Kevin Willard on recruiting, his squad for next season, coaching style and more

Johnny Holliday said a word while interviewing Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard at an event in Catonsville.

“Well, Coach, this is my 44th year doing Maryland games, football, basketball, but I’ve never felt this kind of excitement amongst the Maryland base since they announced that you come as a basketball coach,” Holliday said. “There’s always an adjustment period, but these fans are the biggest fans in the country, I think, and all they’re looking for is a really competitive team, that makes it to the playoffs and a coach. which reflects their personality. Which, I know, your players reflect your personality on the pitch.”

Whether it’s hyperbole or not, it’s true that fans are thrilled with Willard’s arrival. And although it’s early days, it seems like her personality is a perfect fit for die-hard, discerning Maryland fans.

“When you take a job, you really have to think of it as, ‘Can I make it there or is this a place where in four years you get fired? And it’s a big step, because Seton Hall, I had become Seton Hall in my DNA. It wasn’t my DNA when I got it and I learned that lesson very quickly. But the University of Maryland is a special place. The program is a special place, the fan base is a very, very passionate fan base. , which I love,” Willard said.

“And when that job opened up, that’s something I said, I just don’t think you can pass it up because it has everything that I think we can pull off. And at the same time, that’s what I want my program to be.”

Willard has been on a recruiting spree, grabbing two top homegrown players in Jamie Kaiser and DeShawn Harris-Smith. He credited his staff.

“I made a mistake when I first got the Seton Hall job. You know, I was like, I’m gonna get a Jersey guy and I’m gonna get a west coast guy and I will have a guy from the south and we are I will recruit everywhere… So I knew when I came into this position I said I needed staff who know this area, understand this area, who can help me. I knew the field because I have been recruiting here for 10 years, but it is not the same [as being from here],” he said.

“You know, I would go up three hours to Jersey and then back down. I wanted at least two guys who really, really knew that area and I wasn’t going to make that mistake again. So I hired two great [local] guys … [Tony Skinn] and someone I respected, David Cox, for years and years. I brought Grant Billmeier with me, who knew my system, was very important, one of the best coaches of big players in the country.

More from Willard below: