Hoop Vision Weekly: 5/24/19

Transfer Oddities + NBA/CBB Fusion + Spring Reading (#TransferSZN Part 4)

Note: This was originally sent to Hoop Vision Weekly subscribers on May 24th, 2019.

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What Offseason?

Welcome back to the Hoop Vision Weekly!

Inside this week's edition:

As we finish up our series on Transfers in Division I basketball, a look at the programs/coaches that held a core together after a coaching change, players who followed their coaches to a new school, plus a few oddities that stuck out among thousands of rows of data.

Also, a roundup of some recent videos at the nexus of NBA and college hoops, along with some Spring Viewing/Listening, and a look back at some of the longer Hoop Vision video productions that you may have missed during the season.

Here we go...

TRANSFERS: The Final Chapter

This is our final week looking deeply into recent transfer data; another thanks to Nathan LeClair of VerbalCommits.com for his terrific work creating and updating the VC Transfer Database.

Past issues in this series:

(Next week, look out for a bonus section with quotes and insider perspective from coaches who recruit transfers; what goes into the evaluation process, and more transfers thoughts from D1 coaches)

Follow The Leader 

(or is it "Follow The Leaver?")

Anecdotally, when a coach leaves for a new job -- usually to a higher-status job -- we see a recruit or two ask for a release from his NLI, schedule an official visit to the coach's new school, and often commit. And while there's certainly a quantitative study to perform there, we'll leave it as an anecdote for now.

But in this newsletter, we're focusing on transfers. As such, when we look at the college level -- with players who already have a year or two (or four) of D1 experience -- do we see any of the same? Are up-and-coming coaches who step into bigger jobs able to bring star players along with them from their previous school? Do players have that much loyalty to a coach, or vice versa, does the coach believe enough in his star player to bring them into a program where expectations and talent standards are likely a bit higher?

The short answer - no.
The longer answer - well, also no. 

These "follow the coach" transfers account for less than 1-percent of transfers annually, albeit with some interesting standout cases.

Here's the breakdown of how many players have followed coaches to the new school since 2012:

A few notes from the chart above:

  • The most successful coach at bringing players to his new school? From 2012 to last season, no single coach had been able to bring more than two players along to his new job, but this year, Mark Pope has already brought three transfers along from Utah Valley to BYU.

  • In 2016, Brad Underwood went from being the head coach at Stephen F. Austin to Oklahoma State; a reserve guard named Tyler Underwood went from a medical redshirt year at SFA to a season at OKState. A year later, Brad Underwood then went from OK State to Illinois. Coincidentally, so did Tyler Underwood. We can't quite figure out what led this reserve guard to follow a coach who gave him such little playing time...

  • The most curious transfer case we've found: when Bradley hired Brian Wardle from Green Bay in spring 2015, leading scorer Warren Jones transferred from Green Bay to Bradley a few months later, in August. We won’t go too deep into one specific transfer and its circumstances, but after poring over thousands of rows of data, this one was a standout.

Damage Control

In past weeks, we've explained that it's rare for ANY program to go a year without losing a player to transfer; it's especially rare for a program to do so after a coaching change. Regardless, we see a few programs/coaches each year who navigate their way through the tumult of a coaching change and keep their core intact.

Lots going on in this table, but here's a look at the programs which were able to avoid the transfer bug after a coaching change, including a breakdown of the causes behind the changes:

A few notes and observations from this data:

  • As you see above, Butler and UConn twice went through coaching changes during this era and made the transition without losing a single transfer;

    • Butler has kept the job “in the family” both times, neither of the changes were firings, and the Bulldogs' regional recruiting ties and program tradition certainly must help in retaining very talented players.

    • UConn kept it in the family the first time around when promoting Kevin Ollie to take over for Jim Calhoun, but the second time around, Dan Hurley kept the Huskies' underclassmen in Storrs in Year 1 (and has done so again thus far heading into Year 2).

  • Mark Pope (now BYU, previously Utah Valley) is the only coach who has a presence in both of today's tables; no players transferred out when he took over the head job at Utah Valley in 2015, and this year as he takes over BYU's head job, three UVU players have followed him to Provo.

  • Ivy League coaching changes have been infrequent in recent years, but the academic allure of the school is a big reason why players stick around through coaching changes; see Northwestern and Stanford on the list above, as well.

  • After UMBC let go of Aki Thomas and his coaching staff made up of program alumni in 2016, Ryan Odom took over that job without losing a transfer, and that young, talented core (plus the eventual addition of transfer KJ Maura) ended up defeating Virginia in 2018's historic 16-over-1 upset.

  • The promotion of assistant coaches is rare across the board -- and transfers aside, the data show us that these promotions usually only happen after a retirement -- but every year since 2012, one newly promoted assistant has been able to keep the band together; in 2013, two did it.

  • While we predict it won't stay this high, the current number of programs with new leadership that have not seen a transfer leave is at eight, a high since 2012. Some NBA Draft decisions and summer transfers will inevitably change that figure, but that’s where we stand now.

(Or viewing...or listening)

During this down time of year for college hoops, we've been paying a bit more attention to the NBA Playoffs, including a few new YouTube videos which you may have missed.

First off -- one at the nexus of NBA and NCAA that has gotten some good feedback: this video from last month comparing Donovan Mitchell's game at Louisville with his NBA game: 

More viewing/listening for the holiday weekend:

Hoops - Tactical (Viewing)
Hoop Vision: How the Nuggets Use Dribble Handoffs with Nikola Jokic
(YouTube; 8 mins)

Hoops - Tactical (Viewing)
Hoop Vision PLAYLIST: X's and O's Deep Dives
(YouTube; 7 videos)

Hoops + Non-Hoops (Listening)
Michael Lewis (author of MoneyballThe Blind SideThe Big Short) put together a terrific podcast series on "referees" in society and what happens as rules and frameworks erode. The first episode, called "Ref, You Suck", is all about NBA referees; how they train and get evaluated, potential biases in officiating, and why the NBA's biggest stars seem to butt heads constantly with these officials.

Non-Hoops / Provoking Curiosity
A dive into the data around track and field world records from Twitter user Charlie Marquadt (@cmarqq) shows how often world records have been broken since 1968; the one figure that truly stands out: the world long jump record has only been broken ONCE, while the world records for three other events have been broken nearly five thousand (!) times.

Obviously it's not basketball, but this got us thinking about records and benchmarks in college hoops; which records and features of the game are more or less untouchable, and which portions of the game have only accelerated in recent years? And what effect have those changes had on the on-court product we see every night?

(image links to original tweet)


What did you think about the series on transfers?

One goal of launching this newsletter is to gather feedback from you. We’ll hope to engage this community in the occasional poll, contest, or something else along those lines.

If you have any feedback on what you’d like to see from this, any general thoughts on the Twitter/YouTube/Podcast coverage...or anything really, please fill out THIS FORM.