By Joe Henricksen

Impressive "Super Six" can open doors

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By Joe Henricksen

Recruiting is the lifeblood of a college basketball program. Yes, games are won and lost from November to March in arenas around the country, but locking up those impressionable young high school basketball players on signing day often defines the success of a college basketball program.

And in today's world of recruiting, finding the right assistant coach is absolutely imperative. Just as it is with any business, there are superstars out there in the profession but they are far and few between. There are over 1,000 Division I assistant coaches across the country. While it's a little easier to find retreads and non-factors in the college coaching profession than influential assistant coaches, the stars are out there. There aren't many superstars, though, especially when talking about the small number that have a firm grasp recruiting Chicago and the state of Illinois.

There wasn't a whole lot of movement in this year's City/Suburban Hoops Report's "Super Six," an annual look at the hottest assistant coaching names in the business as it relates to recruiting Chicago and the state of Illinois. These are the coaches whose names are most often mentioned by the players, the high school coaches, AAU coaches and families. These are the coaches that have earned a reputation that is a cut above the rest, possess a presence in gyms, bring some class to a seedy business, look to have some staying power, bright futures and truly bring something special to the art of recruiting.

In the end, these are the coaches that just have "it." Here are the Hoops Report's "Super Six" (in alphabetical order).

DENNIS GATES, Nevada
It will be interesting to see what type of impact Gates will have over a thousand miles from Chicago. Then again, he was instrumental in getting current Cal star Jerome Randle from Hales Franciscan to Berkeley. Gates simply has so much going for him in the business. He's sharp, articulate and easy to relate to. He has a strong education background that parents appreciate, which includes earning his bachelors degree in three years and being a first-team Pac-10 All-Academic selection. He's a former Chicago Public League kid who starred for a state champion at Whitney Young. He's beloved and, more importantly, trusted by city and AAU coaches in Illinois. Ultimately Gates, who certainly has the staying power, will be back in the midwest with a high-major program.

TAVARAS HARDY, Northwestern
There aren't many assistants in the country who are currently more important to their program than Hardy is at Northwestern. Talk with prospects who are being recruited by Northwestern and they overwhelmingly mention the presence and relationship they have with Hardy as being paramount in their individual recruitment. He is genuine in his love and belief in Northwestern. And having played at Northwestern, he truly knows the selling points of the university and program. Hardy continues to get it done while facing some tall obstacles at Northwestern (lack of program success, high academic standards). He has been instrumental in keeping the likes of Lincoln Park's Juice Thompson, Glenbard West's John Shurna, Glenbard East's Mike Capocci and Lake Forest Academy's Kyle Rowley home. And, most recently, was pivotal in landing Naperville Central's Drew Crawford, the City/Suburban Hoops Report's 2009 Player of the Year and an absolute recruiting coup for Northwestern.

JERRANCE HOWARD, Illinois
In just a short period of time the 28-year-old has gone from a young, energetic, wet behind the ears assistant coach to a legitimate star in the business whose presence can not be underestimated at the University of Illinois. Howard established connections quickly and continues to constantly establish new contacts. He meets and exceeds so many of the standards of a great recruiter: tireless worker, connected, respected and as personable as they come. Howard, with a budding reputation, is a big brother-like figure to prospects while still being able to earn the respect of adoring parents. There isn't a coach that expresses more passion -- maybe a few with as much but not more -- for his job, school and program than Howard. The Illinois graduate bleeds Illini orange and blue and has been the ideal fit for coach Bruce Weber's program.

PARIS PARHAM, Illinois State
Parham continues to impress and will soon be coveted by a high-major program. He's the ideal assistant coach to get things done in Chicago and is quickly rising in the coaching ranks. Just take a look at the Illinois State roster and you will see the recruiting thumbprint of Parham on the Redbird program. Parham brought instant credibility to the ISU program among Chicago high school and AAU coaches, thanks to his coaching pedigree and Chicago ties. The Chicago native both played and was a head coach in the Chicago Public League. He has coached AAU basketball and has also spent over a decade as a college assistant at the Division I and Division II levels. Along the way he's gained the respect, loyalty and trust of recruits and their support systems. Parham has the ability to relate to anyone on the recruiting trail, is goal driven, possesses a high-level basketball I.Q. and brings a relentless work ethic.

