Hiring a PAC-12 conference “championship-level” basketball coach does not have to be overwhelmingly difficult.
You do not hire coaches that were recently fired.
You do hire coaches that are a hot commodity within the profession, ie, You do not hire coaches that no one else wants.
You do not hire coaches that aren’t marketable to recruits and the fanbase.
You do hire coaches that are great recruiters.
You do hire coaches that learned the profession under the tutelage of great coaches and who are part of a respected coaching lineage, ie, coaching tree.
Whenever possible, you hire coaches from elite programs because they understand how to create and maintain a championship culture.
You also don’t hire defense-first coaches because the PAC-12 is an offense-first league, where it is more realistic to outscore your opponents than to shutdown opposing offenses for four quarters.
The PAC-12 conference talent is just too good to bank on defensively disrupting uber-talented offensive players, night after night.
But let’s cut to the chase– because UW AD Jen Cohen has a history of not waiting longer than 72 hours to make a basketball hire. (Too long a story to digress now.)
The perfect candidate for the job is the University of Oregon’s Associate Head Coach Mark Campbell.
In his sixth season as Associate Head Coach, Campbell “works with Oregon’s guards, creates the Ducks’ defensive game plans and is the team’s lead recruiter” (official bio here).
*Mark Campbell Hometown: Mount Vernon, Washington
Current Position: Associate Head Coach, Oregon (2015 – Present) Assistant Coach, Oregon (2014-15) Associate Head Coach, Oregon State (2013-14) Assistant Head Coach, Oregon State (2010 – 14) Assistant Coach, St. Mary’s (2009 – 10) Director of Operations, St. Mary’s (2008-09) Assistant Coach, Pepperdine (2007 -08)
Record working with Head Coach Kelly Graves: 170-63 (.729) 73% winning percentage
Current Contract: $216,000 per year as of May 2020.
Coaching Tree: Kelly Graves, Randy Bennett, St. Mary’s; Vance Walberg, Pepperdine (creator of the dribble-drive offense)
Championship Pedigree: as Associate Head, three Pac-12 Championships, two Pac-12 Tournament titles, three straight Ellite Eight apperances; Final Four, and No. 1 recruiting class in the nation for 2020-2021
Recruiting Strengths:Native Washingtonian with extensive PAC-12 recruiting experience. Widely regarded as one of nation’s top recruiters, Campbell has enough name recognition among recruits and basketball contacts to maintain his national recruiting reputation by redirecting top talent to Washington. Expect Washington’s talent level to significantly improve due to his recruiting prowess, contacts and relationships.
Obstacles:Campbell has no head coaching experience, but has been groomed by elite coach(es) to run his own PAC-12 program.
Kelly Graves on Mark Campbell: “Mark is an incredibly valuable piece of my coaching staff,” said Graves. “He’s a tireless worker and tremendous recruiter. He has incredible knowledge of the game and has the ability to teach that to our players. He’s the whole package.”
“Mark is an incredibly valuable piece of my coaching staff,” said Graves. “He’s a tireless worker and tremendous recruiter. He has incredible knowledge of the game and has the ability to teach that to our players. He’s the whole package.”
Groomed Early For Head Coach Success
Mark Campbell is relatively young, but he’s at least 38-years-old by my estimate.
At Oregon, Campbell has been extensively developed and groomed by an elite coach.
As Oregon’s Associate Head Coach, Mark Campbell has spent six seasons as second-in-command at an elite program that wasn’t elite when he arrived.
UW Can Pay the (Relative Bargain) Cost to Be Competitive
Due to Washington’s unwillingness to spend money on the women’s basketball head coach; the Huskies are known bargain hunters when it comes to women’s basketball hires.
Mark Campbell is actually a bargain (for now) because it would be his first head coaching gig.
It is reported that Washington initially signed former head coach Jody Wynn to a six-year, $2.6 million deal with a base salary of approximately $400,000 per year.
So Washington could immediately, and easily, double Mark Campbell’s salary.
The Huskies also could, and should, layer multiple performance incentives in Campbell’s contract to significantly increase his pay when the Huskies become competitive with the top third of the conference.
Budget-conscious Washington wants big-time women’s basketball results without big-time pay.
