News flash: UCLA hires Korey McCray as an assistant basketball coach. McCray was previously head of the Atlanta Celtics AAU basketball program, known for turning out terrific talent.
News flash: Louisville hires Wyking Jones as an assistant basketball coach. Before his job as assistant at New Mexico, Jones was with Elite Youth Basketball, where he managed all 45 travel teams and Nike-sponsored tournaments.
Notice a trend here.
Once, coaches tried to get around AAU basketball coaches when recruiting hot prospects. Now, they simply hire the coaches, or managers, or directors.
Before hiring Jones, Louisville hired Tim Fuller, who had been a marketing representative for Nike before taking the U of L job. Fuller has since moved on to Missouri, where he is re-united with his friend and mentor, Frank Haith.
McCray comes from an AAU program that has produced Dwight Howard, Amarie Stoudamire, Joe Johnson and Josh Smith, among others. He is expected to have some influence with current AAU stars.
Having Korey on the staff will obviously get UCLA in the door for many of the top kids around Atlanta because he’s very well-respected as a person and coach, but I still think it’s going to be hard for them to pull kids all the way across the country. It’s just really hard to get kids to go over 2,000 miles away from home, but I do think Korey will get some kids from Atlanta to go play for him. In the 2012 class alone, Jordan Adams and Shaq Goodwin both have UCLA in their top 5 and Tony Parker might give UCLA some consideration as well. [Note: Parker, who is from Miller Grove High School and holds offers from Duke and North Carolina, plays part-time with the Atlanta Celtics]
Hiring a club coach at a storied program such as UCLA would be an unusual but not unprecedented move. Arizona assistant Emmanuel “Book” Richardson once coached the New York Gauchos and helped the Wildcats land New York natives Lamont Jones and Kevin Parrom, both former Gauchos.
Sometimes players don’t join their club coaches at the college level. Baylor hired Dwon Clifton, the club coach of top point guard prospect John Wall, three years ago at a time the Bears were recruiting Wall. But Wall attended Kentucky and Clifton left Baylor after two years.
Part of this is nothing new. College coaches have been known to hire high school coaches as a so-called “package deal” to secure a top prospect. But hiring an AAU coach presents a different scenario considering their access to multiple recruits. Someone like a Wkying Jones has contacts not just with one team full of stars, but with many teams full of stars.
Said Pitino when he hired Fuller, “”We want to redefine our brand. Every brand needs new innovations, needs some type of creativity. With this new staff, with this new arena, we are going to build a new brand of basketball.”
One brand has remained the same in basketball. Recruiting is the name of the game.