As carousel begins, what assistants are ready for first head coaching jobs?
If the coaching carousel is not exactly spinning, the switch has flipped and the motor has begun to hum. Florida Atlantic and Mike Jarvis will part ways. Likewise IUPUI and coach Todd Howard. Four more coaches were canned today. As more conference tournaments wind down, more programs will have resolution on their seasons. And more administrators are likely to find that resolution insufficient.
Change is coming, and decision-makers will find the usual range of options for new hires. Head coaches looking to move up or change scenery. Assistants with head coaching experience looking for another shot. But there is a third category that won't be overlooked, or shouldn't be: Assistants who await their very first head coaching gig and who are prepared for it.
So SI.com's Pete Thamel and Brian Hamilton canvassed sources in and around college basketball to compile the list of those assistants most ready to slide one seat over and run a program for the first time. Athletic directors of America, clip and save. You just saved yourself many thousands of search-firm dollars.
Presented in alphabetical order:
Jeff Boals, Ohio State. Has been involved in numerous jobs, including a finalist a few years back. With the success Thad Matta’s tree has had, Boals will be snatched up soon.
Chris Caputo, Miami. A prolific recruiter of the Washington D.C. area, the country’s most fertile recruiting ground. With his success at George Mason and now at Miami, Caputo will be a top candidate for any jobs in the Mid-Atlantic and in the Northeast.
Raphael Chillious, Washington. He’s got experience on both coasts, Nike ties and coached in New England Prep schools. His diverse experience should put him in play in a lot of places.
Jim Fox, Davidson. It always boggles the mind that mid-major schools don’t hire more mid-major assistants. Who is better equipped? The high-major assistant who panders to AAU guys for top players? Or the coach who has discovered and recruited unpolished gems? Fox has been Davidson’s linchpin as its made six NCAA tournaments the past 12 years.
Greg Gard, Wisconsin. Has been Bo Ryan's top lieutenant for, well, forever. He's the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator for a program that has won at least 12 Big Ten games nine times in 13 seasons. And for all those years with Ryan he's just 43.
Greg Gottlieb, California. Biggest asset may be connections in fertile SoCal recruiting grounds, as a UCLA grad with a father who was a long-time AAU coach. In seven years under Mike Montgomery, helped Bears score surprising recruiting wins, notably Los Angeles talents Justin Cobbs and Richard Solomon. If Loyola Marymount opens up, Gottlieb may be a perfect fit.
Mike Hopkins, Syracuse. Let’s be honest, Jim Boeheim doesn’t look or sound like he’s going anywhere. Hopkins finished as the runner up at USC last year. Could this be the year he breaks through?
Justin Hutson, San Diego State. As impressive as what he’s done for the Aztecs this year, what’s perhaps more telling is UNLV’s Xs and Os struggles after he left last season.
Martin Ingelsby, Notre Dame. Mike Brey has joked he'll come to reunions when Ingelsby is the Irish coach. He'll go elsewhere first, and he's ready. He’s come close at Princeton and Mount St. Mary’s and it won’t be long before an academic-oriented school tabs Ingelsby.
Chris Jans, Wichita State. See above rationale for Davidson's Fox. He’s Wichita’s associate head coach, and undefeated speaks for itself.
Stan Jones, Florida State. Maybe serving as the Seminoles' associate head coach for 12 seasons has thrust him a little under the radar, but two sitting head coaches at other programs independently cited Jones as a guy ready for the leap. He's detail-oriented and has helped rebuild after rebuild.
LaVall Jordan, Michigan. Arguably should've gotten Butler job last year. The last two points guards he tutored (Darius Morris and Trey Burke) have gone on to the NBA. He helped institute ball-screen offense that thrived with Morris and Burke – one John Beilein didn't use much previously – helping diversify the attack.
Michael Lewis, Butler. He played point guard for Bob Knight and coached with Brad Stevens. That’s some heavy pedigree for any Midwestern jobs that open.
Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga. He’s Gonzaga’s coach-in-waiting, but could be waiting a while. Lloyd is a strong foreign recruiter, from Canada and beyond. He fits same mold as Fox and Jans.
Rob Moxley, N.C. State. No shortage of ability to identify talent and land it, as he was credited with bringing Greivis Vasquez to Maryland and played an instrumental role in compiling the Wolfpack's top 10 recruiting class that featured super-scorer T.J. Warren.
Darren Savino, Cincinnati. Known for a tireless work ethic. Any program with designs on East Coast talent must look at a guy who opened up fertile New York/New Jersey recruiting ground for the Bearcats. He was close at Wagner when Danny Hurley was hired in 2010.
Russ Springmann, Texas. He turned down the Mississippi State job in 2012. Texas’ shaky season last year should be a lesson that he can’t be as picky.
Jason Williford, Virginia. The Cavs won the ACC without a boatload of talent, which means someone is coaching them. Williford was deep in the mix at American last year. Both he and Ron Sanchez deserve looks. Steve Wojciechowski, Duke. So, yes, he's been an assistant with the Blue Devils since 1999 and the associate head coach since 2008. And, yes, he's probably not going anywhere before Mike Krzyzewski calls it quits. But the list wouldn't be complete with out him.