Where Would Kansas Jayhawks Turn for Head Coach If Bill Self Bolted for NBA?
Every athletic director should have his list for "where do I turn if my successful head coach leaves?" Bill Self gave Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger reason to keep his list fresh on Monday.
Self told the Oklahoman that he would be tempted by the NBA. As I wrote on Tuesday, it would be hard for Self to pull himself away from a great contract and a chance at history. He's got a pretty good thing going, but yeah, it's possible.
Where would Zenger turn if that happened? This wish list includes coaches who would be attainable and be a good fit at Kansas.
10. Danny Manning
He's a Kansas legend. He spent nine years on Bill Self's staff. And now Manning has head coaching experience.
Manning also received a lot of the credit for KU's development of big men during his time in Lawrence. If Manning has any kind of success at Tulsa—he went 17-16 in his first year—he would at least be in consideration if the Kansas job came open.
9. Mark Turgeon
Mark Turgeon's stock has cooled a bit after his first two NCAA tournament-less years at Maryland. But if Turgeon gets the Maryland program rolling again, he would definitely be a candidate when/if the KU job was open because of his Kansas ties.
Turgeon is from Topeka, played at Kansas under Larry Brown and was an assistant under both Brown and Roy Williams. He's also had success in the Big 12, coaching Texas A&M to four consecutive NCAA tournaments in his four years with the Aggies.
8. Tim Jankovich
In the coaching business, who you know goes a long way and Tim Jankovich has plenty of ties to Kansas.
KU's current athletic director, Sheahon Zenger, hired Jankovich at Illinois State when he was AD at the school. Before leaving for Illinois State, Jankovich was an assistant at Kansas for four years under Bill Self and had also been Self's assistant at Illinois.
When Jankovich made the move to become the coach-in-waiting at SMU, Larry Brown told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that Jankovich was recommended by Self.
It's hard to believe that Brown is going to be around for too long, so Jankovich will get his chance to become a well-known name. SMU seems invested in its basketball program and is in a conference, the American Athletic Conference, that could become a decent basketball league.
7. Brad Stevens
This is the one coach on the list who would likely not consider Kansas if Bill Self left tomorrow. But Self isn't leaving tomorrow. If he does ever leave for the NBA, it could be in five years or six or seven or eight.
It's possible—you could say even probable considering past success of college coaches to the pros—that Stevens coaches in college again. Let's say Self leaves in four years and Stevens has struggled his first four years in Boston. If you're an AD at a school like Kansas and you have an opening, it's at least worth making the call. And if Stevens did happen to be available at the time when Self left, then he shoots to the top of this list.
6. Chris Mack
Xavier has done a great job at hiring head coaches, and every program that has poached an Xavier coach away has had great success.
The late Skip Prosser left for Wake Forest in 2001 and he went 126-68 in six seasons; Thad Matta left for Ohio State in 2004 and he's made two Final Fours; and Sean Miller is turning Arizona back into one of the best programs in the country.
Chances are that Chris Mack will be a success at his next stop as well. Mack has taken Xavier to two Sweet 16s and three NCAA tournaments in his four seasons.
5. Gregg Marshall
You will not find Mark Few on this list, because if Few ever thought about leaving Gonzaga, it probably would have happened already. Gregg Marshall could be in that same boat in a few years.
As CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish wrote in the tournament, Marshall is content at Wichita State. As he says, "We have a good life, man."
But if Kansas called, that might be the one job Marshall would have to consider. His family wouldn't have to move far and he's familiar with the Midwest lifestyle. And what he's done at Wichita State—four straight seasons with 25-plus wins and a Final Four—is worthy of putting him in consideration for any opening in the country.
4. Tad Boyle
The one knock against Tad Boyle could be name recognition. Blue bloods like Kansas want to make a hire that gets the masses buzzing. Boyle might not be that guy.
Sheahon Zenger could maybe get KU fans to buy in, however, because Boyle is one of their own. He played at KU under Larry Brown. Boyle has also had success at Colorado—taking the Buffs to two straight NCAA tournaments—and KU fans should know how difficult that is. And if Boyle keeps building on what he's already accomplished at CU, he'll be a marquee name eventually.
3. Shaka Smart
It's against the rules to make a coaching candidate list for a big school without mentioning Shaka Smart, so here he is.
Smart is similar to Gregg Marshall and Mark Few in that he might just be content with where he is. It could be that he's waiting for that perfect job. If that's the case, you would think Kansas would qualify.
The Jayhawks would just have to get over the sting they felt from the 2011 Elite Eight when they got knocked out by Smart's Rams. What he brings to the table—a fun style, energy, the ability to become a great recruiter and a well-known name—would probably make KU fans willing to embrace him.
2. John Groce
Hey, hiring the Illinois coach worked once, why not try it again?
John Groce, at 41, appears to be one of the best young coaches in college basketball. He came up as an assistant to Thad Matta, and Matta's coaching tree includes Brad Stevens and Sean Miller. Groce was extremely successful in four years at Ohio—two NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16—and he had a solid first year at Illinois.
Groce has the kind of endless energy and confidence that he would be a good fit in a demanding place like Kansas.
1. Buzz Williams
Quick, name the coaches that have been to three straight Sweet 16s.
Ready? Bill Self, Billy Donovan, Thad Matta and Buzz Williams.
Williams is already a proven winner, and he's only 40. He's five for five making the NCAA tournament at Marquette. The Golden Eagles won a share of the Big East title last season after graduating their two leading scorers the previous year. Want to know about his drive to succeed? Read this story.
Williams should be near the top of the short list for any AD at a blue blood, and if Bill Self left Kansas and I'm Sheahon Zenger, Williams is my first call.