Mark Turgeon didn’t watch the live ESPNU show in which Andrew and Aaron Harrison told the world last October that they would be attending Kentucky in 2013, rather than Maryland.
The Terps coach didn’t need to tune in to the broadcast to know what the twin prodigies’ verdict would be. He had been tipped off already by the players’ father.
At that point, the uber-competitive former Kansas point guard didn’t want to have it rubbed in. He just wanted to move on. And move on Turgeon did.
Recruiting comes first with Turgeon, who is extremely confident in his ability to evaluate talent and close deals. He tends to aim high. He built his staff -- hiring Dalonte Hill from Kansas State at $300,000 per year -- for high-level recruiting. The staff has forged ties with AAU coaches that the program previously lacked.
After losing out on the Harrisons, I don’t think Turgeon -- who got a big commitment today from four-star shooting guard Dion Wiley -- ever doubted for a moment that he’d soon be reeling in other top-level prospects.
“I love my job and want to keep it,” Turgeon told me last year. “Recruiting is the biggest part and scheduling is the second biggest part in my mind of the things that I do here.”
How confident is Turgeon?
I remember him talking once about a former recruit -- a pretty good one -- who ended up going elsewhere. Rather than dwell on what had happened, Turgeon said -- almost defiantly, as I remember -- that he was quite certain he’d get somebody even better.
I’m not saying the coach is perfect. There were times last season when his team seemed perpetually in transition as Turgeon shuffled lineups game after game. He's been criticized for pulling players too quickly. But the Terps were better at the end than they were at the start.
My sense is that when Turgeon succeeds in recruiting, it’s because players like him for the same qualities that media members do. The Kansan has a certain Midwestern honesty about him. He appears genuine -- the opposite of slick. He’s hardly a self-promoter. He doesn't enjoy having a microphone in his hand.
“I want tough minded tough kids that will put the team first,” he once told me. “I try to get the best player we can. Not everybody is exactly the way we want them, and then you’ve got to develop them. That’s what’s great.”