How has the recruiting class of the last few national champions affected their success? -Conor from Maryland
This is a very interesting question, lets start with the defending National Champions, the Duke Blue Devils. Last year, Duke won the National Championship because of “The Big Three” and Brian Zoubek. The only freshman that had much impact at all on the Blue Devils’ success was Andre Dawkins, who played less than 13 minutes a game and scored less than five points per game. The other freshman for Duke was Ryan Kelly who averaged around 4-5 minutes a game so it’s clear that their recruiting class didn’t have much impact.
If you look back to North Carolina in 08-09 and Kansas in 07-08 it’s more of the same story. The Tar Heels had only one freshman who averaged double-digit minutes (Ed Davis) when they won and the Jayhawks didn’t have any. However, this question brings up an important point about college basketball, that it’s very difficult to win a National Championship with a freshman-led team (i.e. Kentucky last year) and that you win with upper-classmen led teams. Duke was led by two seniors and two juniors, North Carolina was led by three upperclassman, and Kansas was led by two upperclassman. The bottom-line is that a team full of one-and-done players like Kentucky last year probably won’t win a national championship and you need some senior (or junior) leadership.
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