University of Tennessee at Chattanooga men’s basketball coach John Shulman said he is narrowing his search for a new assistant coach.
Jay Bowen, who worked for one season at UTC, accepted a job as athletic director and basketball coach at Cambridge Christian School in Tampa, Fla., last week.
Shulman said he’s received more than 150 — and perhaps as many as 200 — applications through the mail, email, and text-messages. But many of those messages were sent in vain.
“I’ve got an idea on three or four guys, and I’ll visit with them while I’m on the road recruiting,” Shulman said. “You always have to be ready for this, and I’ll see the best fit.”
Bowen replaced former associate head coach David Conrady, who moved on before last season to a position with SCORE International. Conrady had limited recruiting duties, and when Bowen arrived in Conrady’s place, he added an additional recruiter to UTC’s team. Bowen helped sign the five-man freshman class that will begin playing in the fall.
“Jay brought recruiting to a position which hadn’t been a recruiting position,” Shulman said. “I don’t think you’ll see us hire just a coach or a teacher in that spot, but somebody who can coach and recruit.”
With Bowen off to Florida, Shulman urged director of basketball operations Brian Benator to take the NCAA recruiting test, which he passed. That gives UTC four guys — Shulman, Benator, Ricky Cabrera and Brent Jolly — to fulfill the maximum of three coaches on the road recruiting at the same time.
“We’ll always have three on the road, with me off and on,” Shulman said. “We’ll try to hire somebody by August 1st.”
Shulman planned to leave Monday night on a recruiting trip to Augusta, Ga., and Aiken, S.C.
“We are looking at 2012 graduates, and like everybody else, 2013s as well,” Shulman said. “We probably have to sign a point guard, and I think we have to sign some bigs. You’re thinking guys are going to develop a certain way, but you never know. We helped ourselves athletically last year.”
Freshmen in early
All four new Mocs freshmen have been spending time on campus attending classes and playing pickup games with the UTC veterans and friends.
Freshmen Lance Stokes, Jared Bryant, Trey Brown and Rico White have been playing games and attending classes, according to Shulman.
“We’ve got quite a few guys on campus, which is great,” Shulman said. “They’re in the weight room getting stronger, they’re in the gym getting better and they’re in class getting ahead.”
UTC veterans Chris Early, Jamal Burroughs and Ricky Taylor are enrolled in summer school as well.
Omar Wattad stepped out of a gas station and into the July heat on Monday looking like he’d dropped a few pounds.
“More salads,” he joked.
Wattad has been running more than ever before and rehabilitating a back injury that plagued him most of the 2010-11 season. He said that he’s been attending pickup games but not participating.
Shulman said Sam Watson, who underwent surgery earlier this year and will redshirt the upcoming season, will have another small procedure on his shoulder in the next few weeks.
Schedule shaping up
UTC’s preliminary schedule has the Mocs facing a daunting out-of-conference challenge, assuming it’s approved by school officials.
The dates are not set and the schedule is not finalized. Shulman said a few tweaks are needed on the home schedule.
But UTC is all but set to play at Indiana, at Butler, at Kentucky and at Tennessee before the Southern Conference season begins in earnest.
Shulman said he is excited about the home schedule but wouldn’t release details until contracts are signed. He did say that no BCS school is scheduled to visit McKenzie Arena this upcoming season, but other recognizable mid-majors will play the Mocs.
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...