This was a profound statement. In my experiences in life, I’ve come to know New Jersey as the anus of America. Could it be that I’ve been wrong all along and college basketball, my favorite sport, would cease to exist without New Jersey? The same New Jersey that is responsible for The Real Housewives of New Jersey and Jersey Shore. I’m not actually trying to denigrate the state with that statement, those are just the two best TV shows about New Jersey.
So, with the help of some friends I looked around a little. The last UNC basketball player who was on a basketball scholarship from New Jersey was Matt Doherty in 1984. Kentucky has had two basketball scholarships given to New Jersey athletes in the past 65 years, and no New Jersey athletes on any of their 7 National Championship teams. Kansas and UCLA don’t regularly recruit New Jersey. The only school that does is Duke, obviously to appease their students. They aren’t called the University of New Jersey at Durham for nothing. And Duke has had success, don’t get me wrong. But none of the 4 most elite programs in the country rely on much contribution at all from New Jersey players.
UNC for instance, has more players from the UK, Canada, or the Bahamas than from New Jersey over the past 25 years. Kentucky has more players from Poland in that time frame. UCLA has more kids from Cameroon. Kansas gets more recruits from the historical hotbed of Iowa despite having access to players from California to Florida. So, how important is New Jersey.
After thinking about this child’s statement, I decided to nod politely and smile so as to keep him from tears. But the truth of the matter is, depending on the other programs across the country and how heavily they lean on kids from New Jersey, there is a chance that the only way to become an elite team is to NOT recruit from the state of New Jersey. The only trend I was able to find for the 4 most elite programs outside the state of New Jersey is that the fewer players from Jersey they’ve given scholarships to, the better their history. So, UNC and Kansas, who both have a player from New Jersey on their current roster, should probably be concerned about this trend.
The evidence is all there, kids from New Jersey are losers.