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SMU’s hiring of recruit’s father is savvy, but isn’t guaranteed to work

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SMU set something of a precedent this week, as the program has reportedly hired Tyrone Maxey, a longtime Dallas-area high school coach and the father of Class of 2019 five-star prospect Tyrese Maxey, to their coaching staff.

Package deals like this are not uncommon.

Michael Porter Sr. has landed jobs as assistant coach at both Washington and Missouri as Lorenzo Romar and Cuonzo Martin, respectively, were trying to bring in Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter. DePaul hired Shane Heirman as an assistant coach in part because they knew he would bring with him a commitment from four-star point guard Tyger Campbell. Shammond Williams, Mitchell Robinson’s godfather, was hired as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, although that did not turn out all that well.

And those are just deals that have happened in the past year. I could go on. (Keelon Lawson getting hired as an assistant at Memphis to land K.J. and Dedric, David Patrick was hired at LSU to get Ben Simmons.)

The difference with the Maxeys, however, is that Tyrone was not hired as an assistant coach.

He’s been hired in a support staff role, as the Director of Player Development, which is something the NCAA tried to legislate out of the sport seven years ago.

Back in 2010, the NCAA instituted a rule that banned the hiring of an “individual associated with a prospective student-athlete” in a support staff role for two years prior to and two years after the enrollment of that student-athlete. Put another way, unless you’re hiring that person as one of the three assistant coaches on staff, any relative, handler, high school coach or AAU coach must be hired two years before or after that student-athlete enrolls at the school.

Tyrone is not being hired as one of the three assistant coaches on Tim Jankovich’s staff.

He is, however, being hired more than two years before the fall semester of what would be Tyrese’s freshman year; my understanding is that Tyrese would be able to enroll at SMU without running into an issue with the NCAA. To my knowledge, that would make Tyrone the first person hired in a support staff role in a direct effort to land a specific recruit and SMU the first program to circumvent the NCAA’s rule by bringing on a parent more than two years before his son enrolls.

Jankovich knows what he’s doing.

He was on Bill Self’s staff when Mario Chalmers’ father was hired. He spent four years working under Larry Brown, who hired Danny Manning’s father. Both of those decisions led directly to a national title. It shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that he’s making a run at Tyrese Maxey, who is a top 20 player in the class, in this way.

It’s worth noting here that neither Tyrese nor Tyrone has said that the elder’s decision to take this job makes the younger a lock to be a Mustang. Tyrone has been a high school coach for the last 17 years in the Dallas area, including the past three seasons as an assistant coach at local power South Garland High School, but the intent here is transparent. Tyrone is replacing George Lynch, who won a national title with North Carolina before becoming a first round NBA Draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers and spending a dozen seasons in the NBA, in a player development role.

That hire may not end up being what makes this decision for Tyrese — high school kids tend to be unpredictable at times — but there’s no doubt that the intention of it was for it to influence his recruitment.

And let me be very clear here: There is nothing wrong with what SMU has done. Not only is it within the NCAA’s rules, but Jankovich is actually out ahead of the curve on this one. He doesn’t have to burn one of his three assistant coaching positions one someone who may or may not be qualified for the job, and he’ll have a great chance to land a player that may end up being the best recruit to enroll at an AAC school in the Class of 2019.

It’s almost as if someone that spent nine years working for Brown and Self knows a thing or two about the coaching business.

Success at the college level depends almost entirely on recruiting, more so in basketball than just about any other sport, and there may not be a better example than the Mustangs. Over the last five recruiting classes, as the SMU program surged to become a mainstay in the top 25 and reach a pair of NCAA tournaments*, they’ve only had one year where they did not finish with a top three class in the AAC, according to 247 Sports. That was in 2014, when they signed Emmanuel Mudiay, a top five prospect in the class, that ended up playing his one-and-done year in China amid eligibility concerns.

*(During that stretch, SMU reached the 2015 and 2017 NCAA tournaments. They were controversially snubbed in 2014 and, in 2016, they were banned from the NCAA tournament despite fielding a top 15 team in the country.)

Prior to Brown’s arrival, SMU had landed just a single four-star prospect since 2004 and had gone since 1993 without reaching the NCAA tournament.

In a business where employment is tied entirely to winning and mediocre jobs can pay seven figures, it makes too much sense to use spots on a coaching staff as a recruiting tool.

It doesn’t, however, guarantee success.

Stansbury and Western Kentucky learned that the hard way. The Lawson brothers transferred out of Memphis after two disappointing seasons, the first of which got the coach that recruited them into the program, Josh Pastner, fired. Ben Simmons never made the NCAA tournament at LSU, and head coach Johnny Jones was fired a year later. Texas A&M hired J-Mychal Reese’s father, John, as an assistant in 2011, and J-Mychal lasted all of 39 games before he was dismissed from the program. It’s hard to imagine Campbell’s commitment in and of itself turning around a program as moribund as DePaul. It’s easier to find examples of this blowing up in a program’s face than it is to find success stories.

Jankovich certainly knows this.

He also knows it puts SMU in the driver’s seat to land the highest-rated prospect to play for the program since Rivals began ranking prospects in 2003 with minimal risk to the program’s health in the interim.

When push comes to shove, winning with talent is easier to do than winning without it, and if what it takes to land a local prospect as good as Maxey should end up being is to hire his dad in a player development role for two years, then that is what you do.

It will be interesting to see whether or not anyone follows in these footsteps.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.