Beltway Basketball Battle D.C.-area colleges prep for a recruiting war.

Dalonte Hill
Photo courtesy of Kansas State Athletics Communications

There’s a long and sorry tradition in this market of letting blue-chip basketball talent leave.

Well before becoming NBA Hall of Famers, for example, Spingarn High School’s Elgin Baylor and Dave Bing went away to college (the College of Idaho and Syracuse, respectively) because no schools around here wanted them. Notre Dame, never known as a hoops power, once landed three of our first-team All-Mets—Austin Carr of Mackin High School, DeMatha Catholic High School’s Sid Catlett and Collis Jones of St. John’s College High School—in the same year (1967). And in recent years, the local scene has faced such indignities as having to watch Michael Beasley and Kevin Durant, teammates on the P.G. County Jaguars, a local AAU team, win back-to-back NCAA Player of the Year honors while playing for Big 12 schools. There’s also star-in-the-making Kendall Marshall, who declared he’d play for the University of North Carolina—after just his freshman year at Bishop O’Connell High School.

But it seems colleges around here really want to end D.C.’s days as an export center for basketball talent. Amid a spring of unprecedented coaching upheaval, essentially every college hoops program in the market has made a statement about keeping local talent local.

“It’s going to be an AAU bloodbath,” one local high school official predicted.

If such a bloodbath is indeed taking place, the first drops were dripped at the University of Maryland, where Mark Turgeon replaced Gary Williams as head coach. Despite having won the national championship in 2002, Williams never could shake a reputation for letting local AAU talent escape.

“You always heard criticism that Gary didn’t ‘play the AAU game,’ because he didn’t get [local AAU stars turned non-local college stars] Dermarr Johnson or didn’t get Rudy Gay or Scottie Reynolds,” says Bijan Bayne, a D.C. sports historian who runs the website dcbasketball.com. “Maryland would have been in the Final Four every year if Gary got everybody people said he should have got.”

With his first hire, Turgeon made a statement that he wanted to play the game Gary didn’t: Turgeon brought in Dalonte Hill, most recently an assistant at Kansas State, where he will forever be known as the Man Who Landed Michael Beasley.

Whereas Turgeon, who came here from Texas A&M, is a local hoops outsider, Hill is the opposite: When it comes to recruiting, nobody will out-D.C. him. He once coached D.C. Assault, a powerhouse Prince George’s County-based AAU squad, and is also tied to Team Takeover, another nationally renowned AAU squad. How he got Beasley to Manhattan, Kan., shows just how powerful local ties like that can be when it comes to recruiting. Hill was an assistant at UNC-Charlotte just before taking the K-State job. And Beasley, a former D.C. Assault star and the most coveted prep player in the country as a senior, had originally committed to UNC-Charlotte. After Hill got the K-State job, Beasley agreed to skip out on Charlotte, too, and join Hill. At K-State, Hill was given a long-term deal that annually netted him $420,000 plus incentives, making him the highest-paid assistant in all of college basketball. Nothing in Hill’s résumé to that point explained his salary—except Beasley’s arrival.

But Maryland isn’t the only school aiming for more D.C.-area talent. Historically, George Washington University was more likely to recruit from east of the Berlin Wall than east of the Anacostia River. No more. In May, GW replaced head coach Karl Hobbs with Vermont’s Mike Lonergan. On his own, Lonergan has strong local basketball bona fides: He’s a Bowie native, a product of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School and a former assistant to Williams at Maryland.

“I know I’m biased, but as a former D.C. high school player, P.G. County product, I really believe this is a basketball hotbed, maybe one of the best basketball areas in the entire country,” Lonergan said at his introductory press conference.

And Lonergan quickly built a staff designed to help GW swim in the local talent pool, hiring Kevin Sutton, a Falls Church native, and Pete Strickland, a DeMatha grad, as assistants. Sutton, a former Flint Hill School standout and longtime assistant to local prep coaching legend Stu Vetter, most recently coached Montverde, a Florida boarding school that he guided to a national prep championship in 2007. Strickland spent the last five years as an assistant at N.C. State.

Even schools where new head coaches weren’t hired are showing a new emphasis on shopping locally.

Over at Howard University, second-year coach Kevin Nickelberry hopes a recent binge of local commits will bring an end to an eight-year streak of 20-loss seasons. The Washington Post reported last week that the incoming recruiting class, led by Eleanor Roosevelt High School forward Prince Okoroh, is regarded as being among the best in school history, and that to get it Nickelberry “leaned on long-established area relationships” while his assistants honed in on Team Takeover and D.C. Assault, the same AAU juggernauts Hill was connected to.

And if there’s going to be a bloodbath on the local recruiting scene, Georgetown University doesn’t want to be left undermanned. Just after Maryland announced Hill’s hiring, the Post’s Josh Barr floated a rumor that Georgetown might re-hire super recruiter Kevin Broadus.

