CBS Sports' Jeff Borzello had an interesting piece today on recruiting regarding VCU, George Mason, and Butler. Clearly the common thread between these four teams are trips to the Final Four several years ago. By reading Borzello's article it seems like VCU is the clear cut winner of the recruiting rat race, but is Shaka Smart really benefiting from higher rated prospects?
You have to throw the Mason argument out the window with Jim Larranaga leaving, and Butler had a nice uptick after their second trip to the Final Four. Clearly Butler wasn't hurting before Brad Stevens left.
Shaka Smart has signed several high profile players, but what Borzello fails to point out is the retention of Shaka Smart's players. If you go down VCU's list and count prospects who could have contributed at this point in time (discounting Mo Alie-Cox and Jordan Burgess due to redshirt) VCU has seventeen prospects. Of that list of seventeen prospects eight players have bolted.
Terrance Saintil- Pikeville
Issaih Grayson- Cal State Bakersfield
Heath Houston- Micro-fracture Surgery Ended Career
Toby Veal- Paine College
DJ Haley- USC
Reco McCarter- Campbell
Teddy Okereafor- Rider
Justin Tuoyo- Chattanooga
All these players left for different reasons and on different terms. Some decisions were mutual, some were not. But if Shaka Smart is going to be propped up as a premier recruiter and coach then sooner or later his retention record has to be talked about.
Clearly VCU isn't hurting and if we go back to Borzello's point their average recruiting ranking has been bolstered over the years, but will the Rams retention rate ever come back to haunt them?
Shaka Smart has averaged two freshman on his team per year. This year the Rams will sport eight freshman. Yes, some are redshirts and yes, the Rams have veterans in Juvonte Reddic, Rob Brandenburg, Treveon Graham, Briante Weber, and Florida State transfer Terrance Shannon. You have to imagine that Smart's system is largely predicated on continuity, among other factors, so if the Rams continue down the path of only retaining nearly half of their players will they eventually run into trouble? Only time will tell.