When people discuss reasons for excitement for the Buffs this upcoming season, usually one of the first things that's mentioned is that the team will have improved post play. Austin Dufault had a proud career as a Buff, and his 11 points and 4 rebounds a game will be missed. But many are intrigued by the potential that the new Buffs might have up front. While Wesley Gordon and Shane Harris-Tunks will provide quality bench minutes, and Xavier Johnson and Andre Roberson will get a bit of time in the post, the Buff that most are talking about is Josh Scott. The Monument native is coming in with high expectations as all four of the scouting services we use on AllBuffs had him as a top 65 recruit (ESPN had him at 36, Scout at 46, Rivals at 61 and 247 at 63). The question is, what are realistic expectations for Scott in his first year with the Buffs?
I have been wondering this for the last few days, and yesterday asked openly on twitter what people expected -- and I was surprised to see the results. Most people were thinking he would score between 10 and 14 ppg and grab somewhere between 5 and 7 rebounds a game (the average of the projections on twitter was 12 ppg and 6 rpg). So I decided that I needed to see if we were being a little overzealous, and channeled my inner statnerd.
In a statistical analysis that is in no way complete, and will be mocked openly by JG, I went through the last three recruiting classes and look at "Top 50" big men and what they went on to produce in their first season in college. Now I will be the first to admit that this is not a complete list, and that I probably missed a player or two. Not only that, but I didn't use any advanced numbers -- I just went straight with points per game, rebounds per game, assists per game and blocks per game. Some guys who had low numbers their first season went on to be first round draft picks (Thomas Robinson, Fab Melo and Myers Leonard). Some guys who had great numbers their first season ended up being disappointments overall (Tiny Gallon & Josh Smith). But these numbers can tell you what are realistic expectations for Scott's first season and the numbers may surprise you guys.
First up, the big picture. These are the numbers that were averaged by all of the players over the three seasons:
Year PPG RPG APG BPG 2009 6.6 4.8 0.6 1.2 2010 9.0 5.5 0.8 1.1 2011 8.8 5.8 0.6 1.4
So basically, if you're expecting Scott to put up better numbers than that, you're saying that he's going to be one of the top freshmen big men in the nation. But what about the projections saying he would score 12 points a game and pull down 6 boards? Well, if you look at the chart below, you'd see that would place him right with Christian Watford of Indiana (note: Watford is more of an undersized PF than I would ultimately prefer to have included in this study, but with his size he does play in the post so I included him). Watford was named Big 10 Freshman of the Year with those stats. So honestly, in my opinion, 12 & 6 might be a touch unreasonable for Scott when compared to previous players.
Player PPG RPG APG BPG A. Davis (Kentucky) 14.2 10.4 1.3 4.7 J. Sullinger (Ohio St) 17.2 10.2 1.2 0.5 D. Cousins (Kentucky) 15.1 9.8 1.0 1.8 T. Jones (Kentucky) 15.7 8.8 1.6 1.9 C. Zeller (Indiana) 15.6 6.6 1.3 1.2 T. Harris (Tennessee) 15.3 7.3 1.3 0.9 T. Thompson (Texas) 13.1 7.8 1.3 2.4 P. Jones (Baylor) 13.9 7.2 1.2 0.9 D. Favors (Georgia Tech) 12.4 8.4 1.0 2.1 K. Gallon (Oklahoma) 10.3 7.9 0.8 0.8 A. Murray (La Salle) 12.2 6.6 1.1 2.3 C. Watford (Indiana) 12.0 6.0 0.6 0.6 J. Smith (UCLA) 10.9 6.3 0.6 1.0 Z. Marshall (Akron) 10.4 5.4 0.8 2.8 J. O'Bryant (LSU) 8.5 6.7 0.4 0.8 A. Baru (Charleston) 7.8 6.3 0.6 0.7 D. Powell (Stanford) 8.1 5.2 1.0 0.9 D. Ferguson (Florida Intl) 7.1 4.8 0.6 1.5 J. McAdoo (North Carolina) 6.1 3.9 0.3 0.3 G. Dieng (Louisville) 5.7 4.4 0.7 1.9 J. Henson (North Carolina) 5.7 4.4 0.9 1.6 A. Oriakhi (UCONN) 5.0 6.6 0.4 1.6 K. Wiltjer (Kentucky) 5.0 1.8 0.4 0.4 K. Birch (Pitt) 4.4 5.0 0.0 1.9 M. Yarou (Villanova) 4.5 3.7 0.6 1.0 R. Buckner (Ole Miss) 4.1 4.5 0.2 2.0 D. Taylor (Pitt) 4.1 3.7 0.1 0.6 D. Orton (Kentucky) 3.4 3.3 0.4 1.4 P. Young (Florida) 3.4 3.8 0.3 0.8 W. Judge (Kansas St) 3.3 3.0 0.3 0.5 M. Jennings (Clemson) 3.3 2.7 0.5 0.3 T. Robinson (Kansas) 2.5 2.7 0.3 0.5 A. Payne (Michigan St) 2.5 2.4 0.1 0.8 F. Melo (Syracuse) 2.3 1.9 0.2 0.8 B. Lane (UCLA) 2.4 1.5 0.4 0.4 M. Leonard (Illinois) 2.1 1.2 0.2 0.4 R. Kelly (Duke) 1.2 1.1 0.4 0.4
Honestly, prior to looking over the numbers, Adam at Pachoops asked me what I thought was a solid expectation for Josh Scott. I told him 10 points, 8 boards, 1 assist and 2 blocked shots per game. I'm now thinking my projections are a bit high as well. I think that 8 points, 6 boards, 1 assist and 1 blocked shot might be more realistic for him. The thing he has going in his favor is that we aren't particularly deep up front. Unless Ben Mills emerges, our post rotation consists of Scott, Gordon and SHT with Dre and XJ filling in down there as well. He's going to get minutes. This is one thing that hurt some of the players at the bottom of the list (such as Robinson, Orton & Melo).
Now, I do want to clarify one thing at this point -- I think Scott is going to be one of the best big men to ever play at CU when it's all said and done and there is a very legit chance he will leave early for the NBA. I just think that a lot of his development is going to come in between his freshman and sophomore years. Scott is by all accounts a gym rat who is constantly working, but it's a big jump going from Colorado 4A basketball to the Pac-12. His body is still growing.
So what would be a fair expectation? Ultimately, I think it's somewhere around Dwight Powell of Stanford who averaged 8.1 points, 5.2 boards, 1 & 1 over 24 minutes a game his freshman year (which was good enough to make the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team) or Johnny O'Bryant of LSU who has 8.5 points, 6.7 boards and less than one assist and block a game in 21 minutes a game. If Scott can provide that, statistically, the Buffs should have a good chance to put their dancing shoes on. If he can meet the expectations I saw on twitter yesterday, we may need to start looking at hotel rooms for Sweet 16 locations.