The 2nd of a 3 part series on Maryland basketball by the Washington Post came out today and part two is 100 times better then part one. The story details the ins and outs of AAU recruiting and citing specific examples of shady recruiting practices that Gary Williams refuses to undertake.
I think this story sheds a lot of light on some of Maryland's recruiting "problems" the last few years. It seems like there are a lot of shady practices going on in the recruiting world and Gary refuses to take part.
Some examples from the article, which I would recommend highly to anyone who cares about Maryland Basketball:
In 2005, Md had a position open on their roster for an assistant coach and a coach from an AAU team, who was also coaching as an assistant at Charlotte, wanted to fill that vacated spot. The coach worked with the same AAU team that Michael Beasley played on. It was widely believed that where ever this guy became a coach, Beasley would follow. The problem was that this guy wanted $450,000-500,000 to become a coach where ever he ended up. Gary said "no way" and refused to pay $500,000 to land a recruit.
"To bring Beasley, it cost $450,000, for sure," he said. "We know that. We didn't have $450,000. So we are not going to get Beasley."
"Third-party recruiting -- in other words, making sure somebody gets taken care of [financially] -- I am not going to do it," Williams said. "Period. There is no argument there. If that makes me a bad recruiter, then I am a bad recruiter."
The guy ended up as a coach at Kansas state and Beasley followed him there.
The story also dives into the recruitment of Rudy Gay. It's clear that Gary is still bitter about that and it appeared that Gay was on his way to College Park until a quickly put together AAU team played a scrimmage against UConn and was paid $22,000 to do so. The event prompted the NCAA to prohibit such an action from occurring in the future, but the damage was already done. Williams thinks Gay would have been perfect in his system and perfect for building the program after the NCAA title. But after this event, Gary basically said if this is what it takes to land these guys, I'm not going to do it. And, although the result of that is a big drop off since the ACC title in 2004, I respect the man so much more then I previously did because of it.
Granted, I think there might be more that Maryland could do, but the fact that Gary refuses to take part in some of this crap should gain him a lot of respect from the Maryland faithful, especially from those Gary critics. I think Gary saw what happens when a program has an NCAA violation; he dealt with that and built a program that won a title after being issued a death sentence. I think he would rather keep a clean program that doesn't have violations but performs at a so-so level then have to experience risking his school and his program, which he has so much pride in, from suffering through another NCAA violation period.
I hope the NCAA reads this and does something about the AAU circuit and these shady practices. And I hope Gary realizes (which I think he has) that he can still do something things with AAU players that can get them into a Terps uniform and not risk an NCAA recruitment violation.