PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Just a few short months ago, Marquis Webb was a history teacher and an assistant varsity basketball coach at Paterson Catholic, a perennial powerhouse ranked as high as No. 3 nationally last season.
Then all of a sudden he was neither.
He lost his teaching job and his coaching job when Paterson Catholic closed its doors in June after a long history of financial problems.
“It was tough in the sense that I’m a Paterson Catholic guy,” said the 6-foot-5 Webb, a former Paterson Catholic star who scored more than 1,000 points at Rutgers and played professionally in Hungary and New Zealand. “I’m a Patersonian. I grew up there.
“There’s a lot of history and tradition there I’m definitely gonna miss. That was tough. But things happen for a reason in life. You tend to adjust. You have to adapt to every situation. That’s just life in general.”
The good news for Webb is that on Tuesday he will start working at The Hoop Group, the Neptune, N.J.-based organization that bills itself as the “largest basketball instruction organization in the world.”
“Being a former camper as well as playing in many of our high school and AAU tournaments, Marquis is very familiar with how our programs can help benefit players,” said Hoop Group president Rob Kennedy. “He has great passion for the game and for helping young people, which what our company is all about.”
But the story does not end there.
After deciding he wanted to focus his career, Webb became interested in obtaining a college coaching job this summer. He probably could have found a starting spot on Mike Rice’s staff at Rutgers.
“I definitely want to be a college coach and eventually become a head college coach in the future,” Webb said.
But because of a new NCAA rule, Webb can’t get a job on a college staff unless he’s hired as a full-time assistant coach.
The new rule prevents colleges from recruiting any players from a high school or AAU program for two years after hiring someone from that program for a non-coaching position.
To Jimmy Salmon, the director of the Playaz Baskeball Club and a longtime friend of Webb, this makes no sense whatsoever.
“I don’t understand the rule,” Salmon said. “I would like to know how would the guy get his start? Why would a school want to hire someone without any experience?”
“Those are the positions that this effects,” Salmon said. “Those are the positions that guys normally hire people for and they gravitate up when the first, second or third assistant gets a job. Normally they move those guys up.
“What the NCAA should probably want is for people to start off in those positions as opposed to hiring someone and immediately putting them on the road.”
St. John’s, for example, recently hired former Rice High School coach Moe Hicks as its Director of Basketball Operations.
Now the Johnnies can’t recruit anyone from Rice or the New York Gauchos, for which Hicks also coached, for two years.
As for Webb, he last coached with the Playaz in 2009 and was on the Paterson Catholic staff in 2010.
Because every college wants players from Paterson Catholic and the Playaz, Webb couldn’t land a coaching job at his alma mater or anywhere else.
“It’s the the NCAA rule so you have to obey the rules,” Webb said. “The NCAA put the rules in for a reason. You have to obey them.”
Former Seton Hall Prep and Seton Hall University standout Marcus Toney-El, another Playaz alum who is close with Webb, was recently hired as an assistant coach under Greg Vetrone at Fairleigh Dickinson.
“Marcus Toney-El was able to get a job because they were able to put him out on the road,” Salmon said.
But Webb couldn’t land a starter position as an administrative assistant, graduate assistant, video guy or director of basketball ops because of this new NCAA rule.
While Webb couldn’t land a college job this summer, landing at The Hoop Group should be a bonus going forward. The organization has a long history of placing alums with college jobs.
“The Hoop Group has many, many resources and it’s a valuable year for Marquis,” Salmon said. “He wants to be in basketball and he’s going to learn different facets of working for a basketball corporation. So this also will qualify him to be a DOBO or an administrative assistant.”
Virtually everyone who has ever met Marquis Webb has good things to say about him and there seems to be little doubt he is on the right track to reach his goal of one day coaching in college.
“He’s a high-character guy,” Salmon said. “I’ve never a met person that doesn’t like him. He’s a solid citizen and is a great example for the programs that he’s an alumnus of.”