“It’s all about relationships.”
That’s how Syracuse assistant basketball coach Rob Murphy describes the world of college basketball recruiting.
Murphy went from a Michigan high school coach, where he worked at some of the nation/s elite basketball camps with players like Maurice Ager (Michigan State) and Antonio Gates (Kent State), to being a college assistant and seeing that time pay off.
But he didn’t know how crucial those relationships would be when he started.
Since he’s been at SU, the time he spent working at the prep level helped immensely in trying to get players to put on an Orange jersey.
(Listen to Rob Murphy talk with The Fizz’s Mike Couzens on recruiting to Syracuse)
Having an in with either a high school or AAU coach is a start, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. With the rise of more and more AAU teams, he says the recruiting battle has changed a bit.
“At one time you had one or two (AAU teams) in each state which had the best players and they kind of dominated the state in AAU. But now it’s kind of spread around. In saying that, you have to have more relationships so you have to meet more people because there’s always new people on the rise, and new people with players.”
That doesn’t mean there’s not some inherent advantages in recruiting to The Hill.
“In recruiting, we have a great product with a hall of fame coach, ‘Melo Center, the Dome, so it’s kind of hard for a player not to come here.”
But Murphy’s not kicking back and putting his feet up on the desk either. There’s a lot of square mileage to cover across the country and you never know where the best talent is going to come from.
“We look at players as players. It doesn’t really matter where you come from. I mean you look at a guy like Wesley (Johnson). He’s from Corsicana, Texas. Like, who cares? In our opinion, you know you get players who fit your program. You get the best players who you think will help you to be successful.”
Relationships are just a part of the process though. Murphy is now in his fourth season on The Hill, but a geographical connection here long before his arrival is still on his side and it’s of capital importance.
“It goes back. We have a history down there. You can almost look at the DC/Baltimore area as our backyard. I mean Dave Bing was originally from DC, Sherman Douglas was from DC, that area. Throughout the years, DC and the Baltimore area has been very good to Syracuse. Carmelo, I think, just helps you all over the country because every kid wants to be like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony.”
The next big test for some of Murphy’s kids comes Thursday against Florida… possibly another chance to win over some more future Orange hoopsters.