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GMU, Quince Orchard Students Use Analytics to Predict Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray as an NBA Star

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

Jamal Murray, the 23 year old Nuggets breakout star from Ontario, Canada became the youngest player in NBA Playoffs history not named LeBron James to score 40 points in a game.

Murray scored 50 points in Games 4 and 6; 42 in Game 5 against the Utah Jazz, and 40 in Game 7 to eliminate the Los Angeles Clippers. The True Shooting Percentage was an astounding 68.2% -- a NBA Star is Born!

In January 2020, the Quince Orchard High (QOHS) Sports Analytics Club (MD) predicted the NBA stardom of Murray in a data science driven SACP Research Report issued to the Denver Nuggets under the assignment of Tommy Balcetis, assistant general manager of the Nuggets. The Club was governed by STEM Teacher Michael Schweizer and George Mason University Professor Ralph Romanelli served as the University Partner Advisor. The SACP Research Report advocated, with advanced performance metrics, for the selection of Murray to the 2020 NBA All Star Game in midseason comparison with comparable elite guards, notably Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz. Murray was not selected to the NBA All Star Game, but with no surprise to the aspiring Data Scientists, Murray’s offensive explosion eliminated the Jazz on the path to the Western Conference Finals versus the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Sports Analytics Club Program (SACP) was founded in 2017 by Robert Clayton, a former dean at Tulane Law School, MIT Sloan faculty member Ben Shields and NBA Executive Ed Tapscott. SACP uses sports as the motivational tool to attract students to learn the data research skills sets essential to a career as a Data Scientist. The SACP was created to eliminate the under representation of Black and Latino youth and young women in STEM majors in college and give them a competitive edge in the technology workforce. The SACP instructional platform gives under resourced students access to University Professors and Professional Sports Data Scientists from the NBA, NFL and MLB, and bridges the digital divide. The SACP Research Projects are fun, challenging in complexity and actionable in application.

The SACP is a national network of 22 participating High Schools in 11 States across the nation and in the District of Columbia. These SACP Clubs are in partnership with 31 Universities including 9 HBCUs, and are advised by a team of 25 Professional Sports Data Scientists. The legacy Edmondson-Westside High Club in Baltimore is featured in the ESPN Documentary “Defy the Odds” . The SACP concept is a project-based learning system, designed around an innovative collaboration of secondary and higher education and industry. The predicated outcome is diversification in the field of data science and the production of the next generation of Black and Latino and young women Data Scientists.

The demand for hiring data scientists has been increasing over the years, and more so in 2020, as most businesses are going for digital transformation. In the United States, a data scientist can make an average of $95,000 in a year, making it the highest-paying entry-level job in 2019. In 2020, the current demand makes data scientists rank third in top jobs, and 67% of companies are expanding their hiring of data scientists.

The students in the Quince Orchard Club applied data science to sports and witnessed the incorporation of their SACP Research Project into the Denver Nuggets media campaign to promote the selection of Jamal Murray to play in the NBA All Star Game – their interest was sparked to enter into the emerging field of Data Science. They also are enjoying the immense satisfaction of watching Murray’s stardom being born in the NBA Playoffs knowing that their prediction had come true.

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