Finally, the Dance/lack thereof list has outlived its usefulness. Most of the key candidates are now available to speak this week, so it’s time to start putting a finger to the pulse. You see that, off in the distance? That’s Mike Thomas’ last basketball hire, waving to us from the Sweet 16.
Shaka Smart has sparked a full-on source war on the interwebs. There are people loudly proclaiming his hiring is all but a done deal, there are those confidently saying he is staying at VCU and there are people claiming he was initially not interested but the money and security might be too much to ignore but Chicago is kind of an unseemly place to recruit so he’s wrestling with it. There’s nothing solid, just lots of sniping about who is more in the know. And then, the coup de grace – maybe he’s not a candidate at all:
Reporting on WBBM…Shaka Smart might not bea candidate, let alone the leading one at Illinois.
— George ofman (@georgeofman) March 19, 2012
Anthony Grant is hopefully picking up additional steam, especially if what dramatic sound effect there is intimating has any credence (I don’t necessarily think it does, but either way, really). I really hope there’s mutual interest here – the guy was Donovan’s right hand at Florida, built the VCU you see now, and has a fanbase that cares more about Auburn’s trees than the basketball team.
Leonard Hamilton has emerged as a “let’s build a staff of really great recruiting coaches and turn them over to a guy who will maybe coach 7-10 more years, tops” candidate. This would feel like an underwhelming band-aid of a hire (understatement), and would also invalidate the case that we’ve got a top 10-15 job on the table – Hamilton has never even been past the Sweet 16 and is just 64 games over .500 in 23 years as a head coach.
Johnny Dawkins; I want to reiterate how opposed I am to Johnny Dawkins.
John Groce is a new addition! Mostly because he has Ohio in the Sweet 16. And, you know, MAC + Mike Thomas = Love. He seems like a really good, likeable young coach, but I’m not sure how you can make this hire. Not if you want to reignite the fanbase and make a clear statement that you’re about winning titles and competing at the highest level. This feels like a hire Iowa would make (no offense, John).