LAS VEGAS -- Miles Simon spent Thursday night on the sideline at Rancho High, coaching the Pump N Run Elite while wearing shorts and a T-shirt and looking relaxed as his talented squad from Los Angeles cruised to an easy win in the Adidas Super 64. And if you're wondering why Simon is coaching summer basketball, you must've forgotten that Arizona declined to renew his contract as an assistant in May, and by extension made him unemployed.
"I don't have a job right now," said Simon, the Most Outstanding Player of the 1997 Final Four. "But I'm looking for the best opportunity."
|Steve Alford and New Mexico know it makes sense to hire after the recruiting period. (Getty Images)|
In other words, if somebody wants to hire Simon it would be stupid to do it now.
The smart thing would be to let him coach the Pump N Run Elite -- the same program that just sent Jrue Holiday to UCLA and Larry Drew to North Carolina -- through the summer and develop relationships with recruitable athletes, relationships that could someday pay dividends.
Consider that Simon is currently bouncing around the country, eating meals and hanging out with Class of 2009 standouts Solomon Hill and Tyler Honeycutt and Class of 2010 stars Tyler Lamb and Kendall Williams, among others. Meantime, actual college assistants on college payrolls aren't allowed to have any contact whatsoever at any tournaments with players or their summer coaches, meaning Simon can basically do whatever he wants (buy a burger for a player, some shoes, a hat, etc.) but the men who replaced him at Arizona can't so much as have a conversation with a prospect.
This is why Xavier hired Emmanuel "Book" Richardson last August.
And why New Mexico hired Chris Walker last August.
The summer recruiting period ends July 31, you see, and Sean Miller and Steve Alford understood it didn't make sense to hire Richardson and Walker until after that date. Consequently, those schools had the usual three coaches on the road working the 2007 summer circuit in addition to Richardson (who coached the New York Gauchos summer team) and Walker (who coached the T-Mac All-Stars summer team). Those hires -- specifically the way they were structured -- helped Xavier and New Mexico develop relationships with New York and Texas prospects that they might not have otherwise enjoyed.
Advantage: Xavier and New Mexico.
"It's a huge advantage to have a future staff member out there helping you with kids before you officially hire him," said one high-level Division I coach. "As long as he's not hired, he can pretty much do whatever to develop a relationship with a kid. Then August comes and you make the hire official, and by then you've got ins with a bunch of players."
To be clear, Simon's situation doesn't exactly match Richardson's and Walker's from last summer because it was well known in basketball circles that those two men had those two jobs lined up well in advance. There is no such story following Simon. He said he doesn't have a job lined up, and I believe him. But it's still worth noting that Mike Burns and Gabe Carter were the two men primarily coaching the Pump N Run Elite team last summer and that both have since moved on to Division I college staffs. Burns is at San Diego, Carter is at Loyola Marymount, and it won't be surprising if the restriction-less summer they spent on the road last year helps them get a desired prospect at some point in the future.
"Working with the Pump N Run team is a great opportunity," Simon said. "It allows me to spend some time to get to know the SoCal kids even better."
Which is why Simon will be an intriguing candidate for some West Coast school, because he now knows the SoCal kids on a personal level thanks to this summer spent developing relationships without NCAA guidelines hindering his moves. That's a huge bonus, and if you don't believe me you should've seen Richardson and Walker in their Xavier and New Mexico shirts this past season, working the jobs they "officially" got a little less than a year ago.