With Tennessee’s search for a new basketball coach still in its early stages, here are eight guesses of those who might be considered.
Current job: Virginia Commonwealth
Relevant experience: Clemson assistant (2006-08), Florida assistant under Billy Donovan (2008-09)
Skinny: Smart is one of the hotter names in coaching right now, having led the Rams to the Sweet 16 after narrowly getting into the NCAA tournament in his second season. His teams play a fast-paced style similar to Bruce Pearl’s early UT teams. Smart’s youth could be a detractor, and he’s made this March run using some players he inherited from Anthony Grant’s coaching staff. The Rams have finished fifth and fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association the past two seasons.
Current job: Butler
Relevant experience: Butler assistant (2001-07)
Skinny: Stevens has taken Butler to the NCAA tournament in each of his four seasons as head coach, including last year’s close call in the national championship game and this year’s run to the Sweet 16 as a No. 8 seed. An Indiana native who also went to high school and college in the Hoosier State, Stevens signed a 12-year extension last April through the 2021-22 season. That contract carries a hefty buyout.
Current job: Wichita State
Relevant experience: Winthrop head coach (1998-2007)
Skinny: Marshall took Winthrop to seven NCAA tournaments during his nine years there. After winning just 12 Missouri Valley Conference games his first two seasons at Wichita State, Marshall has taken the Shockers to a pair of runner-up finishes and trips to the NIT. Marshall has been a solid mid-major coach for more than a dozen years, and he was a candidate for the UT job when Buzz Peterson got it. He won just one of seven first-round games at Winthrop.
Current job: Baylor
Relevant experience: Valparaiso head coach (2002-03)
Skinny: Drew just finished his eighth season in Waco, taking a Baylor program in the midst of turmoil including the murder of a player by a former teammate and other NCAA violations. Baylor didn’t even play a nonconference schedule in 2005-06, but the Bears have made two NCAA tournament appearances and the 2010 Elite Eight since. Drew has helped Baylor recruit well consistently. His name has been mentioned in other openings in the past, yet he hasn’t left a program he’s basically had to rebuild from the ground up.
Current job: Alabama
Relevant experience: VCU head coach (2006-09), Florida assistant under Billy Donovan (1996-2006)
Skinny: Grant took the Crimson Tide to an SEC West Division title in just his second year after taking VCU to two NCAA tournaments in his three years there. He has coached at two different schools in the SEC and shown he’s a capable recruiter. His style of play may not be as enticing as some other candidates, given what UT’s system was under Pearl.
Current job: Richmond
Relevant experience: Air Force head coach (2004-05), Air Force assistant (2000-04)
Skinny: Mooney won 13, eight and 16 games in his first three seasons with the Spiders and had just seven scholarship players in his first season. He’s won 20 or more in each of three seasons since, taking Richmond to the past two NCAA tournaments and this year’s Sweet 16. The Philadelphia native played at Princeton.
Current job: Xavier
Relevant experience: Xavier assistant (1999-2001, 2004-09), Wake Forest assistant (2001-04)
Skinny: Mack is following in the footsteps of predecessors Sean Miller (Arizona) and Thad Matta (Ohio State) that used Xavier as a springboard to big-time jobs. The Musketeers have won or shared the Atlantic 10 Conference titles in Mack’s two seasons and went to the Sweet 16 last season. It may be tough to pry Mack away from Xavier, his alma mater where he’s spent two separate stints as an assistant.
Current job: Unemployed
Relevant experience: Arkansas (2007-11), South Alabama (2002-07), Florida assistant under Billy Donovan (1996-2002)
Skinny: Pelphrey was fired from Arkansas after losing to UT in the SEC tournament nearly three weeks ago. He’s got plenty of SEC experience, though he went just 25-39 in conference in his four seasons in Fayetteville. He did win two Sun Belt Conference titles at South Alabama and played at Kentucky. He had signed a solid recruiting class before his dismissal.
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