Assigned Reading: An in-depth look at search firms

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When Rutgers needed to hire a replacement for Tim Pernetti as the university’s athletic director, the school did what most schools in that situation do: they hired a search firm to help them parse through candidates.

The bill?

$70,000.

The end result?

Rutgers hired Julie Hermann away from Louisville, a move that was lauded until the Newark Star-Ledger dug up some embarrassing details from Hermann’s past. Namely, she was fired as the head volleyball coach at Tennessee in 1996 for actions that were all too similar to those of Mike Rice. Rice was fired in April when a video of him abusing his players reached Outside The Lines. Pernetti lost his job because he failed to fire Rice last December when he first became aware of the video.

The entire soap opera brought to light the topic of search firms and how they operate. If Rutgers is paying $70,000 for Parker Executive Search to help them find an AD, isn’t checking for skeletons in the closet part of the job?

On Friday, Dana O’Neil of ESPN.com published an interesting look into Parker Executive Search and how search firms operate, which is really worth your time. I found this passage most interesting, however:

The perception exists among the coaching fraternity that if you don’t know Parker and other top search firms, or vice versa, you won’t get a job because of the wide breadth of their influence.

Some go to great lengths to stay in their good graces.

“When I was at Murray State, I did an interview for a job I didn’t want because a high-powered search firm wanted me to,” Cronin said. “The school wanted to interview me and I wasn’t interested in the job, but I wanted to endear myself to the search firm. I thought it was better than pissing them off.”

Others take far less complicated routes, but with the same goal: to stay in good favor.

Wilder said that, prior to Peach Jam, more than a few coaches stopped by the firm’s Atlanta office to say hello en route to North Augusta, and its Final Four party has become a must-attend event for coaches trying to get noticed.

“It’s one of the funniest things in the world. Everybody is practically in line to meet them and kiss the rings,” the agent said. “You’ve got the ADs they’ve hired or the associate ADs that want their help. There are maybe a handful of head coaches and a bunch of assistants trying to get face time. Then you’ve got six of me who are making sure their guys get seen but also protecting them to make sure other agents aren’t trying to talk to them. It’s unreal.”

Right or wrong, the perception for just about everyone around these search firms is that it’s not much more than an old boy’s network.

And it doesn’t look like that will change, regardless of what their higher-ups are telling ESPN.com.

Memphis, Penny land commitment from second five-star prospect, Precious Achiuwa

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The transformation is complete.

On Friday afternoon, Precious Achiuwa, a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2019, announced that he has committed to play his college basketball at Memphis, joining one of the best recruiting classes in the country and affirming that Penny Hardaway will enter the 2019-20 season with a preseason top 10 team.

Achiuwa, one of the top combo-forwards in the class and the kind of athlete that will make him an attractive player to NBA GMs, joins No. 1 player James Wiseman and fellow four-star prospects D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damion Baugh and Malcolm Dandridge in Penny’s first real recruiting class as Memphis head coach.

The Tigers also add Rayjon Tucker, arguably the nation’s top grad transfer and a potential NBA player in his own right.

As we wrote earlier this week, Penny is building an absolute monster in Memphis.

Grant Williams will remain in 2019 NBA Draft

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Grant Williams announced on Friday morning that he will be staying in the NBA draft after an All-American junior season with Tennessee.

Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals this past season, helping lead Tennessee to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a run to the Sweet 16, where they lost in overtime to Purdue.

This is probably the right decision for him to make. While he is somewhat undersized and limited athletically, Williams is such a smart and savvy players. He really understands how to pass, he can defend multiple positions and, most importantly, he has a skill-set that should allow him to be able to contribute as a role player at the next level, particularly if his three-point stroke is as good as it has looked in postseason workouts.

Williams is slotted in at No. 19 to San Antonio in the most recent NBC Sports mock draft.

Tennessee will now have to play the waiting game with Jordan Bone, who is still undecided on his status. The Vols currently sit 22nd in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Clemson lands Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore

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Clemson is adding a former top-50 recruit to its roster.

Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore has pledged to coach Brad Brownell and the Tigers, he announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Moore, a former four-star recruit, played just 2 minutes last season for the Red Raiders and saw his season shutdown amid medical concerns due to lingering issues from a broken leg he suffered in high school. The plan was for him to seek a medical hardship redshirt for last season, which could allow him to still have four years of eligibility remaining at Clemson after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer.

The Tigers went 20-14 last season and missed the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons under Brownell.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, continues to build a monster even with departures like former high-profile recruit.

 

 

Four-star forward Jalen Wilson asks out of Michigan letter of intent

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John Beilein isn’t the only loss Michigan sustained this week.

Jalen Wilson, a top-50 guard in 2019, has requested out of his National Letter of Intent with the Wolverines, he announced Thursday.

“Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment,” he wrote on social media.

Beilein’s decision to leave Michigan for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the college basketball world earlier this week, and there’s little surprise to see it shake the Wolverines’ recruiting class as the head coaching position remains vacant and Michigan conducting a search of its next coach.

Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward, is now considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida along with the Wolverines, according to 247Sports. The Texas native suddenly becomes one of the most desirable players left available ahead of the upcoming season.

Cole Bajema, a top-150 wing from Washington, is the lone remaining signee in Michigan’s 2019 class.

Nebraska adds former Tennessee forward Walker

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Former Tennessee forward Derrick Walker is transferring to Nebraska.

Nebraska announced Wednesday it has added Walker to its roster. Nebraska officials said Walker will sit out the 2019-20 season before playing for the Cornhuskers. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Walker entered the NCAA transfer portal after averaging 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.3 minutes for Tennessee this past season. The 6-foot-8 Walker averaged 1.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes as a freshman in the 2017-18 season.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement, “Derrick is a physical player who gives us skill and versatility in the post.”