Many of these lists have included Gonzaga personnel in some capacity, which is not surprising considering the impact Mark Few’s program has had on the sport in the past two decades, and should continue to have going forward.
And while it’s unfair to expect Gonzaga to be involved in every single list/ranking about the sport, it’s a little (okay, a lot) surprising to see a list of the 20 best recruiters in college basketball that doesn’t include Few.
However, after Field of 68 revealed the top five on Friday, which included John Calipari, Penny Hardaway, Leonard Hamilton, Bill Self, and Rick Stansbury, it meant Few (and Michigan State’s Tom Izzo) were left off the top 20.
Scott Drew, Juwan Howard, Eric Musselman, Dana Altman, and Jon Scheyer round out the top ten (seen above) while 11-20 were as follows:
Nate Oats (Alabama) Bruce Pearl (Auburn) Rick Barnes (Tennessee) Brad Underwood (Illinois) Chris Beard (Texas) Hubert Davis (North Carolina) Andy Enfield (USC) Tommy Lloyd (Arizona) Mick Cronin (UCLA) and Chris Holtmann (Ohio State).
There’s a lot to unpack here.
Judging a head coach as a recruiter is a tricky business. For example, Tommy Lloyd did a huge chunk of Gonzaga’s recruiting while he worked under coach Mark Few. Should he get credit for that? Because otherwise, I’m not sure how he cracks this list. His body of work as a head coach AND a recruiter is minimal, since he acquired basically all of last year’s roster from Sean Miller.
I think Lloyd is an ELITE recruiter and one of the best in the business, but having him on this list over Few (and Tom Izzo) is somewhat baffling.
Beyond that, I can’t understand the argument for Andy Enfield at USC over Few or Izzo. The Mobley’s were excellent college basketball players, and Onyeka Okongwu was a huge get, but how is that better than say Chet Holmgren, Jalen Suggs, Julian Strawther, Zach Collins, Drew Timme, Domantas Sabonis, Josh Perkins, Hunter Sallis, Nolan Hickman, Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura, etc. etc.?
Perhaps the ranking is an attempt to take into account how well these coaches recruit based on their school, with factors like budget, boosters, NIL opportunities, school history, etc. all baked in. But even then, is Dana Altman really the ninth best recruiter if Nike money is a consideration? And wouldn’t the small school from Spokane with less money than basically all of these programs make it even more impressive?
These rankings are ultimately meaningless and hardly worth getting worked up over, but it does raise interesting questions about how to evaluate recruits – or more importantly how to evaluate what players do with said recruits.
If the Zags continue to churn non-top 100 prospects into NBA lottery picks (like they did with Kispert and Hachimura) then they will continue to find plenty of success on the recruiting trail, regardless of where said player is ranked in their class – or where college basketball analysts believe Gonzaga’s staff stacks up.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.