If Illinois AD Mike Thomas is looking for a candidate with plenty of head coaching experience, University of Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar must be included. At the age of 53, Romar has been a head coach for 16 years at three programs.
Romar started off his coaching career as an assistant coach at UCLA under Jim Herrick from 1992-1996. He was credited for recruiting a vast majority of the players on the 1995 and 1996 UCLA squads that won back-to-back Pac-10 championships. The 1995 Bruins also went on to win the NCAA National Championship. During Romar's four-year period at UCLA, his teams compiled an impressive 97-28 record.
After UCLA, Romar found his first head coaching job at Pepperdine, from 1996-1999. His first year was a tough one, finishing 6-21 and sixth place in the WCC. But he quickly turned things around due to strong recruiting, finishing with a 17-10 record in his second season, just one game back of WCC champion Gonzaga.
The following season, which would be Romar's last, Pepperdine went 19-13 and grabbed an NIT invite. Romar went 42-44 at Pepperdine, but he successfully turned around a struggling program. The Waves then went on to make the NCAA Tournament one year after Romar's departure, with most of the players being his recruits.
Romar then moved on to St. Louis University, where he had a record of 51-44 during his three-year tenure. In his first season, he helped guide the Billikens to a 19-14 record, including a C-USA Tournament title and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
St Louis missed all postseason play in the 2000-2001 season with a record of 17-14 but was the first C-USA team to ever beat powerhouse Cincinnati in consecutive years. The 2001-2002 team was a disappointment as St. Louis finished with a record of 15-16, but it had a schedule that included 14 games against teams that made postseason tournament appearances.
Romar took over at his alma mater Washington in 2002. He is now in his tenth year, amassing a record of 216-112, six seasons of 20 or more wins, two Pac-10 regular season titles, three Pac-10 Tournament titles, and six NCAA Tournament appearances. He was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 2005, 2009, and 2012.
In Romar's first season at Washington, the Huskies finished 10-17. But a quick turnaround took place in the 2004-2005 season, finishing 19-12 and grabbing an NCAA Tournament appearance for the first time since 1999.
A 29-6 record followed in 2005, which was tied for the highest win total in school history. The Huskies earned their first ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they advanced to the Sweet 16 and were defeated by Louisville. The following season, Washington again made it to the Sweet 16, only to lose to Connecticut.
Washington's next NCAA Tournament appearance came in 2009. They went 26-9, finished first in the Pac-10 for the first time since 1953, and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Purdue.
In 2010, Washington won the Pac-10 Tournament and made it to the Sweet 16 for the third time under Romar, despite being an 11-seed. The next season, Washington made its third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance after posting a 24-11 record. They lost to North Carolina in the Round of 32.
This season, Romar has taken Washington to a record of 21-10 and first place in the Pac-12. However, they lost in the Pac-12 Tournament and failed to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies began NIT play Wednesday night as a No. 1 seed against Texas-Arlington.
Romar was an accomplished player as well, enjoying success at both the collegiate and professional level. He played basketball at Washington from 1978-1980, making him the second player at Washington who has returned to coach. As a point guard, he played in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors, Milwaukee Bucks, and Detroit Pistons.
Romar's best coaching attribute may be his ability to recruit. He is known as a friendly and enthusiastic person, which is why he's considered by many to be among the nation's top recruiters.
But while some question his ability to coach, he has had success at every coaching stop. Plus, Washington is in the running for top 2013 prospect Jabari Parker, so landing Romar could help keep Illinois in the race for Parker.
Romar is older than most candidates and may not want to leave Washington after being both a player and coach at the university. But his résumé makes him an attractive possibility.
WHY HE WOULD BE A GOOD HIRE:
He is an African-American, a great recruiter, turned Washington and Pepperdine around, could help Illinois land Jabari Parker, has plenty of head coaching experience, and has coached in the NCAA Tournament numerous times.
WHY HE MAY NOT BE A GOOD HIRE:
Some of his more talented teams were believed to underperform; he is older than most other candidates; he may not wish to leave his alma mater; and he comes from the Pac-12, generally known as a weaker conference.