Maryland men's basketball assistant Dustin Clark leaving to go into family business

Maryland men’s basketball assistant coach Dustin Clark, who has been part of Mark Turgeon’s staffs in College Park and at Texas A&M, is leaving the program to join a family business in Texas, the school announced Monday.

Clark, 35, who came with Turgeon to Maryland in 2011 and was elevated from director of basketball operations after Dalonte Hill was forced to resign early in the 2013-14 season, said his final day will be June 8.

“The opportunity to coach college basketball has been the most meaningful, rewarding and richest experience that I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s directly attributable to Mark Turgeon,” Clark said.

In three seasons as a full-time assistant, Clark was an indefatigable recruiter and was credited with being the lead recruiter for sophomore guards Kevin Huerter and Anthony Cowan Jr. as well as incoming freshman Aaron Wiggins. Clark was also involved with the recruiting of freshman center Bruno Fernando.

Clark also spent a lot of time overseas, specifically at the Canaris Basketball Academy in the Canary Islands near Spain, where he found former Terps center Michal Cekovsky and current redshirt freshman forward Joshua Tomaic. He also recruited redshirt junior forward Ivan Bender while he was playing in Croatia.

For most of his tenure at Maryland, Clark also prepped the scout team to get the starters and other rotation players ready for opponents, and was heavily involved writing up the scouting reports.

With Clark’s departure, Bino Ranson remains the only original member of Turgeon’s Maryland staff. Scott Spinelli, who also came with Turgeon from Texas A&M, left to become an assistant at Boston College after the 2013-14 season.

Clark will become the second member of the Maryland staff to leave after the season. Nima Omidvar, who was hired to replace Clark as director of basketball operations in 2014, recently left become a full-time assistant at South Alabama.

With the Terps players having just reported for summer school and workouts, Clark finally got a chance to tell the players.

Clark said he is very appreciative of the opportunity Turgeon gave him more than a decade ago. As a senior at Texas A&M in 2005-06, Clark had been a student assistant under Texas A&M coach Billy Gillispie. After Gillispie left for Kentucky and Turgeon was hired, Clark was added as a graduate manager a week later.

“He took a chance on a complete stranger, a guy he didn’t know,” Clark said of Turgeon. “In the past 11 years, it became a lot more than just an employee-employer relationship. He’s a life coach, a life mentor to me, someone I sought advice in the coaching profession from. The best title he has is friend. It’s just an unbelievably special relationship to me. I look forward to our relationship continuing even though I won’t be working for him."

Turgeon announced Monday that Matt Brady, a former Division I head coach at James Madison and Marist who came to Maryland last season as director of player personnel, will replace Clark.

Brady coached eight years at JMU, winning 139 games overall and having four seasons with 20 wins or more, including a 21-15 record in 2012-13, when the Dukes won the Colonial Athletic Association and reached the NCAA tournament. He had a 73-50 record in four years at Marist.

As an assistant under Phil Martelli at Saint Joseph’s, Brady was widely credited with developing guards Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, who led the Hawks to a 27-0 regular season and a No. 1 ranking in the regular season in 2003-04 and top seed in the NCAA tournament, where they reached the Elite 8.

The reasons for Clark’s departure are related to family and lifestyle.

All of his family remains in Texas and Clark has an opportunity to join a family bursiness there. Clark, who has three younger sisters, said he also wants to spend more time with his parents and siblings.

There is no indication he was forced to leave Maryland given the close relationship he has had with Turgeon. Clark is making $270,000 a year, according to a state salary database. Brady earned $63,000 in his role last season.

Clark said he was first approached in January by his stepfather with the possibility of going into the business. With the hectic pace of the season, as well as recruiting, Clark did not seriously consider the offer until after the last recruiting period ended.

“I’m going to miss being around our players, other coaches, and support staff on a daily basis,” he said. ”The best part of coaching are the special relationships that are developed as a result of battling together and going through the rigors of a season. I’ll especially miss the guys, but the relationships will last and I’m looking forward to continuing to help them, albeit in different ways.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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