One-on-One With Sean Sutton-Part 1

Oklahoma State basketball coach Sean Sutton visited with Go Pokes on Wednesday afternoon about a variety of topics, including the staff's recruiting trip to Las Vegas next week.

Have you had any time to get away for a family vacation this summer?
Sutton: No, we haven't had a chance to do that yet because we had camps (in June), and then we went right into July recruiting. Hopefully, we'll get a chance to do something in August. We have one more nine-day (recruiting) period left, and our players will be going home for about two and a half weeks (after summer schools ends), so we may do something then.

The next big recruiting period is next week in Las Vegas when several events are held at the same time, allowing coaches to see players from all over the nation. How many members of your staff will be heading to Las Vegas?
Sutton: There will be three of us out there. You can have three coaches out in July. One of us (Kyle Keller) is going to Florida for a couple days for the Super Showcase in Orlando, and then we'll have three out there (in Las Vegas) the last three days. Between Nike, adidas and Reebok I think there are over 1,000 teams ... it's unbelievable. I would say that 90 percent of the best players in high school will be there that week.

Is it fun to go out there for five days, or do you view it more as work?
Sutton: It's work because you're in the gym starting each morning at 9 a.m. until, if you're watching a guy play a 9 o'clock game at night and a lot of times they get behind schedule, you might not walk out until 11 or 11:30. But it's a good opportunity to get a great evaluation of the guys you're recruiting because you get to see them play so many games in a short period of time.

How does it work while you're out there? Do you come up with a list of the players you want to watch and then the staff splits up and goes their separate ways each morning to watch the players on their list?
Sutton: Everybody asks the question that with 1,000 teams out there how do you keep up with them all? You go in with your priority list (of players you're recruiting). Depending upon how many scholarships you have, like with us we have two – actually one (because Keiton Page has verbally committed to sign with the Cowboys in November) but you're always going to recruit like you might have an extra one. So our list is shortened, probably between 12 and 15 guys. So we're going to try to see those 12 to 15 guys, and not all of them are out there but I'd say probably 90 percent of our guys are out there.

Will you watch a player once or twice, and then another coach watch him so you can compare thoughts?
Sutton: Well, it's all based on priorities, and then you have your list of ‘09 guys that we want to watch play, and there might be 25 guys on that list. It goes back to priority, like with (current OSU freshman) James Anderson. I tried to watch everyone of his game's last summer. With the top three or four or five guys, I'm going to try to go watch them play every time they play. Sometimes it's not possible because this guy's playing at the same time as this guy, and he may be playing 45 minutes away. I've done it where two kids were playing at the same time, and they're both 1A and 1B (on our list), where I'll go to half of this guy's game, then drive over and watch the second half of this guy's game. Because really at this point the guys you have on your list you're already sold on, and know they're a good player. A lot of (being at their game) is just to be seen, to let them know that you're there watching. For the top players, I'd say the head coach needs to be there every game. I'll see all the guys on our list play at least a couple of games, and the top ones probably every game they play, and we'll stay until they are all beat out, and then try to see as many juniors and sophomores as possible.

How important is this five-day period in Las Vegas to future recruiting classes – the 2009 and even 2010 classes?
Sutton: It's significant because if you want them to know that you watched them but also it gives you a great opportunity to evaluate them against really top-notch players, really see the strengths and weaknesses of each player. Then you're always going to find somebody who may not be on our list who jumps out at you. Ibrahima Thomas fell into that category last year. I saw him play and thought this guy has a chance to be a really good player.

How is the search going to find a new assistant coach?
Sutton: I think it's going well. I'm going to meet with some guys in Las Vegas next week. We've had a lot of interest. I don't think there's any question that we'll get somebody that will be really good.

Do you have a timetable for hiring that person?
Sutton: I'd like to have somebody in here by the time school starts (Aug. 20).

What are your priorities in hiring this coach?
Sutton: With any assistant you try to find somebody that you feel like has the ability to be a head coach some day, and possesses the qualities that it will take. I think it's important that we get a good person who is going to be a great fit with this staff and adds to the chemistry that we already have among our staff. I want somebody that's going to come in and be a hard worker, somebody that's an excellent recruiter and can help coach on the floor, assist in scouting and game preparation ... a guy that's not going to be good in just one area but in all areas.

One name that has been rumored is Chris Ferguson, the associate head coach at East Carolina who was formerly an assistant at Tennessee. Is he one person who would be on your short list?
Sutton: He's somebody I hope to get a chance to visit with (in Las Vegas). There are probably four or five guys on my list right now.

So you haven't hired anyone yet, or made a decision?
Sutton: No, not even close, but I do like the guys who are involved. This week (in Las Vegas) I hope to get a chance to visit with all of them, either in-between games, at a game if we're at the same game, or maybe meet somewhere for a late dinner. I know quite a few of them already. You know there's been a lot of success come through this program (at this position), beginning with Rob Evans who went on to be a head coach, Paul Graham who goes on to be a head coach, Jimmy Williams leaves here and goes to the NBA, Glenn Cyprien comes in and goes on and gets a head coaching job, Jimmy comes back ... we've been fortunate that we've had really quality guys. I feel confident that we'll find another one.

Check back later this week as the OSU head coach talks about a variety of topics, including his thoughts on the stability of the basketball program following the arrest of three different players this summer.

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