Clipboard Conversations: Paul Hewitt, George Mason coach

2 May

Paul Hewitt talks about his journey to George Mason in an exclusive Clipboard Conversation.

By Justin Young
National Hoops Report

The biggest news of the weekend was Paul Hewitt taking over the George Mason job. I had a chance to catch up with him on Monday morning to talk a length about his new job, how he landed it and what his vision is for the team and his staff.

National Hoops Report: In talking to you three weeks ago at the Nike Hoop Summit, it sounded like you may be looking at taking a year off or exploring some NBA options. What happened in the last three weeks that you are now calling me from a 703 area code on May 2?

Paul Hewitt: “You are right, three weeks I was exploring what all of my options were and exploring some options in the NBA. I was actually having dinner with a high-ranking official in the NBA office and he was great. He gave me the lay of the land of what’s out there. I spoke with R.C. Buford of the San Antonio Spurs when I was in Portland (for the Nike Hoop Summit) and I heard he was always inviting to people joining their organization. I was invited down and I spent three days down in San Antonio looking at that. If you remember, I did some television work the first three weeks of the tournament. But I never really pursued any college jobs. I thinking I would take a year off and explore some options. I was thinking NBA. I was thinking television. Then last Tuesday morning, I was having breakfast with a good friend from Georgia Tech and jumped in the car and there was a message from a number that I didn’t recognize. I didn’t think much about it. My wife and I were going to go away for our anniversary. I’m supposed to be in St. Martin’s right now. So later that afternoon, I checked my voicemail. No one had been calling me. When I say no one was calling, I mean literally no one outside of family members. Adam Brick, who is an associate AD here at George Mason, was the voicemail. He asked if I had any interest in George Mason and I called him back and he gave (George Mason athletic director) Tom O’Connor my number. We spoke a couple of times on Tuesday evening and I decided to take a flight up on Wednesday. I got here and met with him from 7:30 to 10:30, got back to hotel and was getting up early to go back to Atlanta on Friday to get ready for my trip to St. Martin’s. I got back to the hotel and they called back and asked ‘Would you mind staying over and meeting our president?’ I met the president. What an unbelievable guy. I got home and spoke to my wife and made the decision. I put the trip off and we’ll see what happens from here. The location is great. That’s a big thing. The location is outstanding.”

NHR: You do realize that you’re going to have to up your game up now with your wife for your anniversary, right?

PH: “Let me tell you something, I have no doubt about that. The one thing I have going for me is that she’s into this thing now, too. We were here last year because I was a best man in my best friend’s wedding. He lives in the D.C. area. We were walking around old town Alexandria, which about 15 minutes from here. She said ‘I could actually retire here.’ When I told her what was going on, she said, ‘Yeah, you need to check that out.’ I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky. This whole situation is tremendous.”

NHR: Let’s talk about this situation. A lot of people have this team in the top 25 for next year. How excited are you about the situation and team you are walking into?

PH: “Oh, I’m very excited. They are a veteran team. They know how to win. My thing is coming in and helping them continue the mindset they have of being champions. Jim did an unbelievable job of building his program. My thing is I don’t want to do anything to disrupt the chemistry that they have at all. I want to make sure they continue doing what they’ve done off the court and in the classroom. They’ve done a very good job in that regard. They are in great shape. You can’t even believe it. Everything is in top notch shape. Everyone around here understands their role. That’s the thing. In the two days I’ve been here, everyone understands their role from academics to ADs to assistant coaches. Even going out, (former Mason assistants Chris) Caputo, Eric Konkol, Michael Huger, they are all very, very gracious. I’ve already spoken to Jim. They all are very respectful and want to hand off the program to make sure everything is on the up tick.”

NHR: Now that’s interesting because that is my next question. Is that a common thing for coaches to comminute when there is a transition of jobs? Is there a dialogue coach to coach explaining the lay of the land?

PH: “You know, I’ve been really lucky. I don’t know how it is for everyone else but I’ve been lucky. When I went to Tech, Bobby Cremins instantly became my greatest ally from day one. Again, I ran into the coaches here. They all say the same thing. They said ‘This is a special place. Take care of it. Make sure everything keeps moving in the right direction.’ They couldn’t have been nicer in this transition.”

NHR: You talked about the staff Jim had there. What about you? Have you had a chance to put your head around your staff at George Mason?

PH: “I have an idea. I already hired Chris Kreider (of Georgia Southern). I think he’s going to be a star. I think he’s great. He’s already here. I’m going to take my time filling the other spots. I want to make sure we have a great staff simply because they had a great staff already here.”

NHR: Is it going to be a matter of finding a guy (or two) that has rich D.C. roots? Rich Virginia roots?

PH: “Nope, nope. I want to find a guy that understands how important it is developing guys. You know what we did at Georgia Tech in terms of player development. We put a lot of guys in the NBA that came in with big time talent. We also put a lot of guys in the NBA that we helped teach how to play. You look at Mario West. People talk about Anthony Morrow being ready when he got to college but when you look at it, none of the ACC schools recruited him out of North Carolina. I think NC State was his only other offer in the league. Its important that I put together a staff that understands player development on and off the court.”

NHR: What’s the hardest part about taking over a new job?

PH: “Just the transition, moving and everything. But the people here have made that easy. My wife was hanging out with people all night since we’ve been here. I don’t think she came up to the room until 1 in the morning. She was hanging out with Tom O’Connor’s wife, Barbara, and some of the other people. She probably knows more of the people here than I do. She’s having a great time just hanging out. She loves it here. She has a cousin here. We are closer to New York. We can have family take the train down and visit more. We’ve got some friends that live in the D.C. area.”

NHR: How special of a place was Atlanta and the time you guys were able to live down there?

PH: “You know it was a job and a place that we hoped to be there forever. Its just not the way it is these days. It didn’t happen that way for me. I have nothing but a positive feeling for Georgia Tech. Atlanta has been a great place for us to raise to our kids. We also understand that it’s a business. When they made the decision they had to make, we had to respect it. They gave us an 11 year run and it was a great run. I probably could have left earlier but I thought it was worth trying to hang on and do the best we could do. To go from that to this, I feel like I have a lucky horse shoe. For me to go from Atlanta to D.C. at the age my kids are at now, it couldn’t be a better move.”

3 Responses to “Clipboard Conversations: Paul Hewitt, George Mason coach”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hewitt already having fun at George Mason? Who knew? | Beyond the Arc - May 2, 2011

    […] school athletics staff, spoke to Larranaga and is even pumped about moving to the D.C. area. Hey, he was supposed to be on vacation in St. Martin’s right now. Instead, he’s starting over at a new […]

  2. Hewitt already having fun at Mason? Who knew? | Sport News - May 3, 2011

    […] school athletics staff, spoke to Larranaga and is even pumped about moving to the D.C. area. Hey, he was supposed to be on vacation in St. Martin’s right now. Instead, he’s starting over at a new […]

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    […] Casey Alexander, new Stetson head coach Clipboard Conversations: Paul Hewitt, George Mason College coaches list on […]

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