Jays move to the Big Leagues is paying off…Recruiting is surging!
You won’t see a newscast, hear a podcast on ESPN or CBS. You won’t see an article on either of them or the remaining big media. Only an itinerant writer may even dare to broach the subject, on a back page of a website, magazine, or newsprint – fleetingly. What’s with Creighton?
Well that’s the $64,000 question and I’m glad you asked. That question is being asked more and more these days, in coaching suites, athletic board rooms, gyms, AAU meets, sports bars, water coolers, and other venues where college hoops people congregate.
Historically, whether as an Independent or later as a Midmajor school, Creighton’s bread and butter was beating the bushes to find “diamonds-in-the-rough” to augment their regular staple of 2 and 3-star players. Developing players in the Jays system was the way of the world: a good shooter or two surrounded by a good supporting cast. Occasionally, a Silas, Portman, Benjamin, Buford, Korver, Stinnett, or McDermott would land in Omaha and really stir things up. Still, finding and developing players to the system was the prevailing modus operandi. Sometimes you could land 1 or 2 high 3-star or even 4-star guys but often they didn’t pan out in the system. Recruiting to the system came first. Example: 2006- The Jays landed 2 four-star and one 3-star recruits…expectations were high. The Juco 4-star and the 3-star left within a year. Life goes on.
As an anonymous regular on the Holyland of Hoops (HLH) bulletin board stated 1-2 years ago…and I paraphrase; Creighton now has a chance to become like Syracuse (sans cheating) was in the Big East. They are enough of an outlier geographically, with a unique style of play, and a charisma all their own. Now in the Big East, if their recruiting takes off – watch out!
We are being made witness to that prophetic statement coming to fruition. The basketball Gods made us wait for 55 years (1962 for reference) for this day, Little Creighton is in the bigtime leagues and is benefitting from folks now able to see on TV what we do out in the hinterlands – we play hoops. Creighton’s uptempo style of play, with the fallout from DMD and Wraggebombs still fresh, and last season’s Mo Watson-driven electric offensive team, have galvanized into recruiting interest from high schoolers and AAU kids nationally. Woefully, Watson’s injury deprived us of a potentially delightful NCAA run and intensified March Bluejay conversation topics.
Creighton’s “ShooterU“, “LetItFly“, “TakeFlight“, and “RiseTogether” have struck a chord that kids like and can identify with. Since 2010 transfer players have been flocking to Creighton’s system augmenting recruiting classes, also today’s HS hoopsters can envision themselves in the Jays uptempo, run-n-shoot offense and are beginning to come to Omaha. Shooters know they will be allowed to shoot, bigs saw the way Artino and Patton ran the court and how they were used in the offense. They witnessed Mo Watson leading and passing-making record breaking assists to his teammates. Today’s HS players see themselves in those shoes, playing in that offense. They see the 4 out, 1 under and say, “I can do that too.” What they don’t see is the hours, days, & weeks of practice in order to get there.
As such the Jays are beginning to see a rise in their recruiting. Several local pundits on the Bluejay Underground and Bluejay Banter boards stated that the 2017 and 2018 classes would be the proof of the pudding in regards to the effects of joining the Big East. If Creighton’s recruiting received a bump up 3 or 4 years into the league the move had paid off, if not the Jays had not performed well enough to merit a raise. Looks a though they were correct as well and the move to the big leagues has paid off.
2013: Hegner, Hanson and Jucos Brooks, Milliken.
2014: 4-star Harrell and transfers Huff-Kreklow-Watson,
2015: 5-star Patton, Krampelj, Thomas, and transfer Marcus Foster.
2016: Davion Mintz, transfer Kaleb Joseph (4-star).
2017: 4-stars Alexander, Ballock, and Epperson, transfer Manny Suarez. Rivals and 247 Sports Class #24.
2018: 4-stars Bishop, Steere, and Zegarowski, transfer Damien Jefferson. Rivals Class #14 and 247 Sports Class #10 (currently)
http://www.espn.com/blog/ncbrecruiting/on-the-trail/insider/post?id=17551 ESPN’s Finkelstein
Creighton’s 2018 class, like its 2017 class before it, is even more impressive than the numbers may indicate because of how well the individual pieces fit together. Incoming freshmen Mitchell Ballock and Ty-Shon Alexanderare both shot-makers on the wing. Add Bishop to that core and the entire middle of the lineup is skilled and ideally suited for McDermott’s system, which is up-tempo with a premium on 3-point shooting. Another incoming freshman, Jacob Epperson, is a skilled 6-foot-11 big with a high ceiling as he fills out and changes his body, which makes the physicality of Steere the perfect complement. All this group needed was a point guard to run the show and now they have just that.
The Jays are adding quality every year. Not saying that all 4-star or better players will work out, but in adding upperlevel recruits increases the chances for longterm successes. Five upperlevel players on the 2017 squad and 8 upperlevel players on the 2018 squad. The opportunity for unprecedented success for Creighton is at hand.
Are the classes of 2017 and 2018 a fluke, an abberation, or are they a sign of things to come as the recruiting standard at Creighton?
Well, on the court success will have a large say in that, but the draw for style of play, free wheeling in half-court sets, an electric transition game, and great team chemistry all are factors as well. But most importantly, Creighton continues to recruit to its’ system. They have garnered consistent high level successes over the decades with their methodology. Winning and “doing more” with less. As they continue to adhere to their principles and their way of doing business, gaining more talented players for their system should bare greater fruit.
The Jays play exciting hoops and the greater exposure of their style of play via exempt tourneys, Fox Sports TV, and the NCAA Tourney will tend to popularize them nationally. More talent when properly coached, should yield greater results and Creighton appears to be gaining ground on the elites. With the kind of talent the Jays are landing today, while not guaranteed, I have to say that on-the-court success will follow and that this is the prelude to ongoing recruiting and campaign successes as well. The anonymous HLH’er was a prophet.