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March 21, 2006

Tracking the talent

What part of the country produces the most college basketball talent? Is it the Big Apple? Philly? Down South? California? North Dakota? It is a question that college basketball recruiting addicts ask all the time.

Between the classes of 2003 and 2006, Rivals.com has ranked 600 players in four editions of the Rivals150. We tallied the numbers and found some interesting trends in the hoops recruiting landscape.

Players that attended one year of prep school outside their native state were not counted for the state in which the prep school was located.

For example, Paul Harris is from Niagara Falls, N.Y. but played at Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts this season. Harris will be counted amongst the New York prospects. A player like Gilbert Brown is from Harrisburg, Pa., but spent two years at South Kent Prep in Connecticut. Hayward was counted amongst the Connecticut prospects.

Fertile ground

Geographically, California and Texas are the two biggest states in the continental 48. So it comes as no surprise that the two states also produced the most talent in the last four years.

Texas leads the way with 59 prospects that were ranked in the top 150 while California checks in with 56 during that same span. The difference from there, though, is interesting.

State breakdown of all ranked players (2003-06)
59 Texas
56 California
41 New York
31 Georgia
30 Illinois
28 Florida, North Carolina
27 Michigan
23 New Jersey, Tennessee
21 Maryland
19 Virginia
18 Alabama
17 Washington, Pennsylvania
15 Ohio
14 Indiana
11 Massachusetts, Mississippi, Louisiana
7 South Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin
6 Minnesota, Nevada
5 Missouri, Connecticut
4 Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Oregon
3 Colorado, Kentucky
2 Hawaii, Utah
1 Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, Rhode Island, South Dakota
0 Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, Wyoming
Out of the U.S. Ontario 3, Australia 1, Quebec - 1
New York (41), Georgia (31) and Illinois (30) round out the top five of the most talent- rich states in the country. Florida and North Carolina both checked in with 28 players each while Michigan tallied 27 prospects in the top 150 over the last four years. New Jersey and Tennessee both had 23 and Maryland has 21.

115 combined players in the top 150 over the last four years (600 total players) hail from Texas and California. The two states have more prospects in its borders over the last four years than a combined 33 states.

Where does the talent go?

Interestingly enough, the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament combine for just one player from either California or Texas. UConn point guard Marcus Williams hails from California.

Maryland has three players representing its state in UConn's Josh Boone and Rudy Gay and Memphis forward Joey Dorsey. New York also has three players represented. UConn's Hilton Armstrong, Duke's Greg Paulus and Villanova's Allan Ray all hail from New York.

The numbers remained consistent with the overall top 150 rankings in regards to the five-star prospects, the best of the best prospects according to Rivals.com. The five-star prospects consist of the nation's top 25 or 30 players in the country.

Texas produced the most talent in this poll at a dozen. California is close behind the Lone Star State with 11 five-star players.

New York and Georgia were third and fourth in the overall poll and together the states check in with seven five-star players each. New Jersey is the only school to buck the trend, ranking ninth overall in the total prospects produced but fifth overall with seven five-star players.

Alabama is getting it's bang for it's buck. Six of the 18 players from the state that cracked into the Rivals150 were listed as five-star prospects.

Fun with numbers

Eight states check in with zero prospects. Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming are still waiting for the nationally recognized prep star.

West Virginia not making the list is interesting considering the success the Mountaineers have had in the last couple of years.

Where the five-star prospects come from
12 Texas
11 California
7 New Jersey, New York, Georgia
6 Alabama
5 Maryland, Michigan, Tennessee
4 Florida, Mississippi, Washington
3 Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania
2 Missouri, Oklahoma, Virginia
1 Alaska, Arkansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota, Wisconsin
Kentucky and Kansas, two of the most storied college basketball programs in the nation, aren't producing players like they used to. Of course, the brand of basketball that both UK and KU played in the 50s and 60s is different than today's high-flying, up-tempo style. Nevertheless, the two states have combined for four players in the last four years in the top 150 rankings.

North Carolina has produced 28 players that have graced the Rivals150 since over the last four years. Of those 28 players, two have signed with North Carolina and NC State. Duke did not sign a home state player in that span. Wake Forest leads the way with six in-state Rivals150 players in the last four years.

As good as Texas and California are at producing talent, it has been 11 years since a school from one of those states won the National Championship. UCLA took home the title in 1995.

Two countries were accounted for in the Rivals150. A number of players from non-American countries were in the Rivals150 but they were accounted for by the state in which their school was located.

Australia was counted for in 2005 with Ben Allen, who is now at Indiana. Ontario was counted for twice (Theo Davis in 2005 before his prep year at Philly Lutheran and Ryan Wright, who is now at UCLA). Quebec South Dakota and Alaska only produced one player in the Rivals150 in the last four years but the prospects from those respective states certainly made their presence known on the rankings list.

Joe Krabbenhoft, South Dakota's lone Rivals150 member, finished his injury-riddle high school career at No. 23 in the 2005 rankings.

Alaska returned to national prominence in the last four years with Mario Chalmers. Not since Duke's Carlos Boozer and Trajan Langdon has there been a nationally ranked prospect from the Last Frontier. Chalmers, who was ranked 12 in the 2005 rankings, is the only player to be ranked from Alaska since then.



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