Josh McRoberts and Mr. Basketball

This was originally a comment I wrote on Shawn Kwatra’s blog, but I decided to repeat it here for the benefit of my Hoosier friends. This is a response to a claim that Josh was always overrated because he only finished 3rd in Indiana Mr. Basketball despite being ranked the #2 senior in the United States that year:

Josh came in 3rd in Indiana Mr. Basketball due to the three most common biases of sportswriters:

1. Overvaluing postseason performance. Josh’s team played in the same regional as Pike, which has sent many players to D-I, and Lawrence North, which featured Greg Oden and Mike Conley. Josh’s team was weaker than theirs, so he never got far in the tournament.

Whereas Josh played a couple of the nation’s best high school teams, Luke Zeller, the winner of Mr. Basketball, played in Class 3A (out of 4). He lead his team to the state championship there, and many believe he won Mr. Basketball due to a 70-foot shot he made at the buzzer to keep his team alive in the tournament. It was a fantastic play, to be certain, but over the entire season, Josh was far superior. Note you’ve never heard of Zeller, who plays at Notre Dame.

2. Favoring scoring over other statistics. The 2nd place finisher in Mr. Basketball was Dominic James, who lead Indiana in scoring. While he is a fine player who killed us in the Marquette game last year, he doesn’t fill the stat sheet nearly as much as Josh does.

In high school, Josh averaged 17.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 3.0 blocks and had a .593 FG%. James’s high school stats aren’t available, but he’s shooting 40% from the field (read: he’s inefficient) and averaging 5 assists, 3.8 boards, 1.9 steals, and a quarter of a block at Marquette, which indicates that Josh was superior to him in almost every way in high school.

3. Favoring players with nice personalities. Luke Zeller is an affable guy with small-town charm, and sportswriters enjoy Dominic James as well. Josh’s persona is his weakest attribute. How this affects his play on the court is uncertain, but it certainly affects his position with sportswriters, the ones who voted for the award.

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