I brought him and Shivaughn Wiggins in. Melvin was a kid who only played basketball three years. [People might say], ‘Oh, he must not be very good.’ But he’s learned to play the game 5-on-5. He’s still a little bit behind in skill work, but he’s one of the best bigs we have in terms of screen and roll, catching, he’s a really good outside shooter. He fits the mold of bigs I like to have [along with] Raven Barber and Kristijan Krajina. I like 5-men who can step out and shoot the ball, make you respect them, but also score and make plays and finish at the rim or make the next pass. I like the 5 spot just to give us big-time mismatches, and Melvin fits that perfectly. I realized we needed a point guard and another big, so I really went after those guys hard.
What do you like about Shivaughn Wiggins?
I don’t know what I don’t like about him. He can command the ball from Day 1. He’s an outstanding leader, can really shoot the ball from the outside. I love guards that can score the ball at a high volume. He’s a really good outside shooter, and he’s great playing in the box, penetrating and making decisions. The best thing about him is he’s going to push Josh Castellanos from Day 1. I think what we need the most is a point guard combo with those guys. Josh is a bit underrated with his ability to make passes and make plays. I think he’s going to be tremendous for how we want to play. Mix in Shivaughn and it’s going to be a pretty good duo playing the point guard spot for us.
So you were involved with Gregory and Wiggins before?
Melvin was Player of the Year in Virginia, as I was in 2000. We used to play Lancaster a lot. When I became head coach, I knew I was really going to recruit the Northern Neck area of Virginia. Several players are there but people don’t go into [that area a ton]. I played there and know how good the athletes in that area are. I had my eye on him for about a year. We talked a lot when I was at VCU, just in terms of what the next step would be for him – maybe going to prep school for a year. When the Mount deal came open, it was a no-brainer to grab him and bring him along with us – Shivaughn Wiggins as well. We were looking to bring in a point guard potentially in this year’s class. He was a guy [the VCU coaching staff] had seen on the circuit and looked at him really hard. We decided to bring in a point guard in 2013 instead of 2012, but he was right there on the radar for 2012 point guards.
What areas will you target in recruiting going forward? Will Baltimore be a major focus?
I love Baltimore kids. I love the toughness that they bring. That’s something very underrated in college basketball today -- having guys who are from the area and tough enough to play in any environment. We’re going to recruit Baltimore extremely hard. We’ve got Daryll Bruce, who was at Towson a few years back but has great connections in the Baltimore area [on staff]. It’s my full intention to be heavy in Baltimore, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. We’ll also reach into North Carolina. We’re really [limiting our focus] to a three-hour radius. We won’t go outside that radius. But we’ll be heavy in Baltimore. [Other areas we’ll recruit are] York, Pa., [which] also has a lot of good players right now, Virginia because it’s my home state, and North Carolina.
How close have you followed the team since graduating? Were you familiar with any players?
Well, I was familiar just because any time they were on TV, I’d check a game out. I followed them closely even though I didn’t get to see a ton of games – probably four or five games a year over the last eight years. I was familiar with the roster, but obviously not as familiar until you get to work with [the players] every day. I think sometimes when you’re a fan, which I was from a distance, you’re looking at a guy and thinking, ‘He could do so much more.’ Then you get to spend some time with that guy and actually see what he can give you. As familiar as I want to be, until we get a chance to work every day in practice, I [won’t be able to truly] asses what we have, especially since they’re going from playing a Princeton style and now we’re going to go with what we call ‘Mayhem.’ It’s an insane pace on offense and defense. It’s a big change for all of them, but they’ve been great making the transition.
Who really impressed you during workouts?