Panther-lair - Capel is 'an elite-level recruiter'
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Capel is 'an elite-level recruiter'

The list of players new Pitt head coach Jeff Capel recruited to Duke isn’t just impressive; it’s a virtual parade of All-Americans.

Jabari Parker. Jhalil Okafor. Tyus Jones. Brandon Ingram. Justice Winslow. Marvin Bagley. Harry Giles.

And those are just a few.

“I would say he has been responsible for probably 75% of Duke’s one-and-done guys,” says Clint Jackson, basketball recruiting analyst at DevilsIllustrated.com. “He’s an elite-level recruiter, and I mean elite in the fact that he forms relationships that are so genuine, trustworthy and impactful. That’s one of the things that make him such a good recruiter.

“The kids are really comfortable with him. He’s in his early 40’s but he relates to them on their level but also earn their respect. He just gets in so well with the kids and the family.”

Jackson, who has followed Capel’s coaching career dating back to when he was head coach at VCU - and his playing career back to his time as a four-year starting guard for Duke - thinks Pitt’s new head coach could have the Panthers in line for considerable success.

“He’s always had his eye on the biggest stages and the biggest players; I think he’ll be a huge success there,” Jackson says. “I think you’ll see Pittsburgh get involved with a lot of guys they might not have gotten on campus before.

“Jeff is able to connect at a different level than a lot of other coaches. Jeff gets through all the salesmanship of the other coaches and forms a relationship that’s built on a connection. That’s the biggest thing about him: how he’s able to connect with not just the kids but the mothers and fathers and uncles and people involved in recruitment. He’s able to get that trust.”

Capel is coming to Pitt after serving as the associate head coach on Mike Krzyzewski’s bench at Duke. He joined the Blue Devils after being the head coach at Oklahoma; now, after seven years in Durham, he’s headed back to the top spot at a high-major job.

“He’s good at bringing people together for a common goal,” Jackson says. “He coached when Coach K was sick or he had his hip surgery, and he stepped in and did well. He did things differently than K did; he had the confidence to step in and say, ‘This is the way I’m going to do it.’

“He made some changes and some of those things went really well. I think he’s more willing to use his bench than Coach K is; K tends to stick to his top six or seven guys and Capel will go eight or nine into his bench. And he likes to play fast. That’s one thing I would say about his style.”