In the olden days - before 2018, that is - people in the basketball world used to have a routine.
You’d shoot for the tournament of course, but if you didn’t make it, you’d start working hard on high school players, hoping to land enough talent to compete.
There were schools like Duke and Kentucky that skimmed off the very best players, but you could still get quality young kids and you could usually take a small breather after the tournament.
Things had changed a bit with grad student transfers, because once a player graduated, if he had eligibility left, he could play the next year and that was a nice bonus, if you will.
Once the portal got cranked up though, March Madness took on a second meaning. So now you see significant talents like Max Abmas, Caleb Love and Hunter Dickinson stepping into the portal. Landing one of those guys could significantly change a team’s fortunes. Love has been erratic and a lot of UNC fans got fed up with him, but he’s talented. No one can deny that.
The big fish though is Dickinson. He’s a DMV kid who attended powerhouse DeMatha before choosing Michigan.
Although there is no meaningful chatter on where he will end up, Duke has been mentioned as a possibility.
We’ll have to wait and see about that, but Maryland’s Kevin Willard may have struck the first blow in his second recruitment: he’s hired Dickinson’s high school coach, Mike Jones.
Jones was terrific at DeMatha, running up a 511-119 record over 19 years and that hire could prove a decisive advantage.
That’s short term thinking though. Jones, who was at Virginia Tech for two years, is obviously deeply tied in to the DMV basketball scene. He may or may not help Maryland get Dickinson. Down the road though, he should help the Terps recruit the local talent market brilliantly. With the portals, recruiting is not as important as it once was - some coaches just prefer to shop more established collegiate prospects and skip high school kids as much as possible - but there is too much talent around D.C. to just ignore.
With Ed Cooley at Georgetown now, that’s important and Jones’s move is definitely something to keep an eye on. The battle to keep the DMV kids home has just heated up enormously.