When it comes to basketball recruiting, there isn't a guy more knowledgeable in the country than Scout.com's Dave Telep. He's been in the business more than a decade and is on the board that chooses McDonald's All-American's, the Naismith High School Award winner and the Gatorade Player of The Year. So, when I called him moments after Durand Scott picked Miami on Wednesday and he gushed about the job Frank Haith has done building Miami's basketball program I made sure to listen closely.
Here's what Telep, Scout.com's National Recruiting Director, had to say.
Q: What does landing Scott mean to Miami basketball?
A: "It's an enormous addition. It comes to this: they won a long recruiting battle with two of the best programs in the country. It's a big deal. They played their cards right. Miami doesn't have the tradition of being a traditional powerhouse program. They've got to scratch and claw for everything they get. But they're in a position now to sustain from success. Frank Haith will be the first person to tell you none of this comes easy. It's a constant grind when you are battling the line you are in the ACC and you are competing with Connectictut and Pittsburgh for a kid like Scott. That's a grind. I can't say enough what a victory this is for Frank Haith."
Q: Is this the big-name, landmark signee they were looking for to put them over the top, for this program to pound its chest and say we're getting the big-time guys now? Or, has that day already come and gone in your eyes?
A: "I think every year is just another chapter in the book. If you look at Miami's basketball program right now, you see a program on the rise that's not going to be a one-hit wonder. It's built for the long term. Bringing in Durand Scott, Garrius Adams, Donnovan Kirk and a Lisandro-Ruiz Moreno [who still has not signed], it's another foundation for another strong basketball team. Miami basketball is past those days of being on the outside looking in. Miami basketball is relevant now."
Q: What kind of player is Scott? What does he give Miami on the court?
A: "He's a very good defensive player. He has a lot of pride in playing defense and in high school that's a rare treat. He's a streaky shooter, so he's got to improve on that. But he can be a secondary ball-handler. He can shift in, rebound, pass, be a Jack of All Trades wing player. At the end of the day, though, what makes him special is he is wired to win. Winning matters to Durand Scott. Sometimes, you got to teach a guy to want to win. You don't have to with him. He wants to win in AAU season. Garius Adams is the same way. You can't put a price on what that means to your team. You already have a winning culture in Coral Gables and now you are bringing in guys who feed the monster. He should not be labeled as a savior, just another very good player."
Q: After this season, Miami is set to lose All-ACC guard Jack McClinton, Lance Hurdle, Jimmy Graham and Brian Asbury. How do you see this team next year with all the new additions with a guy like DeQuan Jones and a guy like Malcolm Grant in the mix?
A: "I envision a tempo and a pace that is basically an aggressive team that can guard you 94 feet, up and down the length of the floor and run, run, run on offense. They are going to be very athletic and very good."
Q: This class could still have one more huge chip added to the mix -- the No. 1 player in the country in North Carolina point guard John Wall. What do you think are the realistic hopes Miami fans should have in also getting Wall?
A: "Miami is in its infancy stages with John Wall right now. All you can do is sell your program and see what direction it goes in. John Wall is the equivalent of getting Manny Ramirez in free agency. You make your best pitch to him and hope he bites. That would be the highest profile recruit to ever commit to Miami. But we're a long way -- probably five months -- away from that one."