Broadus, a Dunbar Senior High School alum, was a Hoyas assistant when John Thompson III took over the program in 2007, and gets credit for keeping P.G. native Jeff Green in the fold during the upheaval. He also gets credit for winning a national recruiting battle for St. John’s Chris Wright and DeMatha’s Austin Freeman while with Georgetown.

Broadus’ reputation for being able to land D.C.’s best and biggest is so sturdy that he might be able to overcome several of the most brutal exposés The New York Times has ever written about a basketball coach, most of which questioned his talent-acquisition tactics. One Times piece from 2007 said Broadus “recruited a player to Georgetown who in four years of public high school in Delaware compiled final grades of F in 12 courses” and had an overall GPA of 1.33.

The Times also chronicled Broadus’ ugly two-year run as head coach at Binghamton University in New York. Seven players were kicked off the team just before the start of the 2009 season, amid a blitz of allegations of academic improprieties (a teacher said coaches pressured her to change grades), physical assaults (a player battered a 66-year-old woman at a Walmart after getting caught stealing condoms, which were given out for free on campus), and drug dealing (the team’s point guard was arrested for selling crack cocaine). Earlier this spring, when the state government of New York released the 2010 salaries of all state employees, Broadus came out on top, with a $1,026,793 payout that Binghamton gave him to resign in October.

Broadus’ attorney, Linda Kenney Baden, says that nothing that happened in Binghamton will affect his employability. “Coach Broadus was fully vindicated by the NCCAA and SUNY Binghamton as evidenced by their payment to him,” she says. “In addition, Coach Broadus has been sought by a number of schools to return to coaching because they recognize his value to student athletes.”

And, all the Hoyas’ hoops message boards have since loaded with posts from fans hoping the rumors of a reunion with Broadus come true. As the poster going by casualhoya posted on casualhoya.com when the question, “Will Kevin Broadus Return to Georgetown?” was posed: “Oh my! #excitedinpants.”

Bijan understands why a school such as Georgetown would hold its nose and pull out its checkbook to bring in a top recruiter, especially with all other schools in the market having rededicated to landing locals.

“It’s a business decision,” he says.

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Our Readers Say

Hopefully with all the local kids being recruited the local schools will stop the petty nitpicking and start playing each other. I played college ball in Philly and the Big Five was a wonderful non-league to have been a part of. DC should be on the same plane when it comes to presenting local basketball talent shows. Let the party begin!
A very good article. I wish all the best for Kevin Broadhus. He is a class act and a terrific human being.

But,neither Strickland nor Suttton will save Lonergan with the local AAU Powers. Lonergan completely destroyed his relationship with Team Takeover with the way he handled Garvey Young's transfer from Vermont. And, DC Assault won't give Lonergan the time of day. By the way, Lonergan never "played" at Carroll. He rode the bench.
Aw man, when I first saw the headline I thought it meant that local college teams would actually play each other. It's a crime they don't, and the BB&T isn't even a local tourney anymore, it's random games.
great article. knowledgeable reporting on the dc high school/aau/college hoops scene is a beautiful thing. i love gary, but it boggles the mind what that program could have been if it could have just recruited its own COUNTY, much less the metro area. i'd love to see howard come on up and be a real presence and i'd love to see a umcp/gtown/gw/jmu/au big five playing each other each year. maybe throw navy or howard in there if they could legit hang. maybe dave mckenna can next set his critical and truthful eye on osu on the potomac, aka georgetown. pretty buildings at that school, but their recruiting standards are uglier than route 1 in cp.
Great post, I enjoyed ready reading it, Keep posting good stuff like this. Recruiting war has started!
If the local teams would drop the decades old punk move of not playing each other, they could create their own hotbed right here. GT vs MD vs GW vs GM would make for some great intra-city competition. If they can schedule St. Leo's, etc., they can put each other on
I don't care if the local schools don't play each other. Even Gary Williams, whose contingent of fans bitch the most about G'town "ducking them", wishes he didn't schedule a couple of Morgan States here and there, so the whole Big 5 wannabe thing is silly.

The culture of basketball in Philly was just DIFFERENT than Washington's on the basketball front and everyone knows it.

Of course, there's a Maryland fan or two on this thread taking shots at Georgetown about recruiting. Now that G'town's recruiting the DC Metro pretty hard (which they didn't do under JT2 all that well), Maryland's had all that time to get all the DeMatha talent they wanted and came up short. That's on Maryland, not G'town.

Of course, every player out of here that G'town gets, idiot ass Maryland fans claim the guy was too dumb to get into Maryland. It's the same game played in reverse as I'm sure G'town fans figured Chris McCray for a rocket scientist. LOL.
Really? You write an entire article about DC-area recruiting and you don't mention Mason? ...because GW has been relevant in the basketball world for how many years now? What a joke. GMU gets a new coach that's known for his excellent recruiting, too, but not a peep. More research needed.
Dave: JTIII did not take over the program in 2007, his first season as head coach of the Hoyas was 2004-2005.

