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By Paul Mesecke | 2018 U20 Australian National Championships PER rankings, top 20 athletes

Welcome to the third edition of our PER rankings from Australian National Basketball Championships. This one is for the 2018 U20 National Championships held in February. This is the first time that we have been able to assess the same players over multiple tournaments. Many players from this tournament played in either the U18 or U20 tournaments last year. We are hoping that over that time-frame we may see some trends from players that are either bottom age or top age, through development over time.

For those of you who haven’t seen the previous two PER articles, they can be found here:

PER or Player Efficiency Rating is a purely data driven analysis that considers as much information as is available from Basketball Australia's statistics from the National Championships website. We feel this provides a greater level of analysis of player performance than regular stats such as simple scoring or rebounding averages as they only consider limited information and don’t consider the major issue of differing court time. PER aims to come up with a singular ‘score’ for each individual to compare against all other players considering court time for each individual and game pace for each team.

We are still concerned by the lack of data for basketball actions that do not show up on stats sheets. We have had a look at the correlation between plus/minus data and our PER information. From this we concluded that +/- data in isolation does not show the same player's impact across games. The NBA now has data on things such as defensive field goal percentage for players and recognise functions such as court geometry impact for 3-point shooters, elite rim runners and 5-man unit’s plus/minus data, which obviously are not a part of this analysis. But without those advanced stats available we are confident that our PER data is the best available option for analysis currently available.

Looking back at last year’s u20 tournament's top 20 list there were 4 of those players returning for this year’s tournament. But only 1 of them was able to make it back into this year’s top 20. The only returning player is Glenn Morison from ACT. He has committed to play at the NCAA D2’s 25th ranked Cal Baptist, that currently also has South Australian Jordan Heading and ACT’s Bul Kuol leading the team to a record of 22-4, with 2 games to go before the conference tournament. Cal Baptist will join the WAC Division 1 Conference from 2018/19. This effectively makes Glenn a D1 commit.

PICTURED: Glenn Morison, pictured here on his visit to California Baptist University with Head Coach Rick Croy and Assistant Coach Richard Wellman. Glenn has sometimes snuck under the radar but is one of the best big men in the country in his age group.

Last year’s U20 PER leader Tyrell Harrison, has already finished his first season as a training member of the Brisbane Bullets roster in the NBL. In addition eleven other members of the top 20 list have already either committed to Division 1 programs or have already started their freshman season. These players include:

  • 2017 Stanford commit Isaac White,

  • 2017 New Mexico State commit, Gabe Hadley,

  • 2017 Quinnipiac commit Jacob Rigoni,

  • 2018 Uni of Hawaii commits Mate Colina and Owen Hulland

PICTURED: Isaac White (2017 Stanford Freshman) and Jacob Rigoni (2017 Quinnipiac Freshman) after winning Gold in 2017. Both highly ranked in the 2017 PER rankings. Both doing well in their respective programs.

In addition to these 11 Division 1 commits, 6 other players are committed to attending US colleges at various levels including NAIA, Junior College or D2 NCAA schools. An astonishing result for Australian Basketball and evidence that perhaps these rankings do in fact highlight those players that coaches should be interested in at the next level. With so many coaches from overseas reviewing these rankings from last time it is clear they do provide value.

From previous data gathering, 9 out of a possible 16 players from the 2017 U18 championship's top 20 feature in this year’s U20 list, with the other 4 younger players having their chance when the U18 tournament comes around in April. This shows that those players didn’t just have 1 good performance last year but have been able to put 2 consistent performances together at the highest level in Australian Basketball. And have been able to do that against players a year older than them. This bodes well for those looking to play at higher levels, and I expect to see another crop of NCAA D1 athletes in the future.

Again, we see the list in dominated by the more successful teams with the Championship winning Victorian team having 5 players in the top 20. They also had other good contributors in the next bracket of players, not unsurprisingly, having several good players leads to team success. The other top 4 teams all had multiple player making the top 20. With the NBA Global Academy having 3 members of the group also. A special mention should go here to Tamuri Wigness who managed to reach the top 20 despite also being eligible to play in the U18 Tournament.

PICTURED: Victoria were victorious. Victoria were the U20 National Champions for 2018. Photo credit: Herald Sun.

This year the saw a much closer gap over the top 20 (between 24.29 and 18.21 this year compared to between 28.5 and 16.63 last year), from 12 points’ down to 6 points between the top 20 players showing a much closer gap for those players over the tournament. And the highest scores were considerably down on the previous tournament. Whether this is due to the standard of the players, the level of opportunity or the number of difficult games that those players played it is difficult to tell. Twelve of the players came from one side of the pool which had 3 of the 4 quarter final's winners and other than a very strong Queensland team who finished 4th, the top 3 and then the 5th ranked teams all played in the same initial pool, creating much harder games for these players over the tournament. It is impossible to determine what, if any effect this might have had on the individuals PER numbers, but we can only guess this had some impact on the decrease in overall numbers for some players.

When you add that with the lack on non-recorded data available to be viewed there needs to also be consideration for players on teams that win throughout the tournament. Having SA in the tougher side of the draw and making it all the way through to the final, SA should have had more players in the top 20. Looking at the results of Ben Carter from SA this could especially ring true. In his position of starting big man for the silver medallist and consistently putting up good performances, his pick and roll game not always been tracked statistically, throughout the tournament can’t necessarily be measured in PER.

This only makes the results of this years top PER candidate more compelling. Alex Mudronja, St Mary’s commit, was one of 2 players from SA to make the top 20, played in the toughest pool, and comes from a team which seemed to greatly rely on his performance from looking at the PER results of his team mates. We could see this having 3 major effects;

  1. Firstly, other teams were surely focused on stopping him, as it was evident early on that he was largely responsible for the SA results.

  2. Secondly, SA failed to play against the two bottom teams who many other players had high PER score benefits against and SA played its way into the Silver medal position meaning each game was not only against a difficult opponent, but also the outcomes of those games were win and advance meaning it mattered greatly.

  3. And finally, he was expected to play many minutes which can be counter productive to PER outcomes as minutes are taken into consideration to make PER even for all players over the tournament.

When asked about his performance at the championships, in typical Alex Mudronja fashion he was more focussed on his team, their values, their togetherness and the recent resounding success of basketball in South Australia at U20 level:

““It was a great run to get into the gold medal game. A lot of people didn’t believe we would make it there, especially with the competition we had come up against, so it felt good to be able to play in that game and come so close to gold. It made it easy to do these things when every member of the team bought into our values and roles and had a great respect for each other. The team loved playing together and had a great relationship, which allowed us to have a successful tournament and continue to gain South Australian basketball some legitimate respect”.

PICTURED: Alex Mudronja (2018 St Marys Gaels Commit) getting up in the game vs New South Wales. Dominant tournament across multiple statistical categories.

PICTURED: Elite prospect Kody Stattmann (2018 University of Virginia Commit) ranked 9th in 2018 as a "bottom aged" player. Was ranked 3rd in the 2017 PER rankings for the U18 National Championships that year.

Well done to all players who played in the tournament and we at look forward to keeping up to date with the players as they move onward in the future.

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