Okay, I admit – the headline is a bit misleading (much like the above picture, which isn’t from this year’s edition of Late Night). And by “bit misleading,” I mean mostly misleading as I have no idea about what the crop of recruits who attended Late Night in the Phog a couple of weeks ago specifically thought of their experience, of Kansas, of Coach Self, the team, the fans, of how KU fits with their personal goals, etc. What I can do however, is look at how many recruits signed after attending Late Night in the past to be able to make a prediction of how many recruits will sign in the future.
Like I said – mostly misleading…
So, how many of the above, pictured recruits who attended this year’s Late Night will ultimately hail to old KU? What was the number of recruits that attended a Late Night’s Past and ultimately became a Jayhawk? It seems like one or two recruits who attend Late Night each year end up committing, but since there were a whopping 17 recruits who visited for this year’s fun, should that translate to KU signing more than that? Why was the ESPN3 coverage of Late Night so brutal? Where was Rob Riggle, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, or Mandy Patinkin’s beard as Late Night’s celebrity host? These were the questions that got stuck in my head, so I decided to do a bit of research on the recruiting questions I had to avoid doing the research I was supposed to be doing for my employment to remain in good standing…
First, a bit about how the data was gathered. I went through every Late Night write-up beginning in Self’s first year at KU in 2003 on http://www2.kusports.com/ and tracked the recruits that were listed as attendees. I know, I know – this isn’t exactly scientific as not every recruit might have been listed. But as I wasn’t going to spend unlimited time and money researching a question that only I might be curious about – How effective of a tool is Late Night based off of the percentage of recruits who sign after attending? – kusports.com was good enough. This approach resulted in the following list:
A few notes:
- Signed = ultimately signing and attending as Freshmen at KU. Jeff Withey is listed as a “No” (N), and transfers like Royce Woolridge and Zach Peters are a “Yes” (Y) – even though these three transferred, the purpose of this is to determine Late Night’s effectiveness. Current recruits not yet able to attend college are listed as “Unknowns” (U).
- Prior Commit = whether the listed recruit announced/signed with KU prior to attending that year’s Late Night (per kusports.com).
- Post Commit = whether the listed recruit announced/signed with KU following that year’s Late Night (per kusports.com). To be clear, this only means a recruit signed with KU at some point after the visit. Recruits such as Cole Aldrich who attended Late Night multiple times have “Later” (L) designations for their visits before commiting to attend KU.
- Recruit info, including the various kusports.com links I found them at, can be found here: KU_LateNight_Recruits
So, what percentage of recruits who attend Late Night in the Phog are ultimately signing up to be a part of it during Coach Self’s tenure? That number as well as others listed below along with more, maddening methodology notes:
- Starting with 2003’s Late Night, there have been a total of 90, unique recruits that have attended (again, as per kusports.com).
- Since we’re trying to find out how the past success might predict how KU does with the recruits that attended this year’s Late Night, when we exclude the 2014 attendees as well as the high school underclassmen who attended in 2013, the total number of unique recruits is 70.
- Out of this group, KU has seen a total of 28 recruits that have signed, a total “win” of 40%.
- If we exclude recruits who announced they were going to KU in advance of their attending Late Night – i.e. we’re mainly trying to get a better idea of the uncommitted recruits’ interest & “signing rate” – a total of 18 recruits signed, or 25.71% of the 70.
- When we slice & dice the (admittedly limited & possibly not exact) numbers to focus on the senior class, here is where it gets interesting. A total of 34 high school seniors have attended Late Night from 2003-2013. As with above, if we exclude seniors who announced they were coming to KU prior to their attending Late Night, we’re left with a total of 25 uncommitted recruits.
- Of those 25, uncommitted seniors who attended, a total of 14 ultimately signed with KU – 56%!
- If we look at underclassmen that attended Late Night and exclude the current, unknowns that haven’t graduated high school yet as well as any that announced they were going to KU prior to their visit, there have been a total of 39 recruits. Interestingly, the total that ultimately signed with KU is only 8, for 20.51%. KU was 4-for-25 with juniors (16%), and 3-for-13 with sophomores (23.08%). We did bat 1.000% with our lone freshman attendee, Xavier Henry, though you might recall his choosing KU over Memphis was a bit dicey up to the very end. (Carl, if you’re reading this, Xavier’s attending Kansas ensured my ever-lasting image of you will be beating K-State with your baseline jumper to begin our Manhattan win streak in 1984 as opposed to you not nudging him to attend your alma mater.)
- Excel sheet & PivotTable for the above items can be found here: LateNight-Recruits
Great, you say. So what does that translate to with respect to the 17 recruits who attended Late Night earlier this month?
Based solely on past performance with respect to signing recruits and ignoring the number of (anticipated) available scholarships, positions, etc, we can expect either two or three of the five seniors who attended to end up at KU. Since 56% of 5 is 2.8, I’m going to be bold and assume we’ll end up with three of them. The junior class that graduates in 2016 will be interesting to watch, as it’s the biggest group of juniors (7) to attend a single Late Night since Coach Self has been at the helm. Going by the percentages however, we should only expect one of them to end up at KU, as well as only one of the four sophomores (obviously I’m rounding as opposed to our signing a “partial person”). To Tim Finke, the lone frosh who attended this year, I look forward to seeing you at KU after you graduate in 2018 since we’re perfect on signing freshmen after they attend Late Night…
So there you have it – six of this year’s 17 Late Night attendees will ultimately don crimson and blue. Or double-your money back…
Okay, this really didn’t tell me much more than I already thought based on my gut – that every year we usually end up signing one or two recruits who attended Late Night – but since my gut is known to have shit for brains, it was good to look back at the numbers to get an idea of what could happen in the future. Again, the data probably isn’t complete enough to be anywhere close enough to be called scientific (well, as scientific as you can be based upon the whims of a teenager) and there are many other variables & calculation methodologies to consider, but since there were so many recruits who attended this year, the idea of a package deal where KU lands several of the seniors is definitely realistic, solely based on these, simple percentages.
Because this is kind of geeky and (to me) fun and (to me, again) important, I might expand what I track to include things like average ranking, who we lose recruits to, pre- vs. post-championship differences, pre- vs. post-“one-and-done” rule signings, etc. I know Late Night isn’t the total recruiting picture, but it’s an important & prominent color and this might be worth tracking. Plus, I’ll be able to give myself a cool, new title: Late Night in the Phog Sabermetrics Recruiting Specialist.
Now if I can only figure out a way to be asked about how to improve the telecast…