In June Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams made what many consider to be a significant hire. Williams decided to replace departing assistant coach Chuck Driesell with a coach from Xavier University with strong ties to the Baltimore City AAU scene. Orlando “Bino” Ranson, who just six short years ago was an AAU coach in Baltimore, got the job as the newest Maryland assistant coach. Going back to the Bob Wade era at Maryland, the men’s basketball program has struggled to keep much of the top city talent in state. Terrapin stars Keith Booth and Juan Dixon have been exceptions to this and more recently Williams successfully recruited current Terp Sean Mosely. But the number of top tier talent eluding Maryland’s grasp has been alarming.
If you ask those involved with the AAU scene in Baltimore, many will tell you that Williams has not forged relationships with many of the top AAU coaches and that those coaches have a hard time talking up Maryland when they do not know the head coach well. Supporters of Williams will counter with the perception that many of the AAU coaches and hangers on in the Baltimore City recruiting scene are looking for hand outs and improper benefits in return for steering their top players towards Maryland.
The hiring of Ranson could give Terps fans an answer to whether or not Williams avoidance of certain AAU personalities has been the reason the Terps have struggled to recruit Baltimore. Ranson is still very well connected in the city and there is speculation that more Baltimore area players will end up suiting up for Maryland. The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Barker, who covers the Terps beat, wrote a piece on Ranson and his likely success in using his AAU connections:
“I think he’s a people person, and recruitment is all about relationships,” coach Anthony “Doodie” Lewis of the Cecil Kirk AAU program said. “I think he knows the population. He knows the places to go.”
“Maryland’s recruiting in the city hasn’t been what it should be,” Oliver said. “Bringing in [assistant coach] Keith Booth helped a lot. With Bino in there, you’ll get a lot of elite players at Maryland. It might be the best move they’ve made in a long time.”
Among Maryland’s targets is City shooting guard Nick Faust. Like many Maryland recruits, Faust has deep AAU roots. “We’re like family,” AAU coach Carlton “Bub” Carrington said of Faust. Carrington is Faust’s Nike Baltimore Elite coach and is close to Ranson.
“The work other coaches might have to do for relationships, Bino already has the groundwork. They call him Uncle Bino,” Carrington said. “If Bino was at Maryland, then Donte Greene and Malcolm Delaney [Towson Catholic, Virginia Tech] would have been at Maryland. Easy.”
Clearly there is reason to be optimistic and it would be huge if Maryland was able to land top talent from its own backyard on a consistent basis. But the question still remain whether or not Ranson’s ties can win out over what has been a shady AAU scene in Baltimore. I expect to see an increase of talent from Baltimore ending up at Maryland with the hiring of Ranson. But I also feel that in the recruitment’s of the truly elite talent, that Maryland will lose out, and coaches and handlers look for a pay day and shoe companies with vested interests in having top talent end up at schools that they back will win out.