When it comes to building a program, head coaches are, generally speaking, the people that get all the credit.
You hear about the success their career coaching record and you see infographics with how many NCAA tournaments they’ve reached. Their careers are valued on the merits of conference championships and how far they’ve gotten in the NCAA tournament. They are the face of their program.
But their role as CEO can only be done effectively if they have the right players in their program, which is why you see so many programs use one of their three assistant coaching positions on someone labeled as a ‘recruiter’.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman went published a list of the most feared recruiters in the country, based on a poll of more than 200 coaches.
No. 1 on that list? Kansas assistant coach Kurtis Townsend, who was joined by his Jayhawk counterpart Jerrance Howard, who checked in at No. 12. Duke, with Jeff Capel and Steve Wojciechowski making an appearance, was one of two other programs that managed to sneak two assistants onto the list.
San Diego State, as both Brian Dutcher and Jerome Hutson were ranked in the top 20.
And it makes some sense. The Aztecs have landed their fair share of talented recruits and transfers (Josh Davis) in recent years. Kawhi Leonard and Jamaal Franklin immediately come to mind, but Malcolm Thomas has been in and out of the NBA as well, and Dakarai Allen and Winston Shepard were both highly regarded recruits in their own right.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this list is that only one Kentucky assistant coach — Orlando Antigua — is listed, and he’s fifth despite the fact that the Wildcats are head and shoulders above the rest of the country when it comes to bringing in elite level talent. That should tell you a thing or two about just how good Coach Cal is as a recruiter; he doesn’t even need to lean on his assistants to do the heavy lifting.
His program sells itself.
Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.
On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.
“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.
“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.
“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”
Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.
For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.
Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.
Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.
Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.
The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.
Hooley, who graduated in May, was selected to give the commencement speech.