A 17 year old made a decision that reverberated throughout the Cyclone fan-base. Rashad Vaughn decided to keep his talents in Las Vegas and play at UNLV.
On the surface, this decision really stings. Vaughn was a recruit targeted by Fred Hoiberg and his staff since Vaughn was a freshman in high school in Minneapolis, offering him a scholarship in the summer of 2011. UNLV jumped into the fray sometime last year and nine months later, Vaughn is walking down the equivalent of the college basketball aisle with UNLV standing at the altar. It is easy to feel scorned after putting in years of work, only to see the metaphorical rich guy steal the prize in the waning moments.
The purveying thought is Vaughn was the type of player that could get Iowa State to the mythical next level. This makes sense to some degree, as any coach would love a McDonald’s All-American on their team and Hoiberg has yet to sign one in his tenure at Iowa State. All but one National Championship team since 1979 has had at least one McDonald’s All-American on their roster. Iowa State has had one McDonald’s All-American in their history: Marcus Fizer.
As former Cyclone head coach Wayne Morgan famously quipped about Kansas, "They have a half dozen McDonald’s All-Americans on their bench, we have a half dozen guys who eat at McDonald’s."
For all the bright coaching minds and extensive strategy, winning at the college level is eighty percent talent and the more talent the merrier. That said, college basketball is situated in a strange spot. One-year guys are a hot commodity, but not all of them are locks to alter the landscape.
Speculation is Vaughn has his mind set on being a one and done guy, who planned to find a team he could start on, win some games and bide time until the NBA draft. Problem is, first year guys don’t have the high-level impact the casual fan believes they do. Yes, men like Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley came into the Big 12 like a conquering hero, ravaging anything in their wake. But over the last five years in the Big 12, one and done guys have been more forgettable than legendary.
There have been seven one and done players in the conference since 2009. (Ben McLemore was suspended his freshman year at Kansas, so was technically a two year guy.)
Here is the list:
2011 – Tristan Thompson (Texas)
2011 – Cory Joseph (Texas)
2011 – Josh Selby (Kansas)
2010 – Xavier Henry (Kansas)
2010 – Avery Bradley (Texas)
2010 – Tiny Gallon (Oklahoma)
2010 – Tommy Mason Griffin (Oklahoma)
All of these men were McDonald’s All-Americans with a heaping of hype prior to their freshman campaigns. The results on the floor didn’t quite live up to the billing. Tristan Thompson was the only one of the group to make one of the three post-season All Conference teams (he was 2nd team All-Confernce in 2011). The seven players combined to average a middle-of-the-road eleven points per game. And most startlingly, out of this group, only the 2011 KU squad with Josh Selby playing sparingly made it to the Sweet 16.
So in a sentence, for every Kevin Durant, there is a Tommy Mason Griffin. These guys are far from automatic Final Four makers. Heck, even Durant got beat by New Mexico State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2007. I have no idea how much of an impact Vaughn will make next season, but Iowa State’s swing and a miss leaves open a door for something else.
The other side of the one and done coin is the transfer. Since 2010, there have been over 1,000 division one men’s basketball freshmen that have enrolled in school. Over 40 percent of those kids have transferred somewhere else or left school. College basketball now has a second recruiting season once the season ends and the smart teams are leaving spots on their roster to take advantage in April.
It is well documented how many transfers Iowa State has taken in under Hoiberg’s tenure. (Jake Anderson, Chris Babb, Royce White, Chris Allen, Anthony Booker, Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, DeAndre Kane.)
To make this "one and done" comparison, let’s remove from this list the guys who played multiple years. (Babb, Booker.)
The remaining six guys played just one season at Iowa State. All of them averaged or are averaging double figures in points. To compare, they put up two more points per game than the aforementioned High School All-Americans. And that is just at Iowa State.
Five of the 15 players on last year’s Big 12 All-Conference teams were transfers.
The quality of player poached in the transfer season can supersede the high school phenom. Experience and seasoning are huge in college basketball and a program like Iowa State that has proven to be a successful landing spot for transfers can be a destination locale. There is no reason that has to change anytime soon.
With a returning core of Georges Niang, Matt Thomas, Monte Morris and Dustin Hogue and the influx of Abdel Nader and Jameel McKay, plus scholarships to fill, look for the Cyclones to be a player for some to be named impact transfers.
Iowa State would have loved to have Rashad Vaughn and certainly would have been a better team with him, but it apparently wasn’t in the cards.
With Vaughn’s decision, Iowa State now has an additional opening for the second recruiting season. For every door that closes, another one opens.