Tell someone that recruiting to Kansas is a tough gig and they’ll probably scoff. Play for the Jayhawks? In front of a packed house? On national TV? And likely end up in the NBA?
Yeah, real tough.
Then again, when you’re selling most kids on the idea of leaving friends and family thousands of miles away, that’s not so easy. That’s the problem coach Bill Self usually has at Kansas. How do you convince a kid in California or Chicago Texas or along the East Coast to hang out in Lawrence, Kan.? You have to be willing to go all over the place.
Turns out Mike DeCourcy wrote a story on that very topic. Here’s the approach:
Kansas employs a diverse coaching staff with a wide range of recruiting contacts built up from their own experiences as players and coaches.
Kurtis Townsend grew up in San Jose, Calif., played at Western Kentucky and has been an assistant on staffs at Michigan, Cal and USC. Joe Dooley played at George Washington, was head coach at East Carolina and has been an assistant at New Mexico, Wyoming and South Carolina. Back on staff after leaving to become head coach at St. John’s, replacing new Tulsa head coach Danny Manning, Norm Roberts is a New Yorker who also has served under Self at Tulsa and Illinois and spent the past two years working for Billy Donovan at Florida.
KU’s approach to recruiting starts with an assessment of what good prospects might have some connection to the staff’s connections. Townsend said he looks for players with the ability and willingness to defend and an inherent toughness, “Or else they won’t make it with Coach.” He acknowledges that there has been a recruit or two along the way who, despite significant talent, lacked that quality and didn’t last.
The Jayhawks do snag the occasional local prospect – the 2012 class features 4-star forward Perry Ellis, while 2013 has a star shooter in Connor Frankamp – but the focus is usually for athletic guys with the drive to make themselves into elite players. That means Thomas Robinson (1,493 miles from home) and Elijah Johnson (1,314 miles) are their ideal guys.
Coincidence that those were two key cogs for the Jayhawks’ run to the 2012 Final Four? Nope.
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