(Camden, New Jersey) – Damon Evans is the Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics for the University of Maryland. Earlier this week, he turned the page on the Mark Turgeon era. Until the day he unexpectedly resigned after just 8 games, Turgeon’s record was good… 226-116 (.661) overall and 105-79 (.571) in conference. Under Turgeon, the Terps made 6 post-season appearances (5 NCAAs and 1 NIT) in 10 seasons. Again… this was good. For most programs, those are strong results.
But for Damon Evans they weren’t good enough.
He wants to take the Maryland Men’s Basketball Program in a different direction.
After 8 years in the Big 10, Evans is convinced that Maryland can make the DMV the focal point of Big 10 Basketball while pursuing another National Championship. While undertaking these ambitious efforts, Evans and the Terps will be fully supported by prominent Maryland alum Kevin Plank, founder/executive chairman and Under Armour, based in Baltimore, Maryland. Evans has also committed to breaking the ground on the $40+ million dollar Barry P. Gossett Basketball Performance Center in January.
Both Evans and his newly hired Head Coach, Kevin Willard, have made it clear that they intend to build a fence around the DMV in the pursuit of a National Championship caliber Men’s Basketball program.
This recruiting strategy makes a whole lotta sense.
As illustrated in Showtime documentary Basketball County: In The Water, since 2000, Prince George’s County has spawned more than 25 NBA players, more than a dozen WNBA players, and countless others that have impacted high major basketball programs across the country. Some of the most prominent and productive players in the NBA were raised in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Evans and Willard have committed to concentrating recruitment efforts in the DMV. NBA Guys like Carmelo Anthony, Victor Oladipo, Rudy Gay, and of course Kevin Durant, hail from the DMV. So does Michigan’s Hunter Dickinson and Terrance Williams II as well as Duke’s Trevor Keels and Jeremy Roach.
Maryland is determined to keep these kind of elite DMV players home.
So, exactly how will Willard make inroads in the DMV? After all, he’s a Long Island native who played at Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh. He started his coaching career with the Boston Celtics under Rick Pitino. He followed Pitino to Louisville, where he spent six seasons as an assistant coach before taking the head-coaching job at Iona. In 15 seasons as a head coach at Iona and Seton Hall, Willard has been to five NCAA tournaments and won a share of the Big East regular-season title in 2020.
A solid resume, but very little DMV focus… at first glance, it seems a little disconnected from the stated strategy of local recruiting dominance. What gives?
Well… it seems that Evans and Willard have decided to allocate considerable human resources to this task. Recently fired Rhode Island Head Coach David Cox will be focused intently on the DMV while serving as a Maryland Assistant. Cox will be expected to used his deep connections in his hometown Washington, D.C., and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to Cox, Tony Skinn, a Takoma Park, Maryland product native deep DMV ties and Big Ten and Big East coaching experience is on the staff. These guys know their way around… These guys have deep DMV AAU/grassroots relationships… Sounds like a plan.
It should be noted that Under Armour remains as firmly committed as ever to the University of Maryland and the Terp basketball program. Founder and Executive Chairman, Kevin Plank made it plainly clear that Under Armour continues to view the University of Maryland as an effective steward of the brand. Plank warmly welcomed Willard and committed to working closely together to help drive innovation and provide Maryland Basketball student-athletes with a competitive edge.
Damon Evans emphasized that Under Armour and Kevin Plank remain valued partners in Maryland’s quest to conquer college basketball from a based firmly rooted in the DMV. In every conceivable way, Under Armour remains a huge part of the Maryland Athletics family.
Lastly, Evans announced that Willard’s players will work and train in the new Barry P. Gossett Basketball Performance Center. According to Evans, The shovel is hitting the dirt in January 2023. This dedicated basketball space will include a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning center designed to meet the needs of basketball student-athletes as well as technologically advanced meeting rooms for coaches. Evans and Willard are eager to avail these amenities to the finest players in the DMV and across the nation.
Evans parted ways with a “good” coach… The goals are clear… Evans and The University of Maryland are giving Willard everything he needs to develop and maintain a competitive edge in recruiting and attract the nation’s top talent. Willard has hired Cox and Skinn, they have to do better than just make the NCAA tournament. Evans expects Willard to position Maryland as a top-tier program. That means he expects Big 10 and National Championships.
Evans and Willard want to make the DMV the focal point of Big 10 Basketball.They want to shift the locus of of power from the midwest to the mid-Atlantic.
They have some really big goals… You have to put some “respeck” on their names…
They are on a quest to conquer and dominate the Big 10. The conference has existed for nearly a century as league of similar universities located primarily in the Midwest. Penn State joined in 1990, then both Maryland and Rutgers joined in 2014. The Big 10’s geographic footprint now spans from the Midwest to the Atlantic Ocean. This invasion has altered the college basketball landscape. Mid-major A10 programs like La Salle, St. Joseph’s and George Washington have been significantly impacted by arrival Big 10 basketball to the Mid-Atlantic region. With the hiring of Willard, the focus on the DMV, the additions of Cox and Skinn and the construction of the Basketball Performance Center, Evans and Willard are taking their shot.
The targets are crystal clear… Big 10 and National Championships… They are looking to displace Matt Painter and Purdue, Juwan Howard and Michigan as well as Tom Izzo and Michigan State.
Anything less will be considered a disappointment… A huge disappointment… Ask Turgeon.
“You come at the king, you best not miss.” Omar Little, The Wire.