The recruiting process is one that takes various paths. Programs find their own unique niche for recruiting players, get comfortable with a style, and get athletes to come to their school. In previous years Wyoming found a niche in Chicago by finding players like Jay Straight, Justin Williams, and Brandon Ewing in the windy city.
Head Coach Heath Schroyer is only in his first year at Wyoming, yet he and his staff are already leaving their mark on the program by starting their own style of recruiting overseas. International recruiting has always been a route schools and other programs have taken, however it has really come to the forefront with the promotion of the NBA.
Players like Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Yao Ming, and Manu Ginobili are from all over the world and have emerged as stars. The San Antonio Spurs have built a dynasty in the NBA, mainly in part due to their excellent scouting and drafting of the foreign pool.
Over the summer Schroyer and his staff brought in seven-footer Mikhail Linskens of Belgium, point guard Marios Matalon of Greece and more recently announced the signing of Mahamoud Diakite of France.
Much of the success of getting foreign players to come to Wyoming this summer was due to the contacts assistant coach Fred Langley established and the connections he has overseas.
"I knew that's an area we had to be familiar with no matter what level we are at," Langley said. "Whether you're at the highest level being the NBA or at our level, it would come into play."
Over the past few years Langley fostered relations with Liskens and Matalon, and it finally came into play this year. The two foreign stars were receiving offers to play professionally for their respective countries but felt their game would only improve by coming to the U.S. and facing American competition.
"Mikhail is going to be a very special player," explained Langley. "As long as he wants it and he's exhibiting that now. He is seven-foot-tall and has a ton of skill, as does Marios."
Foreign recruiting has the same NCAA rules and guidelines as recruiting within the United States. Coaches learn about players various ways such as DVD's, film, scouting and even just word of mouth. A coach must be ready to walk into homes from various cultures and make an athlete's parents feel comfortable and trust them with their child.
"We want 35 percent of our team to be international," Langley said. "We've had a great experience with those young men.
"They have been committed to going to class and getting better. You don't go abroad unless you are serious about taking advantage of a situation."
Linskens says he has enjoyed his time in the U.S. and Wyoming thus far and is looking forward to what lies ahead.
"I like our coaches and I truly believe I can become a much better player here. I could have made a lot of money playing professionally in Belgium but I would be on the bench and not play right away," Linskens explained. "This program (Wyoming) is very good and I believe after four years I will be ready to play professionally."
Both Linskens and Matalon are expected to see solid playing time this season as they grow accustomed to the college game.
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