HOUSTON -- It's a pretty well-established fact that the non-BCS teams retain more of their players than the teams from the elite conferences, which often have players leave school after spending only the mandated one year in college basketball before leaving for the NBA.
But Butler coach Brad Stevens made a very interesting point when someone brought that issue up to him during Friday's media sessions in Reliant Stadium. Here's what Stevens said when he was asked about the advantages of having players who stay in school instead of "one and dones".
"I think that might be a little overblown in this matchup," Stevens said. "Larry Sanders from VCU and Gordon Hayward from Butler both left early and we're sitting here. I think that's a remarkable story that I haven't read or nobody's talked about, that you lose guys to the first round of the NBA draft at non-BCS schools and you're both in the Final Four."
Great point, Brad. It is amazing that two of the so-called mid-majors had a player taken in the top 15 of last year's NBA draft (12 of the top 15 picks were from BCS programs) and still made it this far. Hayward went ninth to the Utah Jazz after leading Butler to the Final Four in his sophomore season. Sanders went 15th to the Milwaukee Bucks after his junior year.
Hayward and Sanders have had very similar success as NBA rookies. Hayward, a 6-8 forward, is averaging 4.2 points in 14.9 minutes a game. His playing time has increased since the Jazz traded all-star guard Deron Williams. Sanders, a 6-11 power forward, is averaging 4.6 points in 15.2 minutes.
Imagine where Butler and VCU would be if both had stayed in school. The Final Four, perhaps?