So you've probably already heard that Maryland and Mark Turgeon have lured Dalonte Hill away from Kansas St., a hire that's extremely impressive. We've been thinking that the staff would consist of Hill, Scott Spinelli, and Bino Ranson for quite some time now, and the WaPo's Josh Barr echoes those sentiments.
There's been no word yet from the university, and if we've learned anything over the past month it's that nothing is ever final. But this thing is just about all but finalized. And if this is the group that'll be helping Turgeon lead the Terps, it's a strong one; in fact, it's probably one of the strongest in the country.
For those of you not quite so tuned into the assistant coaching game, let's take a look at the new guys:
Scott Spinelli: Spinelli is essentially Turgeon's right-hand man. He was the top assistant for all four of Turgeon's years in Texas A&M, as well as the year before Turgeon made the jump from Wichita St. He's been in the coaching game since 1996, making him by far the most experienced assistant on the staff. TAMU gave him a few looks at their head coaching job, though they ended up going a different direction.
Spinelli's biggest positives are his experience and comfort level with Turgeon. But he's not a recruiting slouch. Turgeon has landed 11 of his own recruits in College Station; for five of them, Spinelli was the lead recruiter. He landed Turgeon's first three four-stars, all of them outside the state of Texas and one of them from DeMatha. He identified and was the lead recruiter for Khris Middleton, an unknown who became a star at TAMU. And he got Kyrie Irving to visit, which is a bit of a miracle considering the other schools Kyrie had on his list. Seriously, the Aggies were in Irving's final five. That's pretty ridiculous.
That, of course, helps. But so does his coaching acumen. He's not an Xs & Os whiz - at least I can't find anyone saying that he is - but he's without a doubt the most experienced coach and almost certainly the best in gameplanning. Bino and Hill are recruiters; Spinelli is more balanced, and having some help is a necessity in the college game unless you want to be El Sid or Dino Gaudio.
Bino Ranson: You know him and you love him. He's quite possibly the most connected man in Baltimore. I'm not lying when I say that recruits from Baltimore call him "Uncle Bino." He was vital in Maryland landing star Baltimore guard Nick Faust, and he'll be vital in retaining him. The Baltimore connections know no bounds, either; he's used them to get an in with basically anyone playing for the Houston Defenders, whose coach is from Baltimore and grew up with Bino. Players on the Defenders include Shaq Cleare - whom Bino has recruited almost single-handedly - and Aaron and Andrew Harrison, two of the top 10 or so players nationally in 2013.
You probably already know Bino, so I'm not going to ramble on. He is who he is, and that's great.
Dalonte Hill: Hill is to D.C. what Bino is to Baltimore. A native Washingtonian, he played college ball at Charlotte before returning to coach D.C. Assault, which became the area's premier AAU team. (Unfortunately for MD, Gary just about hated everyone involved with DCA, which made it...difficult to recruit any of their players.)
The next part of Hill's career is controversial and is basically the ultimate grey area move. He was offered an assistant coach job at K-State, and brought with him Michael Beasley, the top recruit in what was a loaded 2007 class. It was pretty well-known that wherever Hill landed Beasley would follow. Gary balked at the move when it was offered, and Hill ended up in Manhattan with Bob Huggins. Some see it as playing the game. Others see it as borderline illegal and entirely immoral. It's your call.
Regardless of your opinion of that move, though, Hill has proven that he can recruit above-board. He was the lead guy for DCA alums like five-star Wally Judge and four-stars Rodney McGruder and Dominique Sutton. He also was the lead recruiter for Jacob Pullen (whom you may have heard of) and New York natives Jordan Henriquez and Shane Southwell, both of whom played for the powerful NY Gauchos AAU team.
Things have gotten more difficult as of late for Hill, as Frank Martin has threatened to drive off the entire team with his unbridled insanity. It should be easier now. After all, he's recruiting to College Park (not a paradise, but home) and Mark Turgeon, not Middle-of-Nowhere, KS, and this guy.
His connections with DCA are obvious, and he's also friendly with Keith Stevens, the head man of Team Takeover, who used to coach him. He's a huge name in the area, and would be revolutionary for Maryland's recruiting of DC and PG County if only for the massive change it would signal in philosophy. In reality, Hill will help much more than that; Maryland will be a player for almost any recruit who comes through Assault, and probably most who come through Takeover, too. (If you're wondering who those are: Nate Britt and BeeJay Anya would be good starting spots.)
The question I'm sure will be asked: why no Ehsan? Everybody loves Ehsan, me included, but he was just the odd man out here. I'm guessing it came down to Ehsan vs. Spinelli, and while I understand why fans would want E$, Spinelli's familiarity with Turgeon and his Xs & Os experience was probably the deciding factor. I wanted Ehsan too, but if being familiar with Spinelli makes Turgeon's transition easier, I can hardly fault him for it. Given Spinelli's experience and the fact that he got a serious look from A&M, it might be a short-term upgrade.
I said this yesterday, too, but Turgeon is flanked by one of the most high-powered staffs in the country. In fact, given Maryland's particular needs - shut down local recruiting - I don't know if I trade this staff for any in the country. Any player worth his salt in the DC-Baltimore corridor will be in play for the Terrapins. Finally.