Who will replace Bob Bender? (Updated 3/24)

Now that the dust has slightly settled and Bob Bender is officially out as head basketball coach for the University of Washington, it's time to put on the speculation spectacles and look at possible candidates.

The first ones mentioned will be the ones that have already been publically acknowledged to be desirable hires by those in the press. The second group is comprised of coaches that could come out of the woodwork to surprise, and a third group will be of proven assistants who just might be in the mix. Who will Barbara hire? If it's anything like the Neuheisel hire, rest assured it won't be anybody on this list.

"There certainly isn't any blueprint you can use when it comes to the Washington program," said Dave Telep, publisher of TheInsidersHoops.com. "Where Bob Bender went a little wrong is in the last few years he's scrambled to make inroads locally. It's a good thing in a way, because he knew it was important, but the Seattle area has a lot of talent. It's important if you are the coach of Washington to have everybody in that area locked up. It seems like other schools can pick off a top player or two from that area. When a player like Brian Morrison doesn't have an offer from Washington as late as March or April of his junior year, that's a problem."

With that, here are the likely choices.

Mark Few (Chris Stanford/Allsport)
Mark Few (Chris Stanford/Allsport)
Gonzaga Head Coach Mark Few

Few is definitely the flavor of the month when it comes to area coaches held in high esteem. In his first two seasons as head coach the Gonzaga Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, one of only two NCAA Division I head coaches to accomplish that feat since the bracket expanded to 64 teams in 1985. Gonzaga, defending national champion Duke University and 2000 national champion Michigan State University are the only three schools to reach the Sweet Sixteen each of the past three seasons. Few was an assistant coach on Gonzaga's run to the 1999 Elite Eight.

The Zags stumbled this year, but that won't drop Few's stock. Few's 3-year record of 81-20 places him among elite company for sure. Gonzaga has won 222 games over the past 10 seasons, won or shared five West Coast Conference championships, four times captured the WCC Tournament title and has made seven trips to post-season play. Gonzaga is one of only three schools to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament each of the past three seasons, joining defending national champion Duke University and Michigan State University on the elite list. Only 18 times since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams has a school made three or more straight Sweet 16 appearances. Gonzaga is one of those, and Few has been a part of it all.

The only stumbling block may be Few's commitment to the Zags. In May of 2000 Few received an 8-year contract extension, so money will have to be thrown his way in order for him to listen. Few has always been known for getting the most out of players both and off the court.

Before moving to Spokane to coach at Gonzaga, Few was the assistant boys' basketball coach at Sheldon High in Eugene, Ore. He went to Sheldon after three years as an assistant coach at his alma mater - Creswell, Ore., High (1981) - while finishing his undergraduate studies at the University of Oregon where he received his degree in physical education. He earned his master's in athletic administration from Gonzaga in 1993.

Quin Snyder (Otto Greule Jr./Allsport)
Quin Snyder (Otto Greule Jr./Allsport)
Missouri Head Coach Quin Snyder

If you think Few is going to ask for some bucks, Quin Snyder is going to ask for the whole bank. Having recently signed a contract that earns him $1.2 million, Quin is in the driver's seat when it comes to possibly negotiating a deal to coach his hometown school.

Snyder has amassed a 59-37 mark over the first three years of his tenure at Missouri and is contracted out by the Tigers through the 2005-2006 season. That, and he was also the recipient of a state-of-the-art $75 million arena, so the chances the Huskies will be able to lure Snyder away from Columbia are slim.

However, he does have some impressive northwest ties. His hometown is Mercer Island, a place where he was a two-time state player of the year. Snyder led the Islanders to the 1985 state championship. During this time Mercer Island achieved a No. 1 ranking in USA Today's high school polls. Snyder was named a McDonald's All-America player, being the first ever chosen from the state of Washington.

But will Hedges go after another Duke product after minimal success with Bender? Snyder's teams are known as being very scrappy and hard-nosed. The other strength of Quin's coaching lies in his recruiting efforts, where he has landed top-20 recruiting classes every year he's been there, and has attracted the likes of Wesley Stokes and Travon Bryant away from California. That isn't easy.

