Q&A With Ed DeChellis

Penn State basketball coach Ed DeChellis added former Nittany Lion point guard Danny Earl to his staff Tuesday. Earl replaced James Johnson, who left PSU to become an assistant at George Mason.

Earl was a four-year starter at Penn State before embarking on a pro career that stretched more than half a decade. But he has had limited exposure to the recruiting game, at least from the coaching side of the equation.

DeChellis addressed the hire in a short Q&A with FightOnState.com's Mark Brennan.

FOS: So why Danny Earl?

ED: Danny has qualities that no other candidate had. That was being a former player, being a Penn State graduate, having passion and energy for our program. He obviously had a great, great desire to help us in this process, and really wanted to be here. Those were qualities we couldn't teach another candidate. He's a bright kid, very articulate and sharp. We can teach him some things he needs to know in the recruiting game, but the other things you just can't teach, the intangibles.

When we interviewed him, he said, "There are two basic questions you don't know about me: I have no recruiting experience; and can a guy who just played professionally get into the work force and work hard and that kind of stuff?" When he was done talking about those things, he had us all convinced he could be a great recruiter. He actually attacked the interview.

He's very personable, he's very likeable, he's very diligent and he was a highly recruited student-athlete. He said, “Coach, I know what worked on me, I know what didn't work on me. I know what worked on my brother [former Princeton guard Brian Earl]. I know what didn't work on my brother. I know what worked on friends of mine. I have a pretty good feel for kids and what they like.”

The work-ethic part … it wasn't like he had a silver spoon in his mouth and had a life of luxury and now he has to go to work. He's had to work for everything he's ever gotten in his life. That's what impresses me about him.

FOS: The fact that he was part of a team that sold out the Jordan Center and climbed into the top 10 had to be part of it, too.

ED: Big factor. Big factor. Sometimes it is where you are within the program. I wanted somebody who, when you got down to it, could work with our young guys and who had been through the hard times, but also saw what the great times were like. We have so many young kids on our team right now, we felt Danny could do a great job of making those relationships and developing those relationships with our young players and relate his experiences here as a guy who wanted to build the program and make his mark.

FOS: He also played against some great players in the Big Ten early in his career. How much will that help him relate to your young guards?

ED: There was a pro on every team, and he was playing against a pro every night. He came up [the last two seasons] and talked to our guys a couple of times, and that's what impressed me about him. Danny has always been around, he's always come back. Anytime I've asked him to do something with our kids, he's stayed after practice and talked to some guys and I saw how they bonded to him and listened to him. He's speaking from personal experience. “Hey, I was where you're at. I understand what you're saying.”

FOS: Will he focus on working with guards?

ED: Yeah. The first part of it is here in the off-season, talking to kids and watching tape with them and getting to know them and building relationships. Then moving into the fall, he'll work with the guards. Hilliary [Scott] has done a good job with them, and I don't want to take anything away from Hilliary because he's been outstanding there. Hilliary will still be with the guards along with Danny because we have so many perimeter players.

I really feel good about it. When we started the process, I talked to Danny a couple of times. We met him and brought everybody [the entire staff] with us, we talked, and we all left saying the same thing: Geez, what a magical guy. That's the guy for us.

FOS: Was this meeting in Harrisburg?

ED: Yeah, we met some candidates in Harrisburg and spoke and spent a day there talking to four people. Before that we did a lot of phone stuff and got a good feel.

FOS: How many people applied for the job?

ED: I couldn't even tell you. Between resumes and phone call and on-line, over 100 people, I would think.

FOS: How many were seriously considered, just the four?

ED: Yeah. We narrowed it down. Other guys were good, too. Other guys brought things he didn't bring. We had some guys with more experience. We had some guys who recruited different areas. And so we looked at what different guys could bring. And they all did a good job through the process. But when it came down to it, it was those intangibles we wanted to hang our hat on.

We talk about Penn State and tradition. Well, here was a Penn State guy who wanted to be here. In my opinion he had all of the qualifications. You know, we need to start some tradition, too, and we're going to try to keep this thing going and we're going to be loyal to the kids who were loyal to us.


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