University of Maryland men's basketball coach Gary Williams put the finishing touches on his new-look coaching staff yesterday by adding one of the best players in Terrapins history.
Keith Booth, a former star at Dunbar who went on to become one of Williams' signature recruits in College Park, was announced yesterday as the Terps' new assistant coach, replacing former teammate Matt Kovarik.
After three years on Williams' bench, Kovarik is likely to return to law school.
Mike Lonergan, who guided Division III Catholic University to a 251-88 record over 12 seasons and a national championship in 2001, also joined the staff in April, replacing Jimmy Patsos, whose 13-year tenure as an assistant ended when he became head coach at Loyola.
The lone returning assistant, Dave Dickerson, was promoted to senior associate head coach after Patsos departed.
"Keith Booth was the most important recruit during my years here in terms of getting our basketball program to the national level," Williams said in a statement. "Keith always achieved success against larger opponents, and his competitive attitude will carry over to our players."
Booth, 29, did not return calls seeking comment, but he did say in a statement, "It is a tremendous opportunity to coach at my alma mater, and at one of the top universities and basketball programs in the country."
Booth's ties in the city from his days growing up in East Baltimore figure to give the Terps a strong recruiting presence in Baltimore.
Booth, himself, was considered a major recruiting coup by Williams, who beat out Duke and Kentucky to land the 6-foot-6 forward.
Booth was the first standout recruit from the city to commit to Williams after Bob Wade, who had coached Dunbar, was fired in 1989.
At Maryland, Booth was one of Williams' favorite players because of his work ethic, his selfless nature and his consistency.
"He'll bring something to [Terps] practice every day," Patsos said. "He's just a tenacious competitor. On a young team, he'll fit right in. Those guys are all great competitors, and they'll like having him."
In his career at Maryland, Booth started every game, leading Maryland to four NCAA tournaments.
One of 15 players in program history to have his jersey retired, Booth was a first-round draft choice of the Chicago Bulls in 1997 and was part of the Bulls' 1998 NBA championship team.
"He was just a `let's get it done' guy, a Gary Williams guy," Patsos said. "He has a determination to win that rivaled Gary's."