MCGILL: Genuine approach key to @HerdWBB recruiting success
The Word on the Herd -- Jan. 10, 2017
By Chuck McGill
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall sophomore women’s basketball player Shayna Gore was part of a recruiting class that ranked No. 52 nationally. That highly touted class of 2015 is just one of the latest incoming groups to receive positive reviews.
The Thundering Herd’s Class of 2017 – which has three players signed and three others verbally committed – ranks No. 34 nationally by BlueStar Report, just behind schools like Oregon, Kansas, Michigan and Pitt, and ahead of the likes of Seton Hall, Mississippi State, Auburn and Texas.
Those are big athletic programs with rich athletic histories Marshall is being mentioned alongside, which is a credit to the recruiting job performed by fifth-year coach Matt Daniel and his assistants.
“Who wouldn’t want to be here, though?” Gore said. “(Coach Daniel) doesn’t try to sell recruits; that’s not him. But this is Marshall. Once you step foot on campus you know you want to be here. I know a couple of the girls coming in and when they visited they liked us, they liked the team, they liked the school and they liked Huntington. You want to be part of that.”
Three players have signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Herd: Kristen Mayo, a point guard from Grayson, Kentucky; Taylor Pearson, a combo forward from Columbus, Ohio; and Brie Toney, a versatile forward from Columbus, Ohio. NCAA rules prohibit Marshall coaches from commenting on the other three unsigned prospective student-athletes.
“Either we have recruiting classes that people already know about or we’re doing a good job of selecting players and helping them develop,” Daniel said.
Daniel said the approach from he and his staff is not a complicated one. They trust each other and their evaluations of a player, and they try to identify those talents as early as possible.
“(In 2015), we basically didn’t have to beat anyone to get all of those kids because we got them so early because of our organization and the way we approach things,” Daniel said. “We never go over our recruiting budget. We think we’re really efficient in all areas, but we think we have to be really efficient with the time and resources we have available in recruiting.”
Women’s hoops recruits who visit campus will not see a lot of flash and flair. Daniel isn’t interested in a smoke-and-mirrors approach, he only wants to find the best fits for the school and the basketball program, and he wants the student-athlete to be comfortable with him, the staff, the players and the academics.
“We’re genuine,” Daniel said. “We think relationships are the key. When you come on a visit it’s not a big show. This is just who we are. That’s who we are going to be because we’re not trying to sell them anything. We just want to show you who we are and what we are about.
“We don’t really sell anything,” Daniel added. “It’s just conversation. We’re trying to connect. We’re really trying to invest in their future.”
It is an approach that is obviously working. Marshall is 10-5 this season after finishing 21-12 with a WNIT appearance in 2015-16. In addition, young players are racking up numbers and accolades. Freshman forward Ashley Saintigene has won three Conference USA Freshman of the Week awards this season. Gore is the team’s leading scorer at 16.3 points per game.
“Recruiting is about how you talk to people and Coach Daniel always knows what to say,” Gore said. “Coming here was the perfect fit for me.”