McCaffery Looking Over Candidates For Staff

Hawkeye Insider learned on Monday that former Siena Assistant Andrew Francis would be interviewing for a similar position in Iowa City this week. Find out when that will take place and get the latest on new Coach Fran McCaffery's search to fill out his staff in this premium update.

IOWA CITY, Ia. - If you're ever interested in getting the latest news on Hawkeye sports, tag along with me to pick up my son, Alex, from preschool during the noon hour. Inevitably, I'll get a phone call returned from a source or subject during this time.

It happened again, today, when Siena Assistant Coach Andrew Francis called me as I was strapping Alex into his booster seat. My son waited patiently while I ran a few things past the voice on the other end of the phone.

Francis said that he didn't have much to give me but said he would probably know more on Thursday. A day earlier, he was set to interview for an assistant's position at Iowa.

Bringing Francis west makes a lot of sense for new Hawkeye Coach Fran McCaffery. The two worked together during the last two seasons at Siena and Francis has shown his ability to recruit with strong ties to New York City and in Philadelphia, where he was employed by Jay Wright at Villanova before joining McCaffery at Siena.

I expect Wednesday's interview of Francis by McCaffery and Iowa to be a formality. I feel like Francis could very well be the first assistant hire by the new head coach with an announcement coming by the end of the week.

McCaffery also hopes to bring along Mitch Buonaguro from Siena, as he told the Albany Times-Union over the weekend. Buonaguro is a candidate to replace McCaffery at Siena and is receiving a lot of support, the paper wrote.

Buonaguro, 56, would move into the No. 1 assistant's chair at Iowa. He boasts more than 30 years of Division I coaching experience, including being the head coach at Fairfield and working under Rollie Massimino at Villanova for eight years.

McCaffery will wait until Siena makes a move before filling out his staff. The head coach can add Francis and then fill in around him.

I'm hearing that Kevin Gamble sits high on the list of assistant candidates, but there's a catch. He needs to complete his bachelor's degree, a requirement for the position.

Word is that he could secure his degree by the end of the summer, but Iowa would either have to create a loophole until that happens or keep the position open until Gamble achieves the diploma. That could be risky.

Another name on which to keep an eye is Chad Walthall, who worked on the staff of McCaffery's predecessor, Todd Lickliter. There will be some fans that think it best to cut all ties with the former regime, but I endorse the former Loras Head Coach and AD.

Walthall clearly was the top recruiter on Lickliter's staff. The Minnesota native was the lead man on current Hawkeye freshmen Cully Payne, Eric May and Brennan Cougill, and also on incoming signees Ben Brust, Cody Larson and Zach McCabe.

Walthall not only could ease the transition with his relationship with current players, but he's very well respected by coaches in the state and region and has a nice bond with the Rising Stars AAU program in Chicago, which produced Payne and Brust.

Former Hawkeye Jeff Horner appears to be a leading candidate for the graduate assistant position He seems interested, according to a recent story in the Iowa City Press-Citizen and has already applied for a position above the GA chair.

Greg Stokes, another former Hawkeye, has served as a Kirkwood Community College assistant for the last 12 years. He also told the Press-Citizen that he was interested in working for McCaffery but would not say if he'd applied.

Former Hawkeye Duez Henderson has shown interest in the position. He coaches high school in Minnesota and has experience working in AAU.

The former Hawkeyes mentioned most likely would be best suited for the third seat. The possible exception might be Gamble, who started the men's basketball program at Illinois-Springfield and just completed his eighth season with the school.

The big question would be who would fill the top seat if Buonaguro gets the Siena gig. I say keep an eye on Rodell Davis, a Providence assistant under Keno Davis and former Hawkeye. I think Rodell would make the move for a raise and maybe an extra title.

Rodell is a proven recruiter who could get into Chicago and make some noise. Being an alumnus also wouldn't hurt.

I really would like to see somebody between McCaffery and Francis in the No. 2 seat. That's not a knock on Andrew. I just think we need somebody a little more seasoned as Fran's right hand man.

If Siena goes in a direction other than Buonaguro, I think we see Mitch sitting one, Francis No. 2, Gamble, Stokes or Walthall in the three chair and Horner as the grad assistant.

If Buonaguro stays back East, it will make things interesting. I think McCaffery makes a run at Rodell, but that might be a tough sell. We'll see.

McCaffery also might have someone up his sleeve for the No. 1 chair if Buonaguro gets the Siena gig. Who knows, maybe he can pull Steve Forbes away from Tennessee?

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