Did Dean Reputedly Agree to Recruit Only Half the Country?

  • I see why a young assistant coach without D1 head coaching experience might agree to recruit only half the country in exchange for a chance to become head coach of a legendary elite D1 program that had just won a ring.

    But why would the head coach of a legendary D1 program at the peak of his career agree to recruit only half the country?

    Were Sonny, Dean and Roy thinking about petroshoeco hegemony back then?

    Or were there other dynamics at play?

  • @jaybate-1.0 Is this recruiting story about Roy a real thing, or is it some myth/legend that gets bigger with every UNC National Championship? It may be, I’m not calling you out or anything, but I just have not researched it. Surely in his 15 years here, we had to have a few players on the roster from east of the Mississippi? If it is really true, I will have lost a considerable amount of respect for him. Also, the athletic director at the time (Bob Fredrick?) would have had to shoulder some of the blame. Just some early morning babblings…

  • There was a lot of Iowa corn, yellow roses, and Cali dudes…cannot recall one playa from the Bronx.

  • Does the GWOOAT count…Dr. Moody?

  • @nuleafjhawk I remember Roy saying something like there were a lot of cities to fly over to get to the east coast…a lot more schools competing for the players…players not as willing to come to the Midwest…something like that. Roy did comment specifically on the subject.

  • Rick Calloway was from IN, technicality?

  • I don’t know if Ol Roy’s recruiting is a myth or not but it seems quite strange that the only players from the East that played at KU during his tenure were Downtown Terry Brown, Milt Newton, Sean Alvarado, Kenny Gregory, and Moody. You may count Ben Davis, but I think he came thru Hutch JuCo. That is not very many players from the East during a 15 year coaching career. So I am pretty sure OL Roy gave us the shaft while pretending to be an all out coach for us, when in reality he was catering to Daddy Dean. SUCKS!!!

  • I’m struggling to find a recruit of Roys from east of the Mississippi off the top of my head

    Calvin Rayford - Wisconsin is as far east as I could come up with. Well done @Big-Clyde52

  • @Big-Clyde52

    Brown and Davis were both juco guys, so I don’t know if they really count as guys east of the Mississippi. Newton and Alvarado were seniors on Williams’ first team, so they really don’t count, either. Darrin Hancock was from Georgia, but he was also a juco transfer. So was Calvin Rayford (from Wisconsin). Other than that, there’s a couple Illinois natives (Sean Peason and Marlon London). That leaves Gregory and Moody. Moody was a walk on. That leaves Kenny Gregory. Everyone else was west of the Mississippi.

    Gregory, Pearson and London were the only four year scholarship players signed by Roy Williams in 15 years at KU that graduated from high school east of the Mississippi River. That’s pretty astonishing.

    It’s also interesting that in Bill Self’s second recruiting class (after his first full season), he signed three four year guys from east of the Mississippi. Alex Galindo (from New Jersey) didn’t pan out and ended up transferring. However, the names Russell Robinson (New York) and Sasha Kaun (Florida) may look familiar.

  • @justanotherfan So during Roy’s 15 years, did UNC lay off HS recruits west of the Mississippi? Did they split the country up or did Roy just kowtow to Dean?

  • Roy didn’t think he measured up to daddy Dean so he was scared to recruit there. He was certain UNC or Duke or Kentucky could sweep in and steal any recruit he had put time in on. With the biggest names it seems to be pretty true, but it hasn’t been impossible for Bill to pull those recruits. It’s probably a big reason you don’t see Bill close out on a high percentage of those big time east coast recruits. However the west coast was wide open for Roy and with Oregon and UCLA’s resurgence Bill may have to work harder still.

  • @ParisHawk

    I don’t know UNC’s rosters as well, but most of their top players from that era were from North Carolina, Virginia, etc. I think they had a couple of kids from Texas during that time, but that’s about it. I’d have to check to be sure, but it looks like they stayed on east of the Mississippi, particularly on top level recruits.

  • Where was DeShawn Stevenson from? Roy signed him, but he went pro instead.

    Nevermind. Fresno.

  • @justanotherfan You are right. Dean stayed mostly East of the Mississippi. There were plenty Mickey D All Americans right in his backyard. He did not have to go far to get many top kids.

    Eric Montross, Matt Wenstrom, Adam Boone, Jonathon Holmes, and Sean May, were a few that he came a little farther West for.

    But man when OL Roy got to Carolina he went all over the USA for players. How about Q. Thomas, Bobby Frasor, T. Hansbrough. Larry Drew, D. Thompson, A. Stepheson, all from CA. Ty Zeller ( IN).

    Just sayin.

  • @nuleafjhawk

    I would be grateful to anyone going back and finding proof refuting the reputed story that Roy promised to recruit west of the Mississippi, when Roy took the elite KU job (note: KU’s storied program had just won a ring and LB’s recruiting infraction and KU’s NCAA penalty at least appear relatively minor in retrospect) as a UNC assistant to Dean that had never been a D1, or D2, head coach. Please do so, as soon as you can, if time and resources permit you to. I look forward to reading your research. Your doubts about this reputed story mean it needs to be resolved for the sake of THE LEGACY and future fans by someone with the resources and time to do so.

