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Temple Addition of Boston University's Jake O'Brien Fills Gap, Adds Depth

What can Temple coach Fran Dunphy reasonably expect to get from Boston University transfer Jake O'Brien? We look at several possible projections.
What can Temple coach Fran Dunphy reasonably expect to get from Boston University transfer Jake O'Brien? We look at several possible projections.

Boston University's Jake O'Brien is no longer part of Boston University. Because the Terriers are moving to the Patriot League next season, they are ineligible for the America East conference tournament, and O'Brien was free to transfer without having to sit out a season.

The senior is now at Temple, home of former BU assistant Dwayne Killings.

How does he fit in the mix? Even though Temple is not a mid-major, we wanted to look at what someone could reasonably expect from O'Brien based on some rough projections that we started to formulate while talking about Creighton's Doug McDermott. This is a big step up in class for the senior, and he will be an interesting case study for future up-transfers of this nature.

According to the CBS story, O'Brien was a candidate for America East Player of the Year, if he were healthy this coming season.

That is a pretty tall order for the senior forward given his performance so far for the Terriers. You can look at scoring numbers, and contributions, but at Mid-Major Madness, we look at HOOPWAR.

Here are O'Brien's value numbers per 30 games from his freshman to junior seasons:

Year Games HW/30
Fresh. 30 -0.572
Soph. 35 1.983
Jun. 14 2.611

Those aren't numbers that right off the bat scream player of the year candidate in his final season.

Using modest estimates based on the average player's growth from his junior to senior year, O'Brien would be in line for a HOOPWAR/30 of 3.398 this coming season.

That number isn't a player of the year. That is more the mark of a strong contributor on a good mid-major team (a second option). For a team in a major conference, that is more like what would be expected from the third or fourth player in the starting lineup -- and that is with an average team. On a good team, he might be equivalent to a 6th man.

But what if O'Brien is not just a player with average growth potential. After all, he lost half of his junior season to injury and then sat out all of last year. Plus his growth from freshman to sophomore year was stronger than that of an average player, as was his growth from his sophomore to his stunted junior year. What if the injury kept him from fully realizing what his true value was to the Terriers as a junior?

Going off of just O'Brien's growth numbers with the same ratios as an average player displayed, it is possible that O'Brien could finish anywhere between a 3.86 HW/30 and a 5.57 HW/30. That is an improvement, but still not where you would imagine the best player in the league to score. The America East isn't the Missouri Valley, or the WCC, but the best player in both of those conferences had HW/30 scores last season of almost a win more than the best projections.

Moving to the tougher Atlantic 10, you would imagine that his projections would come in on the lower side, say closer to a 4.0 (He will still improve, just not as highly as he might have in the America East ). That is still a nice addition for the Owls, even if it doesn't add up to the exaggerated POY hype.

They already have a 5-win player returning in Khalif Wyatt, and O'Brien could easily replace the minutes played by the departed Michael Eric, and add slightly more offense. O'Brien's defense is not quite up to the level of Eric (a DEF100 of 10.18 versus Eric's 22), but still strong. It would make O'Brien somewhere between the second or third best player on Temple, with the wildcards being the growth of Anthony Lee and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson.

Temple got better by adding O'Brien, that much is certain. The bigger question will be how much better and it appears somewhere between adding a second option, with the high side being the addition of an all-conference candidate (probably second team).

That sets up the Owls to at least come close to last season's 24-8 record, and puts them on the path to another NCAA Tournament appearance.