As long as he keeps having success in the tourney (Missouri plays UCLA in a Sweet-16 matchup this week), Snyder will be a coveted coach. And that comes at a pricetag, and in Snyder's case it will be a hefty one.

Lorenzo Romar (J.D. Cuban/Allsport)
Lorenzo Romar (J.D. Cuban/Allsport)
St. Louis Head Coach Lorenzo Romar

Romar is an obvious choice, but is he the coach Hedges is looking for? Lorenzo played for the Huskies under legendary coach Marv Harshman for two years after transferring from Cerritos College in 1978. As a senior he was named team captain as the team earned an NIT berth. He was twice voted the Huskies' Most Inspirational Player by his teammates.

After his college career, Romar had stints with Milwaukee and Golden State before getting his first coaching stint with Athletes in Action (AIA), where he took on the dual role of coach and player from 1989 to 1992. Romar was the top assistant under Jim Harrick at UCLA from 1992-1996. There he recruited such talent as Toby Bailey, Cameron Dollar, omm'A Givens, J.R. Henderson, Kris Johnson, Brandon Loyd, Jelani McCoy and Charles O'Bannon. His reputation as a great recruiter was established at UCLA.

The Bruins were the Pacific-10 Conference champions in 1995 and 1996. The 1994-95 team had a 31-2 record, winning its final 19 games. The Bruins became the NCAA champions that year as they defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks at the Kingdome in Seattle.

Romar enjoyed a successful three-year run heading up the Pepperdine program before accepting the head coaching position at St. Louis. He took the Waves to the 1999 NIT with a 19-13 record. It was Pepperdine's first postseason appearance in five years. His career coaching mark is 91-85. As the Billikens' head coach, Romar won their first conference tournament championship in the program's history and knocked off a No. 1 team (Cincinnati), for the first time since the 1951-52 season when the Bills handled top-ranked Kentucky. Romar became the first Billiken head coach to win a conference championship and earn an NCAA Tournament bid in his first season.

The fact that Romar is a Husky and would love to come back and coach the Dawgs. He is a solid recruiter, but his win-loss record as a Head Coach leaves something to be desired. Pressure will be there for Barbara to hire a minority coach, and Lorenzo is right up there when talking about the best minority candidates available. This also leads us to the next candidate...

Mike Jarvis (John Dunn/AP)
Mike Jarvis (John Dunn/AP)
St. John's Head Coach Mike Jarvis

Mike Jarvis is a name that commands respect throughout the college coaching fraternity. Having been a collegiate head coach for 17 years, Jarvis' winning percentage is .649, with his current winning percentage at St. John's at .669. Before starting his St. John's career in 1999, Jarvis spent 8 years as the Head Coach of George Washington University (152-90) and 5 years before that at Boston University (101-51). Jarvis has also represented his country, coaching the 2000 USA Select team, the 1993 USA Basketball Men's 22 & Under World Championship Team and the East team during the 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival. The 1993 team went undefeated (8-0) in tournament play.

No stranger to the NCAA Tournament, Jarvis has taken his teams to 12 postseason appearances and won 20 or more games in a season nine times. His 1998-99 St. John's team was the best he's coached, reaching the 1999 NCAA Elite Eight. Jarvis also coached George Washington to a Sweet-16 performance in 1993. In the 17 years he's coaches at the collegiate level, Mike Jarvis has never had a losing record.

The upside to Jarvis is that he is clearly a winner and a determined coach who demands the most of his players and himself. The downside is that he has no formal ties to the Northwest, other than his association with Barbara Hedges, which began almost 10 years ago when Hedges was looking for a coach to replace Lynn Nance.

Kelvin Sampson (Orlin Wagner/AP)
Kelvin Sampson (Orlin Wagner/AP)
Oklahoma Head Coach Kelvin Sampson

To say Sampson's stock is going out the roof is a staggering understatement. Now in his eighth year as Oklahoma head coach, Kelvin Sampson has guided the Sooners to eight NCAA Tournament berths, including a Sweet 16 showing in 1999 and a current final four showing. Sampson is also one of just two current Big 12 coaches (Kansas' Roy Williams is the other) to make eight straight appearances in the "Big Dance."

