St. Mary's Randy Bennett Is Moving Up By Going Down Under

Richard DeLanceyCorrespondent IDecember 19, 2008

Australia may be Randy Bennett’s ticket to the big time.  The coach of the St. Mary’s Gaels should get some serious play after the 2008/2009 season.  With North Carolina State’s Sidney Lowe, Oregon’s Ernie Kent, Kansas State’s Frank Martin, and Illinois’s Bruce Weber all on the proverbial hot seat, Bennett’s recruiting abilities ‘down under’ should make him a candidate for a job in a major conference.

Bennett’s latest greatest find Patty Mills is poised to lead his team back to the NCAA Tournament promise land. He is averaging 20 points per game and is shooting over 30 percent from three-point range.  One of the youngest players in Australian National Team history, Mills is the son of a Torres Strait Islander father and Aboriginal mother from the Ynunga people of South Australia.  At just 20 years-old, he is probably the most famous Aborigine basketball player of all time.

Randy Bennett was no stranger to Australia having recruited four other players St. Mary’s since his arrival in 2001, including Daniel Kickert, the Gaels' all-time leading scorer.  Sports Illustrated reported in January that other schools including Utah were interested in Mills, but only Bennett made the trip to Australia to meet his parents Benny and Yvonne.

It is Bennett’s desire to succeed and go the extra step that make him one of the up and coming coaches in the college game.  He is 127-90 with a pair of at-large NCAA Tourney appearances during his St. Mary’s tenure.

Bennett is a recruiting hound.  Before coming to St. Mary’s he served as recruiting coordinator for St. Louis University and Pepperdine. At Pepperdine Bennett delivered a 1997 Top-20 nationally ranked class, which included talented players such as Kelvin Gibbs, Jelani Gardner and Tommie Prince. 

A coach that will travel to the outback of Australia, to find players, should be the top of many AD’s wish lists.   Bennett, however, is being cautious of his next step. The last couple of years he has spurned advances by Hawaii, Cal, and Oregon State simply because he had more talent in his locker room in Moraga than these schools had combined.

Look for Bennett’s ‘Australian Pipeline’ to challenge Gonzaga for supremacy of the West Coast Conference this season.  Then look for Bennett to take a high profile job next summer.

Does anyone know how long the flight is to Sydney from Champaign, Illinois?