For the third time in the last month, a coaching change in the college ranks led a local recruit to adjust his college plans. Paul VI‘s Jamall Robinson signed with Hofstra last Thursday after being granted a release from his national letter of intent to play basketball at Niagara. By doing so, the senior forward follows former Purple Eagle Coach Joe Mihalich to Hofstra.
Both North Point’s Marquis Wright and Oakland Mills’s Lavon Long were also granted release from their NLIs with Loyola when Jimmy Patsos left the Greyhounds to coach Siena in April. Both ended up heading to Siena.
While no situation is the exact same in this age of coaching changes and the recruiting whirlwind, I talked with Robinson and Paul VI Coach Glenn Farello this weekend to get a glimpse of how these situations can play out.
When Robinson signed with Niagara this past winter, the versatile forward felt strongly about the program he was joining after forging tight bonds with the coaches and players. Assistant coach Mike Farrelly made his interest in Robinson clear by driving 16 hours round trip from New York to Virginia to see the recruit play in an October scrimmage.
But on April 10, the calls, the communication, the certainty, they all came to a halt. That’s when Mihalich left Niagara after 15 years to take the head post at Hofstra.
“When Coach Mihalich went to Hofstra, I couldn’t talk to him anymore, so I wasn’t sure what was going on,” said Robinson, whose letter of intent prohibited him from being recruited by other coaches. “At first, I didn’t know that if a coach changes schools after a player signs that the school could choose not to release them from their letter of intent. So when I realized that, I was a little worried about how things might work out.”
After talking it over with his family, Farello and the Niagara athletic director, all sides agreed to wait a week for the school to complete its coaching search. On April 22, Chris Casey took the helm at Niagara. A week later, the former Long Island University Post coach met with Robinson, holding a unique recruiting pitch. Casey coached Robinson’s father, Don Carey, as an assistant at St. Peter’s.
Though the talk went well, Robinson eventually decided to ask for his release, which Casey agreed to do.
“In this case, Chris Casey, who is a friend of mine, understood the situation and the relationship that Jamall had formed with Coach Mihalich,” Farello said. “By reopening his recruitment, Jamall could then look reassess the situation without taking Niagara out of the picture.”
Niagara was joined by Hofstra, Radford and a few other schools in pursuit of the newly available Robinson. Naturally, Hofstra held an advantage, but the 6-foot-5 senior still needed to see if the campus and school would be a good fit.
“I already knew the coaches, but after looking around the school, I felt good about joining the program and ended up signing last Thursday,” Robinson said. “I have a lot of respect for Coach Casey, though, because he didn’t have to give me my release papers and after I told him I had signed with Hofstra, he congratulated me and wished me well.”
While Robinson’s situation could have played out differently, for Farello, it confirmed an evolving culture within recruiting.
“There used to be a time when ADs would be much more difficult but from a general standpoint, it’s gotten so much better in the last 15 years, where schools are understanding with recruits and players when there is a coaching change, and I’m happy to see that,” Farello said. “A big reason a player picks a school is because of the coach. Of course, the academic and social aspects are big, but when you’re talking about playing scholarship basketball, your relationship with the coach is big. So I respect Niagara for being understanding of that with Jamall.”
Robinson is a four-year varsity player who averaged eight points per game last season and stands as the winningest player in Paul VI history with 96 victories. Along with his leadership ability, Robinson is a strong defender who can excel at multiple positions with his mid-range game and physical play.
VIDEO OF THE DAY
Fairfield recruit Matt Borda is one of several Division I-bound players on Gonzaga’s lacrosse team.
BONUS VIDEO OF THE DAY
Madison’s boys’ lacrosse team beat Langley, 10-2, to capture to Virginia AAA Liberty District crown and push its win streak to eight games.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 10
Consecutive Washington Catholic Athletic Conference softball titles won by O’Connell following its 5-0 win against St. Mary’s Ryken in Saturday’s final. Another impressive number is the 306 strikeouts (and counting) for O’Connell pitcher Tori Finucane this season.
—No. 2 DeMatha tallied 17 hits in 12-2 win against McNamara to force a decisive third game in the WCAC baseball championship series.
–History also repeated itself at the Virginia Scholastic Rowing Association regatta, as St. Albans boys won its fourth straight title and the Madison girls captured their third consecutive crown.
–Potomac School downed previously undefeated National Cathedral, 6-4, to win the Independent School League AA softball crown.
-Following two lightning delays, Calverton rallied to beat The Heights, 11-10, and win its sixth straight Maryland Independent Lacross League title.
-The Whitman girls’ and Gonzaga boys’ won the WMIRA championships.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY
McNamara vs. No. 2 DeMatha, 7 p.m. at the University of Maryland
The WCAC baseball crown comes down to this, with DeMatha searching for its first title since 2008 and upstart McNamara looking for its first championship period.