Sampson, who holds a 359-221 (.619) career record and a 183-73 (.676) mark at Oklahoma, has led the Sooners to five straight 20-win campaigns and earned national-coach-of-the-year honors in 1995 from the Associated Press, United States Basketball Writers Association and Basketball Weekly after guiding the Sooners to 23-9 overall and 15-0 home marks. Not only is Sampson considered one of the best at his trade currently, but he has the Washington ties you'd like to see if you are Barbara Hedges.

He resuscitated a stumbing Washington State program in his seven years as head coach. He led the Cougars to a 20-11 record and their first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 years in 1994. When Sampson led the Cougars to the National Invitation Tournament in 1992, it marked the first time Washington State had participated in postseason play since 1983. He was named Kodak District 14 Coach of the Year by the National Association of Basketball Coaches for the second time in three years. He first won the award in 1991 when his Cougar squad was 16-12 overall and produced the school's first winning season since 1983. Sampson was also named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in 1992.

Like Jarvis, Sampson has also made his mark on USA basketball. Sampson was the head coach of the United States Junior National Team that participated in the Junior World Games in Athens, Greece, in the summer of 1995. Before that, he was selected to coach at the Goodwill Games in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1994. In 1993, Sampson was selected head coach of the West team at the U.S. Olympic Festival in San Antonio, Texas.

Sampson has had experience coaching with some of the greats, including former Southern California Head Coach George Raveling and former Michign State Head Coach Judd Heathcote. With his star on the rise and contacts within the Northwest, Sampson looks to be the ideal candidate to come back and bring a struggling program back to life. The only problem is that there's no real incentive for him to do so, considering Oklahoma is just starting to reach its peak. It would take a truckload of cash for Kelvin to start looking at other possibilities, and Hedges would have to convinced him that Washington is just as dedicated to hoops as they are to football, not an easy thing to do.

Ritchie McKay (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Ritchie McKay (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Oregon State Head Coach Ritchie McKay

Ritchie McKay just completed his second year at the helm of the Oregon State University basketball program. The 36-year-old McKay, the youngest head coach in the Pac-10 Conference, has compiled a record of 83-89 over the six years he has been a head coach. The record includes revitalizing the Portland State University program, which hadn't fielded a men's basketball team in 15 years.

McKay started his Head Coaching career at Portland State in 1996. He led the program to nine victories in the school's first season since the early 1980s. The team followed with a 15-12 mark in year two and a third-place finish in the Big Sky Conference.

McKay then went to Colorado State for two years, compiling a 37-22 (.627) record, which included a 1999 National Invitation Tournament berth. College Hoops Insider Magazine noticed the success of McKay, and named him the MWC Coach of the Year for 2000.

Much like Romar, McKay has ties to the University of Washington programs, starting his coaching career at Washington in 1988 and also coached for the Huskies in 1994 and 1995. His brother is Orlando McKay, well known receiver and member of the 1991 National championship team. The major question marks seem to be the average win-loss record, and the fact that Ritchie is an in-conference coach. It might be difficult for McKay (or Ben Braun, another example) to make the move from Corvallis to Seattle, but he has made it no secret that he would love to coach the Huskies.

Ben Howland (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ben Howland (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Head Coach Ben Howland

Ben Howland is an intriguing choice. Pittsburgh's basketball program is making steady and unmistakable progress under him and he recently earned 2002 Naismith and United States Basketball Writers Association Coach of the Year honors. His list of achievements is impressive. Pittsburgh's 29-5 record is the best in school history, and they aren't done yet. They play Kent State this weekend.

Howland is 61-34 in three seasons at Pittsburgh and 140-93 in eight years as a head coach. Last year, he led the Panthers to a 19-14 mark and the Big East Championship title game for the first time in school history. Pittsburgh earned an NIT berth in 2001, marking its first postseason invite in four years.

But besides being one of the hottest coaching names in America, Howland has ties to the West Coast, having coached the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks from 1994 to 1999, his last 3 season all having 20+ wins. In 1996-97, the Lumberjacks went 21-7, setting a school record for wins and achieving the 10th biggest single-season turnaround in NCAA history.

