As the Texas Longhorns head coaching search officially enters its third day, Wichita State Shockers head coach Gregg Marshall may be off the board due to the complete lack of buzz from the Texas side while other coaches take center stage in the rumor mill.
The Shaka Smart situation
According to Horns Digest and other reports, the Longhorns have already been in contact with VCU Rams head coach Shaka Smart. The athletic director in Richmond told a local paper that no schools have asked for permission to speak with his head coach, which doesn't necessarily mean that there hasn't been any contact between parties representing Texas and parties representing Smart, despite a report like this:
A knowledgeable source informs me that as of this morning there have been no direct talks b/t Texas and Shaka Smart. Not sensing momentum.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 31, 2015
After all, there's a reason why coaches employ agents and it's for situations like this. So right now, Smart still seems like the frontrunner, a position he's now held since the report from CBS Sports.com emerged yesterday about the discussions between Texas and the VCU head coach.
Villanova's Jay Wright also targeted
The other name mentioned in the Horns Digest report was Jay Wright, the well-dressed head coach of the Villanova Wildcats who has now spent 14 seasons coaching that program. The knock on Wright is that he's a bit like Rick Barnes in that his run of success in the 2000s gave way to recent issues making it deep into the tournament.
Ultimately, the reported interest from Texas won't come of anything, as Wright reportedly isn't interested:
I've learned that Texas' search firm reached out to representatives of Jay Wright to gauge his interest. Was told thanks but no thanks.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 31, 2015
Are any NBA names in play?
A Sunday report suggested that athletic director Steve Patterson could tap into his old NBA ties to hire a coach from those ranks. After attempting to shoot down the Smart-to-Texas talk, Seth Davis dropped the names of one former NBA coach and one current NBA coach:
If you want a sleeper for the job, it could be Avery Johnson. I'm also hearing some Brad Stevens chatter. This will be a fun one.— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 31, 2015
On PTI, Michael Wilbon floated Johnson's name for the job on Monday. Johnson certainly experienced periods of success with the Dallas Mavericks and New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, but would Patterson really be willing to hire a coach with no college experience at all?
How would Johnson handle the limited amount of practice time? Would be he effective as a recruiter?
Those are significant questions that would make hiring a coach like Johnson a significant risk at a time when the program needs a sure thing to energize the donor base to raise money for the new basketball arena.
As for Stevens, he's in the middle of a six-year, $22 million contract that puts him above the range that Patterson wants to spend for a new coach. Stevens is also coaching for an organization with a great deal of tradition and the proven ability to win in recent years, so while the Boston Celtics are hardly in a position to contend at the moment, he's described himself as excited about the rebuild.
Even though there's been some talk about Steven returning college in the last few months, there's no compelling reason to think that Stevens would actually leave the Celtics.
Here's a difficult question -- is it more silly or less silly to float the name of John Lucas than tossing that of Stevens out there?
Regardless, there's also some buzz about Lucas, including a since-deleted tweet from a Scout analyst and another tweet from the Houston area that received the same treatment.
There's plenty of buzz from high-level prospects about wanting to play for Lucas, leaving little question that he would immediately make a huge impact on the recruiting trail. But he's also only had one coaching job (as an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers for one season) since the Cleveland Cavaliers fired him in 2003.
How much interest does he even have getting back into coaching given that he has much more job security training basketball players and occasionally mentoring other athletes? Two sources told Bleacher Report over the weekend that Lucas does have interest in the job.
The thing is, Texas could likely get some of the same recruiting impact by elevating former Rick Barnes special assistant Jai Lucas to a spot on the bench without the risk of giving the elder Lucas his first head coaching job in more than a decade.