Cremins Pulls Rabbit Out of Hat Again

North Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Maryland thought for sure that Adjehi Baru was going to stay in the ACC. However College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins had a trick up his sleeve, and for the second time in his career it worked in a big way.

For Bobby Cremins the recruitment of Adjehi Baru could be like a re-run of Back to the Future. In 1988 Cremins, who was the head coach at Georgia Tech, pulled off one of the best recruiting coups of the decade by landing Kenny Anderson out of New York City. Now he has done it again with Baru.

While the upbringing and recruitments of Baru and Anderson had absolutely nothing in common, the end result did. Baru, who is a native of the Ivory Coast just recently got to the states and just began his accent to the top of the recruiting rankings.

By contrast Anderson was a New York School boy legend who was attracting college attention since middle school. He was one of the most heavily recruited players in the nation, and someone who had his pick of almost every school in the country.

While on the surface the two seem nothing alike, Cremins managed to make them very similar. You see Cremins is very resourceful, and knows what needs to happen in order to get things done, and all while working well within the rules set forth by the NCAA.

With Anderson, Cremins knew very early on that the kid had a soft spot in his heart for Georgetown. Then also North Carolina, who had success with a New York point guard in King Rice, also was thought to be a major factor in the recruitment. Other Big East schools such as Syracuse and St. John's were also involved, and were considered the most likely of places Anderson would land, not Georgia Tech.

In the recruitment of Baru, most felt from the beginning that the Maryland Terrapins were the team to beat. The Terps did an excellent job of getting in at the ground floor with Baru and were considered the leader because of that early work. However other schools such as Virginia Tech and North Carolina also were firmly in the mix, and everyone seemed to scoff at the College of Charleston.

In both instances Cremins had a trick up his sleeve. When recruiting Anderson, Cremins knew that Georgia Tech wasn't the kid's destination school so he worked all angles. Cremins basically put all of his effort in to recruiting the kid's mother and his high school coach. Anderson, who attended Bishop Molloy High School, was also close with team manager Giuseppe Liantonio. As fate would have it, Liantonio, who is a year older than Anderson, ended up on full scholarship at the school due to his basketball managerial exploits.

Fast Forward 22 years and Cremins was able to pull a rabbit out of his hat again, and once again he had a little bit of help. Knowing that Baru liked Maryland and North Carolina, Cremins took a unique approach to the recruitment like he did with Anderson. Cremins began working at the heart strings of Baru's guardian Tim Branin.

Branin's son, Pat Branin, was a lightly recruited player who not many saw as a division I prospect. However Cremins had a different idea. He knew how close Baru was to the Branin family, so he offered Pat a full scholarship as an enticement to have Baru come with him.

In the end who knows for sure if Anderson chose Georgia Tech because of Liantonio or if Baru chose Charleston because of Pat Branin, but no matter what it worked for Cremins. Anderson helped lead Cremins to a Final Four, and then also helped him land Stephon Marbury years later. Now the question is what level with Baru, one of the premier centers in the class, lead the Cougars to.

While there are some unanswered questions this time around in terms of what exactly Baru will do, but the bottom line is Cremins did a great job of looking to his past to help solidify his future.


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