April 23, 2019 Currently: 72° | Complete forecast

Junior college recruits were hidden gems

I don’t miss coaching. I loved it during my career, but at some point it just became a hassle.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I was very fortunate to make a living doing something I loved. I wouldn’t have traded it, especially my years at UNLV, for anything in the world. I just loved coaching at UNLV and the players we had.

A lot of those kids were junior college kids and they were hidden gems on the recruiting trail because some schools didn’t like recruiting from the junior college ranks.

But I coached in junior college for seven years and had a lot of contacts with the coaches there. It was easy for me to talk with those guys because I understood junior college basketball and how much talent was there.

When you were recruiting the junior college kids, you weren’t going against North Carolina, Duke and UCLA.

Most of the time, we weren’t going to beat those guys anyway. Duke had six high school McDonald’s All-Americans every year and we had six in the 19 years I coached.

That’s proved to be just fine, though.

The best junior college recruit we had was Larry Johnson. The year we signed Larry we had everyone back from our team that lost to Seton Hall in the Elite Eight and Larry was the big-name recruit we needed.

He was a great player, but an even better person. When we got him, the SMU coach told me, ‘Coach, you won’t believe this, but Larry is the best person you could have got. Larry will do more for you than win games.’

He was absolutely right. We won the national championship and Larry was what everyone expect — one of the best I coached.

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