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Reggie Witherspoon: master recruiter?

Photo by Dave Marino

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Maybe the inking of Javon McCrea was more than just a flash in the pan. Georgetown, Syracuse, UNLV and Pittsburgh let the Newark High School graduate slip through their fingers, largely because the forward was deemed too short to play in the post at a high-major Division I basketball program. Since McCrea’s nearly a DeJuan Blair clone, it makes you wonder why Pittsburgh would discount McCrea’s size.

University at Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon sifted through McCrea’s drawbacks—the occasionally poor body language, the height and maturity questions—and convinced himself and McCrea’s mother that Amherst was the best place for the burly big man to continue his basketball career.

“I wanted to stay close to home and I knew Reggie was a great guy,” McCrea explained to The Buffalo News in March. “I knew him since my sophomore year of high school and he was the only one sticking with me and still recruiting me as hard as he did. So I had to come here. I almost had to.”

Witherspoon continues to hammer away on the recruiting trail, already winning a local bidding war for Virginia transfer Will Regan, locking up Regan’s old Nichols teammate Stan Wier and earning national praise for his addition of Jarryn Skeete for 2012.

More specifically, the signing of Skeete to a National Letter of Intent has caught the attention of the Worldwide Leader. ESPN basketball recruiting analyst Adam Finkelstein lauded the Bulls’ signing of the 39th-ranked PG in the 2012 class, writing: “Skeete was a guy flying just a little under the radar, occasionally overshadowed this summer on a loaded CIA Bounce team and currently spending a prep year at Bridgton Academy. He has the tools to emerge into a game changer for the Bulls. He’s got an instinctive feel for the game, great floor vision and passing ability, and a savvy court demeanor, all of which made him one of the best pure point guards still available in the Northeast.”

With the interior being an obvious strength of the Bulls next year—think McCrea, Regan and Xavier Ford—it’ll be crucial to have a point guard confident in distributing the ball, putting his teammates in positions to excel.

Skeete already has a track record of doing this well on the AAU circuit, as this piece from the West Virginia Jam Fest relays: “[Skeete] fed the post and ensured the offense went through its 7-4 centerpiece, he pushed tempo and led the break to get the most out of Anthony Bennett’s ability to finish in transition. He used Juwan Brescacin in the high post to initiate the high-low, and found his guards wide open for three due to his ability to get in the gaps.”

Don’t get us wrong—we think very highly of Jarod Oldham, but he’s not a natural point guard. Perhaps Oldham’s best role is 20 minutes per game off the bench at the two-guard, hounding the opponent’s best player. Maybe Oldham shares the point guard role with Skeete—who knows, the more options, the better. (Read: anything to keep Tony Watson II off the floor).

In his 11 years at the helm of the UB Bulls, Witherspoon has had his share of detractors. Is he really that good of an in-game coach? Why are his rotations occasionally so funky? Why haven’t the Bulls been able to close out either of their MAC title games? One thing you can’t question, though, is Witherspoon’s improvement as a recruiter, an asset that has Buffalo in prime shape for the coming years.

(Photo above courtesy of Dave Marino.)

TAGGED: jarryn skeete, javon mccrea, reggie witherspoon, stan wier, ub bulls, university at buffalo, will regan

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  1. Billy Foster November 21, 2011 @ 1:26pm

    2011 Sporting News Basketball Preview listed Reggie Witherspoon as the best recruiter in the MAC!  I’m glad to see ESPN is getting up-to-speed! 

    Don’t be so quick to “dismiss” Oldham’s skills as a PG.  In fact, I believe he is a natural PG.  After reviewing his HS stats, he clearly played the position for his AAU and HS teams.  The kid has only 3 turnovers this year as a starter while averaging 6+ assist per game and you’re moving him to the bench?! 

    Considering UB turned a walk-on (MULKEY) into a professional basketball player in Spain - I’d love to see how Oldham develops!  There are very few 6’3” Shooting Guards in Div I ... so I’m sure Coach Witherspoon & staff made the right decision to insert Jarod as the starter @ PG.

    GO BULLS!

    Billy Foster's avatar
  2. Ben Tsujimoto November 21, 2011 @ 1:37pm

    I absolutely agree that Oldham is the right choice to run the offense this year—and probably next year too—as Skeete gets his feet wet. Jarod’s defensive ability is definitely invaluable and as you alluded to, Billy, he’s made a lot fewer mistakes than any of us expected in the two home games.

    Also, Zach Filzen is a starting shooting guard at 6’3 : ) Plus, with Oldham’s athleticism, he plays a lot bigger than 6’3.

    Ben Tsujimoto's avatar