Feature on UH recruiting from ESPN 1420 Magazine

1420 = ESPN 1420 magazine

Note: I could not find this magazine online, so I apologize in advance for any typos.

About how he discovered Greg Alexander, UH associate head football coach Rich Miano said:
“We were looking high and dry for quarterbacks. There’s a book listing all the junior colleges, and I just cold-called [Santa Rosa J.C.] out of the book. I said, ‘Hey, do you have a quarterback?’ And they said, ‘Do we have a quarterback? He threw 71 touchdowns and broke the national record, and nobody’s recruiting him!’ It was like a financial advisor or insurance person sitting at a desk, cold-calling people. Nick Rolovich and Ron Lee did a great job following up with [Alexander], but it all started with a cold call.” (1420)

About how they are at a disadvantage in recruiting because of their distance from the mainland, Miano said:
“The distance factor is obviously a challenge. Logistically, we’re at a disadvantage because we’re so far away from the kids’ schools. We can’t be there all the time at the combines and clinics, so you don’t have that presence that other schools might have.” (1420)

About why their most successful players have generally come from JCs, transfers, or other countries, UH men’s basketball associate coach Jackson Wheeler said:
“Yeah, there are some players we bring in that think we’re still living in huts over here. A lot of them have never been to Hawaii before. That’s why, throughout the history of our program, our most successful players have been our foreign, junior college and transfer players. It takes a more mature person who’s used to being away from home, who really appreciates the Hawaii experience. Some high school kids don’t mature as quickly as they need in order to make that adjustment.” (1420)

About recruiting JC and international players, UH women’s basketball assistant coach Matthew Paton said:
“Distance isn’t a factor for the international kids. When they’re in the United States, they’re a long way from home no matter what. For them, it’s a unique opportunity for them to play the sport that they enjoy and get a high-cost education. And the JC kids, they have that certain level of independence and maturity. They know what it’s like to be away from mom and dad, and they know what it’s like to travel on the road. So in that sense, they’re already proven.” (1420)

About how their lack of TV exposure (just two scheduled ESPN appearances this season) hurts their recruiting, Wheeler said:
“A few years ago, when we were on TV all the time, that really helped us. When AC [former UH guard Anthony Carter] was here, we’d have 10 exposures on ESPN. In other years we’d have at least four or five.” (1420)

About how the internet has really changed recruiting, Miano said:
“I’ll look at my [e-mail] inbox and have a hundred messages, and 80 of them are from recruits. Before, when I first entered coaching in 1999, you’d get these rich kids who’d pay for these recruiting services, and that’s all you’d get. Now it’s so much more diverse. There are so many different recruiting services, and they bombard you with e-mails with video highlights. It’s made things easier, but it’s also much more work. It’s harder to find that ‘diamond in the rough,’ so to speak, because everybody has access to these services. If you’re a player, somebody’s going to be looking at your tape somewhere.” (1420)

About the change in UH’s recruiting under Mac, Miano said:
“We didn’t have a camp around here for eight or nine years. Under [head coach Greg McMackin], we’re having camps and clinics, and reestablishing relationships with all the local coaches. Everything is being done much more professionally in terms of structure.” (1420)

About the importance of networking by recruiters, Paton said:
“With an expansive network of high school, junior college and AAU coaches that we’ve come to know over time, in case of an emergency we can turn around and say, ‘All right, I know I can call these half-dozen people and potentially get a very good recruit on short notice.’ ” (1420)

About how they use the same contacts over and over for recruits, Wheeler said:
“We use a lot of the same [contacts] all the time, and they’ve been good to us. Take Roderick Flemings. He was in a JUCO program that had sent us players before. He was getting recruited by everybody in the country, but we just hung in there and it worked out in our favor.” (1420)

About how recruiting priorities are adjusted for a number of reasons, Paton said:
“You sign a recruit expecting certain attributes to be brought to the program and develop within the program; sometimes you get all of those attributes you’re hoping for, and sometimes you only get some of them. Also, injuries can throw a wrench into the works. So you always need to be flexible and fluid in your recruiting.” (1420)

About how recruiters must pay attention to detail when they talk with recruits, Paton said:
“If you’ve recruited very well over previous years and you’ve built your program to a certain level, then to a certain extent your program becomes self-sustaining. The players want to be there, and they want to be a part of that success. But it definitely takes time and dedication. You have to take a personal interest in each recruit. The last thing you want is to have the recruit feel that she’s just a generic name on a page. If you say, ‘What position are you again?’ or ‘Where are you from again?’ that’s a conversation killer with a recruit. There’s a lot of attention to detail and time invested.” (1420)

About how teams are getting more aggressive in their recruiting now, Miano said:
“I think it’s much more aggressive. A lot of schools will over-offer, giving more scholarships than they have. Even after kids make verbal commitments to you, other schools will continue to recruit them, hoping to change their minds with very aggressive tactics. They’ll almost circumvent the rules. If the rule says you can’t attend practice, they’ll go in before practice starts. They’re doing everything and anything to survive and provide for their livelihood. It’s a very aggressive game where one big recruit can make a difference.” (1420)

Asked what makes a great recruiter, Miano said:
“Certain people can sell, no matter what they’re selling. Those guys are big-time recruiters because they can sell the product. Other guys can sell only if they really believe in the product, and I think I come across as one of those guys. I graduated from the University of Hawaii, I played for the University of Hawaii, and I live in the state of Hawaii. I’m very passionate about Hawaii and what I do. In the end, it’s like any other job: The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.” (1420)

About recruiters can never give up on a recruit, Wheeler said:
“You can’t give up easily. You just have to stay competitive, and sometimes it just falls your way. We’ve had many great players here that, at one time, we didn’t think we were going to get. A lot of recruiting is just staying on task and trying to be positive.” (1420)

About how giving recruits an opportunity to get an education and play for UH is his reward, Paton said:
“My key thing is opportunity. To see a kid who has worked really hard aand who values the opportunity you’re presenting her with – to get an education and play for an elite basketball program – that’s the most rewarding thing.” (1420)

About how he loves seeing players take their Senior Walk and get their degrees, Miano said:
“The most satisfying thing is seeing them walking the “Senior Walk” and seeing them get their diplomas. We get to see them grow from 18-year-old kids into young men, and hopefully we’ve taught them about punctuality, teamwork, resiliency and perseverance. A lot of these kids, they’re going to go back into our community, and they’re going to be able to help their community, be good people and make Hawaii a better place.” (1420)

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