RICK RAY, Purdue
You just can't find people who have anything negative to say about the veteran college assistant, including the most important people -- prospects, the prospect's family, high school and AAU coaches. While the younger classes in the state of Indiana are highly talented, the highly-respected Ray has made some major inroads in the state of Illinois over the last six years, including two years at Northern Illinois prior to beginning his fourth season this year at Purdue. Ray, making his first appearance in the Super Six, has been instrumental, along with Purdue assistant Jack Owens, in keeping the Boilermakers involved with several Illinois high school players, including Rock Island's Chasson Randle, St. Ignatius' Nnanna Egwu and more importantly some of the younger talent in the state. Best of all, Ray and the Purdue staff does things the right way in this beast known as high-major college basketball recruiting.

TRACY WEBSTER, DePaul
The veteran of the "Super Six" remains a key figure in recruiting Chicago and the state of Illinois. Webster laid a lot of the groundwork for the recent recruiting success at Illinois as an assistant there from 2004-2007. While Jerrance Howard has kept star recruit Jereme Richmond committed to Illinois, Webster was huge in actually getting the Richmond commitment three years ago. Webster's profile has always been big in the Chicago area, starting as a prep star in the south suburbs at Thornton and continuing on through his playing days at Wisconsin and coaching stops at Ball State, Purdue, Illinois and Kentucky. Webster has built relationships and maintained them well over the years. He is very tied in and knows the recruiting game from A to Z. Webster has shown he can recruit with anyone in his previous coaching stops and now takes on arguably his biggest challenge as a first-year assistant at DePaul.


Just Missing ...
(These four round out the top 10)
Lance Irvin, Southern Illinois ... He just recently added the title of associate head coach at SIU. Irvin, whose family runs the Mac Irvin Fire AAU program, is always on the radar of other programs looking for an assistant due to his family and Chicago connections to top prep talent.
Rob Judson, Illinois State ... The veteran coach is as respected as anyone in Illinois prep basketball circles. He brings loyalty, honesty and integrity in a business that is often lacking it, while understanding that no job is too small and becoming a jack-of-all-trades in the business.
Howard Moore, Wisconsin ... It won't be long before Moore is heading up a college program of his own. He compliments the personality and strengths of the head coach, which is a key component in a successful assistant. And he loves coaching for the right reasons, helping players grow and develop.
Kareem Richardson, Drake ... In a little over a year he's made a big impact at Drake after stints at Evansville and Indiana State. His stock is skyrocketing as he's made a big splash in Illinois of late and is making a strong push towards the "Super Six."


The Next Wave ...
Tim Buckley, Indiana ... With 20-plus years in college coaching, both as a head coach and an assistant, the Illinois native brings a lot to the table and will surely hit the state hard now that he's at neighboring Indiana.
Tracy Dildy, UIC ... The Chicago native just recently was named associate head coach at UIC. Dildy has been a Chicago recruiting fixture after starring at King and UIC in his prep and college playing days and, as an assistant, establishing a recruiting bonanza at DePaul a decade ago.
Jack Owens, Purdue ... Another key cog on a terrific Purdue coaching staff as he's front and center in the recruitment of Chasson Randle of Rock Island and Nnanna Egwu of St. Ignatius. He had success while at Southern Illinois and has JUCO experience.
Derek Thomas, Detroit ... Works Chicago and the state of Illinois hard after establishing roots while head coach at Western Illinois. He has had Detroit involved with several Illinois prospects.
Chad Altadonna, Eastern Illinois ... Another well respected coach in the business who helped secure a recruiting steal in Shaun Pratl of Richards last year.
Brian Wardle, Wisconsin-Green Bay ... Spends a ton of time recruiting in Illinois and throughout the Chicago area after starring at Hinsdale Central and Marquette as a player.


Honorable Mention: Dana Ford, Tennessee State; Armon Gates, Kent State; Chrys Cornelius, Eastern Illinois; Angres Thorpe, Wisconsin-Green Bay; Daniyal Robinson, Iowa State; Nate Pomeday, Oregon State; Billy Garrett, DePaul; Isaac Chew, Murray State; Jay Price, Illinois; Rodell Davis, Providence

The City/Suburban Hoops Report is set to begin its 15th year of publication. For more information or to subscribe to the Hoops Report, call (630)-408-6709 or email hoopsreport@yahoo.com. First issue of the season is due out mid-November.