    But, AGAIN, until the reputed story were refuted by such future research, what might we make of the apparently long overlooked question, which I would like to rephrase as follows: is there any corresponding reputed story that Dean imposed a reputed complementary restriction on himself, and UNC, also (i.e. focusing most of his recruiting east of the Mississippi, or alternatively perhaps agreeing to compete head to head mostly only in the western US), and why would he, at the peak of his career, have done such a thing?

    I don’t have a recollection on this, and I don’t have an explanation that makes sense to me yet.

    I do recall Dean had suffered through John Wooden’s run of cornering much of the top talent out on the West Coast, plus cherry picking top players in the east (Jabbar) and midwest (Lucious Allen). After Wooden retired, Dean was in his prime and seemingly positioned to win a lot of rings, recruiting the whole country. But so were others.

    For perspective, Bob Knight reputedly used to not want his assistants and proteges to take jobs in the the same conference Knight coached in. I vaguely recall that Steve Alford taking the Iowa job reputedly triggered some conflict with Knight. At the same time, I don’t recall that Knight ever reputedly set any arbitrary boundaries about where he would and would not recruit and he won four NCAA rings, if I recall correctly.

    Dean, oddly, won just two, despite an impressive run of talent, wherever he reputedly recruited.

    It occurred to me that framing the question this way; i.e., with the speculative focus more on Dean, than on Roy, might unstick some new thinking on this reputed story.

    I would be especially happy, if exploring this reputed story of Roy recruiting half the country this way would also lead to it being refuted entirely. Wouldn’t that be great?

    But either way, it seems a reputed story that deserves some continued reflection about.

    Recollection suggests that Sonny, Dean and Roy may all have been in some kind of contact at UNC at, or near, the birth of the Michael Jordan marketing phenomenon.

    I wonder if this reputed recruiting agreement between Dean and Roy might have had any basis in shoe marketing and its reputed influence on D1 talent?

    “Sole Influence: Basketball, Corporate Greed, and the Corruption of America’s Youth” (2001) by Dan Wetzel and Don Yaeger, and “College Sports, Inc.: The Athletic Department vs. the University,” (1991) by Murray Sperber, might be two good books for you to read for more information about recruiting as background. I recommend these books often, because though old, and apparently not necessarily perfectly flawless, I don’t recall ever reading that the troubling issues addressed in these books have ever been conclusively refuted, broadly remedied and/or eliminated from college sports since. Maybe they have, and I have missed it, but I don’t recall the NCAA, or Bob Knight, for two examples, claiming that these issues have been broadly eliminated, though they probably have evolved over the decades since.

    As always, great to hear from you.

  • @Big-Clyde52

    Hansbrough is from Missouri not California.

  • @justanotherfan WI and IL don’t count. They are upper Midwest. So have to throw out hoop dreams…plus he sucked. Could not throw it in Lake Michigan.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Yes my bad. I should have put a question mark after Hansbrough. That would have made it more clear maybe.

  • When you don’t have a single top recruit from the East, that is very strong circumstantial evidence. Folks are in jail for life based on strong circumstantial evidence – a crime being proven beyond a reasonable doubt. With that strong evidence, it appears the onus is on the doubters to prove otherwise.

    Remember, too, Roy may not have gotten the job without the promise. Glad he made it.

  • @Big-Clyde52 I don’t mean to call you out Big Clyde, but your facts are off. Sean May was a Matt Dougherty recruit (2 coaches after Dean retired), and T. Hansborough was from Missouri.

  • I suppose we would have to look at Deans roster at UNC and figure out where all the top recruits were from. Do we discount the lower third of the roster? Scout teamers, walkons, etc

  • @ZIG Thanks for the correction. I meant to put a question mark after Tyler’s name, and not mix him in with the CA boys. Also, I think Thomas was a CA kid too.

  • Banned

    All I know is Old Roy had no problem recruiting anywhere and everywhere after he left KU and took the UNC job. Hell he even continued to tap into his Iowa Connection after he left KU. The more this topic goes on? The more I’m not so sure Old Roy was a Blessing? You know show a little love to the Master’s old school but yet remain loyal to the master and the Tar Heels.

  • @DoubleDD

    I cannot think of even one scenario where Coach Roy Wlliams is not huge positive for KU.

  • I’m not a big fan, but Roy saved us from going over the edge after Larry left. And he almost won it all 3 times. He just should have recruited the whole country.

  • JayHawkFanToo said:


    I cannot think of even one scenario where Coach Roy Wlliams is not huge positive for KU.

    I am not sure I can comment usefully on what scenarios you cannot think of, but Coach Roy Williams appears a significant net positive for KU to me.

  • JayHawkFanToo said:


    I cannot think of even one scenario where Coach Roy Wlliams is not huge positive for KU.

