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After standing in the back of the pack in 2014, Seton Hall's Desi Rodriguez is breaking out

Seton Hall's talented crop of sophomores is being led by a different New York hooper this time around.

Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Desi Rodriguez has been revered for his basketball abilities for quite some time now. Back in 2014, Rodriguez was ranked as the No. 9 player in the state of New York, with the top three players in the state joining him at The Hall. Those players were, of course, Isaiah Whitehead, Angel Delgado, and Khadeen Carrington.

Pretty decent company, no?

This quartet of teammates were expected to help lift Seton Hall from the back of the pack in the BIG EAST Conference and ultimately to a level of relevancy and respectability that they haven't been enveloped in since maybe the late 1980s when The Hall made the Final Four and was the National Runner Up to Glen Rice's Michigan Wolverines.

We're talking the days of Mark Bryant and Ramon Ramos, here. It's been a long time since Seton Hall has been in the national spotlight.

Things don't always go as planned, though. You know the story by now: Seton Hall got off to a hot start, fumbled, beat Villanova, and fumbled again and a myriad of problems were uncorked and the program looked to be in complete disarray.

2015 looked to be ripe for an opportunity of turning the page in South Orange. Or Newark, if you want to get semantic-heavy. The consensus at Big East Media Day in October was that the Pirates were ready to take on that task and were willing to make it happen. And early returns show that they're doing just that. The Hall has hit the ground running, starting their 2015-16 season at 5-2, with wins over two KenPom Top 100 teams: Georgia (69) and Ole Miss (81).

A lot of Seton Hall's hot start to the year has a lot to do with the play of Desi. The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward has the highest ORtg of any Pirate with a minimum of 17.1 percent of possessions at 116.8. For the unfamiliar, ORtg measures points produced by individual possessions, then multiplies by 100.

So, in essence, Rodriguez has scored 1.168 points every time he has possessed the ball. For comparison's sake, the next highest mark in ORtg has been produced by Khadeen Carrington. Carrington, a 6-foot-3 sophomore guard, has an ORtg of 107.1, 9.7 points lower than Rodriguez's lofty mark.

Another hallmark of Rodriguez's game this year has been his efficiency. Desi's shot percentage is up by 3.1 percent from where it was a season ago, going to 22.5 percent from 19.4. In turn, his efficiency has taken a ginormous leap as well. A season ago, his eFG% - Effective FG% - and TS% - True Shooting%, were at just 45.0 percent and 49.0 percent. In 2015 though, Rodriguez has posted percentages of 62.1 and 64.7 in those two respective categories.

Those are jumps of 17.1 and 15.7 percent!

Why is Rodriguez prospering in efficiency so much? Let's take a simple dive into Hoop-Math.com.

First, let's take a look at the percentage of shots taken a season ago:

% of shots at the rim % of 2-point jumpers % of 3-point shots
61.2% 30.2% 8.6%

Now, let's look at those numbers through Rodriguez's first seven games of the season:

% of shots at the rim % of 2-point jumpers % of 3-point shots
37.9% 27.6% 34.5%

Interestingly enough, it appears that Rodriguez has found his stroke from a specific area on the floor.

Last season, Rodriguez heavily relied on driving and taking opportunities at the rim, wouldn't take 3-point field goals, and took quite a few 2-point jump shots. And his field goal percentages in those areas were as followed:

Rim FG% 2-point jumper FG% 3-point FG%
63.5% 16.7% 8.3%

And now, let's look at 2015's numbers:

Rim FG% 2-point jumper FG% 3-point FG%
81.8% 37.5% 40.0%

Holy increases, Batman.

One might automatically insinuate that Rodriguez taking easier opportunities in bunches would result in a higher field goal percentage at the rim. That's true in most cases, but it appears that taking over 20 percent less opportunities at the rim has resulted in an 18.3 percent increase in his field goal percentage at the cup.

And taking more 3-point field goals appears to be helping Desi out quite a lot, as he's seen his field goal percentage from the perimeter skyrocket by a shade over 31 (!!) percent.

There are, as in most cases, areas of refinement for Rodriguez's game to this point in the season. Rodriguez has committed turnovers at a very large rate to this point. Amongst Seton Hall Pirates with a usage rate of 20.2 percent or higher, Rodriguez's Turnover Rate of 21.3 percent is the highest on the team. If we expand that to 17.1 percent, it's second behind Angel Delgado, who has committed turnovers at a rate of 25.3 percent.

That number is especially concerning when you factor in that Rodriguez only committed turnovers at a rate of 13.9 percent and 15.0 percent during conference play.

Also, Desi is committing fouls at a high rate as well. His FC/40 - fouls committed per 40 minutes, is at a lofty 3.5, the highest of any Pirate with at least 17.1 percent of possessions used. He isn't drawing fouls at an especially high rate or getting to the free throw line often either. His 36.2 percent FTRate is the second-lowest amongst highly used Pirates on the team, with Isaiah Whitehead's 33.3 percent being the lowest mark. And he's only drawn 4.3 fouls per 40 minutes, the lowest of any Pirate with at least 20.2 percent of possessions used.

Young players will have issues, though. Last year for Rodriguez, it was efficiency. This year, it's taking care of the basketball, drawing fouls and getting to the line. And while his FC/40 is at 3.5, that's actually down from the rate of 5.5 he had as a freshman. So int he early goings, there are still signs of improvement being shown as Rodriguez matures on the floor.

Seton Hall is getting terrific production out of their young crop of players. Perhaps the most productive player of the group in 2015 is Desi Rodriguez, who should continue to command attention as The Hall marches on.