Chris Dortch of Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook normally has his pulse on what's happening in college basketball as well as anyone I know. He might not have the big name of some TV college basketball analysts, but no one interacts with coaches better or gets more insightful information than Dortch.
That's why I posed a different sort of question to him about Kentucky's basketball coaching search. I knew Dortch would be following all the obvious possibilities and have opinions on each candidate. However, what I wanted to know is who he thought might be a darkhorse candidate that no one, including UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart, might immediately think about as a possible Kentucky coach.
Dortch didn't disappoint me. He had a quick answer.
"It sounds crazy, but if I were Mitch, I'd give Andy Kennedy (of Mississippi) a call. I think he's got several qualities that would allow him to succeed at Kentucky, including style of play, ability to relate to the media and fans, work ethic, recruiting contacts and recruiting work ethic," Dortch said. "If he left Ole Miss, that would be his third head-coaching job in as many years. He's also been a head coach just two full seasons. But if you're asking me to look into a crystal ball and see a guy who could evolve into a top five or 10 coach in the country, I can see Andy in there."
Kennedy certainly did work his magic in his first season at Mississippi. He also did well during his one year as interim coach at Cincinnati -- and many still think Cincy made a mistake by not making him the permanent coach.
Sure, Billy Donovan, Billy Gillispie, Rick Barnes, Tom Izzo, and John Calipari are more obvious candidates. But remember when no one at Kentucky had ever heard of Hal Mumme? What were the chances of Mumme replacing Bill Curry?
That's not to say Kennedy is going to be UK's next basketball coach. Instead, maybe it should just make us all stop to remember that while Donovan might be the obvious choice, there could be another viable candidate out there we haven't even thought about.