Late this afternoon, the Stanford Basketball head coaching search hit the beginning of the end. Athletic Director Ted Leland and Nevada head coach Trent Johnson came to a verbal agreement whereby Johnson will become the new head coach for the Cardinal program. Leland is in Reno (Nev.) this evening meeting with Johnson in person to get a written contract finalized and signed.
If your reaction to this timing is one of surprise, then you are not alone. I reported last week, and Leland confirmed in his press conference on Friday, that the "process" would get underway and take some time. Indeed, committees were formed and Johnson had to meet with a breadth of AD and University administrators when he was on campus Sunday. He also met with the entire returning roster of players to cap off the day. The reason this has come to such a quick conclusion is that Johnson is the only candidate who was interviewed. Nobody else was brought in from the outside, and Stanford's current trio of assistant coaches were likewise not interviewed.
The Stanford Athletics media relations office has not announced any timing for a press conference Tuesday, but I expect it to come in the early afternoon - approximately 2 or 3 PM. Former head coach and new Golden State Warriors head man Mike Montgomery may be on campus for the announcement tomorrow. He was briefly in the Stanford Basketball office late this afternoon. His old office needs some quick cleaning; a new occupant is about to take over the space.
While much of the attention surrounding the timing of this search has rightfully centered on the current recruiting calendar and prospects, with two Top 100 recruits on campus for official in the last few days and a nation of other blue chip targets still to be addressed, Johnson is also anxious to get the deal done for another reason. He wants to get on campus to work with his future players. NCAA rules allow two hours of time on the court each week where a coach can workout up to four players simultaneously in drills. Those practices must stop at the end of the spring quarter, which leaves just a few weeks for Johnson to engage his players before the summer. He will not be able to work with them again until the fall.
To that end, Johnson has been watching extensive film from this past Stanford Basketball season to maximize his familiarity with his new players. He intends to hit the ground running as soon as he is "official" with the signed contract.
Johnson will of course also dive into recruiting his first day in the office. All three of the Cardinal assistant coaches have been feverishly working on the current slate of junior recruits this past week, and Johnson is ready to join their efforts. He has followed Stanford recruiting from afar, and he also has the benefit of having seen many of these targets play at AAU Tournaments. Unlike some college head coaches, Johnson is one who believes in spending a lot of time on the road making personal evaluations of prospects.
One thing the new Stanford head man cannot do is place phone calls to these junior recruits. This is a quiet period, which does not allow any coach to come in contact with a recruit anywhere other than the college's campus; nor can a coach initiate phone calls. Johnson and the Stanford staff are encouraging recruits via email to place calls into the basketball office. Those calls will be the first impression Johnson can make upon the recruits and their parents. We will do our best to keep subscribers abreast of recruits' reactions to the new head coach.
For more on Trent Johnson's background, click here to read our story yesterday breaking the news of his interviews on campus. For an excellent analysis of the pros and cons of his hire as the next Stanford head coach, click here.
Stay tuned to The Bootleg for all the breaking news and insights these next few days as the Trent Johnson Era explodes onto the Stanford scene.
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