Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Recreation and Sport Management

Major Professor

Jeffrey A. Graham

Committee Members

Adam Love, Sylvia A. Trendafilova, Vasileios Maroulas


College basketball represents a rich context in which human resources are critical. Team success depends upon numerous factors, including talent acquisition and development. In the NCAA, teams are restricted on the number of players allowed on a roster. Consequently, coaches must make difficult decisions about which players to recruit, often attempting to match specific players with strategic styles of play.There are five traditional positions in basketball—point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward, and center. These positions are often defined by a player’s physical qualities (i.e., height and weight). As the game of basketball has evolved, however, new positions (e.g., point-forward or stretch 4) have emerged. Consequently, coaches have begun to adopt new strategies. This study examines how coaches must utilize resources more effectively by embracing emerging positionality to maximize strategic advantage. This research asks the question “What positions are NCAA Division I men’s basketball teams using in the 2016-2017 season based on performance metrics?”Performance metrics were used to identify positions to avoid any preconceived notions of what positions a player might be. The basic box score statistics Field Goal Percentage, Three Point Field Goal Percentage, Free Throw Percentage, Points per Minute, Total Rebounds per Minute, Assists per Minute, Turnovers per Minute, Steals per Minute, and Blocks per Minute were used in this research. Topological mapping was used to identify clusters in this data. Topological mapping was effective for two reasons. First, topological mapping clustered data points based on data similarities, allowing the researcher to identify statistical averages for each cluster. Second, topological mapping simplified data points that were affected by many different variables.Eight positions were identified in this research from the NCAA Division I men’s basketball 2016-2017 season. The Bench Warmer, Role Player, Rebounding Shot Blocker, Ball Handling Defender, Three Point Scoring Ball Handler, Three Point Scoring Rebounder, Close Range Dominator, and Point Producer each showed performance metrics that separated themselves from the other positions. This research can be used to assist coaches in better understanding the styles of play and positions being used in college basketball today.

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