Monday, April 2, 2012

Kentucky - Kansas: Despite Deep Tradition Wildcats, Jayhawks Rely Heavily On Out of State Players

Kentucky and Kansas square off tonight in a matchup of college basketball royalty for the NCAA Championship. The Wildcats and Jayhawks are definitely in the top five programs of all time along with UNC, Duke, and UCLA.

But despite a rich history of basketball, both teams recruit heavily out of state and even out of the geographic area. The two Kentucky players pictured on the right hail from Chicago, IL (374 miles from Lexington, KY) and Somerdale, NJ (643 miles).

Some numbers on the lack of home-grown talent for these two squads:

2 = Number of Kansans on the Jayhawks roster according to
4 = Number of Californians on the Jayhawks roster
16 = Total roster size for Kansas

6.9 = Average points per game contributed by natives of Kansas
73.9 = Average points per game by entire Jayhawks team this season

4 = Number of Kentuckians on the Wildcats roster
15 = Total roster size for Kentucky

10.2 = Average points per game contributed by natives of Kentucky to the Wildcats per game (10.1 belongs to Darius Miller)
77.6 = Average points per game by entire Wildcat team this season

Basketball prospects have always been much more transient than football players in where they go to school. Both Kansas and Kentucky need these players to travel hundreds of miles from home many time to attend school. Closeness to home is an often mentioned reason why a football prospect will choose a school, but it does not seem nearly as important in basketball.

I know Kentucky and Kansas do not produce loads of basketball talent, but considering the abundance of talent in areas like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles we don't see schools in those areas doing very well which tells me top prospects in those areas left home previously and likely still want to leave home until things are turned around.

I could never imagine not having a national title contender from the Southeast, Texas, or California in college football in the next 20 years. I can see an Ohio State vs Oregon title game, but you better believe an SEC team or USC or Texas will be in the mix up until the very end.

What are your theories as to why basketball prospects are more willing to travel away from home for school?

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