Also, while the Egerson thing left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths, it should be noted that he remained academically eligible through his time at Georgetown and at UDelaware. So while his high school performance was, um, questionable at best, it looks like he turned it around at least somewhat when he got to schools that offered plenty of structure and support. Certainly a contrast with the "I've never read a book" UConn types.
Ogre: First of all, GW has been playing hoops for over a century, while Mason was started when, 1967 or something? Also, the article focused on schools inside the beltway - not some commuter school out in office park NVa.
RACK Loyal Colonial. Go GW.
Loyal Colonial wrote "not some commuter school out in the office park NVa."

Have you taken a look at your own campus? Where do the office buildings end and GW campus begin? If it wasn't for the flags flying you wouldn't know you were walking through campus. Bye the way. Nice little gym you have there.
Really: I HAVE looked at my campus - which is located in the heart of the nation's capital and is only 4 blocks from the White House. Where is your campus - kinda near an off ramp of Route 66? Several miles from a Metro station? (GW has its own Metro station on campus). Masonites do, however, have the choice of shopping in many strip shopping centers. In addition to the main campus in Foggy Bottom, GW has two beautiful satellite campuses, Mount Vernon in NW DC and the Virginia Technology Campus in Ashburn. As for arenas, your vintage Patriot Center is big, but dated - GW just spent $43 million on the Smith Center - it may be smaller but it is now state of the art.
Have you seen Mason's campus lately? If you haven't, I suggest you take a trip. Very Impressive. Not as impressive as the strides the mens bball program took under Larenega. We'll see what happens in his absence. Please don't call the Smith Center "State of the Art". Its nice, but it ain't no PhoneBooth.
The Patriot Center is an independant building, not owned or affiliated with the University. It wouldn't surprise me if Mason bought them out, and made a truly "State of the Art" arena. Go Mason. Go Hoyas. Go Colonials. Go Terps...in that order....Howard???? Cmon Man!!!
Just for the record, Elgin Baylor didn't have the grades to get into a major school. That's why he was forced to go to the College of Idaho.
DC Dave writes "Of course, every player out of here that G'town gets, idiot ass Maryland fans claim the guy was too dumb to get into Maryland. It's the same game played in reverse as I'm sure G'town fans figured Chris McCray for a rocket scientist. LOL."

I'm a Gonzaga High graduate from 1967 and am one of the few who roots for both Maryland and Georgetown.I am what you would call a serious "homer."

As a sophomore at Gonzaga - the deal we had with Georgetown was terminated. If you had an 80 or above average then you got an automatic half scholarship to Georgetown. This was terninated in 1964 or 1965. At Gonzaga we received grades that were strictly numerical anywhere between 1-100 , no A or B etc.

I never heard of a Gonzaga grad who was NOT accepted to Maryland but I heard of a few who were not accepted to Georgetown. As Maryland tries to compete in recruiting with the likes of Georgetown locally they are at a very weak position due to their academic standing - which is vastly inferior to Georgetown.

At Gonzaga getting into Maryland is a joke but is a forgone conclusion - you are in easily. Getting into Georgetown is still a challenge.

In fact, when I went to Gonzaga if all you aspired to do is get into Maryland - you were called a "future" meaning your future was probably bleak. Georgetown was considered to be a strong choice.

The thing that Maryland fans do not realize is that their coaches are at a disadvantage when competing with most institutions of higher learning locally such as GW, Georgetown, American University, UVA, Richmond, William and Mary because Maryland is certainly no academic "elite."

If my son was offered a scholarship to any of the above institutions then I'd insist that he go to all of the other schools rather than Maryland.

How can a coach , in good conscience , tell a recruit that Maryland is superior academically to say Duke,
Villanova, Pitt , Boston College, Boston U, Wake Forest or UNC to name a few ? He'd be lying through his teeth. The boy would surely find out the truth !

Now if we are talking Florida State, West Virginia, UDC, Virginia Tech (I had a good friend who went to a local basketball powerhouse high school and he had letters of interest from over 300 different colleges but places like Notre Dame, Loyola (Louisiana) and UVA (to name a few) rescinded their offers after receiving his SAT scores. Virginia Tech took him with open arms. He offer from Maryland was still on the table.

Gonzaga College High School was rated number 10 nationally in basketball a few years ago. Their top senior, Max Kenyi went to Harvard. The following year the top senior was Ian Hummer who went to Princeton. The following year, the top guy was point guard was Tyler Thornton and he chose Duke. From the same class was Cedric Lindsay who went to Richmond. All of these players could have gone to Maryland BUT your parents do not send you to Gonzaga to go to Maryland. You can go to Eastern or Fairmount Heights and "accomplish"that.

Don't kid yourself , Maryland is not an easy sell.

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