Dixon close to naming assistant coach

PITTSBURGH -- University of Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon apparently is close to naming an assistant to replace departed Mike Rice, who was named the head coach at Robert Morris University in late April.

The top candidates are believed to be South Carolina University assistant coach Ken Potosnak, former College of Charleston head coach Tom Herrion, Providence College associate head coach Steve DeMeo and former Seton Hall player Danny Hurley, who coaches St. Benedict's Prep School in Newark, N.J.

Potosnak, 39, a graduate of Valley High School in New Kensington, just completed his second season at South Carolina after eight seasons at Furman. Herrion, 39, was replaced by former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins at the College of Charleston in July, 2006. In four seasons as the head coach, Herrion was 80-38. After going 25-8 and 20-9 in his first two seasons, the College of Charleston dropped to 18-10 and 17-11.

DeMeo, 42, has been at Providence since 1998. He was at Iona College prior to his stint with the Friars (1995-98). Hurley, 34, is the son of longtime New Jersey prep coach Bob Hurley, and the brother of former Duke point guard Bobby Hurley, who also played briefly for the Sacramento Kings in the NBA.

The Pitt job is especially attractive to coaches. Not only are the Panthers among the more successful programs in the nation despite playing in the power-packed Big East, but three former coaches under Dixon have gone on to head coaching job. Along with Rice at RMU, Dixon had to replace Barry Rohrrsen, who went to Manhattan, and Joe Lombardi, who is at IUP.

For Potosnak, however, it's basically a chance to go home.

"South Carolina is my second home because I've been in the Carolinas now for 18 years,'' Potosnak told the State newspaper in South Carolina. "But Pittsburgh is where the family's from. ... I have some really strong ties there.''

Potosnak has been credited with recruiting Lee Central standout Mike Holmes, Wilson center Sam Muldrow and Saluda guard Trevor Deloach to the Gamecocks from South Carolina and Murphy Holloway and Lashay Paige to next year's squad In addition to his work as a college coach, Potosnak also has vast experience as a clinic and camp coach both domestically and internationally. He has worked the Five-Star Basketball Camp and also has worked clinics in Spain, Greece, Turkey and China.

Herrion served eight seasons as an assistant to coach Pete Gillen, including four each at Providence and Virginia. The Friars went to the Elite Eight in one of those seasons, while UVA made three NCAA appearances. Herrion is the only former head coach among the four candidates. Hurley has the least amount of coaching experience.

Known throughout college coaching circles as an excellent recruiter and developer of talent, DeMeo secured the Friars' first 7-footer, Karim Shabazz, 2004 Los Angeles Laker draft pick Marcus Douthit, 2006 All-Big East Team member Donnie McGrath and 2006 Big East All-Rookie Team members Geoff McDermott and Sharaud Curry. He also was responsible for recruiting All-American and 2005 B ig East scoring leader Ryan Gomes. In 2004, Gomes became the first Friar to earn Associated Press First Team All-America honors since Marvin Barnes received the accolades in 1974.

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