Paul VI Catholic guard Stanford Robinson knows Indiana could be the nation’s top-ranked college basketball team when next season begins, but that isn’t necessarily why he decided to become a Hoosier.

Robinson initially felt Indiana might be too far from home. But on May 1, Coach Tom Crean hired former Towson assistant Kenny Johnson, who got his start coaching at Eleanor Roosevelt, Wise and Paul VI in addition to working with Team Takeover, a Washington-based AAU program.

A little more than two weeks later, the 6-foot-4 guard, a rising senior and second-team All-Met last season, had changed his mind and orally committed to Indiana.

“Kenny, me and him are very close, like we could be brothers,” Robinson said last week as he stood within 20 feet of Johnson at the annual Peach Jam AAU event, getting ready to play for Team Takeover. Johnson, a University of Maryland graduate who spent one year as an assistant at Towson, couldn’t talk to Robinson because of NCAA rules prohibiting contact between coaches and prospects during an evaluation period.

“With Coach Johnson there, it gives you that boost because you’ll never feel homesick.”

Robinson’s decision is part of a trend in the Washington recruiting landscape, where a growing number of coaches from the area’s top two AAU programs are being hired to six-figure assistant coaching jobs in the college ranks in large part to lure players from what is considered one of the most fertile recruiting territories in the country.

The DC Assault AAU program has had at least 13 of its coaches ascend to the college ranks in the past decade, including Maryland assistant Dalonte Hill. Team Takeover, which began its AAU program in 2007, already has seen at least four of its coaches promoted to college jobs, and more could be on the way.

“D.C. is a hotbed for players and coaches now,” said Villanova’s Jay Wright, who is considering adding Team Takeover and Paul VI assistant Doug Martin to his coaching staff. “Obviously they know the players, but they’re also really good coaches. The old stigma of an AAU coach is not there anymore.”

Not all in college basketball agree, though. The practice of hiring someone to create a pipeline to a certain player or AAU program has been prevalent throughout the country for years, but the influence these rising coaches have on Washington area prospects has irked some. Two college coaches who asked not to be named because they recruit the area extensively called it “legalized cheating.”

Many have accepted, however, that this is simply the latest example of how the AAU circuit now dominates the basketball recruiting cycle, and Washington area coaches are taking advantage by elevating their careers.

Former DC Assault and Georgetown assistant David Cox was the first hire Rutgers Coach Mike Rice made when he arrived on the job in 2010. Two years later, two DC Assault products — Kansas State transfer Wally Judge of Washington and guard Jerome Seagears of Silver Spring — and Greg Lewis from Randallstown, Md., will likely be in the Scarlet Knights’ starting lineup next season. All three were recruited by Cox, Rutgers’s associate head coach.

“I have good relationships, but it’s not nearly what David has,” Rice said. “We don’t get three or four of the kids that we have — three or four of my starters, to be honest with you — without David being on my staff. . . . Right or wrong, AAU is where you get your assistants from now.”

The NCAA injected itself into the issue with a rule change in January 2010. If individuals associated with a prospect were given non-coaching roles on a college team — director of player personnel, for example — the school that hired them had to wait at least two years before recruiting players that had contact with the new hires.

That forced college head coaches to use one of their three coveted assistant coach slots if they wanted to hire an AAU coach and continue to recruit the players from that person’s former program.

“Maybe they haven’t worked their way up the ladder, but with AAU coaches, once you get in, you’ve got to earn your keep,” said former Wright State Coach Paul Biancardi, who got his start in coaching as a volunteer assistant at Boston University. He now serves as ESPN’s director of recruiting. “The bad part is . . . when that [Indiana] job opened, every assistant in the MAC or the Horizon [League] was saying, ‘Wow, maybe I can jump to the next level,’ and didn’t get that look. There’s nothing wrong, but you felt for those guys that are trying to climb.”

For his part, Johnson called the influx of Washington AAU coaches into college basketball “a storm” because of all the talent coming out of the area. He also conceded that “maybe someone there to bridge the gap socially will give you an advantage” in recruiting. At one point, Johnson even referred to Team Takeover as “we” before correcting himself.

But Crean insisted the reasons behind Johnson’s hiring go beyond recruiting, including the fact that he already had two former head coaches on his staff, which would allow Johnson to ease into his new role. Johnson also received high praise from current Hoosiers Victor Oladipo (DeMatha) and Maurice Creek (who spent two seasons at Oxon Hill, which is Johnson’s alma mater) — both of whom played for him with Team Takeover.

“I’ve never been into hiring silver-spoon guys,” Crean said. “Knowing players, knowing an area, having friendships and relationships, absolutely that’s a part of it. But if you can’t communicate, you can’t make people better, those relationships run dry fast. It’s about does this person have the ability to have the whole package. I believe Kenny fits that bill.”