The NCAA has levied sanctions against UConn head basketball coach Jim Calhoun for improper recruiting violations. While the university’s techniques may have come into questions, Calhoun’s ability to spot, identify, and develop talent in many ways is unparalleled in college basketball.
In 25 years as head coach, Calhoun has only had seven McDonald’s high school All-Americans yet has produced 23 NBA players. Matt DeCourcy in the February 14th edition of the Sporting News asks a great question – “Is he a better scout than everybody else or a better coach?”
DeCourcy goes on to give us insights into the philosophy this Hall Of Fame coach takes in player evaluation and the culture needed to develop them. These lessons are applicable for any leader regardless of their chosen field.
- Vision – When difficult times hit your team or organization, Calhoun says “You have to have a little bit of vision of not only what you see but what might come from it.”
- Personal Security – Great leaders take the road less traveled. Calhoun chooses which players he would like to have as part of his program rather than being concerned about what other schools are doing.
- Patience – Part of the UConn DNA is a willingness to allow players time to develop.
- Exposure – As a high-profile program, players are constantly in environments and big-game situations that allow them to mature as individuals and as players.
- High Expectations – Calhoun is very demanding as a coach.
- Determination – Because these players were overlooked by national recruiting services, McDonald’s, and other schools, many of them bring a level of intensity that other players don’t.
Vision, Security, Patience, Exposure, High Expectations, and Determination. If your organization has these as part of its culture, you may be positioned to attract and develop hidden gems. The following is a list of current or previous UConn players along with their national ranking as a high school senior at the time of their recruitment:
- Current players Roscoe Smith (#32 in 2010),Shabazz Napier (#62 in 2010) and Jeremy Lamb (#88 in 2010)
- Boston Celtics future Hall of Famer Ray Allen (#56)
- 2003 recruits and future NBA first round selections – Josh Boone and Marcus Williams (both ranked in the #60s)
- Emeka Okafor (borderline Top 100) and Ben Gordon (#40s) who led the 2004 team to the NCAA Championship and were the 2nd and 3rd picks of that year’s NBA Draft.
Leaders, what are some key qualities you look for in identifying and securing talented people?