This column was written when Ron Everhart was the head coach at Duquesne.
There are so many key elements involved in the recruiting of a student athlete. Whether or not he can play at the next level is obviously among the most important questions to be answered, but it certainly extends well beyond just talent.
One thing that I have always looked for is personality. You often hear coaches talk about character as it relates to the success or failure of a team. I don’t think there is any question that the type of person you are goes a long ways in determining the type of player you will become.
When I was at Northeastern we were interested a 6-foot-9 kid that wasn’t being highly recruited. At the time it was evident that he had a lot of potential, but it might take time for him to develop into a good player. Ultimately it came down to the fact that we really liked him as a person. He had a contagious personality and was just a really good kid.
That kid we signed is Shawn James who had two great seasons at Northeastern and will play his final two seasons here at Duquesne. At the end of the day his talent on the court is exceeded only by Shawn James the person. And that is as much of a factor in why he has developed into such a nice player.
Somebody did say that nice guys finish last so it is important to combine that with talent and a good work ethic. In short, your most talented player should also be your hardest working player. You can’t teach height and you cannot teach desire.
Identifying that in the recruiting process has always been a high priority for my staff and me. When you combine some talent with hard work and desire you have the makings of good things.
Another key element is whether or not an individual will be a good teammate. You can have an abundance of talent, but there is a long list of guys that scored a lot of points on bad teams. Furthermore, a lot of players are diligent in their work ethic as it relates to their personal game, and not necessarily the team concept.
Take a quick look at the professional ranks of any sport and you will find athletes that work extremely hard, but are ultimately only interested in their own success. Working hard as it relates to “the team” is essential.
Being a good teammate also extends beyond the court. Assists on game night are one thing, but will the player assist his teammate off the court. And perhaps most important, will that person be a good role model on and off the court? As a coach with young children this is especially important to me because my kids will be growing up around the players.
Still so much comes down to dumb luck. Had others known how immediate of an impact Shawn was going to make, they undoubtedly would have pursued him much harder. Then there is the case of Juan Barea, who just finished a remarkable four-year career at Northeastern.
Like Shawn, Juan was not highly recruited. Many felt he was not big enough or physical enough, but most never really had an opportunity to see him play. The fact that he never participated in AAU events was much to our advantage. All of the above applied to him, in terms of personality and work ethic, but it really came down to being a little lucky. Had he gotten more exposure, it would have been much more difficult for us to recruit him.
So much goes into the evaluation process, but I have always felt good that my best players have also been hard workers and personable kids. Sure you have to put talent on the floor, but the personality and character combined with work ethic really super seeds all in the recruiting process.