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Inside the Numbers: A look at basketball recruits since 2002 - and their impact on the Commodores.

Spurred on by Vanalyst's awesome FanPost documenting the mileage Coach Kevin Stallings is getting out of a group of players who were rated good - but not great - coming out of high school, I wanted to take a deeper look into Vandy's past recruiting and what they brought to the table in Nashville. While 2009-2010 features CKS's deepest pool of talent, other years have brought equal or possibly greater success with less heralded athletes. Using Rivals and ESPN's recruiting rankings, we can examine if there's any observational correlation between a solid recruiting class and NCAA success for the Commodores under Kevin Stallings.

Documented in the full post are Vanderbilt's recruiting classes from 2002 to 2009. Coach Stallings began at Vandy in 1999, so the 2002 class represents the first year that his entire squad was made up of players he recruited. Additionally, it's also the same year that Rivals and Scout began archiving their high school recruiting reports. The player ratings/rankings come from and, two of the leaders in high school basketball recruiting analysis. Data from was also regarded, but ultimately wasn't used since their archives only date back to 2008. Also included are the scholarship offers these players received in addition to their Vanderbilt offers, in order to give a better background of how sought-after these recruits were, and which teams CKS was battling with to secure their services.

A full breakdown after the jump...


Rivals Scout Offers:

Player Rank Stars Pos. Rank Stars
2009 John Jenkins 15 ***** SG #10 **** Alabama, Mississippi State

2009 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 15, Stars: 4.5, Positional Rank (Scout): 10

Class Performance: .769 win %. 20-6 (9-3 SEC), at least one NCAA Tournament appearance likely

2008 Jeffery Taylor 52 **** SF #24 *** Texas, Gonzaga

Lance Goulbourne 72 **** PF #31 **** Marquette, Michigan

Brad Tinsley 94 **** SG #18 **** Wake Forest, Arizona State

Steve Tchiengang n/a **** PF #25 **** Georgia Tech, Oklahoma

2008 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 94.5, Stars: 3.875, Positional Rank (Scout): 24.5

Class Performance: .684 win %. 39-18 (17-11 SEC), at least one NCAA Tournament appearance likely

2007 A.J. Ogilvy 41 **** n/a ** UNLV, St. Mary's

Keegan Bell* n/a *** PG #34 *** LSU, Mississippi

Festus Ezeli 145 *** n/a *** Ohio State, UCLA

Andre Walker
*** n/a *** Arizona State, Seton Hall

Darshawn McClellan n/a ** n/a ** Arizona State, St. Mary's

Charles Hinkle* n/a n/a n/a * n/a

2007 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 147, Stars: 2.5, Positional Rank (Scout): n/a (too many unranked variables)

Class Performance: .714 win %. 65-26 (27-17 SEC) One NCAA Appearance
(Round of 64), at least one more likely

2006 Jermaine Beal 87 **** SG #33 **** Oklahoma, Baylor

JeJuan Brown* 121 *** PF #28 **** West Virginia, Tulane

Ross Neltner* n/a ***  n/a ** Florida, Michigan

2006 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 123, Stars: 3.33, Positional Rank (Scout): 34 (Neltner's n/a = 40)

Class Performance: .696 win %. 87-38 (37-23 SEC)  Two NCAA Appearances
(Sweet 16, Round of 64)

2005 Derrick Byars* n/a (#10 SF) **** SF #16 **** Connecticut, Tennessee

George Drake* 94 **** n/a *** Mississippi State, Auburn

Kyle Madsen* n/a *** n/a *** USC, Cincinnati

2005 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 123, Stars: 3.33, Positional Rank (Scout): 34

Class Performance: .651 win %. 84-45 (35-29 SEC) Two NCAA Appearances
(Sweet 16, Round of 64), One NIT

2004 Shan Foster 82 *** SF #12 **** Georgetown, Kansas

DeMarre Carroll* 148 *** n/a *** n/a

Alex Gordon 135 *** n/a *** N.C. State, Minnesota

Alan Metcalfe n/a *** n/a *** n/a

Davis Nwankwo 81 *** C #23 *** Arizona, Georgia Tech

2004 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 121, Stars: 3.1, Positional Rank (Scout): 31

Class Performance: .644 win %. 85-47 (35-29 SEC)  Two NCAA Appearances
(Sweet 16, Round of 64), Two NIT

