North Texas Daily

Head coaches influence high school recruits the most

Head coaches influence high school recruits the most

Head coaches influence high school recruits the most
December 03
12:03 2013

Ehsad Azad / Staff Writer

In a world of college recruiting where the reputation of a school and the chance to start a professional career often take center stage, many players are most influenced by the head coaches.

Both men’s basketball head coach Tony Benford and women’s basketball head coach Mike Petersen are able to sell themselves rather than the program itself. Junior men’s basketball guard T.J. Taylor and freshman women’s basketball guard Candice Adams exemplify this approach.

Taylor was a heavily recruited player out of Denison High School, ranked as the 16th-best point guard in the country by ESPN. Injuries derailed his collegiate career at the University of Oklahoma, forcing him to go to Paris Junior College. After playing well, he was recruited by Benford, the associate head coach at Marquette University.

But Benford was hired as the head coach at UNT, leaving Taylor with a decision. He chose to follow Benford to Denton, but it was about more than basketball that got Taylor to commit to play for Benford.

“He asked me what I am going to do after basketball because it doesn’t bounce forever,” Taylor said. “He teaches about life and how to grow up as a man.”

Taylor said he loved that Benford was a former NBA player – he was drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Celtics and played briefly – and that he used to play the same position.

Benford said he brought Taylor along not only because he is a good player but because he is a good person.

“The bottom line is that those guys are like my sons,” Benford said. “I want them to be molded into young men and productive citizens with families.”

That is just the reason he wanted to bring a player like Taylor, who shows off the qualities that he was looking for, he said.

“I want to win every game here, but I also want to make sure these guys continue to grow as people,” Benford said.

Candice Adams was a top prospect in the state of Texas in her senior year of high school – a four-star recruit and nationally ranked 99th in her recruiting class by ESPN. When it came time to decide where to go to school, she verbally committed to the University of Texas. But when head coach Gail Goestenkors resigned, it forced Adams to rethink her decision.

“When Coach G. resigned, I took back my offer because I had originally committed to her coaching style, not the school,” Adams said.

Adams took the summer to mull over offers, and was hooked after she met with Petersen at UNT.

“He sold me right away and didn’t try to force me to sign right away,” Adams said. “He had this family base around him and I felt really comfortable around him.”

Adams said Petersen promised that if she worked hard under his style of play, she would be happy and the family atmosphere would help make a great environment to play in.

It took most of the summer for Adams to officially make a decision, but she finally felt that the best place to play was with Petersen at UNT.  With the season already underway, the freshman is adjusting to playing for her coach and new team.

“It is everything that he said it would be,” Adams said. “He is more confident in me than I am in myself.”

Petersen said he pitched the idea of staying close to home when he was recruiting her, since Adams is from Cedar Hill, Texas. He reciprocates her positivity about the program.

“She is a great athlete and loves the game,” Petersen said. “She is going to be a really fine player for us.”

Feature photo: (Left) Freshman guard Candice Adams of the mean green women’s basketball team in action against the University of Missouri Kansas City at the Super Pit on Nov. 9. Photo courtesy of Rick Yeatts. (Right) Junior guard T.J. Taylor takes a shot during a home game against Incarnate Word University on Nov. 26 at the Super Pit. Taylor recently overcame a series of preseason injuries that only allowed him to play a total of 10 minutes in the first four games of the season. Photo by Harris Buchanan / Staff Photographer. Graphic by Nicole Arnold / Visuals Editor  

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