All Eyes Towards Western Kentucky?

Now that the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers have been eliminated in the NCAA Tournament, Terry Don Phillips and company may be able to move in quickly and "nab their man," so to speak. Will Dennis Felton be the next head basketball coach at Clemson University?

After leading his club to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament, Dennis Felton will now have the opportunity to listen to several schools that want him as their head coach.

And one of the schools showing the most interest is Clemson University.

"I think there's significant interest on both sides," said a source close to the Clemson basketball program late Thursday evening. "We'll just have to see how it plays out."

Before becoming a head coach at Western Kentucky, Felton spent six seasons with former Tiger head coach Rick Barnes, including his last four as an assistant at Clemson.

The six teams he and Barnes worked with posted six consecutive winning seasons, made six trips to postseason play (four in the NCAA Tournament and two in the NIT), and went 114-71, averaging 19 wins a year.

Felton was also named the 2001-02 Sun Belt Conference Coach-of-the-Year as he has led a turnaround in the Hilltoppers' program. Felton's second season saw him lead WKU to an incredible 28-4 record overall and a 13-1 mark in conference play.

Included in those 28 wins was an 18-game winning streak.

Sources close to the program seem to agree that Felton has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the job, based on his track record, his head coaching experience, his familiarity with the basketball program at Clemson, and several other factors.

"He would be a great addition, and he'll have the chance to be successful here sooner than a lot of people may think," said the source.

The Hilltoppers were the #13 seed in the West region this year before falling to Illinois last night in Indianapolis. WKU finished the regular season with a 24-6 record.

CUTigers.com has learned that contact has indeed been initiated by Clemson University in pursuit of Felton, which was first reported by the Anderson Independent Mail Wednesday.

Other names that figure to be in contention are Dayton's Oliver Purnell, UT-Chattanooga head coach Jeff Lebo, and Maryland assistant coach Dave Dickerson.

Felton has also reportedly been linked to the possible opening at Georgia should head coach Jim Harrick be fired in the coming days. Felton also served as an assistant coach at Delaware (1986-90), Tulane (1990-91) and St. Joseph's (Pa.) (1991-92) before going to Providence in 1992.

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