Which States Produced the Best College Basketball Players? Part One

Are the most talent rich areas according to media sources really the best places to find College Basketball talent?

As the Spring Recruiting Season is on hold and highly sought after recruits transfer out of their respective institutions due to various reasons, it is a good opportunity to present the facts behind which states, cities, and high schools produced the best performing players.  Will it cause coaches to re-examine how they approach recruiting?  Likely not.  However, anything is possible in a world that is slowly embracing the concept of social distancing.

Player Efficiency Rating

State-by-State Basis

The Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is an extremely popular measurement of a player’s productivity on the floor.  The following are arithmetic mean figures for PER on a state-by-state basis (contiguous 48 states).  These are raw figures and it is the only time the data will be presented in an unfiltered form.  The purpose of showing unfiltered results to start is to provide transparency and a baseline of understanding the starting point in the analysis.  It also provides trust in the process.

Bokeh Plot


The chart above supports the idea that the best players in 2019-20 came from more unexpected places.  New Mexico, Idaho, and North Dakota were where the best performers called home.  South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Nevada, and Arkansas were among the states that produced the weakest performers on a raw basis.

For reference, according the creator of the Player Efficiency Rating, John Hollinger, the PER corresponds to a certain level of play from the player and it translates well enough from the NBA to College Basketball.  A PER of 15 is considered average and if it is not obvious enough there are a lot of below average players in College Basketball.  After all, the vast majority of these players are going professional in something other than sports.

All-time great season 35.0+
Runaway MVP candidate 30.0–35.0
Strong MVP candidate 27.5–30.0
Weak MVP candidate 25.0–27.5
Definite All-Star 22.5–25.0
Borderline All-Star 20.0–22.5
Second offensive option 18.0–20.0
Third offensive option 16.5–18.0
Slightly above-average player 15.0–16.5
Rotation player 13.0–15.0
Non-rotation player 11.0–13.0
Fringe roster player 9.0–11.0
Player who won’t stick in the league 0–9.0


Bokeh Plot


It should not be surprising that first-year players experience a rough transition and this is reflected in the Player Efficiency Rating.  On an unfiltered basis, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, the Dakotas, Idaho, and Iowa are standouts.  Basketball hotbeds Indiana, Kansas, and Kentucky lag behind the rest of the country with producing the most productive Freshmen and Florida is also behind.  This may be a case of sheer numbers where producing more players may result in Florida, California, and Arizona falling behind states that do not produce as many players especially on an unfiltered basis.

Bokeh Plot