Analysts weigh in on Terps hiring Dalonte Hill
In his first week as the Maryland men's basketball coach, Mark Turgeon reached out to local high school and AAU coaches, met with a noted Baltimore politician and landed his first recruit.
While the first seven days were busy enough, Turgeon started his second week with arguably his biggest move yet by hiring Kansas State assistant Dalonte Hill.
Hill – who will be joined by Bino Ranson and former Texas A&M assistant Scott Spinelli on Maryland’s staff – is a former D.C. Assault coach credited with recruiting Michael Beasley to Kansas State. That recruiting coup, in conjunction with Hill’s reported $400,000+ salary at KSU, drew the ire of former Maryland coach Gary Williams in an exhaustive 2009 interview with The Washington Post about his recruiting practices. The irony of Maryland hiring Hill less than two weeks after Williams retired wasn’t lost on some basketball followers.
“If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that there are completely different ways to get the job done,” said Dave Telep, ESPN.com’s national recruiting analyst. “I think it’s abundantly clear that Mark Turgeon is going to put a premium on relationships with the high school and AAU coaches in the area. Dalonte Hill is probably the biggest departure from Coach Williams that Mark Turgeon could have, and it’s a very significant hire for Maryland recruiting because he’ll be a catalyst for a bunch of relationships.”
A Washington native who played three seasons at Charlotte and one at Bowie State, Hill was the point man in the Wildcats landing Beasley, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge, Dominique Sutton and Jamar Samuels -- all D.C. Assault players. Evan Daniels, Scout.com’s national recruiting analyst, noted that Rutgers assistant David Cox is another former D.C. Assault coach who has been able to leverage those AAU relationships in his current role.
“D.C. Assault is a program that clearly takes care of their own,” Daniels said. “It’s not going to be a surprise to anyone when, over the next couple years, Dalonte’s able to reel in players to Maryland from D.C. Assault’s program. It’s not just about his connection to D.C. Assault. Dalonte’s very well respected around the coaching community. He’s got a lot of connections to the AAU programs and high school programs. The D.C. Assault thing is just what’s most publicized. He’s very well liked in the basketball community.”
Telep said he expects Hill’s hiring to expand “Maryland’s presence in its own backyard.” Hill’s status as an original member of D.C. Assault gives Maryland “major-league street cred.”
“I think the only surprise that catches you off guard is because it’s such a departure from what Coach Williams did,” Telep said. “From a strategic and a staff point of view, it’s that call that you make where you go, ‘Oh well, we’ll never get this guy, but let’s make the call anyway.’ To land him is significant.”
Daniels noted that Hill’s not the only ace recruiter on Turgeon’s staff. Ranson is “very tied in to the Baltimore area,” and Spinelli also has “a lot of good connections in the area,” having landed Baltimore native and DeMatha graduate Naji Hibbert a couple years ago. Improving its recruiting in-state can only raise Maryland’s ceiling.
“I think if you keep the best players in Baltimore and D.C. home, you can compete with just about anyone in the country,” Daniels said. “Year in and year out, they’re putting out a number of Division I prospects. … They’ve already locked up Seth Allen. There are a number of others you can get. Let’s say Maryland locks in on the top one and two guys every year. That’s a great foundation for each and every recruiting class. … I think with this staff, they’re going to have recruiting in that area pretty covered.”