published Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Top UTC men's basketball candidates

JOHN BRANNEN

Alabama (entering fifth season)

Those UTC fans with long memories may recall that despite the Mocs defeating Marshall in the 1997 Southern Conference tournament final on their way to the NCAA Sweet 16, Brannen was named the tourney MVP. A Rhodes Scholar candidate in 1996, he led the SoCon in scoring the next year, averaging more than 20 points a game.

He is credited with recruiting Virginia Commonwealth's 2008 signing class that anchored the Rams' 2011 run to the Final Four. The married father of two also helped the Tide collect the nation's No. 5 recruiting class in 2011.

DENNIS FELTON

Former Western Kentucky and Georgia head coach

Felton took both the Hilltoppers and Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament, but he hasn't been involved with a college program since January 2009.

The married father of two currently is an executive with the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, but he still lives in Georgia during the offseason. Having twice been a head coach and an assistant from such as wide range as Providence, Delaware, Clemson and Tulane, he has more experience than any other candidate.

ERIC KONKOL

Miami (entering third season, and 10th with Hurricanes head coach Jim Larranaga)

Known as Larranaga's "offensive coordinator" during George Mason's 2011 run to the NCAA tourney as an at-large team, Konkol earned a master's degree from Tennessee during his time as a graduate assistant on former coach Buzz Peterson's staff.

In a college resume similar to new Southern Cal and former Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield's Johns Hopkins playing career, Konkol hit 89.7 percent of his free throws and 40 percent of his 3-pointers in Wisconsin Eau Claire's 2000 run to the Division III national title game.

DWAYNE STEPHENS

Michigan State (entering 11th season)

The former Spartan averaged 16 points a game in the 1992 NCAA tournament. As an assistant coach at both Marquette (1999-2003) and MSU, he's reached the Final Four.

The married father of two has been ranked by Rivals, FoxSports and Bleacher Report among the nation's top 25 recruiters and is credited with developing Michigan State's always solid post players, including 2012 NABC Division I player of the year Draymond Green and Adrian Payne, who could be a first-team All-American this coming season.

WILL WADE

Virginia Commonwealth (entering fifth season)

The 2001 graduate of Franklin Road Academy, where his mother is the headmaster, Wade spent four years as a student manager at Clemson before landing assistant's jobs at Clemson, Harvard and VCU.

Now 30 and still single, Wade already has been credited with helping land the first top 25 recruiting class in Harvard history (2008) and helping Rams head coach Shaka Smart -- Wade was the first assistant Smart hired at VCU -- guide the program to the 2011 Final Four.

about Mark Wiedmer...

Mark Wiedmer started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Valentine’s Day of 1983. At the time, he had to get an advance from his boss to buy a Valentine gift for his wife. Mark was hired as a graphic artist but quickly moved to sports, where he oversaw prep football for a time, won the “Pick’ em” box in 1985 and took over the UTC basketball beat the following year. By 1990, he was ...

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