Day Two - Surprises and Changes

There are a lot of fast-moving changes happening in Stanford Basketball. The coaching search is starting to take shape, and we understand now better the timeframe and process. Closure is at hand with Mike Montgomery/Golden State, and that is about to bring public comment from Stanford officials. Finally, we have some surprise news related to each of the three focal junior recruits visiting this weekend.

Yesterday I started with recruiting news, and while that is changing rapidly, I will start with the administrative orchestrations that are currently happening at Stanford. The good news is that it looks like the absence of University president John Hennessy will not be a barrier to the coaching search; I believe the powers who are on campus have the freedom to act. The bad news, to some, is that I do not believe that a whirlwind hire will happen in such blazing time that the current recruits on campus would have a chance to meet with him... that is unless the next head coach is a current assistant coach.

On the subject of the assistants, I have two pieces of significant news. The first is that Ted Leland has already moved to sign all three of them to contracts that will keep them on through the next year. This move not only ensures stability for these three men and their families, but it also is the first step to ensure the continuity of the current Stanford Basketball program - with its philosophies and values. I have no doubt that Leland is emphasizing these signings to the current recruits on campus for their crucial official visits.

You could possibly read between the lines what this move also means for the future head coach of Stanford. If an "outsider" from the Mike Montgomery coaching family tree were to be hired, you would expect that person (Mark Few of Gonzaga as an example - simply because his name is on the tips of tongues today) to want to bring some of his staff with him. A head coach is only as good as his staff, and it is rare for an established general to make a move without some of his lieutenants. If you want to read between the lines, the signed contracts of all three assistants would make such a head coaching hire difficult. The case of a Trent Johnson (Nevada-Reno), for example, would be quite different. He has relationships and trust with the current Stanford assistants. Other former Cardinal assistants are in a similar boat.

You might also read between the lines that the new contracts for the assistants take them out of the running for the head job. Not true. A hire for the head coaching position would supercede any assistant contract. On the subject of hiring assistants, some readers have asked why I named Eric Reveno as a candidate yesterday but not Tony Fuller. Fuller was/is the #1 assistant on Montgomery's staff, and he alone of the current coaches has head coaching experience. Fuller was the top man at Pepperdine (1994-1996) and San Diego State (1992-1994) for a combined four years. But sources indicate that Fuller has "abdicated" his senior position among the current assistants to Reveno for the purpose of this head coaching search. That is to say that Fuller is reportedly endorsing Reveno as the man in the current staff who should be the leading candidate for the Stanford head job.

There are two schools of thought as to why Fuller would make that move. One says that five-year Cardinal coach recognizes that the Stanford head job is not a great fit for him, and vice versa. The other thought is that Fuller may understand that he has another job in the wings which he assumes he can take, and as such would not put himself into this coaching interview and search process. That future employer for Fuller might be Mike Montgomery, who will be named within the next couple hours officially as the Golden State Warriors head coach.

In the big picture, Ted Leland is having a big sitdown with provost John Etchemendy. That meeting should finalize the policies and process for the head coaching search. Leland will have a press conference at Stanford today at 3:15 PM (Pacific) and make his first public comments since Montgomery made his move Wednesday to the Warriors. There has been no official comment from anybody at Stanford simply because nothing was official. They have been waiting for the Warriors to make public comment, once the negotiations and contract with Montgomery were finalized.

This is my segue to the topic of recruiting. Montgomery was still in his office all day yesterday, though with the door shut and his support staff providing a protective barrier against the prying media, and he was still acting as Stanford head coach. No contract was signed yesterday, nor had it yet been signed this morning. That legally, and by all rights, allowed him to still interact with the recruits on campus. This was a surprise move to me, but it apparently went smashingly well for both blue chips visitors. Larry and Lawrence Hill had the chance to talk with Montgomery yesterday, and the 18-year Cardinal general was brilliant. He is glowing right now, and projects every bit the enthusiasm and pride for Stanford Athletics imaginable. Put that meeting together with Leland's meeting with the Hills, and this first junior visitor of the spring started the day off very well. Both father and son have been all smiles thus far in their visit, and it is hard to imagine the trip going any better.

Bobby Frasor and his parents got off on a slower foot when they flew in last night and experienced a three-hour delay in their travel from Chicago. Arriving at SFO after midnight, which felt like something after 2 AM to their bodies, is not a good way to start in a recruitment that has distance in the equation. The Frasors were understandably dragging this morning, but they spoke with Montgomery via phone before he signed his Warriors contract, and their spirits lifted dramatically. They have since caught an emotional second wind and are having a good start to their 48 hours on The Farm. I have no indication yet about the extent or nature of the interaction between Hill and Frasor, though they will at the very least play some pickup basketball together with Stanford players this afternoon.

The final piece of recruiting news is a bit of a bombshell. Combo guard Anthony Goods cancelled his official visit to Stanford that was scheduled to begin Sunday night. This will be a huge disappointment for Cardinal fans who have developed a great affection and affinity for the SoCal student-athlete. Do not panic, however. Goods and his mother are believed to be taking a cautious approach - not wanting to "waste" their one allowed official visit to Stanford without the future head coach in place. This is a setback, but far from the end. I believe the visit will be rescheduled soon, and I still believe Stanford to be in the leadership position in Goods' recruitment. His love, and that of his mother, for Stanford have been tied more to the school and the assistants they have interacted with. Only limited interactions were with Montgomery.


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