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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe turned to virtual recruiting — with great results

SHARE During the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe turned to virtual recruiting — with great results
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FILE — Weber State Wildcats head coach Randy Rahe calls out to his players as BYU and Weber State play at the Marriott Center in Provo on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — During the COVID-19 pandemic, Weber State basketball coach Randy Rahe and his staff had to switch up their recruiting approach.

Gone were the days of a recruit visiting campus or a coach making an in-person visit to a recruit’s house. Instead, as in-person contact was limited, Rahe and company had to adapt to recruiting completely digitally.

“They really liked the videos. They felt like they could see what we had going here without being here. They liked that a lot.” — Weber State coach Randy Rahe

“When all this stuff hit, we figured out that we weren’t going to be able to go out and see guys and they can’t come in, and that we needed to try and get creative. How can we let them know what we’re about without them being here?” Rahe said.

Rahe and his staff developed video tours of Weber State’s campus and basketball facilities, aimed at providing recruits with the sense of being on campus without actually being there.

“We did a lot of these virtual videos. We did videos of the facility, videos on campus, we went around the city — we showed them everything we could possibly show them through video so they could feel like they were on a visit without actually being here and seeing everything,” Rahe said.

Rahe also provided written and player development information. They were able to communicate with each recruit using Zoom and they tried to be in contact with them every single day, sending them a new piece of information each day.

“Just stay with them as long as we can until we hope we get them,” Rahe said.

The reception to virtual recruiting was positive and it worked, considering Weber State’s new nine-person class.

“They really liked the videos. They felt like they could see what we had going here without being here. They liked that a lot. We did some interviews with a couple of our senior players and they talked about our program,” Rahe said. “We did interviews with coaches, talking about our program, what our culture is like, what our system is like and what it’s like playing for us.”

After a rough 2019-20 season that saw the Wildcats go 12-20, Rahe knew the team had to improve. Rahe added nine players to the newest class — Dontay Bassett, Isiah Brown, Darweshi Hunter, Dillon Jones, Balint Mocsan, Zahir Porter, Seikou Sisoho Jawara, David Nzekwesi and Tavian Percy. Eight of the nine players are transfers, adding much needed experience to Weber’s team. Three of those players — Bassett, Brown and Hunter — are graduate transfers. Bassett played at Florida; Sisoho Jawara played at Loyola Marymount; Brown played at Grand Canyon University; Moscan played at Idaho State; Nzekwesi played at Denver; Percy played at New Mexico and Hunter played at Central State.

“After last year, we had all of those injuries last year and it was a weird year because we just didn’t have our whole team. One thing we figured out at the end of the season was that we needed to get older. We’ve been a little bit young the last couple of years, so we decided that we were going to go out and get transfers,” Rahe said.

Rahe also addressed the team’s need for more shooting and all-around players.

“I’m excited about this team,” Rahe said.