Mark Campbell is a big-time coaching talent that Washington can easily afford by getting him early in his career.
SECURE THE HISTORIC 2021 RECRUITING HAUL& RECRUIT SOME MORE
The number one priority — and first test — of Washington’s new coach will be to secure all five recruits of the 2021 recruiting class, consisting of 4 ESPN Top 100 players and one international Top 25 player.
All of these incoming players had multiple offers from high level programs and will be highly sought after, if they do re-open their recruitment.
The Huskies can’t afford to lose this talent haul because the Huskies simply cannot continue to be at a talent disadvantage in the PAC-12 and expect to win.
Those of us who watched the games know that Washington’s lack of talent was actually the biggest detriment to the program during Jody Wynn’s four year tenure.
Expect Mark Campbell to successfully re-recruit the entire 2021 incoming Huskies recruiting class because Mark Campbell is a great recruiter, one of the best recruiters in the nation.
He has proven this time and time again at Oregon.
Campbell understands that you cannot win in the PAC-12 with just strategic Xs & O.
No, the nation’s toughest conference requires significant talent to be successful, preferably with some WNBA-level talent on your roster
But it goes beyond just recruiting raw talent. In the video below, Mark Campbell discusses how he evaluates personalities of potential recruits when filling out a roster — another reason why he’s considered a master recruiter.
It really is that simple. Recruiting is more than 50% of a PAC-12 basketball coach’s job.
An Offensive Xs & Os Upgrade Bigger than an Apple Update
Besides recruiting, however, Mark Campbell comes from an offensive system that’s been proven to work against even the most elite WBB programs.
Oregon’s prolific offense is consistently one of the nation’s best, so expect Mark Campbell to run the same offense with the Huskies.
Oregon relies heavily on pick-and-roll action, i.e., on-ball screens to influence the defense to commit so that the Ducks can make the right read to get the best shot possible.
This offense would be a significant step up in complexity from what the Huskies have ran in recent years, i.e., Huskies emphasis on three-point shots (5th most attempts in PAC-12), even though Washington was not making them at a high level of efficiency (29.5%).
The Huskies will get an offense that gives UW players their offensive freedom, but moves them in position to consistently take better shots than what they are currently used to getting.
With Mark Campbell at the controls, expect the offensively-challenged Huskies to dramatically increase their scoring.
Maximize Currrent Huskies Talent
Mark Campbell is also an excellent teacher of individual player development, particularly with guards — arguably, the most impactful position in PAC-12 conference play.
Campbell taught Sabrina Ionescu the nuances of the point guard position.
In fact, a good case can be made that Mark Campbell is the “point guard whisperer” given that Oregon freshman point guard Te-Hina Paopao was named to the 2020-21 PAC-12 All-Conference team.
Hiring Campbell would have a huge positive impact on the continued development of Tameiya Sadler, Washington’s exceptional freshman point guard.
Campbell’s tutoring of Ionescu bodes well for Tameiya Sadler, as he should considerably elevate Sadler’s understanding of the game. Thus, giving Sadler a chance at becoming an elite point guard.
In the following video, Mark Campbell comments that Sabrina Ionescu did not run pick-and-roll in high school or on her club teams, prior to coming to Oregon — it is clear her player development, specifically with Mark Campbell, led to becoming an elite player.
Campbell also mentioned in the previous video that Oregon big Ruthy Hebbard did not run pick-and-roll in high school either. This bodes well for the player development of current Huskies 6’3″ Quay Miller and 6’4″ Darcy Rees, who are both surprisinly agile for their size.
Oregon’s effective use of their bigs in space by constantly moving them puts pressure on defenses, and opens up driving lanes — Washington’s bigs would be a perfect fit in a similar system.
Fortune Favors the Bold
Clearly, Washington should be jumping at the opportunity to have Mark Campbell revamp and remodel everything about the Washington Women’s Basketball program, including culture, from top to bottom.
Given the financial constraints of the head coach position, Washington will be grasping at straws to find a better candidate than Campbell.
Mark Campbell’s inevitable installment of program-wide improvements would quickly transform the culture of Washington’s Women’s Basketball program.
It would be a great first step to creating a winning program on Montlake and leaving insufferable losing streaks in the distant past.