Thursday, January 4, 2024

Nevada's Fazekas Best Career of Century? Faces McCarter Who Made Drake's Coach Famous

Our last two all-time great teams to debut in the Value Add Basketball Game are Nevada 2004 and Drake 1969 - and like so many others, what a neat story as I looked them both up - with seven total players in this game going onto the NBA.

First on Drake, in Jay Bilas' ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia he suggests except for one drought from 1988 to 2006 Drake "would have a good argument for ranking among the very best of the mid-majors. There's the 1969 Final Four (this team) ... where John Wooden said (after narrowly holding up this team 85-82 in the middle of the dynasty) 'Drake gave us as much trouble - maybe more - than any team we've ever played in any of these tournaments." Drake was talked into recruiting the player Bilas says is their greatest of all time by Bilas, with a high school teammate saying, "Caoch, listen to me, Willie McCarter is going to make you famous."

Nevada played after we invented the Value Add Basketball rankings, and this team included four players who ranked in the top 4% of all players (Kevinn PinkneyKirk Snyder, Todd Okeson and one of the top two career players of this century, Nick Fazekas

While Value Add Basketball indicates Anthony Davis was by far the best college player this century, and current Duke coach Jon Scheyer had the best senior season, only nine players finished in the top 4% of all players for four years in college. If you ranked those players based on their average rank of the 4,000+ college players the four years they played - here are your greatest nine college basketball careers this century - with Nevada's Nick Fazekas ranking fourth. 

If your criteria is a player who was elite from his freshman season (after which most would leave for the NBA) every year through their senior year - avoiding and injury-plagued or off year at any point, you could put them in this order.

1 - Tyler Hansbrough - UNC 2006-2009, ave. 14th, highest 3rd in 2008 
2 - Trayce Jackson-Davis - Indiana 2020-2023, ave. 17th, highest 12th in 2022 
3 - Jared Dudley - Boston College 2004-2007, ave 27th, highest 3rd in 2011 
4 - Nick Fazekas - Nevada 2004-2007, ave. 29th, highest 3rd in 2006 
5 - Craig Smith - Boston College 2003-2006, ave. 29th - highest 11th in 2006 
6 - T.J. McConnell - Duquesne 2011-12, Arizona 2014-2015, highest 12th in 2011 
7 - J.J. Redick - Duke 2003-2006, ave. 33rd, highest 2nd in 2006 
8 - Robbie Hummel - Purdue 2008-2010, 2012, ave. 39th, highest 29th in 2010 
9 - Aaron Craft - Ohio St 2011-14, ave 48th - highest 22nd in 2012 

This Nevada team will be the underdog against Final Four Drake, but they had a great tournament run - beating Michigan State and then stunning 2-seed Gonzaga. They then lost a close game to Georgia Tech, who would go on the be the runner up. Here are the Value Add Basketball rankings of the all-time great Nevada players. The only accidental omissions are Cody Martin (should be tied for 116th of 4000+) and Caleb Martin (126th) in 2018. 

In setting up our box score, we start with the standard, but we take players who averaged less than 2 points per game and start them at "0" instead of the customary "2" and then we let some of the 3-point shooters start with a 3-pointer instead of a 2-pointer. As long as your total points end up at 20 for the first roll, you can make slight common sense adjustments to your starting stats. Otherwise the stats listed for every other category are always standard at the start of a game.

Nevada 2004                            Pts  3pt 2pt FT Att Reb Stl Blk Fl Season Actual                             Hts
Todd Okeson31000110111.2 Pts, 2.8 Reb, 3.9 Ast6'0
Kirk Snyder31000110118.8 Pts, 5.7 Reb, 3.4 Ast-NBA6'6
Garry Hill-Thomas2010020019.8 Pts, 3.6 Reb, 2.3 Ast6'4
Kevinn Pinkney2010020019.4 Pts, 5.7 Reb, 0.9 Ast-NBA6'10
Nick Fazekas31000201112.6 Pts, 7.6 Reb, 0.5 Ast-NBA6'11
Kyle Shiloh0000010011.8 Pts, 1.2 Reb, 0.9 Ast6'3
Seth Taylor0000010011.0 Pts, 0.4 Reb, 0.0 Ast6'3
Marcelus Kemp3100010014.6 Pts, 1.4 Reb, 0.8 Ast6'5
Jermaine Washington2010010014.1 Pts, 3.8 Reb, 0.7 Ast6'5
Sean Paul2010010013.4 Pts, 3.8 Reb, 0.9 Ast6'9
Drake 1969Pts3pt2ptFTAttRebStlBlkFlSeason ActualHts
Willie McCarter31000110120.4 Pts, 3.7 Reb-NBA6'3
Dolph Pulliam31000110113.3 Pts, 7.7 Reb6'4
Al Williams2010020018.8 Pts, 7.3 Reb-NBA6'6
Willie Wise20100200114.6 Pts, 11.4 Reb-NBA6'5
Rick Wanamaker2010020114.4 Pts, 3.4 Reb6'9
Don Draper20100100112.3 Pts, 2.4 Reb6'0
Gary Zeller2010010016.3 Pts, 1.6 Reb-NBA6'2
Ron Gwin2010010012.6 Pts, 1.4 Reb6'2
Larry Sharp0000010011.6 Pts, 1.2 Reb6'9
Garry Odom2010010013.8 Pts, 4.5 Reb6'8

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