A coach capable of mastering the finer points of the mid major and high major recruiting trade is translatable to instant value in a head coaching position.
This will likely be proven with the recent hiring of core of young and proven program builders.
Bryant University, a Northeast Conference program in Rhode Island, took a massive step to revamping the program by hiring Jared Grasso.
Regarded by many as the top mid major recruiter in the country, expect Grasso to revitalize an ailing program through the same formula which brought the New Yorker several NCAA tournament berths under Tim Cluess at Iona: Gritty, swagger-laced, two-way guard play. Such is traditionally a key component for success in the guard-laden NEC.
Out in South Florida, a program located smack in the heart of a growing hoops hotbed looks to alter the perception of a floundering program.
Instrumental in bringing arguably the best facilitating guard in the country in Andrew Nembhard to Florida, former Gators assistant Dusty May will look to refresh the brand.
FAU, a sleeping giant given the school’s size, location, and facilities, has already made one high profile hire by bringing in Lane Kiffin to turnaround the football program.
May possesses the pedigree and thorough experience in the business.
He worked under the legendary Bobby Knight at Indiana and Henry Bibby at USC during the early phases of his career.
He was a no-brainer choice to upgrade the roster while simultaneously bringing local Palm Beach County area talent to Boca Raton.
May will swiftly transition from recruiting heavily courted four and five star recruits to finding mid-major guys who really haven’t been discovered.
The key aspect differentiating May is he’s not a script reader style of recruiter.
He truly buys into the player development concept.
Recent times have shown May’s ability to build relationships in which he cares about his players as people first, student-athletes second.
May’s know-how, presence on the recruiting landscape and ability to discover and prioritize rarified talent typically results in logical four year scholarship investments.
If his staff can tap into the hotbeds such as West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale and Miami, a smooth transition will follow.
Part of it is selling young talent on the upside at FAU and their vision for the program authentically, not pulling the nauseating and overused cliches that even a crooked Florida bail bondsmen and snake oil salesman can memorize.
Chris Mack is cognizant of all the challenges he inherits by taking over a Louisville program marred by controversy.
Once a national power, Louisville has lost luster following Rick Pitino’s untimely September 2017 firing and yet another murky NCAA sideshow involving improper recruiting tactics.
Over at UConn, a once prosperous program which has endured back to back cringeworthy seasons stuffed in the AAC’s lower percentile, Danny Hurley faces similar challenges.
While the Connecticut media has been carrying a torch proudly for Hurley and even rolled out (unfair, unrealistic) comparisons to Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun, plenty of work needs to be done. At 45, Hurley certainly has the rising recruiting presence and disciplined, fiery, no-nonsene style that would help restore credibility to the program.
While UConn recently lost Brewster Academy big man Lukas Kisunas, there is promise with pieces such as Sid Wilson. It’s no secret, Hurley brings with him a reputation to get diamond in the rough caliber guys and hold them accountable.
Look alive, this could get intriguing very quickly.
With the coaching carousal in full effect and new coaching staffs assimilating to new environments, plenty of unsigned guys could gain traction during a vital period.
Here’s a look at some of the top unsigned guys on the market, those with the skill set and readiness to make immediate contributions at a mid-major program.
Dexter Dennis, Believe Prep Academy
The 6-foot-5 guard is a thunderous finisher with an explosive above the rim game. In his post-grad year, Dennis showed a knack for knocking down 3-pointers and knifing to the rack without a tinge of hesitance.
He’s improved as a ball handler and on-ball defender. The Louisiana native has the leadership qualities and instinctive style to lead by example down the road.
Ole Miss has recently offered Dennis. IUPUI, Charleston Southern, Middle Tennessee State, Austin Peay, UNC Asheville, and other offers are currently on the table.
Koreem Ozier, Scotland Campus Sports
The workmanlike 6-foot-1 guard enhanced his profile when he scored 26 points and grabbed 12 boards against Anfernee Simons and IMG Academy in November.
Then in March, he dropped a game-best 39 points on Putnam Science (CT). A 1400+ point scorer at Racine Case (WI), Ozier has used the post graduate season to pack on muscle and become more explosive. Sacred Heart, Robert Morris, Grambling and several others have plunked down offers for the Class of 2018 prospect.
Justice Kendall, Scotland Campus Sports
The quick and shifty 6-foot-1 guard can score points in clusters. This past season, he improved as a defender and a facilitator. Now a full qualifier, Kendall would be a significant get at the low major to mid major Division-I level.
Assane Diouf, DME Academy
The 7-foot-1 behemoth has upside as a menacing shot blocker and presence on the boards. His offensive game is slowly developing, albeit he’s shown out in big stages for himself this season. If he can continue to polish up his interior skill set while impacting the game defensively, Diouf could be a sleeper. While he’s raw, he’s got a high ceiling because of his ability to steer attackers clear of the driving lanes.
Mayoum Mayoum, DME Academy
The hard-driving 6-foot-4 guard from Australia showed flashes this season. A class of 2020 prospect, Mayoum has the type of high flying athleticism and fearlessness in the slashing game that appeals to Division-I coaches. If he can relish the leadership role as a junior next season, he’s the chance to be an impactful two-way presence. Mayoum was a key figure in DME’s winning 10 of 13 games during a pivotal stretch this season.
Ben Lubarsky, Benjamin
The big, powerful lefty is a high-scoring source with an engine. He’s got a smooth left handed stroke and has developed a nifty handle and passing acumen as well. He averaged 25+ points for much of the year, despite a nagging injury mid-way through the season.
Dante Wilcox, Oxbridge Academy
The Class of 2019 forward possessing a bruising football player build, an aspect which enables him to get into the lane and finish with contact. The Class of 2019 forward possesses an advanced tool set in all components of his game. His strength and athleticism make him a very enticing prospect.
Jacob Narvaez, McArthur High
The hot-shooting guard showed many times this season he can spark key runs and surges once he catches the hot hand. Deadly from the outside, Narvaez improved incrementally at his attacking and strength. The Class of 2018 prospect has the qualities of a late bloomer style recruit, who will greatly benefit from an additional year to develop.
Jammy Pierre Louis, St. Andrew’s
The high-scoring class of 2018 guard enjoyed his best statistical campaign in 2017-18. Among his personal highlights were a 41-point outburst. Pierre Louis scores the ball at will and in a variety of ways, an attribute which catapulted him to the upper percentile of Palm Beach County’s guards.
Miles Coleman, Dwyer
The Dwyer senior is lethal for his consistency. Coleman is a strong, well built guard who can score from the outside and also provide toughness and hustle points. He proved this during Dwyer’s January upset bid over a star spangled University School team at the Suncoast tournament.
Mikail Starks, Palmetto
The Class of 2018 guard was a true two way threat this season. He guided Palmetto with numerous 30+ point showings. Starks doesn’t get enough credit as a pesky on-ball defender who can routinely neutralize the featured scorer of foes.
Richard Nunez, North Miami Beach
Nunez was a consistent top scorer for NMB, albeit you can’t really gauge his production in one role. He’s a deft passing point forward who wears a number of different hats at 6-foot-8. His high level shooting and ability to guard every position on the floor made him one of the more under the radar prospects. He consistently filled up every category of the stat sheet.
Dudley Blackwell, Westminster
When he’s engaged for four full quarters and embracing the work ethic required for success at the ensuing level, Blackwell is one of the most electrifying players in the country. He’s got high-level finishing ability and can knock down shots from the perimeter and mid-range. He’s improved defensively and is a unique threat for his advanced passing. Several high major programs are in pursuit.