English aims to build George Mason through renowned DMV pipeline originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
When new George Mason head coach Kim English was an assistant at Tennessee, or even before as an assistant at Colorado or Tulsa, he often got on a plane after practice to scout high-level high school basketball prospects. For the Patriots, English will more often travel in a car.
That's due to the sheer depth of talent that continues to come out of the DMV region, an advantage English hopes to take advantage of during his tenure with George Mason.
"Simply put, the best basketball in the world. The best youth players, the best amateurs, the best prep players anywhere in the world live here," English told NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Pregame Live crew. "It's our responsibility to forge relationships, build those bonds, identity, evaluate, recruit and sign the best players in the world. They live here."
English, 32, was an All-Big 12 player for Missouri before the Pistons drafted him in the second round of the 2012 NBA Draft. He played a season in Detroit before playing internationally for a few seasons until he was hired as an assistant for Tulsa in 2015.
During his playing days, English knew the current NBA scoring leader Bradley Beal and almost played his Florida Gators in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, but No. 15-seeded Norfolk State's first-round upset of the Tigers prevented that.
Now, English wants to flip the script as a coach and help George Mason become a Cinderella team in the big dance.
"That's obviously the goal, but there's no one thing we can do tomorrow to make that goal of a March tournament berth happen," English said. "It's about the commitment to the everyday things - the mindset of our team, the identity of our team."
English said he's excited to implement his offensive and defensive schemes for the Patriots, ready to hit the ground running to begin building the program back up to its glory days.
"We're gonna live in the gym working on our games," English said. "We'll get there. We'll get there by focusing on the commitment of our actions, the actions that lead to the results. The NCAA tournament is the result of a whole lot of positive actions."
That was the case for the 2006 George Mason team, "the blueprint" for the program moving forward, English said. The Patriots made an improbable run to the Final Four in 2006, bouncing the likes of Michigan State, North Carolina, and UConn. It was the culmination of hard work and the successful recruitment of talented local guys like Lamar Butler, Will Thomas, and John Vaughan that made such a magical run possible.
Now, English wants to recreate that success.
"We have to hone in on who we are as a program. We're going to play incredibly hard. We're going to be tough, we're going to be extremely competitive, and we're going to work really, really hard," he said.
Catch the full interview with Kim English on NBC Sports Washington's Wizards Pregame Live ahead of Wednesday night's game against Orlando. Pregame coverage begins at 6 p.m.