Titus Rubles and the Junior College learning curve

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Mick Cronin mentioned on Monday that Titus Rubles, despite his struggles and criticism, enjoyed "a really good year for a first-year guy." The expectations for JuCo transfers adjusting to the major college game to instantly make an impact would be rare. 

Rubles finished the season averaging 5.9 points, 5.9 rebounds (team-high), 2.0 assists and 1.9 turnovers per game. The biggest problem became his lack of consistent outside shooting. He was 4 of 43 from 3-point range. Cronin pointed out a major concern in his shot (thumb on side of the ball) that he didn't want to mess with during the year but will be fixed this offseason. 

More importantly, when talking about the success of junior college players the first year they transfer it's important to keep in perspective the associated learning curve. Seeing Rubles potential likely skewed the view of expectations the Bearcats fans and staff have for Rubles, but looking around at a typical performance it's clear he fell in line with the standard. 

Here are Titus Rubles statistics per 40 minutes played this year (he averaged 21.8 minutes per game): 
Points: 10.8
Rebounds: 10.8
Assists: 3.6

I tracked down the top six JuCo recruits who attended major conferences that have completed their time there in order to find like profiles to Titus Rubles. Here are the results with averages per 40 minutes of play.

Player, School, Position: Junior year points per 40 min/Assists per 40 min --- Senior year points per 40/Assist per 40
2011 Class
Pierre Jackson, Baylor, PG: 17.8/7.6* --- 22.9/7.8*
Sam Groomes, Oklahoma, PG: 8.5/7.6* --- 9.8/6.3*
Phillip Jurick, Oklahoma St., C: 4.0/11.9 --- 6.5/13.5
Cheikh Mbodj, Cincinnati, PF: 7.1/2.8** --- 9.6/5.0**
Carlos Emory, Oregon, SF: 15.1/8.6 --- 16.9/6.6
Dylan Talley, Nebraska, SF: 14.9/5.6 --- 15.4/6.4

2010 Class
Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri, PF: 17.3/9.8 --- 21.2/11.4
Marvell Waithe, Arkansas, G: 12.5/11.6 --- 12.0/8.2
Faisel Aden, Washington St., SF: 20.0/5.0 --- 24.1/5.1
Bernard James, Florida St., PF: 15.4/11.6 --- 16.3/11.2
Adrien Forbes, Auburn, PF: 9.1/6.8 --- 6.7/8.4
Lazeric Jones, UCLA, G: 12.8/5.1* --- 16.2/4.9*

AVERAGE: 12.9/8.9 --- 14.8/8.9

* Assists
** Blocks

--- The biggest thing about these numbers to remember is that this is based on points per 40 minutes, this strictly measures efficiency. This doesn't even take into account the extra minutes the majority of these JuCo transfers earned in their senior seasons. For their efficiency to rise by two points per 40 minutes is a significant leap. 

--- With Rubles averaging 21.8 minutes per game this year, depending on his improvement and progress of incoming players he could see a spike in his minutes to around the 25-minute area. The junior struggled with his shot and turning the ball over. If Cronin can reclaim the confidence of Rubles from Vegas and tweak his technique to be more consistent his game could open up as teams begin to respect his outside shot more. 

This is not to say he will magically become Ricardo Ratliffe or Faisel Aden --- there is no precedent to expect more than a 25 percent jump in production -- but he could become a legitimate offensive option enduring fewer of the miscues that littered his junior year. 

--- The grander point is to expect Rubles to enter UC and instantly be a dominant force would be hoping for a rare occurrence. There are but one or two a year that make an overwhelming impact. Would both parties have liked better? Sure. But keep perspective. 

In fact, this year, of those in the JuCo Top 15 (jucorecruiting.com) that played, only Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss averaged better than 14 points per game and only five players averaged double figures. Without going through the entire list of JuCos, I can tell you there aren't likely any more in the entire class who notched double figures. Plus, his 5.9 rebounds ranks among the best in the group. 

Here's the Top 15 list: 

Geron Johnson, Memphis: 10.4 points, 3.5 assists, 28 minutes
Cleanthony Early, Wichita State: 13.9 points, 24 minutes
J.T. Terrell, USC: 11.7 points, 27 minutes
Waverly Austin, Oregon: 3.2 points, 11.2 minutes
Coty Clarke, Arkansas: 7.6 points, 20.4 minutes
Nick Wiggins, Wichita State, 5.1, 15.4 minutes
Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss: 20.1 points, 30.1 minutes
Andrew Young, Texas A&M: 2.8 points, 13.1 minutes
Shavon Coleman, LSU: 10.5 points, 281 minutes
Trency Jackson, Texas Tech: 6.6 points, 22.4 minutes
Musa Abdul-Aleem, USF, 3.3 points, 10.3 minutes

I want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on Titus Rubles and the returning Bearcats of 2013-14? Shoot an email to me at pauldehnerjr@gmail.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. 

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