Thursday, January 31, 2013

Darrun Hilliard and Recruiting Rankings


This is the time of the year when everyone gets sucked into college football's biggest offseason event: national signing day. ESPNU devotes voyeuristic wall-to-wall coverage to it, and we hear about how Lane Kiffin is going to win a National Championship with his excellent recruiting class. The problem is that these player ranking determinations are often made in the summer after the junior season or before, and are often based heavily on projections. Anyone who is not a moron knows that unscientific projections have a tendency to be wrong way more often than they are right. There is also the matter of differing opinions between different scouting service. Some players are three star recruits on one service, and may not even by in another service's database, Matt Szczur for example. Dominic Cheek's "intergalactic" shooting range is just one of many examples of these things being woefully wrong.

A perfect case study of a player being largely ignored by the recruiting gurus is Darrun Hilliard, who has at times been the best player on Villanova's team this season. Hilliard's career was solid, but not not spectacular before a senior season where he scored 573 points and led his team deep into the state playoffs. A player who is scoring 20 point per game in 32 minute games will get noticed by the "experts", right? Wrong. Darrun Hilliard was at best a three star recruit, and ESPN, the most bullish of Hilliard of the notable scouting services said that he was the eighth best player in the state of Pennsylvania, and exactly zero of those players have been demonstrably better than him, and a couple have transferred to lesser programs.

So before freaking out about how Villanova had a terrible 2013 recruiting class, just remember that Dante Cunningham was a three star recruit, and Dominic Cheek was a McDonald's All-American.

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