2003 Dan Cage n/a *** n/a *** St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island

2003 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): n/a (>150), Stars: 3, Positional Rank (Scout): n/a

Class Performance: .626 win %. 82-49 (33-31 SEC) Two NCAA Appearances
(Sweet 16 x2), Two NIT

2002 Julian Terrell n/a (#9 PF) **** PF #24 **** Kentucky, Ohio State

Mario Moore n/a (#18 PG) *** PG #20 **** n/a

Ted Skuchas n/a (#19 C) *** n/a **** Wake Forest, Penn State

Adam Payton*
*** n/a n/a St. Joseph's

2002 Averages: Player rank (Rivals): 21.5 (positional), Stars: 3.125, Positional Rank (Scout): 31 (n/a = 40)

Class Performance: .563 win %. 71-55 (26-38 SEC) One NCAA Appearance
(Sweet 16), Two NIT

* player transferred to (or from) Vanderbilt, and rankings represent their scouting report coming out of high school. As a result, it should be noted these players have limited impacts (two years or less) on their class's overall success.

For the sake of averaging player rank, different variables were used. For example, if in 2008 a four-star recruit were ranked 150, then a Vanderbilt player with the same number of stars was estimated to have a rank of 160. If the player's star ranking was one level below the 150th player slot, they were given an estimated rank of 175. If they were two levels below, they were assumed to have a ranking of 200. This allowed for more accurate class rank averages in instances where players were slotted in outside the Rivals 150 than a static value. For Scout's positional rankings, unranked players were given a positional value of 40 to adjust the overall weight of the class.

The rise in Kevin Stallings' recruiting and overall team performance over time is significant. As the team's recruit rankings have jumped from low 3 star recruits to high 3/low 4 star averages for a class, the team has seen a jump in production as well. Though the rise hasn't been consistent from year to year, an increase of approximately .100 points in class winning percentage can be seen in just a four season span between 2003 and 2007. While many of the Commodores' key players have been diamonds in the rough that brought big wins, the connection between higher-rated high school players and overall winning percentage appears to be legitimate.


The moral of the story here is that while impressive recruiting isn't a direct blueprint for success under Kevin Stallings - the 2002 and 2003 classes were below average but still helped form the backbone of a team with a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2004 - highly ranked recruits have a correlation to better winning percentages. It can also stand to reason that the performance of the lesser-heralded recruits may have paved the way for the signing of better recruits through raising the profile of Kevin Stallings' program through NCAA Tournament wins. At any rate, the past four years have been some of the team's most impressive on the recruiting trail, and those early signings have been reflected in the team's success on the court. How the team performs over the next two seasons will go a long way in supporting or refuting this theory.


This also bodes well for next year's recruiting class, which already includes two Rivals-150 recruits. Assuming that Jermaine Beal is the only loss heading into 2011, this team will be able to field a rotation consisting solely of players who were considered among the national elite amongst high school basketball players - with the exception of glue-guy Andre Walker. Despite the loss of the senior playmaker, this group would have a chance to build on John Jenkins's .769 winning percentage well into the future. Though recruiting isn't perfect and prospects can still be hit-or-miss, Stallings's performance chasing recruits has had a positive impact on his performance on the court at Memorial Gym.

Year Overall Win% SEC Win %
2002 0.563 0.406
2003 0.626 0.516
2004 0.644 0.547
2005 0.651 0.547
2006 0.696 0.617
2007 0.714 0.614
2008 0.684 0.607
2009 0.769 0.750




What has been Vanderbilt's best recruiting class since 2002?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    2009 - John Jenkins
    (4 votes)
  • 51%
    2008 - Jeffery Taylor, Lance Goulbourne, Brad Tinsley, Steve Tchiengang
    (38 votes)
  • 5%
    2007 - A.J. Ogilvy, Keegan Bell, Festus Ezeli, Andre Walker, Darshawn McClellan, Charles Hinkle
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    2006 - Jermaine Beal, JeJuan Brown, Ross Neltner (1st year post-transfer)
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    2005 - Derrick Byars (1st year post-transfer), George Drake, Kyle Madsen
    (0 votes)
  • 35%
    2004 - Shan Foster, Alex Gordon, DeMarre Carroll, Alan Metcalfe, Davis Nwankwo
    (26 votes)
  • 2%
    2003 - Dan Cage
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    2002 - Julian Terrell, Mario Moore, Ted Skuchas, Adam Payton
    (0 votes)
74 votes total Vote Now