In what can be best described as a surprise that very few saw coming, UAB Athletic Director Brian Mackin has hired Jerod Haase to replace Mike Davis.
Davis was fired on March 16 after six seasons that included three NIT appearances, one NCAA appearance and a Conference USA regular season championship. The Blazers finished with a disappointing 15-16 record (9-7 in Conference USA) this past season.
A few days ago I wrote an article of potential replacement candidates thinking that Mackin would go after either assistant coaches with ties to the Birmingham, Alabama area, big name assistant coaches, those with ties to the university or Division II head coaches at Alabama schools who possess impressive resumes.
Haase is not on that list. However, it does make sense of why he was hired.
He has been mentored and groomed by one of the best, Roy Williams. In fact, Haase spent 10 years coaching as an assistant on Williams' staffs at both UNC and Kansas. He even played three seasons for Williams at Kansas.
That is why Haase's hiring at UAB is kind of similar to Josh Pastner being selected to replace John Calipari at Memphis. Pastner both played for and coached under the legendary Lute Olson.
Pastner basically picked up where Calipari left off and kept the Tigers as a dominate team in Conference USA.
UAB is likely hoping to become what the Memphis Tigers (who are headed to the Big East) have been in the Conference USA for years, a constant top team and repeated conference championship winners. The upcoming Conference USA and Mountain West merger will be a perfect test.
To take your program to that highest level, Mackin needed a guy with Haase's experience and leadership ability. Plus, like Pastner, he is young (37). I suggested Orlando Antigua and Richard Pitino partly for those reasons. The other reason is name recognition that can draw fans back in.
Prior to his hiring at UAB, Haase coached the UNC Tar Heels junior varsity basketball team for three years.