A few days ago we made a trip to Cali to analyze its recruiting trends. As the introduction to that article, which was the first part of this ongoing series, I talked about Cassius Stanley’s decision of leaving California to play ball at Duke during what is supposed to be his one-year collegiate career.
Today, moving from the west coast to just north of the Mexican border, we arrive in Texas. And the same way I did with California, I must asses the situation of the last super-recruit to come out of the Lone Star State. This would be RJ Hampton, who has honed his skills playing at Little Elm and finds himself as the No. 6 recruit of the 2019 class after reclassifying from the 2020 class, as always per 247Sports Composite rankings. After him, “true-2019-classman” Tyrese Maxey would be the highest ranked one at No. 10. Oh, and as Quentin Grimes (No. 10 in 2018) did last year also as the best prospect from Texas, he will leave his home state. In Maxey’s case, he will go play for Calipari at Kentucky. Blue-bloods doing blue-bloods things, I guess.
Same as I did the last time, let’s take a closer look at how things have worked in and around Texas during the past few seasons. For that, I took to my recruiting database and filtered the data so I only get to see prospects from Texas. For this first part, I’m only getting information about players in the Top-50 from the classes of 2015 to 2019 that played HS ball in Texas. Coincidentally, there are 23 such players, the same number as California produced in the same time span. Nine of them were 5-star recruits and 14 were 4-star recruits. Of the 23, only 9 of them went to a college based in Texas.
This is the breakdown of the colleges with players who opted to stay:
- As couldn’t be otherwise, the University of Texas has five recruits to its name, more than any other college when looking only at those getting home-talent. The flip side of the coin, though, is that of those five, the best-ranked player is Jarrett Allen (2016 No. 17), who is only the eighth-best prospect from Texas during that time span (the other seven went play away from the state).
- Texas A&M is the second school with most success retaining players in-state. They have signed three such prospects in the last 5-year period, led by the pair of DJ Hogg and Tyler Davis. Those two played HS ball at the same prep school, planned their commitments together, went to the same college ranked No. 30 and No. 31 respectively in 2015 and they have already made the NBA G League after going undrafted in 2018.
- Texas Tech made quite a move this year by getting word from Jahmius Ramsey, the No. 30 player of this year’s class and the third-best prospect from Texas in 2019. No more names they have on this list.
And that’s a wrap. Only three Texas-based colleges have been able to get top-ranked (No. 50 or better) prospects to sign scholarships with them during the past five years. A little depressing.
In order to find a different school on the list, we need to expand the field until we find another couple of names. Baylor was able to get King McClure (2015 No. 69) and TCU did the same with Kaden Archie (2018 No. 89).
Again, as with California, there are many colleges out there snatching talent from Texas. The in-state schools can’t compete with them and even when they did, the field is so little (virtually only Texas and Texas A&M are considered powerhouses) that it is hard for the state to keep its productions home.
It is time to go big. No limits to the database results fetched now, only cropping them to feature players from Texas’ high schools during the period going from 2003 to 2019. As of now, my database has 1099 kids from Texas among the total 11726 entries. That is a 9.4 percent of that 17-year-span’s recruits belonging to the Lone Star State.
The following list includes the 10-best recruits to hone their talents around Texas’ high schools from 2003 to 2019. The ones marked in bold remained in-state, committing to Texas-based colleges:
- SG | Gerald Green | 2005 No. 1 | Oklahoma State (skipped college)
- PF | Julius Randle | 2013 No. 2 | Kentucky
- PG | Emmanuel Mudiay | 2014 No. 2 | SMU (skipped college)
- PF | Isaiah Austin | 2012 No. 4 | Baylor
- PF | Ndudi Ebi | 2003 No. 3 | Arizona (skipped college)
- PG | Andrew Harrison | 2013 No. 5 | Kentucky
- PG | De’Aaron Fox | 2016 No. 6 | Kentucky
- C | Myles Turner | 2014 No. 6 | Texas
- C | Kendrick Perkins | 2003 No. 6 | Memphis (skipped college)
- SG | Aaron Harrison | 2013 No. 6 | Kentucky
Being honest, this list is as sad as it gets.
Only three players remained and one of them never made it to the college ranks, opting to play a season in China before turning pro (Emmanuel Mudiay). Another one, Isaiah Austin, played two years at Baylor after being widely considered one of the best recruits in the nation by multiple scouting services to then put his name in the 2014 NBA draft. The problem for him was that he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, which made him ineligible and kept him out of the court until 2017 when he turned pro playing in Europe.
One of the quickest thoughts this exercise fostered in my brain was that maybe players from Texas are the “bravest” or more mature—at least in some sense—out there in the nation. It’s still early in this recruiting exploration series but that is what I get from that list.
Of the ten-best players listed, two of the best three skipped college altogether to go straight to the NBA (Gerald Green) or to play overseas (Mudiay). Another two (Ndudi Ebi and Kendrick Perkins) took advantage of the prep-to-pro pipeline and although they commited to NCAA D-I schools they ultimately declared for the draft without playing at the collegiate level. Of the rest, only two played for in-state colleges, and the rest moved away from home, all of them going to Kentucky.
