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Henry On ACC Talent And The NBA Draft

Since data about year
by year NBA rosters for rookies is very difficult to come by for me
and to standardize, I have instead discussed ACC representation in
annual NBA Drafts.

I hadn't previously looked at the phenomenon of a very weak ACC in
the 2000 draft. But when I did, the comparative historical numbers
were astonishing. I believe it was Barry Jacobs who first noticed
last season that the ACC was having its worst non-conference W-L
record in over 25 years. The league ended the season making the
worst mark since 1969. I forgot if I wrote a piece on that or not.
But this stat shows another historical low for the ACC.

Anyway, the 2000 NBA Draft had the worst ACC representation since
1975. I am measuring this in two different ways: 1. Number of
players taken in the first round. 2. Number of players taken in both
rounds. (I have excluded the later rounds that existed until I
believe 1988). Here are the year by year stats:

ACC in the NBA Draft

Year # of 1st rounders # in both rounds
2000 1 2
1999 6 8
1998 4 6
1997 2 5
1996 2 4
1995 8 10
1994 5 6
1993 6 10
1992 6 9
1991 5 8
1990 5 8
1989 3 4
1988 1 3
1987 5 7
1986 6 9
1985 1 4
1984 2 6
1983 2 3
1982 2 4
1981 6 7
1980 3 5
1979 2 2
1978 2 2
1977 6 7
1976 3 4
1975 1 1
1974 4 4
1973 1 2
1972 1 2
1971 1 1
Includes only early entrants from NCAA Div. I schools and does not
count Juco, high school, nor foreign players.

This is quite telling. The early 90's strength of the ACC is clear.
On the other hand, since 1975, only 1985, 1988, and 2000 have seen
just one ACC first rounder. The last time that the league had a
paltry two picks in the first two rounds was during the Carter
administration, 1979. The last time the ACC clearly did worse than
2000 was 1975. There are many other variables of course. The
overall popularity of the sport, NBA salaries and expansion, and the
increased rush to the NBA. The last issue is most prominent so I
will look at that next.

Early Entrant Draft Picks
Year ACC All NCAA'
2000 0 17
1999 5 11
1998 2 15
1997 0 15
1996 2 15
1995 4 11
1994 1 12
1993 1 7
1992 0 3
1991 1 6
1990 1 6

As you can see, the phenomenon did explode in the mid 1990's. But as
I discovered writing this piece, this certainly doesn't seem to be
the end of the world. The larger phenomenon of early departure of
course does include the jucos, HS players, and the declared undrafted
whom I have excluded. These players all could have enriched the
college game but did not. I have not included that here because this
article isn't an analysis of early departure per se.

There is scant evidence here that the ACC, like the rest of the NCAA,
has lost more to the pros since the early 90's. The number of ACC
early entrant draftees during the first half of the decade is seven,
in the latter half, nine. The nine includes the big bulge in 1999
when Duke suffered three losses. You can pretty much assume that
Coach K will prevent such an event from ever happening again and
consider that a statistical anomaly. Seen as a percentage, in 1991-
95, 7 of 37 drafted underclassmen were from the ACC, 18.9%. In 1996-
2000, 9 of 73 were ACC players, only 12.3%. The problem is mostly
increasing elsewhere.

And even if early departures did increase, that should not alter the
total number of ACC draft picks. After all, early departures only
causes a statistical timing issue. If player A was good enough to be
drafted after his sophomore year, then he will most likely to be also
drafted after his senior year. Of course there are the cases,
the "James Forrest exceptions", where a potential draft pick
underclassman has his market value decreased and consequently goes
undrafted in subsequent years. But for every one of those, there are
more than enough cases of Roshown McCleods who play themselves into
the draft rounds.

In sum, 2000 was a horrendous year for the ACC in terms of the NBA
draft. This cannot be blamed on the early rush to the pros but
rather on the decreasing quality of players in the ACC. This is just
one of a myriad of statistical evidence that shows the ACC has
suffered a clear decline since its heyday in the early 90's when it
was a 500 pound gorilla of college basketball.


(much of the stats courtesy of the Charlie Board site)