When Frank Martin decided to take the job at South Carolina, the Kansas State Wildcats head coaching vacancy became a hot topic for many. The move became national news, and even before it occurred many already had a name in mind of who they wanted as the next head coach in Manhattan.
Many uttered the name of Bruce Pearl, who was recently fired as the head coach at Tennessee. However, he has a three-year show cause that wouldn’t allow him to contact recruits until August of 2014. NCAA rules require that the program wanting to hire him show why, which is one major reason the move is more unrealistic than it seems.
But there have been a few coaches that have been labeled as potential candidates and others that have come out and expressed interest in the opening.
Let’s be clear, Kansas State is a top 20 coaching job. Kansas State’s new 18-million dollar state-of-the-art basketball practice facility is expected to be open and ready for use by this summer. At this point, key Wildcats Rodney McGruder, Jordan Henriquez and Angel Rodriguez are expected to return to the team. Robert Upshaw decommitted from the ‘Cats after the news of Frank Martin’s departure, but Kansas State possibly can get back in the mix if he feels comfortable with the new leader. Laimonas Chatkevicius, a 6-10 center, is still committed and hasn’t indicated that he would go back on his initial word. Not to mention, the electrifying fan base of the Octagon of Doom and the competition of the Big 12.
At the press conference following Martin’s departure, Kansas State athletic director John Currie expressed those same selling points when describing the current state of the basketball program. He said his coaching search will be done privately and he has no predetermined parameters on who will be considered. As I said before, many have already emerged as potential candidates and here are a few that could be getting a call from Currie pretty soon.
K-State Basketball Coaching Hot List
Tim Jankovich – Illinois State University, head coach
Jankovich, in my opinion, is the best possible candidate for the job opening at Kansas State. Back in the early 80’s, Jankovich graduated from Kansas State as one of the better players in K-State history and learned under legendary Wildcat head coach Jack Hartman. He also served as an assistant for Kansas State for two years early in his coaching career. More importantly, Jankovich has led Illinois State on a magical run during his five years with the Redbirds. He has a 104-64 overall record, and four 20-win seasons for a team that had one winning season in the five years leading up to his hire. Jankovich is a coach with the identity as a great recruiter and player developer.
Tad Boyle – University of Colorado, head coach
When Colorado hired Tad Boyle back in 2010, he proclaimed it his dream job, which to me, means this will probably be a long shot for Kansas State. But because of his relationship with Currie dating back to 1998, it’s possible. Boyle has posted back-to-back 24-win seasons, and a near Sweet 16 berth season after winning the PAC 12 Conference Tournament. He has two ESPNU Top 100 players coming in next year, and helped turn Alec Burks into an NBA lottery pick. Boyle is obviously the best coach possible for the job, but perhaps the most unlikely because of the circumstances.
Brad Underwood – Kansas State University, assistant
Underwood, an assistant at Kansas State for six years, got the endorsement from Frank Martin and is another guy who I like to take over the head coaching position. Underwood has been able to help guide Kansas State to six straight winning seasons, knows the program, and would likely keep the current team together if he was hired. He has been a great recruiter and a has an eye for talent. If anyone would be more likely to re-secure a commitment from Upshaw, if it could happen, it would be Underwood.
Steve Henson – Oklahoma Sooners, assistant
Henson, Kansas State’s all-time assist leader, got an endorsement from Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger and has repeatedly expressed interest in the opening. Henson has been a coaching assistant at the NBA level and college level after retiring from basketball after playing for five different NBA teams. This would be his first coaching position, but because if his experience he may likely receive a call from Kansas State.
Doug Gottlieb – ESPN commentator
Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State point guard, recently expressed his interest in Kansas State and called it an “elite” place according to a story by the Wichita Eagle. Gottlieb also mentioned in the story that he talked to some people around Kansas State, but not John Currie yet. Gottlieb would be a risky hire, but it would be well worth it. Not only is he knowledgable about basketball but he has a plan of what would happen if he was hired. He could also be a great recruiter because of his familiarity of the process and his popularity in basketball circles. It all sounds good but is Currie willing to take that risk of signing somebody that has never coached before?
Josh Pastner – Memphis Tigers, head coach
Pastner may be an even longer shot than Boyle but his name has came up as of late as a potential candidate. Pastner has won 24 or more games in the past three seasons as the head coach and also managed to recruit competitively. Pastner would be the ultimate steal for Kansas State and could come in and elevate the program because of his recruiting ability. But because he’s returning a talented roster and bringing in McDonald’s All American Shaq Goodwin, this may be a long shot for Kansas State.
Orlando Antigua – University of Kentucky, assistant
Antigua is one of the best recruiters in the nation,helping Kentucky head coach John Calipari reel in continuous No. 1 recruiting classes. He’s helped bring in ten McDonald’s All Americans and has helped Calipari to two deep runs in the NCAA Tournament. Antigua is a guy that is ready for a coaching position and could be a splash hire based on his recruiting ability.
Other names to consider are Georgia’s Mark Fox, despite denying interest on Twitter, and former Duquesne coach Ron Everhart, who is reportedly in the running according to Alex Kline of TheRecruitScoop.com.