It won't be long before former NCAA and NBA championship coach Larry Brown returns to courtside seats at the Pavilion, but the next time he is spotted there, it will be as the enemy. That change is because the aging coach signed on to lead the SMU Mustangs into the Big East conference next season, and he is already underway in his efforts to transform the stumbling Dallas program with Big East-level talent and coaching experience.
One of the steps toward getting SMU on the basketball map, understandably, is to bring in more talented athletes, and Brown has been recruiting some of the best. Many of those recruits have also been on Villanova's wishlist. The Harrison Twins, for example were prominently listing SMU among their suitors before choosing Kentucky.
Now, the Mustangs are in hot pursuit of top Philadelphia-area player, JaQuan Newton. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey, Newton was offered a scholarship by Brown when the coach visited him at Neumann-Goretti High School on Monday. While the former 76ers coach has expressed an interest in other recruits that Villanova has been working hard on, Newton is the first Philadelphia kid that Brown has tried to swoop in and get.
Newton is considered by many to be the city's best basketball player and he will be one of the top targets for Villanova in the 2014 class.
Now in his first year at Southern Methodist, Brown met Newton while he was an unofficial adviser at Villanova. The Wildcats were one of Newton's first offers, and they have long been after him.
"At the end of the day, [recruiting] is a business," Newton said. "You have to do what you have to do for your school. I think everyone knows that."
Newton doesn't plan to narrow his college choices down to a short-list until after the next AAU season concludes, but he has a long list of suitors. That Brown joined the list is perhaps no surprise after getting a feel for the area recruiting while observing practices and consulting Wright at Villanova. On top of that, he still has plenty of cachet as the former coach of the 76ers, leading Allen Iverson's team to the NBA Finals in 2001.
Brown also has made his way to recruiting events in the area since taking the SMU job, including the Reebok Breakout Challenge at Philadelphia University last summer.
Newton recently attended Midnight Madness at Georgetown University and while he attended Hoops Mania last year, the Philadelphia Inquirer's Matt Breen reports that he will skip tonight's event in favor of a Power House concert (despite James Kerti's earlier report that he would attend).