    I’m confused do you think Roy was huge for KU in every way, or did you mean Roy was never good for KU?

    Either way Roy left KU in much better shape than he inherited it (on probation). And Larry left it in better shape than he inherited it in (2 final fours in the 70s is all for Owens). And Bill has it humming along the best yet, but he is still improving.

    Roy has undoubtably done a fantastic job at UNC, better than he did at KU, but Bill is doing a better job at KU than Roy ever could hope to do.

    No sour grapes here. Roy was good for KU, but it’s also been good for KU that he left to make way for Bill. I feel when Roy went “home” to Chapel Hill he had a resurgence of energy as well as a much easier time recruiting. Roy doesn’t win 3 NC at KU in the same time frame.

  • @dylans

    Nothing ambiguous about my post. Coach Williams was huge for KU any way you look at it. Even after winning in '88, KU was not quite an elite program, definitely not top 5 and likely not even top 10. Coach William brought KU to elite level and Coach Self took I up even further.

  • @JayHawkFanToo Ok. I agree. The double negative threw me.

  • Banned


    Yea but the question is did he do everything in his power to make KU great and win a championship?

    Sure he did some fine things at KU, yet did he not dare cross that UNC line? Thereby hindering the greatness KU could’ve had under his leadership.

    Roy is a hellva coach. Numbers don’t lie. Yet again did he leave something in the tank as to not get sideways with UNC?

    As a KU fan and a lover of the Jayhawk I’m starting to feel a little cheated.

    Hey I didn’t start this topic merely responded to it.

  • @DoubleDD Answers to your questions: NO he did not do everything in his power to win it all at KU. YES he did not dare to cross the line to upset daddy Dean. YES he did leave something in the tank at KU that otherwise may have led to a NC banner.

    I appreciate what Roy did do at KU to keep us a winning program, but have always felt he did not give 100% to push us into the championship category. Close but no cigar.

  • @DoubleDD

    While coaches, much like most everybody, have some allegiances to schools, again, much like everybody else, they have a primary allegiance to themselves and their own legacy regardless of school affiliation.

    In my opinion, Coach William did everything he could to win a title to titles at KU and he came tantalizingly close in more than one occasion. Perhaps he though that it was more productive to recruit the central and western portion of the country where he had a geographic advantage over the elite programs than recruit the east where he was at a distinct disadvantge recruiting against the then East Coast powerhouses.

    In short, I don’t feel shortanged at all by Coach Williams and I believe he had a very successful tenure in Lawrence and left the program in a lot better shape than when he came in. I have no issue with him going back to UNC, we all knew it was a matter of time; I do have an issue with how he left and the blame for that points directly to KU alumn Dean Smith.

  • Banned


    Yet he goes to UNC and recruits the east coast and wins three championships, and that doesn’t faze you?

    Think about this? If when Roy was at KU and he only recruited the west coast and Midwest yet came so close to winning the big prize. Yet when he goes to UNC he recruits the east coast and wins that coveted prize.

    I’m sorry I feel short changed of what Roy Could have been. I’m not taking away from what he did do at KU. Just saying it appears it could’ve been a whole lot more.

  • @DoubleDD

    It does not faze me at all.

    Back when Coach William was at KU, the athletic and by extension the recruiting budget was very limited and a fraction of what it is today and regional recruiting was a lot more cost effective, this is why coaches tended to concentrate recruiting in certain areas and very few programs recruited nationally.

    At that time KU was what it is today and not really considered an elite program and recruiting the East Coast and its basketball hot beds and going agains the powerful ACC and Big East programs was not the best use of recruiting expenses; the Mid West and West Coast were wide open with only a handful of top tier programs. KU is in a completely different place now, with elite status a huge budget and all the resources needed; this is a huge change from 20-25 years ago.

    How you see this issue is dependent on how old you are. Younger people tend to think of KU’s basketball program as always having been what it is today including its budget and resources; it was not. Under Ted Owens KU had a good program but not even close to what it is now. It was only when Larry Brown came that KU started to move up and then Coach Williams really brought the program to elite status.

    From my perspective, Coach Williams did extremely well at KU and with a couple of lucky breaks it could have at least two more titles.

    More importantly, are we going to have the same conversation about Coach Self in 20 years?

  • @JayHawkFanToo This post goes into your personal Hall of Fame. Mostly for providing a much needed sense of perspective, but also for spelling and using “faze” correctly–a lost art here in Web-land.

  • @JayHawkFanToo I agree with @mayjay – great perspective. We are very, very lucky to have had Roy Williams. We likely would not have Bill Self without having had Roy Williams. We’ve had over 30 years of elite basketball.

    But I do want national titles. No doubt.

  • @mayjay @HighEliteMajor

    I guess being older gives us a different perspective. Most of us older folks that endures some of the, shall we say less succesful seasons under Coach Owens, really appreciate how well KU has done under both, Coach Williams and Coach Self, and although we have not had as many titles as we would like, the program as a whole is probably the best it has ever been and the long term prospect is even better.🍾🏆

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