Success could land head coaching job for Willard

Louisville's success on the court this season could prove beneficial for Rick Pitino's assistants. Just last week, Reggie Theus accepted the head coaching position at New Mexico State. Fourth-year assistant coach Kevin Willard, who came with Pitino from Boston, could be next.

Louisville assistant Kevin Willard was born to coach.

The son of Holy Cross head coach Ralph Willard - he also coached at Western Kentucky and Pittsburgh - the 29 year-old Willard has been with Louisville coach Rick Pitino the past eight years - four as an associate coach at Boston; four at Louisville.

During that time, Willard has played an instrumental role in helping Pitino devise effective game plans, as well as assisting in the day-to-day operations and recruiting efforts of a basketball program that finds itself just two more wins from the NCAA title.

That success appears to being paying huge dividends for Willard, and Pitino's other assistants. Just last week, second-year assistant coach Reggie Theus accepted the head coaching position at New Mexico State. Now, it appears Willard will be next with the opporuntity to move up.

"I know there's a lot of interest in Kevin Willard, rightfully so," said Pitino. "I've never seen someone his age as good as him."

Rick Pitino will likely be busy this summer
finding replacement's for two or three departing
assistant coaches.
Pitino has compared Willard favorably to current Florida coach Billy Donovan, who also served as a Pitino assistant in the early 1990's at Kentucky. Willard also gained some head coaching experience last year, filling in for Pitino against Houston when the coach wasn't feeling well. Result? A Louisville win.

So as the Cardinals' prepare for a Final Four match-up against number one ranked Illinois this weekend, it appears a few athletic directors - Eastern Kentucky's? - with coaching vacancies will be keeping a close eye on Willard. And even though there's considerable interest - and opportunity - for Willard, the fourth-year U of L assistant has refused to divert his attention from the game.

"He's been offered one job right now that he's considering," Pitino said. "But Kevin has said the same thing to three (schools) that have called – ‘thank you very much, it's an honor.' He did meet with one school but told tem he couldn't do anything until after the Final Four."

Known more for his X and O abilities, Willard played a vital role in the recruitment of several of the Cardinals top signees in recent years, including 6-11 David Padgett, 6-0 Sebastian Telfair, and 6-8 Chad Millard.

"There's a distinct possibility that I may lose Kevin and Vince (Taylor)," said Pitino. "But that's what they're here for – to work their tails off and make a better living for their families."

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