Blog Entry

Realignment opens up recruiting in Big East

Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:36 pm

By Jeff Borzello

Let’s get this out of the way immediately: of course the net gain for Big East basketball in realignment is a negative. You could replace Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia with pretty much anyone and it would be a loss for the conference.

From a recruiting perspective, though, it’s not all bad.

In the recruiting game, it’s often about relationships in a certain region. It’s why Marquette is able to recruit Texas effectively, and it’s why Arizona has done a decent job in New York lately. With the additions of UCF, SMU and Houston to the Big East, new avenues for the schools in the Northeast and along the Eastern seaboard could open up.

Back when the ACC and Big East changes were originally rumored in September, we spoke to several assistant coaches who seemed to welcome the changes.

“The climate changes from year to year as to where the best players are, but all we’re looking for is a chance to get our foot in the door,” one said.

Texas and Florida are hotbeds for recruiting, and now Big East schools could have a new pitch in those areas. They could now tell prospective recruits that they can play in the Big East and still have a chance to play in front of family and friends at least once a year.

On the other side, this is clearly a plus for Houston, SMU and UCF in recruiting. All three schools have been doing a good job on the trail over the past couple of years, but this could take it to a new level. Now the pitch is, you can stay at home and still play in a major conference. Most elite prospects don’t want to play in Conference-USA (aside from Memphis), but that won’t be a hindrance anymore.

For UCF, this is going to make or break the basketball program. For the past several years, the Knights have been looked at as a sleeping giant on the hardwood. Great facilities, beautiful weather and a great campus. They’re constantly judged on potential; UCF could be a huge factor nationally. Now, Donnie Jones has to expedite the process of pushing the Knights to national prominence. They can’t go into the Big East and just falter immediately. They have had decent success with transfers and in recruiting the past few years – they need to continue that.

With Houston, it’s going to be a matter of protecting its territory. James Dickey did a great job with the class of 2012, getting four-star prospects Danuel House and Chicken Knowles to stay home with Houston. Nearly every high-level prospect from the area is giving serious consideration to the Cougars, which is going to be a necessity in the Big East. Kids no longer have to choose between staying home and playing in a major conference; they can have both. For the rest of the schools, though, this could open up opportunities to poach kids out of Houston. Dickey can’t allow that.

SMU has done a great job recruiting the Northeast in 2012. Blaise Mbargorba is from New Jersey, while Brian Bernardi calls New York home. Both also received plenty of interest from Big East schools. Expect more battles between Matt Doherty and Big East schools in the near future. What he can’t do, though, is allow the NYC-area schools to return the favor and start taking kids out of the Dallas area.

The new moves will certainly alter the recruiting landscape in the Big East. Current conference schools now have new avenues of recruitment, while the new ones can now include the Big East as part of the pitch.

It’s tough to find a bright side for the Big East in realignment, but recruiting could be the one.



Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: January 9, 2012 5:41 pm

Realignment opens up recruiting in Big East

I agree being a Cuse fan... I will miss that head to head battle. I hope the ACC picks up UConn as well... The Coach did not want to go though so...

Since: Dec 5, 2006
Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:58 pm

Realignment opens up recruiting in Big East

The same logic that says the Big East has lost its status as an elite conference with the loss of Syracuse, Pitt and West Virginia says that kids from Texas will see the conference as another glorified Conference-USA. With the turmoil surrounding realignment and more to come the safest bet is still the Big XII for Texans with many more than one home game in the state and a much better quality of athletics than the Big East. The kids from Florida still have excellent reasons to stay at home in Florida and Florida State with Miami, USF and others in the mix. The SEC and ACC both play more games in Florida.

Ironically the realignments have opened up recruiting for the ACC from traditional Big East recruiting grounds and also to a lesser degree the Big XII with West Virginia changing. The New York City area might be the most impacted.

The best logic for basketball recruiting now is the coach. Kids are playing all over the country in AAU so location has softened its grip as players become familiar with other areas of the country. But the coach determines the playing style, the teaching, the opportunity for minutes and the chances for post season success. Brighter side is the coaches that are winners and have success with their players in the NBA. Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina will continue to get their recruits. Coaches on the West Coast are having more trouble getting their recruits as their recent records have dropped. Only Arizona is really rising above that on the national level, perhaps based on last year's Elite Eight finish.

Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 4:17 pm

Realignment opens up recruiting in Big East

Helpful for the Texas and Florida schools in terms of college basketball recruiting? I'd like to see SMU and Houston convince recruits to play for them and spend almost all of their road games thousands of miles away from home and in the freezing cold of the Northeast and upper Midwest. Instead of playing schools in Texas, they get to play at DePaul, Rutgers, and Providence! Look at South Florida since they joined the Big East.

Since: Nov 2, 2006
Posted on: December 6, 2011 4:13 pm

Realignment opens up recruiting in Big East

Please ACC, get UConn out of this mid major travel nightmare of a conference! I'd much, much rather see UConn play North Carolina and Duke than play SMU.

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