That last word—or better yet, college—, Kentucky has been a threat for Texas’ most talented products. The Wildcats have not poached many players from the state, only seven since 2003, but when they have done it they have gone big time. They have been able to get the best player of Texas four times (Julius Randle, De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Maxey, Jared Vanderbilt), the second-best another two (Andrew Harrison, PJ Washington) and the third-best once (Aaron Harrison). And that is where things stop for Kentucky. They haven’t functioned as a shotgun, but rather as a precision rifle, aiming only at the cream of the crop.
Of the colleges from Texas, the recruiting rankings from 2003 to 2019 go as follows for the most-successful D-I programs (considering every prospect in the database, no restrictions applied):
- Texas A&M: 38 total recruits from TX (1 five-star prospect)
- Texas: 36 (7 five-stars)
- Texas Tech: 31
- Houston: 29 (1 five-star)
- TCU: 27 (1 five-star)
- SMU: 25 (1 five-star)
- Texas State: 25
- Baylor: 23 (2 five-stars)
Considering every Texas-based college in the database, the total number of TX recruits to remain in-state goes up to 280. That is a 25% ratio of kids remaining in their home state.
While looking at the remaining 75%, which to say those leaving Texas for other states, Kentucky has already been discussed as one of the threats Texas-based school battle when talking top-tier talent. When looking at five-star recruits, Oklahoma State leads the way having poached four prospects. Duke and Kansas follow with three five-star recruits each.
Overall, Oklahoma State has snatched 22 players from Texas, followed by Army (19), and Oklahoma (18). Although OSU got word from Gerald Green, he never got to play for them, so the next-best recruit to dress in OSU’s colors was LeBryan Nash (2011 No. 8). Army’s best recruit from TX is Eric Zastoupil (2006 No. 410), and Oklahoma’s would be Willie Warren (2008 No. 11).
As a final note, it is interesting to come back to the point I made earlier regarding young Texans as “mature” kids. Looking at players without a college choice in the database, there are 47 hailing from Texas between 2003 and 2019. The best nationally ranked one is Terrance Ferguson, who never signed with a school prior to playing in Australia for a season before turning pro by being selected in the 2017 NBA draft by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And what about the prototypical player Texas produces? Well, in terms of position, here is the breakdown:
- Point Guards: 258 players (Top-3: Emmanuel Mudiay, Andrew Harrison, De’Aaron Fox)
- Combo Guards: 15 (Tyrese Maxey, Quentin Grimes, Andrew Jones)
- Shooting Guards: 255 (Gerald Green, Aaron Harrison, Kelly Oubre)
- Small Forwards: 193 (LeBryan Nash, Justin Jackson, Jarred Vanderbilt)
- Power Forwards: 283 (Julius Randle, Ndudi Ebi, Isaiah Austin)
- Centers: 95 (Myles Turner, Kendrick Perkins, DeAndre Jordan)
A balanced production overall, with a strong presence of big guys in both the PF and C positions. Something interesting happens with Texas’ talent production, as the best recruits to ever have come out of the state are mostly at opposite sides of the spectrum, either being small point guards or big power forwards.
Next, I wanted to take a quick look at the different and best high schools present in the Lone Star State, just to see if I could spot some interesting facts about them.
As happened with Mater Dei in California, Midland is the high school with the highest number of recruits to its name at 25. That doesn’t mean they have produced any top-tier prospect, though. Its highest-ranked kid was Tyrone Appleton (2008 No. 175), who left for Kansas. Following Midland is Christian Life Center Academy with 19 (led by 2007 No.12 DeAndre Jordan), and DeSoto with 15 (highlighted by 2016 No. 14 Marques Bolden).
Moving from high schools to actual cities, it is Houston which leads the way having produced 175 recruits, followed by Dallas (89), San Antonio (60), Arlington (41), and Humble (30). On top of quantity, Houston was able to produce the best prospect to ever make it from Texas on Gerald Green (2005 No. 1), who was already introduced as a college-skipper, going straight to the NBA ranks and who is still active in the League as of 2019.
Two players from Dallas (Julius Randle, 2013 No. 2) and Arlington (Emmanuel Mudiay, 2014 No. 2) round the Top-3 of Texas’ best-recruits ever.
Finally, I flipped things over and instead of looking at talent production I focused on talent poaching by Texas’ colleges. For that, I looked only at recruits from anywhere in the nation to ever commit to a Texas school. These are the five-best such prospects on the database, and the college they picked (in-state prospects highlighted in bold):
- SF | Kevin Durant | 2006 No. 2 | Texas (from Rockville, MD)
- PG | Emmanuel Mudiay | 2014 No. 2 | SMU
- PF | Mohamed Bamba | 2017 No. 3 | Texas (from New York, NY)
- SG | Avery Bradley | 2009 No. 4 | Texas (from Henderson, NV)
- SG | Isaiah Austin | 2012 No. 4 | Baylor
Kevin Durant (0.9996 grade out of 1) edges Mudiay (0.9995) by a nail, but he’s the best player to ever play college ball in Texas. Mudiay would have been the second but opted to move overseas instead of playing for SMU. Another couple of players from other states went to play for Texas in Bamba and Bradley, while Austin remained in-state as a Baylor player. Again, sad story that of the home-nurtured prospects as one left the state and the other saw his career affected by a medical diagnosis.
While Texas is losing talent on 75% of the players it produces, it also must be acknowledged that colleges from the state have always been able to get recruits from other places, most notably the very own University of Texas, followed by Baylor and a mixture of Texas A&M, TCU, and SMU.