By Jeff Goodman
CHICAGO – Yep, I’m back on my couch in the Marks household – for the second consecutive night.
I’m going to ask Mrs. Marks at breakfast in the morning if she offers some sort of points system comparable to Marriott because, frankly, the accommodations have been spectacular and I’d like to book another reservation.
My room has a gorgeous view, there’s a complimentary buffet breakfast (don’t tell my wife, but it’s a major upgrade from the one I receive at home) and my bed was even made up.
Ryan Marks and assistant Nick Bennett left the gym at the NY2LASports event in Milwaukee around 4 p.m. earlier this afternoon. Bennett was in attendance for the second consecutive day and Marks got a look at just about everyone he wanted to evaluate.
Then it was off to see a couple of old friends.
John Hammond and Jeff Weltman.
Forget about those high-major coaches that my colleague, Gary Parrish, was schmoozing with all day long over at the LeBron James Camp.
Marks, Bennett and I were at a different level.
The big boys.
You see, Hammond is the general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks and Jeff Weltman is his right-hand man and holds the official title as the assistant GM.
Marks’ relationship with Hammond and Weltman stems from two decades ago when he was an intern for the Los Angeles Clippers while he was also a journalism major at USC (I haven’t told Ryan this yet, but I think there’s a guest blog on the horizon).
``Every job I’ve ever gotten, Josh Hammond and R.C. Buford have either made a phone call or helped me,” Marks said.
So there we were sitting around Hammond’s desk when the guy who just drafted Tobias Harris (a terrific pick, by the way) dropped the bombshell.
``If I had taken the Portland general manager job years ago, I was going to hire Ryan as my director of scouting.”
He was completely serious.
It was back when Marks was the basketball and baseball coach (he was 3-52 in his tenure on the diamond) at Southern Vermont.
``I remember when he called me and told me that he was going out to meet with (owner) Paul Allen,” Marks said. ``I was washing our uniforms.”
Days later, Marks received another call.
``John told me he wasn’t taking the job,” Marks said.
Sure, Marks wonders what might have happened. But when he goes to sleep tonight on a couch in the living room of his mother’s downtown Chicago condo, it is with no regrets.
``I love every second of what I do,” Marks said. ``There are only about 1,100 Division 1, 2 and 3 head coaching jobs – and anytime you can have one of them, you’re beyond fortunate.”
Marks signed a four-year deal worth $91,000 per year when he took the UT-Pan American gig a little more than two years ago.
He hears it from people all the time, about how difficult his job is –- and how he needs to win so he can move to a higher level.
``They are all tough,” Marks said while at what he termed a high-major dinner at Wildfire in Chicago. ``Coach Izzo has his own set of challenges at Michigan State.”
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Like the current one of having to deal with that colleague of mine for three consecutive days.
But Marks, who his mother maintains has wanted to be a college coach since he was a toddler, loves where he is at -- 15 minutes or so from the Mexican border, working for whom he calls one of the best athletic director in the country in Chris King.
``I don’t need another job,” Marks said. ``I just want to keep the one I have. I love it and don’t want anyone to tell me I can’t do it anymore.”
Tomorrow morning Marks will do his best to further ensure he sticks around a while longer as we leave Chicago for St. Louis and a big-time junior college showcase.
(For more of our college basketball recruiting road trip, click here.)