Duke, Terps Take Different Recruiting Approach

Duke and Maryland are both immensely successful programs, but they have taken different routes to the top.

Duke and Maryland are both having great seasons and, for that matter, great eras. Their recruiting approaches couldn't be more different though.

In Duke's case, Coach K came in and emphasized getting athletes. At first this meant getting guys like John Smith, Robert Brickey, Kevin Strickland, and the occasional Amaker, Snyder, and King. We can remember seeing the huddle for several years where every one was basically the same height - between 6-3 and 6-7 with one guy maybe a bit taller, but not much.

After the program was really established, Coach K started getting guys like Grant Hill, Bobby Hurley, Nate James, Elton Brand, William Avery, Shane Battier, Jason Williams, and so forth. But that level of recruit came later.

In Maryland's case, Gary Williams has taken a lot of heat for his recruiting practices. One publication used to regularly say he just hated recruiting and questioned his efforts constantly.

In Gary's defense, he has proven to be a brilliant judge of talent. In fact, his highly recruited players have not done nearly as well as the kids he has identified as having potential.

Think Exree Hipp, Johnny Rhodes, and the like. Keith Booth is not in this class, needless to say, nor was Steve Francis, really.

Joe Smith was not exactly a total secret, but he was never expected to do what he did. Lonny Baxter was a mediocre talent coming out of school. Terence Morris was not widely known. And then there's Juan Dixon.

Dixon has turned out to be a sensational player, but no one outside of College Park saw him coming. Jay Bilas said recently that Gary Williams told him that Dixon would be "like Johnny Dawkins." Turns out he was right, of course. Dixon is sensational.

The approaches are very different, but the results are about the same - top 10 finishes, deep tournament drives, and immense prestige. The ACC is lucky to have both coaches and their different approaches.

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