Picking the Best School

Members of the Butler Bulldogs express their dejection after losing the men’s final NCAA Final Four college basketball championship game to the University of Connecticutin Houston, Texas, April 4, 2011. REUTERS/Richard Carson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

High school basketball players all know the names of the top schools in the country, right? Well, they might know the recognizable names but be making their college choices on name, not the actual strength of the basketball program. The News-Sentinel discusses how players constantly make choices based on name alone, when perhaps better programs have offered them:

As the AAU basketball season culminated Sunday, what transpires next in the world of college recruiting is the actual decision-making process by players. That process began Sunday when Hamilton Southeastern High School junior Zak Irvin announced he would attend Michigan. The choice of the Wolverines is interesting because Michigan beat out two-time national runner-up Butler for Irvin’s services. The choice was interesting, but not surprising, because Irvin is far from alone in this matter.

For people who follow high school basketball recruiting, this is a common occurrence. Players may choose a school based on one season, or because of name recognition, or because a “close family friend” wants them to attend a specific school. This also has led to many talented players riding the bench of their “dream school” instead of getting playing time at another school.

Players and fans think that a lesser known school such as Butler has only had a “couple of good years”, when in reality, it’s been a couple of good decades:

In the last 21 years, the Bulldogs have had just two losing seasons and averaged 22 wins annually. In the past 15 years, Butler has qualified for 10 NCAA tournaments and advanced to the second round of the tournament twice, the Sweet 16 twice and the national title game each of the past two years.

This also means that many players get advice from people who aren’t any more informed than the players themselves. This is not so much about Butler specifically, but what a school like Butler represents: good basketball programs aren’t just at the known colleges.

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