Now that the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team is searching for a new head coach, it is pertinent to take a look at some of the key names and how they have fared on the recruiting trail. The series continues with current Virginia boss Tony Bennett.
As the coach of both Washington State and Virginia, Bennett has spent 11 years roaming the sidelines. In that time he has been to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament three different times, one of those times resulting in an Elite Eight.
As a recruiter Bennett has proven effective, but at the same time he isn’t someone who simply goes after the highest rated recruits. Instead he is a very system based coach who takes a lot of time to evaluate prospects.
Easily the best player Bennett has ever recruited also happened to be someone who didn’t win a ton of games, his name, Klay Thompson. At the time of his commitment Thompson was viewed as a soft shooter who was a borderline high-major player. Thompson however would finish as a top 50 recruit, and turned into one of the best players in college basketball before his time in Pullman was complete.
Since getting to Virginia in 2009, Bennett as made sure to recruit a mix of four-star and three-star players. To this point Bennett has never landed a five-star player, though he has reeled in several top 50 prospects such as Kyle Guy, Mamadi Diakite, and K.T. Harrell.
Beyond that he has believed in himself and his system and taken players who other high-majors wanted, but elite programs didn’t quite think were good enough for them. Players such as Malcolm Brogdon, Darion Atkins, Justin Anderson, and London Perrantes all fit into that category.
Guys like Brogden and Anderson turned themselves into NBA players under Bennett’s tutelage and player development, while Atkins and Perrantes became excellent college players who became some of the best at their position as upperclassmen, and valuable members of extremely successful teams.
One interesting thing about Bennett is he recruits from coast to coast. Most notable for Indiana fans is coming into the state of Indiana and stealing future Mr. Basketball Kyle Guy away from the Hoosiers.
However he goes about everywhere. He stays in Virginia, goes down to North Carolina, heads west to California, will go south to Georgia, and also has landed kids out of New York on a fairly consistent basis.
Quite simply Bennett has proven to be effective recruiting his type of player no matter the circumstance. Bennett has never really tried to recruit a projected one or two and done type of kid, and it is unlikely that would be a major focus for him anywhere.
Bennett is one of the few coaches who still likes redshirting players, and prefers to have older rosters made up of upperclassmen who have been through the battles in college basketball.
With a system that works and the personality to coach kids who appreciate his style, the low key Bennett knows what he likes on the recruiting trail, and has been very effective during his stint in Charlottesville recruiting to that system.