Michael Beasley

Yet another AAU coach gets a high-major assistant position

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Villanova’s basketball staff has undergone a restructuring.

Doug West is leaving, according to a tweet from Jeff Goodman, and will be replaced by Doug Martin.

Normally, coaching staff changes don’t require a post of more than a couple words, saying where the new assistant coach came from while stuffing in some quote from a press release by the head coach on why this new hire will lead them directly to a national title.

But Jay Wright’s decision to hire Martin is quite interesting for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Martin coaches for DC’s Team Takeover, one of two powerhouse AAU programs in one of the nation’s most fertile recruiting grounds. And I’m sure the fact that Villanova is currently pursuing Josh Hart, a DC native and a kid that plays for Team Takeover, had nothing what-so-ever to do with Wright’s decision to bring Martin aboard.

“I like Villanova’s coaching staff,” 2013 Sidwell Friends guard Josh Hart told SNY.tv at the recent “Live in AC” event. “They seem kind of genuine and that kind of thing. And also my 16s coach I think is going to be at Villanova so that’s never a bad thing.

“I know I will be taken care of with him there.”

It’s become a bit of a hot topic in recent years. According to a story from Mark Gianotto of the Washington Post, 13 coaches from the DC Assault program have become assistant coaches. One of those coaches is Dalonte Hill, who was hired at Kansas State because Bob Huggins knew Michael Beasley would come along with him and is now an assistant at Maryland. David Cox is responsible for three starters at Rutgers. Martin is the fourth Takeover guy to get a Division I coaching job. Kenny Johnson’s hiring at Indiana helped Tom Crean land a commitment from Stanford Robinson.

And it’s not just the DC area, either. Ben Howland hired Korey McCray of the Atlanta Celtics last June and has two Atlanta natives in this year’s recruiting class, Tony Parker and Jordan Adams.

This trend has, obviously, rubbed some people the wrong way. There is a stigma involved with being an AAU coach, three scarlet letters that mark you unscrupulous, money-hungry and incapable of coaching basketball. There are plenty of cases where that stereotype is true, but there are also good coaches on the AAU circuit. Don’t believe me? The DC Assault had former NBA head coach Eddie Jordan working for them in April. Former No. 1 pick Pervis Ellison has coached Philly’s Team Final in recent years.

The bigger problem, however, is the assumption that hiring an AAU coach as an assistant implies that there is something else — something straight out of the movie ‘Blue Chips’ — going on. While there are unquestionably situations where that is the case, the bottom line is that these AAU coaches are getting these jobs because of who they know, not what they know. Recruiting is all about connections, and, frankly, it’s much easier to hire a guy that already has connections with a group of talented recruits than to hope that the coach that is hired is able to build those friendships over time.*

(*For those that don’t remember, in 2010, the NCAA passed a rule that curbed some of these package deals. They implemented a rule that said a school couldn’t recruit a player that was associated with anyone hired to a non-coaching position. No more putting a player’s father on staff as a strength and conditioning coach, in other words. If you’re going to hire a coach for his connections, you have to hire him as one of your three assistants.)

By hiring a guy like Martin or Johnson or Hill, you get immediate results and, hopefully, an immediate infusion of talent.

It is a bit discomforting — when you step back and look at it, grown men are relying on their relationship with 16 year old kids to get them six-figure paydays — and, like I said, it’s unlikely that all of these deals are acceptable in the eyes on the NCAA.

But I, personally, have no issue with it. Recruiting is all about connections, and if you can’t recruit talent into your program — if your staff doesn’t have those connections — you won’t be winning many games or coaching for very long at that institution.

And you better get used to it. As this method of recruiting continues to prove successful, it will only become more common-place.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Former NBA coach Eddie Jordan returns to roots with D.C. Assault program

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PITTSBURGH–We’ve seen that look from Eddie Jordan before.

On an in-bound play, his team turns the ball over, which leads to two easy points in transition for the opposition. Jordan runs his fingers through his hair and looks away in displeasure, signaling to the referee for a timeout.

The game may appear to be the same, but the location isn’t. This isn’t an arena crowded with 20,000 spectators, something that Jordan would be used to after nine seasons as an NBA head coach.

Instead, he is in a middle school gym in suburban Pittsburgh, coaching in front of about twenty college coaches and, by a rough estimate, 100 parents and evaluators.

Jordan is now the coach of the D.C. Assault 17U team, a prominent AAU program from Washington D.C., that has churned out talent like Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Nolan Smith of the Portland Trailblazers.

He called that timeout to settle his team down. It worked. They regrouped and went on to win, 62-37, in the first round of the Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest.

But this story isn’t about Eddie Jordan hitting some sort of metaphorical “bottom.” If it were, there would be no story to tell, because this is not the bottom. This, for Jordan, is the top.

“It took me this long to get me where I really wanted to be,” he told NBCSports.com. “Frankly, I wanted to coach middle school and high school kids. I was raised in southeast Washington D.C. It was a tough environment.

“I saw what my high school and middle school coach did and said, ‘This is what you can do to affect kids and make a difference and change kids’ lives.’”

Jordan, 57, was the head coach of three NBA teams in his nine-year career, and was also an assistant on the New Jersey Nets teams that reached the NBA Finals in 2002 and 2003.

He was fired from the Philadelphia 76ers in 2010 after just one season, finishing with a record of 27-55. But that is where the path, unconventional as it may seem, led back to his roots in Washington D.C.