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29 Comments

Love the list and info this blog gives. Wish Illinois could add another one of those Super Six to their coaching staff.

Joe ... If you had to pick one of the Super Six who you think may be moving on soon to a new job, which one would it be?

No representation from Northern Illinois? What is your analysis of that staff Joe?

This is to Billy Ball and Joe H but Doesn't Jay Price at Illinois do a good job?

Joe: Please tell me why Tracy Webster and Lance Irvin always gets on these lists when everywhere both have been the program has been criticised for its recruiting. When Tracey was on Gene Keady's staff at Purdue people there complained the program had fallen because of poor recruiting (he was the lead recruiter there), at Illinois Bruce Weber was constantly criticised for his staff's lack of recruiting from the time he got there until recently (Tracy was the lead recruiter there as well and recruiting did not pick up until Jerrance Howard replaced Tracy) and finally at Kentucky Billy Gillespie got fired for among other things not picking up committs from the top players in the country (again Tracey was the top recruiter). As far as Lance Irvin goes he has worked for numerous staffs that have been fired for poor recruiting (Loyola-Chicago, DePaul, Illinois State, Missouri, Texas A&M, etc.) some of those are places recruit Illinois and Chicago extensivley and Lance never closed the deal with the big time local recruits. I do not know why these two guys always get such good pub for recruiting when the results have been pretty much terrible.

Tough to compare these coaches I think. Some have a much better product/program/university to sell. Others have better resources. It comes down to perception with some of these guys I think. One coach may do well at one school and not the other. Take Depaul. I would have to say it would be tough right now to recruit to DePaul.

You forgot about Billy Donlon at Wright State. He is at the top of the list of assistants who will soon have their own program.

I think some of the SIU fans are expecting way too much from Irvin. Some of them expect Irvin to land top-50 in-state recruits because of his connections. That's not realistic at all. Big time kids want to go to the top BCS programs, not a program that makes a Sweet-16 run every 5-10 years.

I love the list and am a big fan of the site for years. I have been around basketball coaching at JC,Division 1 and Pro ranks and another young man to look out for is Durrell Robinson.He is respected with AAU coaches throughout the Midwest and help bring Danville Area CC which is a D2 NJCAA program to become an immediate powerhouse. He was able to snag some of the top players in Chicago Public and Catholic League and in the Indianapoilis and all through Indiana.He left DACC. I hear he is at an NAIA D2 school in Kansas,Bethany College I think finishing up his Bachelors
. I know a lot of the Divison 1 coaches on that list loves him so be on the lookout!

Gotta to agree with the other poster that you are giving too much credit to Webster and Irvin, especially Irvin. I have heard for years he is going to deliver players from his family's AAU program to the school he works at and it never pans out...plus guys who run other AAU programs in the Chicago area won't send their kids to a program that Irvin is working for because of the bad blood they have with his father and brothers travel team. Irvin closes doors more than he opens them in the chicago area. Also Gates did nothing at NIU and left. He may be a good coach and well respected but NIU is still bad and recruiting never picked up there at all. My top 5 for recruiting Chicago is hands down: Howard, Hardy, Parham, Moore, and Dildy. These guys get the job done...Webster, Irvin, and Gates are just people with big names.

One name that needs to be added to "Next Wave" and removed from Honorable Mention is Armon Gates, young but already having an impact in the Chicagoland Area by getting a verbal commitment from Eric Gaines from Hillcrest High School,(probably one of the better 2010 recruits in the long run) and extremly close to securing Mineral Area Star, and former Rich South Standout Carlton Guyton.( Heard it here first) With Armon Gates being relatively young and being from the Chicagoland area (Lincoln Park, and Hillcrest) he still has strong ties in the area, and with more growth, he will blossom into a strong recruiter. Not being biased because he is family...

GATES SHOULD HAVE NEVER GOTTEN THEY JOB AT NIU, THEY SHOULD HAVE RETAINED DONALD WHITESIDE, FORMER NBA PLAYER AND FORMER NIU PLAYER AS WELL, THE LEO LION ALL-STATER SHOULD NEVER HAVE LOST HIS JOB AS AN ASSISTANT FOR THE HUSKIES!
THE NEXT COACH AT NIU SHOULD BRING WHITESIDE BACK ON THE STAFF, HE STILL LIVES IN THE DEKALB AREA AS FAR AS I KNOW AND WORKS AT THE LOCAL JUCO, HE IS GREAT WITH THE PLAYERS AND STILL RECRUITS IN THE AREA!

