Cincinnati Basketball Recruiting Philosophy

Adam Finkelstein, ESPN (

“Don’t recruit. Get.”

It’s the motto used by Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin and his coaching staff and almost an unofficial slogan for the way in which they approach recruiting.

“It essentially means that we don’t want to talk about things that don’t matter in the recruiting process and don’t need to be one of those programs that recruits a ton of guys,” assistant coach Darren Savino explained. “It’s just a matter of finding out who fits and what we need to do to have the best chance to get them.”

In other words, it’s recruiting efficiency personified. Cincinnati isn’t going to waste any time. They’re not interested in making anyone’s final list or being in the mix for a certain number of celebrated prospects, only in targeting prospects who fit their program and who they can realistically get.

“Is he a Bearcat?”

Another one-liner shared by the staff, this one meant to measure whether or not the prospect has the traits necessary to be successful in the program.

“Certain kinds of kids fit certain places, and when we say ‘Is he a Bearcat?’, we mean, is he tough? Is he going to fit in? Is he going to understand what it takes here? Because you have to be tough.” Savino said. “Certain guys are Bearcats, and certain guys aren’t.”

Toughness is the non-negotiable for virtually all of Cincinnati’s recruits, and it’s one aspect of a formula that has served them well, as they’ve now played in four straight NCAA tournaments. 

There is a stigma that comes along with toughness, though, especially when you’re a defensive-oriented team with relatively low collective shooting percentages, and it’s that skill is not a requisite for participation. That’s a perception Cronin and his staff are trying to change, all while trying to upgrade their offensive productivity and remaining true to their core values.

“Typically, people say, ‘He’s a Cincinnati player if he rebounds, he plays hard and he’s athletic,'” assistant coach Antwon Jackson said. “But we need the versatile guy who is tough but can also shoot it and score it.”

“If you look at where our recruiting classes have been ranked, I’m not sure they were ever in the top 10 the last few years,” Savino said, “But we do it based on who we are and what fits our brand, and then we try to coach them up.”

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