Head coaches usually get most of the credit when a school signs a top-ranked player. And rightfully so. They're the ones whose presence attracts the most attention in a crowded high school gym. They make the final decisions on scholarship offers and do all the talking in the living rooms when a recruit is waffling with a decision.
Still, as much praise as coaches such as Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, John Calipari and Billy Donovan deserve, the work of their assistants often gets overshadowed. It's an unfortunate situation, considering their efforts are often just as important – if not more important – than those of their high-profile bosses.
Thus, in an ode to those working hard behind the scenes, here is Yahoo! Sports' alphabetized list of the Top 10 recruiters in college basketball for 2010. Only assistant coaches were considered. Also, as impressive as it is to find a "sleeper" who turns into an NBA talent, this is a list of coaches who usually pursue the Top 50-100 standouts who any program in the country would covet.
Orlando Antigua, Kentucky – The former Pittsburgh player and assistant coach is one of the key reasons John Calipari has been able to lure talent such John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb to Kentucky. Antigua – who worked for Calipari during his final year at Memphis and then followed him to Lexington – played for the Harlem Globetrotters for seven years before breaking into the coaching ranks in 2002. He and new assistant Kenny Payne will make Kentucky a force in recruiting for years to come. The Wildcats have already secured pledges from three of the top eight players in the Class of 2011.
Jeff Boals, Ohio State – He's been on the Buckeyes' staff for just 16 months, but Boals has been quick to make his presence felt on a staff that also includes standout recruiter Brandon Miller. Boals helped land three-star prospects and current freshmen Aaron Craft and J.D. Weatherspoon shortly after leaving Akron for Ohio State. And the Buckeyes have already secured pledges for a pair of four-star standouts from the Class of 2011: Shannon Scott and LaQuinton Ross (although Buckeyes assistant Dave Dickerson was the point man on Ross). While at Akron, Boals helped land Zeke Marshall, a Top 35 national recruit.
Glynn Cyprien, Memphis – The well-traveled Cyprien – who has worked at schools such as Kentucky, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and UNLV – was one of the first people Josh Pastner called after being promoted to head coach in the spring of 2009. And for good reason. Cyprien has long been known as one of the nation's top recruiters, and that's hardly changed in Memphis, where he helped the Tigers land a 2010 class that included five players ranked among the nation’s Top 75 prospects, led by three (Will Barton, Jelan Kendrick and Joe Jackson) in the Top 20. Overall the class was ranked No. 2 nationally by Rivals.com. Memphis is also in the mix for some of the top players in the Class of 2011, including standout forward Adonis Thomas.
Joe Dooley, Kansas – Although he works for one of the top recruiters in the country in Bill Self, there's no doubt that Dooley has had a tremendous impact on the Jayhawks' program. The former East Carolina head coach played a huge role in signing The Morris twins and is one of the main reasons Kansas was able to grab Josh Selby, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2010. Dooley was also instrumental in signing former Kansas stars and NBA draft picks Mario Chalmers, Cole Aldrich and Sasha Kaun. A New Jersey native who graduated from St. Benedict's High School, Dooley's East Coast ties have been big for a team that rarely recruited that part of the country before his hiring. Dooley, Kurtis Townsend and Danny Manning form one of the nation's top recruiting trios.
Steve Forbes, Tennessee – Now in his fifth season in Knoxville, Forbes' recruiting prowess has helped the Vols become a mainstay in the Top 25 rankings. His 2006, 2008 and 2010 classes each ranked among the nation's Top 10. With the help of head coach Bruce Pearl and assistant Tony Jones, Forbes has been key in luring touted prospects such as Tobias Harris and Scotty Hopson. He landed a pledge from 2010 standout Josh Selby, who later reneged on his commitment and signed with Kansas. Forbes worked for Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M before leaving College Station for Tennessee. He was also the head coach at Barton County Community College from 1995-98.
Jerrance Howard, Illinois – The Illini were routinely losing in-state recruiting battles before they hired Howard, a former Illinois player, in September of 2007. AAU and high school coaches across the state are extremely fond of the former backup to Dee Brown, Frank Williams and Deron Williams. A native of Peoria, Howard played a key role in the signing of Crandall Head and also helped persuade Jereme Richmond to stick with his commitment when it looked as if the forward may change his mind. In just a short time, Howard has earned loads of respect on the national scene. Kentucky and Louisville have shown recent interest in adding Howard to their staff, and he may have landed head coaching job at Illinois-Chicago before removing himself from the race.
Mark Montgomery, Michigan State – It won't be long before Montgomery gets the chance to be a head coach. In the meantime he continues to help Tom Izzo build on his dynasty at Michigan State. The Spartans signed the country's 11th-best class in 2010. And they already have four commitments from players in the Class of 2011, and three players from the 2012 class have pledged. The last 10 players who have either signed with or committed to Michigan State are from Michigan, Ohio or Indiana. In other words, the Spartans are operating in fertile recruiting ground. Montgomery and Izzo don't have to go far. Give them credit for developing strong relationships and locking down that area.
Mark Morefield, Baylor – A remarkable turnaround has taken place in Waco, where the Bears are fresh off an Elite Eight appearance after narrowly avoiding the death penalty seven years earlier. Morefield's recruiting efforts – along with the relentlessness of head coach Scott Drew – are the main reasons for the Bears' success. Morefield was the point man for Curtis Jerrells and LaceDarius Dunn, who is about to become the Big 12's all-time leading scorer. A.J. Walton should start at point guard this season, and Morefield and the Bears are on the verge of securing visits from Class of 2011 standouts Quincy Miller, Duece Bello, LeBryan Nash, Ky Madden and Jakarr Sampson. Isaiah Austin, the No. 2 player in the Class of 2012, has already committed thanks to the efforts of Morefield, Drew and assistants Jerome Tang and Paul Mills.
Butch Pierre, Oklahoma State – Not many coaches in the country would want to go head-to-head in a recruiting battle with Pierre, who spent 10 years at LSU before joining Travis Ford's Oklahoma State staff in 2008. With three Top 100 players (including point guard Raymond Penn) the Cowboys' 2009 recruiting class was ranked No. 12 in the nation. Currently Oklahoma State is in the mix for Dallas standout LeBryan Nash, the No. 4-ranked player in the Class of 2011. While at LSU, Pierre helped sign high-profile prospects such as Glen Davis and Tyrus Thomas – who led the Tigers to the Final Four – along with Anthony Randolph, Tasmin Mitchell and J'Mison Morgan (although Morgan later got out of his letter of intent and signed with UCLA. He has since transferred to Baylor).
Russ Springmann, Texas – Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Jordan Hamilton. Some of the most coveted players in Texas history have ended up in Austin thanks, in large part, to the efforts of Springmann. But he's not the only star on Rick Barnes' staff. Assistant Rodney Terry was the point man for current freshmen Cory Joseph (the eighth-ranked player in the Class of 2010) and Tristan Thompson (No. 17) and also recruited Myck Kabango, the second-ranked point guard in the Class of 2011 who has already committed to the Longhorns. Former Texas forward Chris Ogden, who helped lure Avery Bradley to Austin, is one of the nation’s top young assistants.
- John Calipari