The loss of assistant coach Tavaras Hardy to Georgetown is a big one and the first turbulent moment for Northwestern’s first-year coach, Chris Collins.
In Hardy, Northwestern basketball and Collins had a veteran presence on the staff with great versatility. Hardy brought a wealth of Big Ten experience and knowledge, he had ties to the current roster, made a major impact recruiting, had a pulse on recruiting the Chicago area and a reach nationally, and maybe most importantly, he completely understood the culture of Northwestern — both the athletics and the university — and was highly respected.
Now, instead of completely focusing on recruiting in the month of June in preparation for the July evaluation period, Collins must go back to the drawing board to solidify something he thought was already in place — his coaching staff.
Collins has the tall task of making a very important hire. Although not completely necessary, NU could certainly benefit from having someone with true Chicago area ties and familiarity as the Wildcats are on a number of top prospects in the city and suburbs in the Class of 2014 and 2015.
Collins didn’t go with any direct connection or link to Duke the first go-around when filling out his staff. Will he this time? Maybe that’s an option for the coach who spent the last 13 years working under Mike Krzyzewski.
Just as the Hoops Report felt before he was hired at NU and felt after he was hired by NU athletic director Jim Phillips, Collins is the perfect fit for Northwestern at this time. That’s another reason why a plethora of quality candidates will be available as the fortunes and perception of NU basketball have drastically changed.
The list of quality candidates is extensive for a job that is appealing to many. The Hoops Report certainly has two or three candidates who it thinks would be ideal fits for NU and stand out from the rest of the pack, but here is a list of 11 potential names (listed alphabetically) Northwestern may look at it to fill Hardy’s spot if Collins does indeed want to bring someone in with recruiting ties to Illinois and the Chicago area.
■ Will Bailey, LaSalle
An underrated rising assistant and grinder in the coaching business who has helped coach Dr. John Giannini raise the profile of LaSalle basketball, which included a NCAA Tournament berth this past season. Plus, he’s Chicago through and through as a Dunbar graduate and is respected throughout the city and suburbs. Prior to LaSalle, Bailey spent seven seasons at East Tennessee State, where he was a part of three NCAA Tournament teams and six conference championships.
■ Anthony Beane, Southern Illinois
A coaching candidate for a few other high-major jobs in recent months, Beane was a part of Tim Jankovich’s staff at Illinois State that went to four NITs in five seasons. He also coached at Saint Louis for four years and was a part of two Billiken teams that made the NIT. He has dabbled in Illinois and has strong recruiting ties throughout the Midwest.
■ Ronald Coleman, Bradley
He’s spent just three years in college coaching. First, Coleman was a part of a NCAA Tournament team at Colorado State and then headed to Nebraska with coach Tim Miles, where was the Director of Player of Development. He spent the past year as an assistant Bradley. Even with just three years of experience, Coleman, a graduate of South Shore in the Chicago Public League, is a fixture in the Chicago area with strong ties to the city. He coached at both Whitney Young as an assistant and with the Mac Irvin Fire club program. Northwestern is currently very involved with a pair of Fire players in Morgan Park’s Josh Cunningham and Whitney Young’s Paul White.
■ Chrys Cornelius, Wisconsin-Green Bay
An under-the-radar candidate with Chicago area roots — he’s from Joliet — and experience recruiting the Midwest, especially the Chicago area. Cornelius recently has spent the last three seasons working for Brian Wardle at UW-Green Bay and was at Eastern Illinois for four seasons. He was also a part of two NCAA Tournament teams at Florida A&M, where he coached from 2003-2007.
■ Dana Ford, Illinois State
After coaching stints in the junior college ranks, Tennessee State and Wichita State, ISU head coach Dan Muller named Ford the associate head coach prior to last season. He has southern Illinois roots as a native of Tamms, Ill., plus strong recruiting ties in Illinois as he recruited the state heavily, landing players at Tennessee State (Proviso West’s Robert Covington and Hales Franciscan’s Pat Miller) and Wichita State (Rockford Auburn’s Fred Van Vleet).
■ Armon Gates, Loyola
A young, sharp, rising star in the coaching business, Gates is beginning his third season under Porter Moser at Loyola after spending time as an assistant at TCU and Kent State. Born and raised in the Chicago area, Gates has valuable ties and relationships to the city and suburbs. In addition, he has experience recruiting the talent-filled state of Texas and working at a private, strong academic school in Chicago.
■ Donnie Kirksey, UIC
A longtime familiar name around Chicago area basketball who has many relationships among Chicago area basketball “people” and families. Kirksey knows the city and has continued to add to those relationships the past three years working under coach Howard Moore at UIC. He’s gained experience recruiting outside Chicago during his three years at UIC. Prior to his UIC experience, Kirksey was head coach in the Chicago Public League, guiding Hyde Park to a 71-18 record in three years there.
■ Nate Pomeday, Oregon State
A natural name for this position as Pomeday is a Northwestern graduate who played four seasons for the Wildcats. The 1999 NU grad has spent the past six seasons in Corvallis working under Craig Robinson at Oregon State, where he has helped land two Chicago area players in Lake Forest Academy’s Angus Brandt and Whitney Young’s Ahmad Starks. His post-NU basketball work included a head coaching stint at Calumet College of St. Joseph (Ind.) and coaching AAU basketball (Full Package Athletics) and at Lake Forest Academy.
■ Roger Powell, Valparaiso
Another young, rising coaching star in college basketball who has big name recognition locally from his all-state high school days at Joliet and starring at Illinois, where he helped lead the Fighting Illini to 37 wins and the NCAA national championship game in 2005. With a name, personality and work ethic, he’s quickly built a reputation throughout the Chicago area and state. He’s been instrumental in landing key recruits at Valpo in just two-plus years on the job.
■ Daniyal Robinson, Houston
A very polished veteran assistant coach who will have the ability to recruit the state of Illinois and branch out into other areas as a result of his past experience. He begins his fourth season at Houston under coach James Dickey. A native of Rock Island, Robinson has recruited the state of Illinois extensively as an assistant at Illinois State (2003-2007), where he landed ISU star Osiris Eldridge out of Phillips High School in Chicago, and Iowa State (2008-2010).
■ Todd Townsend, Drake
Drake coach Ray Giacoletti hired a good one in Townsend this past spring. His strong Chicago area background includes being a Chicago native who graduated from New Trier. He played at Marquette and worked under coach Tom Crean for two years as director of basketball operations. Townsend spent time as an assistant at Northeastern and Northern Illinois, where he recruited the Chicago area heavily and continues to do so at Drake.
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