One of the questions you get asked a lot on the recruiting trail is “What are you guys looking for for next year?” You always have your current roster in mind and where you have the most depth, but that’s not as important as getting the right talent. Ultimately what we are looking for is guys who can play.
While you certainly have to take things like position, skill set and size into account, that’s not nearly as important as getting enough good players. I don’t ever want to make the mistake of passing up a good player because he didn’t play the right position.
Versatility is a great asset. At Rhode Island College we had a number of great players who didn’t really have a specific position, and that’s probably why they slipped to the D3 level. They were really talented and productive, but the scholarship level schools often got caught up with what position they would play. I’m talking about the 6-3 combo forward who wasn’t really a shooter, a ball-handler or a post-player, but was good at a lot of things. I’m talking about the small guard who wasn’t a point guard and couldn’t really shoot, but was tough as nails and changed the game with the way he defended and the tempo he played at.
When I see a good player and hear someone say “I just don’t know where to play him” I immediately think to myself “On the floor.” If you put enough good players out on the floor they will figure out how to play together.
The best players can handle a lot of things – if you ask them to bring the ball up or guard someone taller than them, they usually figure it out. And if they’ve figured out how to be productive against good competition without having a defined position or specific skill set, it means they’ve figured out how to play a certain way – if they are too small to be a post player, or not a good enough shooter to be a guard, but they are still productive, that’s usually a good sign. If they are productive against good competition you can count on them being productive when they get to college.
The challenge is a little different at the University of Maine with only 13 scholarships to use, so you certainly can’t mass recruit like you do at the D3 level. You do have to take size and skill into consideration. But versatility is still very valuable and will translate well. If you get enough good players and put them on the floor together, they’ll figure it out and win a lot of games. Rather than get position-specific, I’d prefer to start with enough good players and try and make it work from there.