Recruiting and Retention for Lorenzo Romar at UW


Two years ago, Charles Garcia did not get admitted to the University of Washington. Washington did not fill that scholarship and played the season with only 12 players. Last year, Clarence Trent and Elston Turner transferred out and Tyreese Breshers retired due to medical reasons leaving UW again one scholarship short going into the season.

With three seniors graduating this year and then with the decision of Isaiah Thomas to enter the NBA draft, it was looking like UW was going to enter the season 2 scholarships short. The front line was looking dangerously thin and most of the top remaining big men were deciding to play elsewhere (or not even go to college right away in the case of Richard Peters). However, almost out of the blue, Martin Bruenig backed out of his committment to Maryland when Gary Williams retired and then committed to UW. Then, after various rumors for months, Shawn Kemp Jr. was offered a scholarship and joined UW as the 13th scholarship player. Take the addition of a forward walk-on in Alex Wegner to join Brendan Sherrer and the depth of the front line is looking pretty solid (even if the quality of the players remains unclear).

But, wow a recruiting class of 6? That’s pretty big and there are only 2 scholarship seniors (Suggs and Gant). So, this team clearly will be a roster heavy on youth and inexperience. Which clearly makes a lot of us both nervous for this year and excited for the future beyond. But, it got me thinking, what are the chances that all 6 in-coming freshmen will still be with us in four years?

I know many of you are expecting UW to lose at least one more player to the NBA draft this year, and there are three candidates most talked about (Ross, Wroten, and Gaddy). I do not believe both Wroten and Gaddy will leave at the same time, because if one goes, the other will know the PG position is completely theirs to run and to showcase their skills. Ross? Well, if he does what we think he can do, yeah he’s gone.

But, to get a clearer idea of how likely players under Lorenzo Romar are to be with the program for at least 4 years, I decided to look back to every recruiting class since 2002 to see who stayed and who left the team with eligibility remaining:

Looking at this chart, there are two interesting observations. First of all, six players is the most Lorenzo Romar has ever signed. He did have two 5 player classes in 2004 and 2005, but those were the two full seasons after he took over as coach and was rebuilding the program. The other thing worth mentioning is that there clearly are seasons where he had lot of trouble holding onto players and others where everyone stayed. Is that a result of decisions Romar was making in who to target based on perceived needs, chemistry issues, or just random fluctuations?

2002*Brandon RoyBobby JonesNate Robinsonnba3*Recruited by Bob Bender  
2003Hakeem RollinsTre SimmonsHans GasserChris HemphillNA  
2004Joel SmithRyan Applebyt-inHarvey Perryt1Roburt SalliednqZach Johnsonret2 
2005Jon BrockmanJustin DentmonArtem WallaceJoe WolfingerMartell WebsterNA 
2006Quincy PondexterSpencer Hawesnba1Phil Nelsont1Adrian Olivert1  
2007Venoy OvertonJustin HolidayDarnell GantMatthew Bryan-Amazing  
2008Scott SuggsIsaiah Thomasnba3Elston Turnert2Tyreese Breshersret2  
2009Abdul GaddyCJ WilcoxClarence Trentt1Charles Garciadnq  
2010Terrance RossAziz N’DyiaeDesmond Simmons   
2011Martin BruenigTony WrotenAndrew AndrewsHikeem StewartJernard JarreauShawn Kemp Jr.

There isn’t a really clear pattern in the data, given that some years (2006!) everyone seems to leave and then other years (2005 and 2007) everyone sticks it out for 4 years. But, if you want to break down Romar’s tenure at UW into two segments, his early years (2003-2006) and his recent years (2007-2010) then there are some interesting observations, even if it isn’t statistically significant.

Of the 18 players he signed between 2003-2006, only 10 of them stayed for 4 years. Of the 8 who did not, 2 never showed, 1 played football, 1 went to the NBA early, and 4 transferred to other schools.

Of the 15 players he signed between 2007-2010, at this stage only 4 are not or did not play it out for Washington (Garcia did not qualify, Trent and Turner transferred, Breshers retired). For the purposes of this article, I will pretend I.T. stayed 4, since he clearly played it out with all his heart. Obviously, there is still time for players like Ross and Gaddy to leave early for the NBA and who knows if there will be a surprise transfer somewhere along the line. So, if we go a couple more years, will the retention rate for 2007-2010 look about the same as it did for 2003-2006? It might…

What I do not know is what the average retention rate at major conference teams are in general. Is it normal for college coaches to lose nearly 1/2 of their signed recruits in under 4 years?

People have jokingly called it Romar Math; whenever the number of seniors or obvious NBA early entry prospects seems too small to sign a large recruiting class, someone inevitably transfers, retires, or otherwise frees up a scholarship to bring everyone in. But, I don’t think it’s just Romar Math, I think that is how college basketball works.

Now, I do have to ask though, with Steve Lavin signing 9 players at St. Johns this year, how many of them will stick around for four years? Especially when some of them find themselves buried on the bench with everyone else on the team having the same eligibility left. Or perhaps the better question is how did St. John’s end up with 10 seniors and one other player transferring to free up 11 scholarships in the first place?