Vanderbilt has made a change to their coaching staff, as Kevin Stallings went out and plucked Yanni Hufnagel off of Tommy Amaker’s staff at Harvard.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join Coach Stallings and the rest of his outstanding staff here at Vanderbilt,” said Hufnagel. “Coach Stallings is not only recognized as one of the best coaches in college basketball, but also as one of the most family-driven. Vanderbilt’s brand is a powerful one and I am truly humbled to have the opportunity to represent such an elite institution.”
Hufnagel is one of the guys responsible for Harvard’s resurgence mainly because he’s a terrific recruiter. He brought in players that are far more talented than typical Ivy League players because he was able to target the elite kids with the grades to get into Harvard and sell them on the idea that Harvard, as he told me two years ago, “isn’t a four-year decision, it’s a 40-year decision.”
That same style of recruiting will work at Vanderbilt, another elite academic institution. Find the kids that care about academics and sell them on a) winning in the SEC and b) having a degree from Vanderbilt to fall back on whenever the ball stops bouncing. It’s a great hire, particularly because the influx of talent into the Commodore program has been lacking in recent years.
More interesting, however, will be to see how Harvard responds. They will be loaded next season and will likely have enough talent on the roster for the next couple of seasons to be a continuous threat to make the NCAA tournament. But without Hufnagel on the staff, are they still going to be able to go out and get the same players that they have in recent years?
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.