By Vin Parise
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Bob Cimmino is the head basketball coach at Mt. Vernon High School in Westchester county. He is considered one of the top high school coaches in the nation and has turned down numerous college coaching jobs because he loves the hometown feel of Mt. Vernon. Cimmino has led the Knights to Section 1 Titles in 11 of the past 12 season and 4 New York State Federation Championships. Current Mt. Vernon basketball alumni include Ben Gordon of the Detroit Pistons and Kevin Jones and Jabarie Hinds of West Virginia University. Cimmino was recently inducted into the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame.
I recently caught up with Coach Cimmino and picked his brain on his favorites when it comes to the world of college basketball coaching –
VP: In the crazy world of college recruiting, I’m always curious who has sent the best and the most mail to your school?
Cimmino: For the most mail, I’d have to say Billy Donovan from Florida. He is relentless and you always know when the Florida Gators are really recruiting you. In terms of best mail, I was always impressed with how Fred Hill (former Rutgers head coach & current Northwestern assistant) would hand write every single recruiting letter. It was a really nice touch that the kids noticed.
VP: While we’re talking recruiters, what assistant coach and head coach immediately come to mind?
Cimmino: Barry Rohrssen (former Manhattan head coach) was one of the best recruiters I have ever seen while he was at Pitt. And for head coaches, I’ll never forget the image of Jim Calhoun arriving in a NYC yellow cab for a small open gym one day at Mt. Vernon.
VP: What was the most impressive official or unofficial campus visit you ever attended?
Cimmino: I remember visiting Villanova when Jay Wright was recruiting Keith Benjamin. By the time the afternoon was over, I wanted to go to Villanova. It was beyond impressive and I knew Jay would be successful in the Big East. I’m not shocked at all when Nova signs a great recruiting class.
VP: What about home visits — the best home visit you ever sat in on?
Cimmino: Tom Crean at Marquette had the best home visit presentation I ever saw. And I’ve seen a lot of very good ones over the years, trust me. But Crean is at another level when he’s talking about his basketball program.
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