

0.0%

2011

VCU

15.4%

0.0%

2010

Butler

0.0%

0.0%

2006

George Mason

0.0%

0.0%

2011

Butler

0.0%

0.0%

Out of the 36 teams, 27 gave over half their available minutes to Top 100 recruits in the year they went to the Final Four. Clearly, the path is a lot easier with elite talent.

On the other hand, not having a Top-10 recruit on the roster is fairly common. Twenty of the 36 teams did not have a Top-10 recruit on the roster. This fact was probably exacerbated by all the high school to the NBA players early in the decade.

It turns out Georgetown’s 2007 team was more of a Cinderella team than I remember. Interestingly, despite giving over 75% of its minutes to Top 100 players the last three years, Georgetown has zero NCAA tournament wins in that span. Sometimes high school talent does not correlate with NCAA success. And as I like to point out, Billy Donovan depended less on elite high school talent in 2006 and 2007 than at any point in his Gator career:

Year

Team

Perc.

Min.

Top100

Perc.

Min.

Top10

Result

2010

Florida

93.1%

16.2%

 

2011

Florida

88.2%

16.0%

 

2008

Florida

79.0%

0.0%

 

2009

Florida

78.6%

0.0%

 

2005

Florida

76.7%

13.9%

 

2003

Florida

67.3%

23.2%

 

2004

Florida

60.7%

13.7%

 

2007

Florida

57.5%

0.0%

National Title

2006

Florida

48.0%

0.0%

National Title

Indeed talent helps, but it takes a lot more than talent to make the Final Four. It takes coaching, hard work, and quite a bit of luck.

 

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