Tracy was at Purdue for one Year. He brought in Carl Landry( is he playing pro ball right now?) How can you say he can not recruit? Eery place he's been, he has landed big time players.

So Tracey was at Purdue one year your point is? Over his career has really not been a great recuiter. At Illinois all the top players in the state started to committ after he left. At Kentucky he was the head recruiter and the Kentucky fans screamed he and Bill Gillespie couldn't recruit...and he was at Kentucky. Aside form the fact he was at Ball State for four years and the staff got fired for lack of talent. All I am saying is guys like him and Irvin get allot of pub for being a great recruiter when in reality they are not great. You think for a second Tracey would be able to recruit like Tavaras Hardy?? I mean the guy is getting players to Northwestern with no tradition and to play for a Head Coach who plays a boring system. Now that is what I call recruiting

Irvin is doing a good job of getting players to campus. He's had tough jobs. It was not his fault. I'm not sure who he 's recruited, but
he is now the associate head coach. That says alot.
I am not a Tracy fan, but I do not dislike him either. He recruited a NBA player at Purdue after only being there one year. At Kentucky, he recruited Liggins, Ferguson and Miller. At Illinois he did miss some guys, But all of those guys went to POWERFUL schools. Weber had a lot more to do with that too. So how did they get Richmond? Mike Davis? McCamey?

Some people here are forgetting about the good things Irvin is doing for the future.

For example, the Irvins are the ones who recruited Dre Henley to Brehm Prep in Carbondale (SIU territory).

I'm sure one year, Irvin will recruit one of these kids they're destroying to SIU.

THAT IS A HECK OF A STATEMENT TO ACCUSE SOMEONE OF DESTROYING PLAYERS, THAT IS WHAT PHIL K SAID IN HIS LAST BLOG, VERY VICIOUS WORDS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH BREHM PREP, HOW DO YOU KNOW WHAT THEY DID, AND IF THEY DID IT, WHY WAS IT SO DESTRUCTIVE IN YOUR OPINION, HEY PHIL K, THE IRVINS AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE, THEY ARE A NATIONWIDE PROGRAM, I DON'T BELIEVE THEY ARE DESTROYING BALL PLAYERS, JUST MY HUMBLE OPINION! IT IS OBVIOUS THAT YOU DON'T LIKE THE IRVINS, I DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY DID TO YOU, BUT YOU SOUND LIKE FOX NEWS ON THIS SUBJECT, VERY NEGATIVE!

Phil,

First, about Brehm Prep, I have no problem with a school that helps Disabled children. However, Do teh Learning disabled only play basketball? They have a great basketball team and a soccer team that plays only three games. THAT's IT!

They have several star players who transferred into Brehm Prep. They did not start there as freshman, they transferred in. (Sounds illegitimate to me).

If their program was clean, why is the school not in the IHSA?

It costs 34,000 dollars to go there. It costs 56,000 dollars for school plus room/board. Who is paying the bills for all these superstar athletes? One could find 5,000 maybe 10,000 dollars in scholarship and/or grant money, but 56,000 dollars??? EACH YEAR???

Do these kids actually pay the 200,000 dollars or does someone else???

Let's say,... someone who is an assistant coach in Carbondale - very close to Brehm Prep - someone whose father runs the kids AAU program and whose brother coaches at a CPS high school where a couple of the Brehm Prep players might transfer to next year???

Now do you get why I have a problem with Brehm Prep and the Irvins? They use the system and use the kids for $$$$. I'm not saying others don't, but "the Godfather" does.

Lead Recruiter Armon Gates, and Kent State University gets a verbal commitment from former Rich South player Carlton Guyton. Great fit for Mr. Guyton!

Yes they may have..but that will be a good fit for him and allow him to play right away...one of Cartlon's main concerns...

how can you say dennis gates could be next in line at illinois joe? he hasnt done anything at niu and left. you sit here and say he was big with jerome randle going to cal! no he was not. dennis was at GA at florida state when randle signed with cal. i guess sometimes it's all about the hype. peace my man!! armon gates has signed better players than dennis has! am i right joe? yes i am!

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on September 18, 2009 6:16 AM.

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