It’s difficult to quantify which are the elite programs -- and coaches -- at developing talent. It can be taking a mid-major recruit and turning him into a lottery selection. It can be taking a junior college player no one wanted and helping him become the Big East Player of the Year. It can be taking a so-called “football program” and using a flurry of under-recruited players to take the basketball program to a higher level, or it can just be taking a bunch of guys few wanted to the NCAA tournament each and every year.
There’s no simple way to measure the best programs at evaluating and developing talent, but here are 10 that have stood out lately.
Look at what Buzz Williams has done since he took over for Tom Crean. It started with Lazar Hayward, continued with Jimmy Butler and included Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom. None of those guys were highly regarded coming out of high school, or even junior college, and three of them are now earning NBA paychecks. Hayward and Butler, who was ranked as the 82nd overall player in Texas by one recruiting service, were both selected late in the first round while Crowder was taken 34th overall.
Davante Gardner may not wind up playing in the NBA, but look at the progress the rotund big man has made at Marquette -- and he’ll be in the equation to play in the league once he graduates. Few have taken nonprototypical players and done more with them -- both individually and with team success -- than Williams.