Top Recruiting Classes in MBB, Do They Bring Top Results?

Top recruiting classes bring excitement to fanbases every offseason–

They invoke a feeling of hope for those looking to turn things around and excitement for those looking for continued success. While those with top classes during the one and done era are often considered favorites heading into the upcoming season, they rarely win it all.

The college basketball season itself is rarely predictable, injuries and underperformance can easily derail a season. Beyond the regular season and conference tournaments, the NCAA Tournament becomes a crapshoot. One bad game, one tough matchup, one off game from a team’s leader can mean the end of the season.

While far from perfect, the data below shows the average team recruiting ranking of each National Champion according to 247Sports the year they won their national title. Also included are their class rankings the year before their championship, and two years before their championship.

One must remember when analyzing the data that top classes during this time period mostly include players who fall into the “one and done” category. A strong example of this is Kentucky’s number one ranked 2009 class which included John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe who were all long gone by the time Kentucky won their 2012 National Championship with their fifth ranked 2011 recruiting class.

Since the 2006-2007 season, the only team to win the national title the same year they held the nation’s top recruiting class was the 2014-15 Duke Blue Devils– a class that consisted of Jahlil Okafor (1), Tyus Jones (7), Justise Winslow (14) and Grayson Allen (25).

On average the National Champion had a 26.6 ranked recruiting class the year they won it all, a 29.9 ranked class the year prior and the 23rd ranked recruiting class two years prior. Only two teams– 2011-12 Kentucky and 2014-15 Duke have had a top five recruiting class the year they won it all.

Six of the eleven champions during the selected years had a top ten recruiting class in at least one of the three years prior to winning their national title. While a top recruiting class won’t guarantee a National Championship, it certainly doesn’t hurt.

From teams who rely on elite players ready to make a difference in their first year, to those who develop their stars over a few years, it’s obvious that top talent certainly helps any program in their pursuit of a title…just don’t expect a top recruiting class to lead to a National Championship in the same season.

** Data from 247Sports

Year 1 2 3 4 Champ (that season) Champ Recruiting Rank Champ 1 yr prior rk Champ 2 yr prior rk
2006 UNC OSU Texas UConn Florida 11 61 8
2007 UVA Florida Cuse USC Kansas 20 21 3
2008 Kentucky Georgia UCLA Memphis UNC 13 NR 1
2009 Kentucky UNC Texas Villanova Duke 20 14 11
2010 St. Joes Alabama Ohio St. Arizona UConn 63 8 7
2011 Nebraska West Virginia Gonzaga SMU Kentucky 5 32 1
2012 Kentucky UCLA Arizona Baylor Louisville 79 7 104
2013 Kentucky Kansas Memphis Indiana UConn 37 29 31
2014 Duke Kentucky Arizona UNLV Duke 1 9 41
2015 Kentucky Duke Arizona Texas A&M Villanova 29 48 36
2016 Duke Kentucky Michigan St. Florida St. UNC 15 70 10
2017 Kentucky Duke Arizona UCLA ? 26.6 29.9 23


**Data from 247Sports

E-mail Zak and or follow him on Twitter @playorbplayd.