Miami’s new coach better make local recruits his top priority

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If Miami does settle on a new coach soon (possibly today?) that coach needs to emphasize one area Frank Haith did not: local recruiting.

Haith, now at Missouri after seven seasons with the ‘Canes, signed only seven Miami-area players, and two (Denis Clemente and Eddie Rios) were eventually dismissed for disciplinary reasons. The other he brought in – Dwayne Collins, Guillermo Diaz, Brian Asbury, Adrian Thomas – were all 4-star prospects, but that was all before 2008. (Freddy Asprilla committed, but never played for the U.)

Since then, Miami hasn’t had any Miami-area players. That includes the likes of Brandon Knight, Kenny Boynton and Tim Hardaway Jr. Even worse, he didn’t even recruit Boynton or Hardaway Jr., both of whom are among college hoops’ most talented guards.

Not that Haith missed completely by ignoring Miami-area players – Durand Scott and Reggie Johnson are were clearly worth trips out of state – but there’s enough local talent in the Miami area to make the ‘Canes into more than a middle-of-the-pack ACC team.

Leonard Hamilton made local recruits a priority. By the time he left Miami in 1999, the ‘Canes had made three straight NCAA tournaments and reached the Sweet 16. Even for a school that doesn’t have much local fan support or much money to pay a new coach, there’s enough talent to be more competitive.

“UM has everything in place — location, talent, conference — but they’ve got to be willing to compete. It’s been hard for them to gain a foothold among the entrenched powers in the ACC,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas told the Miami Herald. “They’ve had a difficult transition from the Big East to the ACC.”

Frank Martin would be the perfect hire, but the school might not have enough financial resources to make it happen. That leaves the likes of Mike Davis, Tony Barbee, Billy Kennedy, Tommy Amaker, Chris Mooney, Jeff Capel and John Pelphrey.

Word to the wise: Start calling those local kids ASAP.

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