- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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And, no, it's not a player.
New Maryland coach Mark Turgeon's first big recruit is in fact Kansas State assistant coach Dalonte Hill. As reported by various outlets (including the Washington Post) and confirmed by Turgeon to ESPN.com's Andy Katz this afternoon, Hill will return to his native Washington to spearhead Turgeon's recruiting efforts in and around the talent-rich D.C. metro area. According to Turgeon, while the terms of Hill's deal are still being decided, an initial agreement has been reached.
Hill is widely regarded as one of, if not the, premier recruiters in and around Washington, D.C. He landed a variety of such players during his time at Kansas State, including Michael Beasley, a product of the D.C. Assault, one of the big-time AAU clubs to which Hill has ties. Another, Team Takeover, is headed by one of Hill's former high school assistant coaches. During his time at Kansas State, Hill was perhaps best known as the highest-paid assistant coach in the country.
The implications for Turgeon are immediate and obvious. The former Texas A&M head coach was praised as a quality hire by most (including yours truly), but if there were any doubts about the hire, they stemmed from Turgeon's history as a so-so recruiter who built consistent success through long-term development and organized team hoops rather than flashy recruits and top-20 classes. The Maryland job was a sleeping giant, most believed, if only the new head coach could corral Baltimore, D.C., and the surrounding areas. There's just that much talent available.
The hiring of Hill -- alongside Gary Williams holdover Bino Ranson, another well-known Beltway recruiter (particularly Baltimore) -- does that. Turgeon wasn't going to morph into one of the nation's best recruiters overnight. Instead, he hired Hill, kept Ranson, and built a complementary staff that should be able to leverage AAU ties to compensate for its head coach's unfamiliarity with the D.C. area.
Would Turgeon have been able to do that without Hill? Possibly. But the hiring makes Maryland's anticipated rise that much more likely. Recruiting comes in many forms, and Turgeon landed a big-time get today.