College Basketball: Ranking the Best Recruiting Coaches in the ACC
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With the college basketball season shortly upon us and decisions upcoming for many top recruits, what better time to look at the best recruiting head coaches in the ACC.
With so much hype and excitement surrounding the recruitment of top-notch talent like Jabari Parker and Julius Randle, we tend to forget who is doing the recruiting and how they are getting it done. We overlook the time, hard work and dedication it takes for these coaches to pitch their school and basketball philosophy to the up-and-coming stars of tomorrow.
And while it seems some coaches get five-star recruits simply on name and stature alone (they do), their labor must not be discounted, because times have changed. College programs cannot rely on one single player to lead them to a National Championship anymore, as times before have shown (Danny Manning, Mateen Cleaves, Carmelo Anthony to name a few). Rather, coaches need to recruit solid talent across the board and provide his team with enough depth to succeed.
With that said, coaching and recruiting is not nearly as simple as people perceive. Coaches should be praised for all they do for their respected schools. Based on their past accomplishments and success in winning and recruiting, here is a list of the top recruiting coaches in the ACC.
No. 5: Leonard Hamilton, Florida State Seminoles
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Leonard Hamilton is one of the most underrated head coaches in college basketball. He is entering his eleventh season with the 'Noles, which makes Hamilton the second longest tenured coach in the ACC.
The ACC is known for its unbelievable competitiveness because of the large amount of quality teams, but Hamilton has persisted and pushed through, currently holding a .585 winning percentage.
Hamilton has led Florida State to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances and to three consecutive third place finishes in the ACC standings. The season was highlighted by finishing No. 10 in the final Associated Press poll and the No. 15 in the final ESPN/USA Today poll of season.
Hamilton was named the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, something that has solidified Hamilton's spot as one of the best coaches in the ACC. Florida State has not finished below third place in the ACC standings in the last three seasons and is one of only two teams in the ACC that has not finished outside of the top four in the ACC standings (along with Duke) since 2009.
For Florida State to become elite, Hamilton needs to use his wit and recruiting prowess to nab a five-star player. The 'Noles always seem to be only one player away from consistently competing with the Duke's and North Carolina's of the world.
Hamilton has two four-star recruits coming into Tallahassee this year, Montay Brandon and Aaron Thomas, both of which will get time on the court this year. Hamilton has a niche for sniffing out under-recruited players and turning them into NBA players. Look for him to receive some recognition for his work in years upcoming. FSU is no longer a dark horse team, the recruits will soon trickle in.
Notable Recruits: Michael Snaer, Chris Singleton, Bernard James, Von Wafer
No. 4: Tony Bennett, Virginia Cavaliers
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Tony Bennett (not the one you're thinking of) was brought in to help rebuild Virginia after he did such a tremendous job with Washington State from 2004-2009. Bennett succeeded with a group of undervalued, heady, intangible guys at WSU, while never receiving a commit from a "top talent". That was something Virginia liked so much about him. Virginia is more of a football school than anything else, so recruits aren't exactly going to be flooding the gates to go there.
Bennett's major success with Virginia came last year when he led the Cavaliers to 22 wins and a NCAA Tournament appearance, something they haven't done since 2007. His calling card to success is through defense, where Virginia held 12 straight opponents to under 70 points.
His coaching philosophy forces his kids to maximize their efforts on the defensive end, while having a slow-down, possession by possession-type game on the offensive side.
Charlottesville is going to be happy come next season, because its recruiting class is laden with defensive ability. Center Mike Tobey was brought in to block shots and clog the paint, something that Bennett craves. Also, watch out for Justin Anderson. He's a raw talent, but will be a stopper defensively.
Sure, he hasn't had the best recruits come in, but he's had solid ones.
Notable Recruits: James Johnson, Malcolm Brogdon, Justin Anderson, Mike Tobey
No. 3: Mark Gottfried, North Carolina State Wolfpack
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Mark Gottfried, in his first year with North Carolina State, enjoyed major success. He led the Wolfpack to an unexpected 24 wins, a surprising Sweet 16 appearance and put icing on the cake by landing one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.
The Wolfpack were the No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region last year, and they came within minutes of securing a spot in the Elite Eight, somewhere no one expected NC State to be. That is a testament to Gottfried's strong will and cerebral style of coaching. Just because his team may be down at times, they are certainly never out.
His biggest success last year came in the recruiting circuit. Gottfried locked up three of the top recruits in the nation, headlined by the commitment of five-star guard, Rodney Purvis. Purvis, along with fellow recruits T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis were all All-Americans last year and are near the top of the list at their respected positions.
Gottfried is bound to secure some more top talent due to NC State being on the rise. The Wolfpack's top four scorers from last year are returning, in addition to the talent coming in, so watch out for quite a few upsets this coming year.
Notable Recruits: Ronald Steele, Alonzo Gee, Richard Hendrix
No. 2: Roy Williams, North Carolina Tar Heels
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Is there any way he could have won over 600 games, been to seven Final Fours and have won two National Titles without top recruits?
Yeah, I didn't think so.
Williams is a Hall of Fame coach and simply an amazing recruiter. He has turned his programs into factories for NBA talent, churning out player after player without fail. That is a huge reason why he gets the five-star players. They have dreams of making it big in the NBA and Roy Williams and his programs are the launching pad to stardom.
He has had great recruiting classes year after year with UNC. From his great class in 2006 with Tywon Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Brandan Wright to 2010 with Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. This year is no different.
Sure, they may have lost four starting players, but made up for it by securing one of the top classes in 2012. North Carolina landed 4 four-star recruits: Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson, Joel James and J.P. Tokoto, all of which look to get serious burn this upcoming season.
You can't argue with results. And Roy always has them.
Notable Recruits: Paul Pierce, Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Harrison Barnes
No. 1: Mike Krzyzewski, Duke Blue Devils
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Was there any question?
Coach K has won four National Titles, won over 900 games (most all-time in D-1), and is arguably the best coach in basketball history.
His coaching style translates well at any level, college, Olympic, high school (camps), you name it. Some consider his 2011 class his best, at least it was ranked that way, when he managed to secure five players in the top 100.
Coach K has witnessed top talent come and go, as if it was a revolving door of sorts, but still has managed to compete for the National Title almost exclusively.
This year's class is not his best, nor are they in the top five in class rank, but they do however, have skilled players coming in ready to contribute.
Amile Jefferson joined Rasheed Sulaimon as the lone recruits coming in for Duke this year. Both were five-star players who will look to provide a Batman and Robin-type duo that Duke has longed for in recent years.
Sulaimon is a prolific scorer who is the No. 1 shooting guard in his class. He's a big-time scorer who gets to the paint with ease. Although not physically strong, his ability to slash is uncanny. Sulaimon also possesses great range on his three-point shot, something Duke will miss without Austin Rivers.
Jefferson is the third best power forward in the 2012 class. He is always in attack mode and slashes extremely well. A little raw right now, Coach K is sure to polish him up and get the most out of him. Duke's frontcourt is going to be very athletic this year. Watch out.
While Coach K's career with Duke didn't start off as well as he hoped, the rest of his career has been nothing less than masterful. No matter the year, Duke wins. And all of that is from the terrific coaching of Coach K and his outstanding recruiting skills.
He represents everything that is good about college basketball. He runs a clean program, treats everyone with respect and only recruits players that he feels are good people and not only molds them into NBA players, but also the future leaders of society.
Notable Players: Elton Brand, Carlos Boozer, Grant Hill, Luol Deng, J.J. Redick