Firing a coach that just landed a top 10 recruiting class is a bold step.
NC State was uninterested in doing as much with Sidney Lowe last season, instead giving him a chance to coach the best recruiting class of his tenure, and we all know how that ended.
But you can understand the hesitance. Players play for coaches just as much, if not more, than they play for schools, and you can understand why committed, high-level recruits would have second thoughts upon learning their chosen coach won't be there when they arrive on campus.
That's why new Arkansas coach Mike Anderson's first priority upon arriving in Fayetteville, Ark. was simple: Anderson had to reach out to former coach John Pelphrey's No. 8-ranked recruiting class. He had to introduce himself, his program and his style. And he had to make sure all five members were still on board for their Razorbacks debuts this fall.
How is that process going? According to Anderson himself, quite well, in fact. From the AP:
Hunter Mickelson, Ky Madden and Aaron Ross are from Arkansas, B.J. Young is from Missouri, and Devonta Abron is from Texas. All five were recruited and signed by Pelphrey, and Anderson began traveling to visit with them on his first full day on the job. He traveled to Missouri and Texas twice to visit with Young and Abron and their families.
"Right now they're all on board," Anderson said. "So far, so good."
Young is the most important retention of any of those players; he's the No. 4-ranked point guard and the No. 15-ranked overall player in the class of 2011. More than anything, Anderson's uptempo style relies on guards that can score on the break, and that just so happens to be Young's specialty.
Still, locking down the whole class remains crucial. Without it, Anderson would find himself starting from scratch with players leftover from Pelphrey's unsuccessful tenure, and the rebuilding process would likely be delayed by at least one more year. There are some decent players in that group, especially leading scorer Rotnei Clarke, who asked for a scholarship release after Pelphrey's firing but before Anderson was hired. Anderson now expects Clarke and the rest of Arkansas's nine returning players to be back in 2011-12.
Throw in that recruiting class, and the wake-up-the-echoes vibe at Arkansas might come faster than anyone would have expected.