Skip to content

Nation’s top coaches at player development may surprise you

Feb 24, 2012, 1:10 PM EST

markfox Getty Images

See that guy? That’s Mark Fox.

He’s in the middle of a rebuilding project in Athens, which helps explain why the Bulldogs are trying to avoid a sub-.500 record in his third season there. Sure, they went to the NCAA tournament last season, but that was with a roster of juniors and seniors, two of whom bolted for the NBA. It’s not quite what he had when he was at Nevada with five straight 20-win seasons and three NCAA tourney berths.

But it might be sometime soon. Because Fox might be the best coach in the nation at developing players.

That’s according to this impressive study done by Dan Hanner over at RealGM.com, which compiles recruiting data, player production in college and some other factors to determine the best coaches at attracting and developing talent. (Hanner’s methodology is addressed here.) Kentucky’s John Calipari’s comes in at No. 1 overall and Ohio State’s Thad Matta at No. 2. But let’s get back to the development aspect.

Fox ranks 47th in recruiting, but No. 1 at development. That’s impressive and a little unexpected. His last two Nevada teams didn’t match his first three by any stretch, but perhaps that’s because of some recruiting misses. If he manages to keep guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at Georgia for more than a few years, the Dawgs may have a player of the year.

There may be anm inherent bias toward some system – as Mike DeCourcy notes, some freshmen don’t always get a chance to produce – but it is fascinating to note which coaches seem to get more out of their players, probably because most of those players stay in school longer than hyped recruits.

That would include guys like Bo Ryan, Mike Mongomery and Lorenzo Romar, who as Kevin Pelton will tell you, rarely gets enough credit for his smart recruiting (Isaiah Thomas and Brandon Roy weren’t hyped guys) and for how well those guys play the longer they’re in his system.

So I wonder what Tony Wroten would be like after two or three more years of college …

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.