We’d prefer not to be overly critical of a young athlete, but it comes with the territory in sports where they build a resume in the public eye. Several media platforms and many conferences’ preseason teams are elevating players in their preseason awards and rankings. It’s important to remember that these players didn’t put themselves in this position, but it’s also worth offering some perspective on why others might be more deserving.
Is it feasible for a player with low efficiency to suddenly elevate to an All-American level? Yes, it’s possible. Tyler Kolek‘s recent story is a prime example, although no one was predicting that. Many anticipated Marquette to be near the bottom of the Big East last season. This kind of ascent is an exception rather than the norm. In most cases, signs are evident through statistics, as demonstrated by players like Zach Edey. Despite only playing 19 minutes per game, it was clear that he could produce remarkable numbers if given the opportunity. Selecting Kolek as an All-American last year would have been a hail mary and lacked the evidence seen in most cases and often results in a speculative pick that doesn’t materialize.
For the most part, the preseason rankings and all-conference selections are mostly fine, but there are a few that we’d question, beginning with Duke.
Tyrese Proctor: Duke
Tyrese Proctor is being touted for All-American preseason status by various media outlets. He garnered a vote for ACC preseason Player of the Year from the ACC coaches and even attained a ranking as high as 4th in the nation according to one list we’ve reviewed. Adding context, he ranked at 342nd in our adjusted efficiency statistical model, among returning players based on last year stats. Frankly, he was among Duke’s less effective players last season, holding only a +6 net rating.
What makes those stats exceptional? Is there no recognition of metrics like true shooting or an understanding of the subpar performance? Duke, as a program, is still regarded as if Coach K is leading from the sidelines. In reality, they have a second-year coach who hasn’t yet demonstrated an ability to develop players at this point.
If this were Dariq Whitehead returning, someone who had a similar season last year, perhaps it would make a bit more sense. After all, Whitehead contended with injuries, and he was ranked #1 on the Recruiting Services Consensus Index upon graduating from high school. He was still considered an elite NBA draft prospect and was drafted 22nd in a robust draft. In that case, you could at least make a reasonable argument. Proctor was ranked 97th in the RSCI consensus and wasn’t even included on most draft boards in a weaker draft. Proctor, at 19.6 years old, isn’t exceptionally young either. He may have reclassified but it wasn’t like he entered Duke at 17 years old.
Tyrese Hunter: Texas
Last season, Tyrese Hunter was this year’s Tyrese Proctor, a player whom many across the nation considered to possess All-American potential, landing on the Wooden and Naismith preseason award lists. We similarly challenged this notion last year, finding it quite absurd. While there’s been less talk of All-American Player of the Year accolades this year from most, Hunter is still being placed within the top 40 players nationally in some rankings and named on the All-Big 12 preseason team.
In reality, Hunter has played for two seasons and has yet to post a positive Net rating. His net rating last year was -0.8, an unusual feat on a team ranked in the top 15 nationally. To say the team losing in the minutes you play is hard to do on a team like that would be an understatement. He was the weak link. For two seasons now, we’ve failed to comprehend the hype surrounding him. After the letdown of the last year you would expect more reality to set in.
In contrast to Proctor, who possesses genuine size at least, Hunter is essentially a 6-0 shooting guard who can’t shoot. We have two years’ worth of data indicating on Hunter and it shows he’s a player with a negative net rating, shooting under 50% true shooting. It’s becoming more apparent who he is and unlikely he makes the massive ascent it would take to truly garner these accolades some put on him.
Jeremy Roach: Duke
The story remains mostly the same here, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. Jeremy Roach posted decent enough counting stats—13.6 PPG, 3.1 APG, and 2.5 RPG. However, there is nothing in his advanced stats that would suggest he’s even among the top 100 players, yet multiple media outlets list him inside the top 25 players in the nation as well and believe he has All American potential.
If there is a genuine belief that Roach and Proctor rank among the top 25 players with All-American potential, it’s no surprise that Duke is ranked as high as #1 or #2 in the preseason. However, labeling this duo as one of the top 2 or 3 backcourt tandems in the nation it’s a massive reach. Instead, we view it more as a question mark of the elite teams, rather than an elite pairing.
Kerr Kriisa: West Virginia
Kerr Kriisa is another player who’s made his way into top 100 rankings, yet while being a part of a top 10 team, he barely held a positive net rating (+0.6). This doesn’t align with his placement as one of the 50 to 75 best players in the nation, as some lists would rank him. The statistical data doesn’t suggest anything that’s even considered well above average. Arizona’s success wasn’t driven by him, but despite his performance.
Davonte Davis: Arkansas
Davonte Davis , despite having a negative net rating (-0.4), has still managed to secure a spot on multiple lists that recognize the best players in the nation.
N’Faly Dante: Oregon
N’Faly Dante is barely included in some of these top 100 lists, if at all. He is ranked 3rd in the nation in our adjusted efficiency model. Beyond statistical analysis, one can easily recognize the dominance of a big man like Dante. It’s absurd that he is scarcely featured on these top 100 lists, given his exceptional abilities. On what grounds would coaches prefer to start a college team with Tyrese Proctor or Tyrese Hunter over N’Faly Dante? He had a +22.3 net rating. 13.4ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.4bpg on a .62% true shooting. He was 1st team all Pac 12 yet barely on some of these top 100 list.
Kalib Boone: UNLV
This is another puzzling situation. Kalib Boone was named All Big 12 last year 3rd team. The Big 12 was the highest-ranked conference in the nation according to the NET last year and even those voting who do not necessarily focus on analytics considered him a top 15 player. Surprisingly, he is not even making his way onto the top 100 rankings in various lists. He ranks 9th in our adjusted efficiency model of returning players and powering a +20.3 net rating.
The biggest issue, I suppose, was that he shared center minutes with Moussa Cisse, who is also quite talented, although Boone started 30 of 36 games and was facing more starters. Donovan Clingan was in a similar situation with Adama Sanogo and played far less (21 minutes vs 13 minutes), yet many have Clingan ranked in the top 10. I anticipate minutes won’t be a problem at UNLV and we should expect a standout season from Boone, leading to more awards than the All Big 12 honors he has already earned.
|2019-20||Oklahoma State||Big 12||31||22.3||.589||.549||1.6||.178||5.1|
|2020-21||Oklahoma State||Big 12||30||23.6||.650||.642||2.7||.178||7.1|
|2021-22||Oklahoma State||Big 12||26||25.6||.596||.567||1.2||.173||7.4|
|2022-23||Oklahoma State||Big 12||36||24.9||.623||.588||3.7||.194||9.1|
Cam Spencer: UConn
Cam Spencer was left off these lists entirely as well even after averaging 13.2ppg, 3.8rpg, 3.1apg, 2.0spg and shooting 43.4% from three on high volume 2.1 makes a game. Powering a .592% true shooting and 21.4 PER and a +29.1 net rating for a top 40 team in the Big Ten. That’s not a top 100 player?
Others we’ve seen omitted from the rankings that are deserving
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