He took a position as the freshman basketball coach at his alma mater, Archbishop Carroll High School (D.C.), after leaving the 76ers, where he was approached by Curtis Malone, an acquaintance who helps to run the D.C. Assault program.

Malone invited Jordan to work out with the team this past fall, and which led to Jordan taking over as coach this spring.

“There’s no one second-guessing you here. It’s pure basketball,” says Jordan with a genuine sense of sincerity. “I’m not getting paid. You want to enjoy what you’re doing. It was just basketball, working with kids. Most of them are Division I recruits, so it’s terrific.”

At the center of his program is point guard Nate Britt, a 2013 prospect committed to play for coach Roy Williams at North Carolina.

Britt is an intelligent basketball player who, when not playing for D.C. Assault, is the point man at Gonzaga (D.C.), one of the strongest programs in the D.C.-area conference, the WCAC.

As an elite-level guard, Britt says he is focused on what Jordan brings to the floor.

“He’s teaching me a lot about how to play, how to bring intensity all the time,” he says. “Just from him being an NBA coach, I’m learning a lot from him because he shows us how the NBA guys carry themselves and have that killer instinct every night.

“He’s a really nice guy. For him to come down from the NBA and teach kids at this level, I think it’s great.”

Britt’s father, Nate Sr., has coached D.C. Assault previously and Jordan credits the younger Britt’s development to his father’s guidance.

As Jordan returns to this grassroots level, it allows him to get involved as players emerge into the national spotlight for the first time.

Part of that spotlight is dealing with the media, with which Jordan has extensive experience from his time in the NBA. But instead of emphasizing it, Jordan prefers to focus on the court.

“I didn’t really talk about media. I talk about how to be a good teammate,” Jordan recounts. “How to respond to coaching. They’re so innocent and willing to listen, it’s a pleasure to coach them.”

Away from the national media spotlight, as he is in a middle school gym outside Pittsburgh, Jordan speaks in a way that projects contentment and a sense of pleasure with what he is doing.

D.C. Assault was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Pitt Jam Fest, but not before a strong performance from Britt and 2013 forward Kris Jenkins.

The 6-5, 230-pound Jenkins is currently drawing interest from schools that include Rutgers, Virginia Tech, Miami, and Villanova. He, too, is drawing off of Jordan’s presence with the Assault program.

“To have somebody who played and coached at that level is great,” says Jenkins. “He has knowledge and is a great teacher.”

But where will Jordan go from here, no that he has reached the job that he initially set out for?

“I’ve made a great living at the college level and in the NBA and I don’t want to retire,” he says. “I think I could coach another 8 to 10 years in the big leagues, but if it comes it comes.

“At this level, they’re talented, they’re respectful. There’s not the other drama you have to deal with. That’s how basketball was years ago.”

It might sound overly idyllic at first, but that’s not how it comes off when Jordan says it. Instead, it is decidedly humanizing, something that i at times lost or unseen at the professional level.

After more than a decade at the highest level, he recounted the one moment that sticks out most in his mind.

“My players invited me to their basketball banquet at Archbishop Carroll,” he says. “They gave me a book and essays they wrote about me. This is the most they could give and it was from their heart. It’s better than any ring or trophy.”

A chance could arise, hypothetically, for Jordan to return to the NBA, but don’t be so sure that he’d jump at just any offer. It might be too difficult to pull him away from grassroots.

“I didn’t want to sit around and wait for someone to hire me. I love basketball. I love teaching it,” he says. “And, here, I’m having a ball.”

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Report: Samuels received improper benefits from his AAU coach

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It looks like we now have some insight as to why Jamar Samuels was suspended.

Speaking to Austin Meek, a writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal, Samuels’ AAU coach Curtis Malone, who runs powerhouse program DC Assault, said that he was the reason Samuels was suspended and it was because he gave the senior some money.

“There hasn’t been anything extravagant or large lumps,” Malone said. “I don’t just give a kid money. It’s the same way when he played with DC Assault on road trips. When he didn’t have money to eat, he ate.”

Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com confirmed that it was a $200 wire transfer from Malone to Samuels. Malone said he was unaware of the rule.

“If I wanted to hide it, I would have done it differently,” he said. “He needed money to eat.”

Malone doesn’t believe that was he did was an impermissible benefit as he has a prior relationship with Samuels and his mother from their AAU days. Martin, who nearly broke down into tears after the game, went on record as saying that he didn’t believe that Samuels committed a violation.

Last October, Malone was in the news because another former player Michael Beasley had filed a lawsuit against him. Beasley claimed that Malone had conspired with agent Joel Bell to steer the player to Bell in exchange for bankrolling Malone’s AAU team.

I feel awful for Samuels. He was a senior. This was his final college basketball game ever. That hurts.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Sharpie pranks, by Michael Beasley

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Fear the Beard? Not Michael Beasley.

The former Kansas State star is always up for a prank. So on a recent trip to Manhattan, Kan., he paid tribute to current Wildcats guard Jacob Pullen – and his glorious facial hair. From the Topeka Capital-Journal:

Beasley, whose best gags always seem to involve Sharpies, grew envious after hearing about former teammate Jacob Pullen’s famous facial hair. So before he left, Beasley scribbled a black beard everywhere his image appeared in Kansas State’s basketball offices.

Sounds to me like Beasley hit upon the perfect player of the year campaign for Pullen. Sharpie beards everywhere!

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.