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It's a Whole New Ballgame, and Maryland's Williams Isn't Playing

The Washington Post's Eric Prisbell talks about his latest series in The Post examining University of Maryland Men's Basketball coach Gary Williams' recruiting problems over the past years and what it means to the future of the team. Video by Comcast SportsNet

Asked whether Beasley would have followed him to Maryland, Hill said: "There was a great chance. I was involved with a lot of kids at the time and I know they had a lot of interest in Maryland. I just don't understand why they didn't go. . . . It astonishes me."

Williams said Maryland could not pay an assistant coach a salary in that range. "To bring Beasley, it cost $450,000, for sure," he said. "We know that. We didn't have $450,000. So we are not going to get Beasley."

Maryland also didn't get two other D.C. Assault recruits -- forwards Rodney McGruder and Wally Judge -- who have signed with Kansas State for next season.

Malone said Hill was making only $60,000 in Charlotte at the time he was interested in Maryland and suggested it would not have taken nearly a half-million dollars to hire him.

"You have to get stuff done in your area," Malone said. "Villanova is getting the Philly guys. Syracuse is getting the New York guys. You have to get those guys. There are enough guys in this area that Maryland and Georgetown and Virginia, there are enough for everyone to damn near get."

'The Ignition Point'

Rudy Gay's recruitment was an unusual case, because his recruitment featured a veteran summer league coach, Anthony Lewis, and a high school coach, Mike Glick of Spalding, who both were heavily involved.

No rules violations have ever been found in Gay's recruitment, but it became clouded by the perception of impropriety when Connecticut scheduled an exhibition game in Hartford, Conn., against a loosely organized team called the Beltway Ballers.

The school reportedly paid $22,000 to the Ballers, a team comprising players who once played for Lewis.

The incident prompted Williams to say after one of his exhibition games that fall, "We could have scheduled an AAU team and given them $25,000 like some schools I know."

Shortly after Gay's commitment, the NCAA passed legislation banning college teams from scheduling exhibition opponents linked to independent traveling teams.

Lewis declined to answer questions about the game, telling two Post reporters to ask Williams about what happened.

Gay, who now plays for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, said last week that Maryland recruited him as intensely as U-Conn., and that the final decision was difficult. He said he chose the Huskies because "I always watched people like Caron Butler, Ray Allen, Donyell Marshall and Rip Hamilton, all playing my position [at U-Conn.]. Seeing all of them in the NBA, it made me want to go there. It worked out well for me."

When asked recently about why he believed he lost Gay, Williams said he was unwilling to take actions he saw as improper to secure Gay's commitment. While Williams has never spoken publicly about his specific basis for those beliefs, he clearly remains bitter about the experience.

Glick said Williams recruited Gay aggressively, but "Connecticut did the best job recruiting him. They had shown the most interest." Glick also said that he was not aware of any animosity between him and Williams because Williams had written him a letter of recommendation three years ago for the job he currently has at Gwynn Park High.

Losing Gay frustrated Maryland fans, many of whom booed Gay when he played in an all-star game at Comcast Center.

"He went through hell his senior year," Glick said. "Imagine if everywhere you went people booed and cursed you because you didn't go to a school. He was like, 'Why can't they be happy for me?' "

Williams said losing Gay bothered him more than other recruiting setbacks because Gay had seemed perfect for his style of play. Hard feelings have lingered, several recruiting sources said, and Williams has recoiled from some elements of the AAU world ever since.

Said one source who requested anonymity because he has a sensitive relationship with Williams, "That definitely was the ignition point."

Even with his team in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in five years, and questions about his job security growing louder, Williams remains adamant that he won't change.

"Third-party recruiting -- in other words, making sure somebody gets taken care of [financially] -- I am not going to do it," Williams said. "Period. There is no argument there. If that makes me a bad recruiter, then I am a bad recruiter."

Staff writers Josh Barr, Zach Berman and Camille Powell and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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