Hassan Diarra represents more than a good get for the Texas A&M Aggies and head coach Buzz Williams. He’s the first top 100 recruit the new coach has landed since taking over the job, quickly highlighting what he brings to the table outside of name recognition.
He is, bluntly put, good at his job. Every aspect of it, too.
It’s important to note Hassan Diarra, a top 55 (or so) player in the 2020 recruiting class, chose Texas A&M over the Indiana Hoosiers and Georgia Bulldogs. That’s a sincere blue-blood and another led by known recruiting guru Tom Crean. And yet, Buzz Williams secured the commitment of a top-tier prospect at a program otherwise not often thought about outside those within its bubble.
None of which is new for Williams. He did great overseeing the Marquette Golden Eagles; though it was his ability to turn the Virginia Tech Hokies into more than just an ACC afterthought that places him in elite company. At the time of his decision to leave the Big East program for the (then) ACC iffy university, people were perplexed as to why he’d take on such a massive challenge at a “football school.”
Three trips to the NCAA Tournament and 169 wins later, it was clear that Williams was such a unique, absurdly great coach, his talented transcended schools and the hurdles coming with them. It’s largely why the Aggies were so willing to give him such a wonderful contract.
Williams’ abilities are not limited to what we see on the hardwood either, as highlighted by what Diarra said about his decision to commit to Texas A&M.
“I just feel like I built a good relationship with coach Buzz Williams,” Hassan Diarra told ESPN. “I felt like a priority for them. I could fit into their system and their style of play and the way that they play. I just felt comfortable, and I trust Coach.
“That showed me I’m really a priority for them and that I’m their guy,” Diarra said. “He told me they wanted to see me first. He didn’t want to be like any of the other coaches and didn’t need to watch me play again. It was about 12:30 when he came. He came to the dorm, sat down and we talked.”
In all but three of his 12 seasons as a head coach Williams has made it to the Big Dance. His one year as the head coach of the New Orleans Privateers, a real school we swear it, and his first two at Virginia Tech. Other than that, it’s pairs of dancing slippers all over the place.
My colleague, Wendell Barnhouse, recently wrote a tremendous story on Williams, providing incredible depth on the head coach’s path and origin story. It provides a great look at how and why Williams ended up at Texas A&M.
Landing Hassan Diarra, though, provides proof to those who root for the program why he’s worth all that money the school game him. Moving forward, much like how the TCU Horned Frogs changed with Jamie Dixon at the helm, the sky is the limit for the Texas A&M Aggies.
Amazing what an elite, transcendent coach can do for a school, right? Too bad, at least for other schools, they don’t grow on trees. For A&M, they need not worry about any of that anymore.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. He currently contributes to Forbes and Clutchpoints. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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