Kevin Willard on NIL “problem,” Gary Williams helping him, his new players and more

While NIL deals are the hot topic in college sports, new Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard wishes that wasn’t the case. Willard expressed skepticism about the new landscape of paying players during an interview with Jon Rothstein.

“I think that’s a question that every college basketball program right now is dealing with. Obviously, the transfer portal has changed things dramatically. But I also think
the way in NIL has exploded into the forefront of everyone and every recruit, has changed how you can recruit and how you have to recruit. And you really have to balance your roster out to make sure that you have the best, best balance that you can have from players,” he said.

“To make sure you don’t have too many seniors, not enough juniors, you know, to freshmen and NIL to who and what is coming in. So I think it’s it’s really is a new world in college basketball. It’s something that I think everybody just, I don’t know if they weren’t prepared for it, but it’s come at such a fast pace with NIL. it’s just, it’s turned into something that’s much bigger, much bigger problem than I think people think.”

Rothstein asked if NIL is causing players to look for immediate gains rather than try to develop long-term.

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“I think it’s going to be. It’s not right now. But I think with NIL, Jon, it is going to change kind of the perspective of what kids are looking for right away. I think it’s, unfortunately, I think it’s too much talk is being talked about NIL and not talked about, like ‘Hey, this is our process. This is what our process is for you. This is what we’re going to do to get you better. This is what we’re going to run for you offensively, this way we’re gonna play defensively,” he said.

He’s hoping the NCAA will get a grip on NIL, which is essentially an unregulated free-for-all right now.

“I think some of the conversations right now was, you know, especially within the media, what about this NIL?” he said. “This team has it, this team does and you know, hopefully when this cycle runs through a little bit we can all get back to worrying about getting these kids better, getting them a great education, and looking at the long-term value instead of the short-term value.”

He also talked about his move to the talent-lade DMV recruiting hotbed.

“Unbelievable area for high school basketball, and basketball. I’m just looking forward to kind of getting in here and getting our players in here and getting them better and seeing what we can do,” he said.

“In our first week, you know, we were out the first four days, we were able to hit Baltimore, DC, Virginia and everywhere in between. So to get in your car and be able to see, you know, great players, great high school coaches, AAU coaches. I think that, to me, was something that, you can always build on. Year in and year out, this area is consistently putting out great programs, great players. It’s just not one year, and then maybe three years later, they get another one. It’s every year, and so to be in this area, and to know the people in this area and know the coaches, it was a huge benefit.”

Read on below for more from Willard on the team, Gary Williams helping him and more:

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