Posted: Monday December 19, 2011 11:57AM ; Updated: Tuesday December 20, 2011 5:54PM
Seth Davis

Hoop Thoughts (Cont.)

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Freshman guard Jabari Brown decided to leave Oregon after just two games.
Freshman guard Jabari Brown decided to leave Oregon after just two games.

"That's a legitimate question," Altman said. "You see somebody's background, and if they've quit things before maybe they'll do it again. You can say it's hypocritical of me because I switched jobs, but you see the way guys switch high schools, switch AAU teams, so they're thinking I can just switch colleges, too. And the year they have to sit out is a tough price to pay."

Last summer, my colleague Luke Winn convened a small team of researchers to connect the dots between players switching high schools, decommitting during the recruiting process and then transferring after they get to college. No one quantifies basketball trends better than Luke, but you don't need a Moneyball spread sheet to see what is going on. Luke called his endeavor the Commitment Project. A more appropriate title might have been the Lack of Commitment Project.

The sad irony is that in the end, it's the players who suffer the most, not the schools. Khem Birch ostensibly left Pittsburgh to improve his chances to be a pro, but his move had the opposite effect. Part of being a professional is learning to fight your way through adversity. Why would any franchise commit to paying big dollars to a player who can't commit to sticking things out?

Other Hoop Thoughts

• Fab Melo already has more blocks than he had all of last season. Just making sure you knew. #IrootforFab

• Baylor, which earned its first real eye-catching win at BYU on Saturday, is going to benefit from the addition of Gary Franklin, the sophomore point guard who transferred from Cal and just became eligible. Scott Drew doesn't have one main point guard to run his team, but he does have a lot of perimeter options that will allow him to mix and match. The Bears' half-court offense looked really good in the BYU game.

• Did anyone know that Todd Mayo was this good? Marquette's 6-3 freshman guard, who's O.J. Mayo's younger brother, has scored in double figures in his last five games, including his season-high 22 in a rout of Northern Colorado. He wasn't ranked in the top 100 of his high school class by,, or ESPNU.

• Arnett Moultrie, the 6-11 transfer from UTEP, has been a terrific addition for Mississippi State. I talked to a head coach recently who has scouted both Mississippi State and Florida, and he said he thought MSU was the better team -- and Moultrie was the biggest reason.

• In some ways, UNLV's win over Illinois was more impressive than its win over North Carolina. It was on the road (albeit in the United Center rather than Assembly Hall), and in the wake of the Carolina upset the Rebels can't sneak up on teams anymore.

• Oladipo!

• Guess we can forget about that whole Alabama-is-a-much-better-shooting-team narrative. The Tide is ranked 339th in the country in three-point shooting. They went 2 for 14 from in their loss at Kansas State. Think they'll be seeing much zone?

• Vanderbilt, defense. Defense, Vanderbilt.

• A good player knows how to play well when he's not playing well. Understand? Kevin Pangos does. Gonzaga's 6-1 freshman guard had his worst shooting game of the season against Arizona (1 for 9 from the floor, 0 for 5 from three), but he still found a way to contribute eight assists (to one turnover) and three rebounds. That's how you get Capone.

• If Memphis adapts a junkyard dog, pressure defense, blue-collar, get-after-it identity, this team has a chance to do some damage. And the guy who can set that tone is sophomore Will Barton, who attempted 19 free throws -- 19! -- in the loss at Louisville.

• Ian Eagle is still not on Twitter. And I'm still not happy about it.

• Oklahoma State's LeBryan Nash is the epitome of freshman inconsistency. After scoring 20 points in the Cowboys' loss to Pitt, he had six points on 2 for 15 shooting in Saturday's loss to New Mexico. Sure hope he doesn't transfer.

• That Oregon court sure looks awful on TV.

• I can see four teams from the Missouri Valley going to the NCAA tournament.

• When Jared Sullinger was cleared to play last week after missing his two previous games with a back injury, Thad Matta wanted to start him. Sullinger, however, told Matta he should start junior forward Evan Ravenel because "Evan worked so hard these past two weeks." So it is possible to be a great player as well as a great teammate.

• Arkansas hasn't had much to be happy about after Marshawn Powell's season-ending knee injury, but the play of 6-3 freshman guard B.J. Young has been a pleasant surprise. Since Powell went out, Young has been the team's leading scorer and best player. He is averaging 16.5 points (on 48.5 percent three-point shooting), 3.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

• When I watch Villanova, I see a lot of streaky shooters but not many good ones.

• Once more, with feeling: When you're playing at home, you shoot threes. When you're on the road, you've got to shoot free throws. Class dismissed.

• Lon Kruger very quietly has Oklahoma off to a nice start. The Sooners' 8-1 record includes wins over Washington State, Santa Clara, Oral Roberts and Arkansas.

• Tony Mitchell made his long-awaited collegiate debut Sunday night for North Texas. The 6-8 forward from Dallas, who originally committed to Missouri but couldn't qualify academically, had 14 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench in the Mean Green's win over Jackson State. I'll be interested in hearing from NBA scouts who watch Mitchell over the next couple of months.

• I wonder if Mike Rosario still thinks transferring from Rutgers to Florida was the right move. He'll win more at Florida, but he'll never be a featured guy.

• Speaking of Florida, the Gators are on track to be the worst free-throw shooting team in school history. That's got to cost them at some point.

• I was glad to hear no criminal charges were filed in the Cincinnati-Xavier fight. I'm also glad that nobody is talking about ending or even suspending the series. And even though the penalties were too light, I do think Yancy Gates's contrition was genuine. It will take a long time for him to recover, but his emotional news conference was a good first step.

• I'll also say it one more time: The fact that the three referees from that Cincy-Xavier game escaped any kind of sanction befuddles me.

• A coach whose team has played Georgetown this season told me he thinks the Hoyas will be hard to beat if they're making shots, but he's not sure if they're mature and physical enough to win ugly.
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