Talent Valley Follow-Up


Robert
May 05, 2018
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8 Comments

It feels like I've been doing this all spring. I write something, someone puts something interesting in the comments, and I want to follow up on that. So this is another "Part II" post where I do just that. Here's the comment that prompted my research that prompted this post:

Draft picks aren't everything, obviously you need quality role players, depth, coaching and team chemistry. But, at least in basketball those things seem to be correlated with having a few NBA players. Almost all of of our NCAA tournament teams going back to 1981, had NBA players. Major exceptions would be Kruger in 1998 and Weber in 2009 - both very experienced teams that played above their talent.

~ Groundhogday

So, let's take a look at that. Statistics first. My range was 1981 to today, so, every Illini team since 1981, their record, their NCAA Tournament finish, and the number of NBA draft picks on the roster. And again, I'm restricting this just to the first and second round picks since there's no longer a third round (or fourth round, or fifth).

1981: 21-8 (12-6), NCAA Sweet 16, (Eddie Johnson, Derek Harper)
1982: 18-11 (10-8), no NCAA Tournament (Derek Harper, George Montgomery)
1983: 21-11 (11-7), NCAA First Round (Derek Harper, George Montgomery)
1984: 26-5 (15-3), NCAA Elite Eight (George Montgomery)
1985: 26-9 (12-6), NCAA Sweet 16 (George Montgomery, Ken Norman)
1986: 22-10 (11-7), NCAA Sweet 16 (Ken Norman)
1987: 23-8 (13-5), NCAA First Round (Ken Norman, Kendall Gill, Stephen Bardo)
1988: 23-10 (12-6), NCAA Second Round (Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill, Stephen Bardo)
1989: 31-5 (14-4), NCAA Final Four (Nick Anderson, Kenny Battle, Kendall Gill, Stephen Bardo, Marcus Liberty)
1990: 21-8 (11-7), NCAA First Round (Kendall Gill, Stephen Bardo, Marcus Liberty)
1991: 21-10 (11-7), no NCAA Tournament due to sanctions (Deon Thomas)
1992: 13-15 (7-11), no NCAA Tournament (Deon Thomas)
1993: 19-13 (11-7), NCAA Second Round (Deon Thomas)
1994: 17-11 (10-8), NCAA First Round (Deon Thomas)
1995: 19-12 (10-8), NCAA First Round (none)
1996: 18-13 (7-11), no NCAA Tournament (none)
1997: 22-10 (11-7), NCAA Second Round (none)
1998: 23-10 (13-3), NCAA Second Round (none)
1999: 14-18 (3-13), no NCAA Tournament (Robert Archibald)
2000: 22-10 (11-5), NCAA Second Round (Frank Williams, Brian Cook, Robert Archibald)
2001: 27-8 (13-3), NCAA Elite Eight (Frank Williams, Brian Cook, Robert Archibald)
2002: 26-9 (11-5), NCAA Sweet 16 (Frank Williams, Brian Cook, Robert Archibald, Luther Head)
2003: 25-7 (11-5), NCAA Second Round (Brian Cook, Dee Brown, Luther Head, Deron Williams, James Augustine)
2004: 26-7 (13-3), NCAA Sweet 16 (Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Luther Head, James Augustine)
2005: 37-2 (15-1), NCAA Title Game (Dee Brown, Deron Williams, Luther Head, James Augustine)
2006: 26-7 (11-5), NCAA Second Round (Dee Brown, James Augustine)
2007: 23-12 (9-7), NCAA First Round (none)
2008: 16-19 (5-13), no NCAA (none)
2009: 24-10 (11-7), NCAA First Round (none)
2010: 21-15 (10-8), no NCAA (none)
2011: 20-14 (9-9), NCAA Second Round (Meyers Leonard)
2012: 17-15 (6-12), no NCAA (Meyers Leonard)
2013: 23-13 (8-10), NCAA Second Round (none)
2014: 20-15 (7-11), no NCAA (none)
2015: 19-14 (9-9), no NCAA (none)
2016: 15-19 (5-13), no NCAA (none)
2017: 20-15 (8-10), no NCAA (none)
2018: 14-18 (4-14), no NCAA (none)

I kind of... don't want to write any more words? I think that this.. might tell the entire story in one list?

OK, a few words. First off, the teams with the most NBA picks were our best two teams (1989, 2005). Duh.

Second, the teams that didn't have future NBA draft picks but went to the tournament all had senior leaders - Garris and Gandy in 1997, the five senior starters in 1998, Chet and Trent in 2009, BP3/DJ/Griffey in 2013, etc etc etc.

Beyond that, this all brings me back to Groundhogday's comment:

Draft picks aren't everything, obviously you need quality role players, depth, coaching and team chemistry. But, at least in basketball those things seem to be correlated with having a few NBA players. Almost all of of our NCAA tournament teams going back to 1981, had NBA players. Major exceptions would be Kruger in 1998 and Weber in 2009 - both very experienced teams that played above their talent.

Yep. When you have talent, you win. When you don't have talent, well, you can still win, but it's much more difficult, you usually don't go very far in the Tournament, and you need a really good coach and system with lots of experienced upperclassmen.

(Is this where I note that we have one returning senior and one returning junior next year? No, you're right - that's another topic.)

Why is Francis Okoro such an important recruit? Because Okoro has a decent chance of being an NBA Draft Pick one day. As does Ayo Dosunmu. And I'd love to revisit this list some day with lots of (Ayo Dosunmu, Francis Okoro) after the tournament finish.

And then (EJ Liddell).

And then (Adam Miller).

Comments

neale stoner on May 06 @ 08:53 AM CDT

Shouldn’t one adjust this for the number of rounds in the draft? A number of the players drafted in the 80’s would not be drafted today.

illiniranger on May 06 @ 09:12 PM CDT

Without a doubt. When most of the 80s and 90s guys were drafted it was just the top 60 or so Seniors in America. Now it’s the Top 60 19+ year olds from around the world.

escot on May 06 @ 09:45 PM CDT

"...I'm restricting this just to the first and second round picks since there's no longer a third round (or fourth round, or fifth)"

OrangeBlazer on May 06 @ 02:19 PM CDT

I know your focus is on draft picks, but I would include Brandon Paul in the list. That doesn't really distract from your point, only adds to it. Even thought he wasn't a draft pick, he was clearly NBA-level talent, which also happens to be the last time we made the Tourney.

NC_OrangeKrush on May 06 @ 02:35 PM CDT

And still, seeing George Montgomery by himself is deceiving without Bruce Douglas and Efrem Winters... a personal issue for me obviously.... We had a lot of talent... man I loved the 80s... Thanks Jimmy C!

Groundhogday on May 06 @ 10:12 PM CDT

The fact that two McDonald's All-Americans (Douglas, Winters) were not drafted is sort of balanced out by Montgomery being drafted (unheralded recruit who developed into an all-league player.) Yes, that was a talented team that SHOULD have beat Kentucky for a Final Four bid.

Norcal Illini on May 07 @ 07:09 PM CDT

Winters was only a sophomore the year they lost to Kentucky in the regional final. Ironically, if he had put himself in the draft that year, he would have gone higher than he did as a senior. His stock went down in large part because the team didn't do as well and he didn't seem to improve very much, if at all. Anthony Welch and even Scott Meents were drafted higher than Winters.

Groundhogday on May 08 @ 01:26 AM CDT

To put it bluntly, Winters got fat. Wasn't in as good a shape as an upperclassman and didn't develop his game at all. But he was also limited by short arms and the lack of a perimeter game beyond a mid-range jumper.

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