Known for his disciplined defense both as a player and coach, Howland looks for, among other things, three important factors when evaluating players: character, athleticism and shooting ability. The latter led Howland to develop the maxim "Recruit to Shoot."

He also has ties to the Northwest, having coached at Gonzaga and John Stockton in 1981 for a year. Would he want to come back to the Northwest for a more permanent position? Howland is hot right now and his stock may never be higher. He's known to turn programs around. Sounds good to me.

Dan Monson (Stephen Dunn/Allsport)
Dan Monson (Stephen Dunn/Allsport)
Minnesota Head Coach Dan Monson

Another coach who has just put in his third season with an up-and-coming program, Dan Monson's name should be familiar to northwest basketball fans. Monson led the Gonzaga Bulldogs within a breath of the Final Four three years ago.

The Spokane native spent 11 years building the Gonzaga program, first as an assistant coach in 1988 and then again 1994-95, when he was elevated to associate head coach under head coach Dan Fitzgerald who was also the athletics director.

Three years later, Monson took over full control of the Gonzaga program. He had an immediate impact leading the Bulldogs to a West Coast Conference title and advancing to the second round of the NIT. Along the way the team set a school record for wins with 24. Monson was the first coach in West Coast Conference history to capture the regular-season title in his rookie season. For his efforts, his WCC peers voted him Coach of the Year and Basketball Times accorded him national Rookie Coach of the Year. His career record in two seasons as head coach of the Zags was 52-17, with an impressive 4-2 mark in postseason play.

He then took over the much-maligned Minnesota program, still reeling from the wake of Clem Haskins' departure and subsequent probation for rule violations. Still, he has compiled a respectable 47-42 record for the Golden Gophers since his arrival and is once again laying the foundation for a successful program. Despite scholarship limitations and injuries to two key starters, Monson brought the maroon and gold to the postseason (NIT) in just his second year.

Is Dan interested in coming back to the Northwest? Sometimes the lure of a job in your home state can be compelling. Monson has done terrific work so far for Minnesota, and it would be hard to imagine him leaving the Gophers at the point when they are poised for a breakthrough. Serious money would have to be thrown Monson's way.

Dana Altman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Dana Altman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Creighton Head Coach Dana Altman

If Hedges is looking for a coach that is known for being able to rebuild programs, Dan Altman could be the guy.

Altman has guided Creighton's Bluejays to an increase in victories in each of the past five seasons, which has resulted in three straight postseason appearances for CU. Last year's team won its first nine games on its way to an overall record of 23-10 and a fourth-place finish in the Valley at 11-7. The Jays cruised through the MVC Tournament, winning all three contests to earn their second straight automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

In 1998-99, Altman earned National Association of Basketball Coaches District 12 Coach of the Year honors after CU went 22-9 and made the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Altman is a seven-time coach of the year recipient who came to CU after compiling a 68-54 record in four seasons (1990-94) at Kansas State. During that time, Altman led the Wildcats to three straight postseason tourneys and was named the Big Eight Conference Coach of the Year after leading Kansas State to a 19-11 record and an appearance at the NCAA Tournament in 1993.

In 13 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach, Altman now has led his teams to either an improved overall winning percentage or victory total eleven times, including ten out of the last eleven years. His win-loss percentage is .580 (224-162)

The only downside to Altman is that he has no ties to the Northwest.

The Next Group - The 'Tweeners'

This next group is comprised of sleepers, long-shots and personal choices. Could one of these coaches emerge from Hedges' short list? We'll see.
Bobby Braswell (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Bobby Braswell (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Cal St. Northridge Head Coach Bobby Braswell

Braswell has been mentioned for a few jobs up and down the West Coast from time to time, but never seems to be in the right place at the right time. He has been the head coach of Cal St. Northridge for the last six years and has compiled a win-loss record of 97-79. Before going 12-16 this past season, Braswell took Cal St. Northridge to back-to-back 20-win seasons and an NCAA tournament berth in 2001.

He has a Pac-10 pedigree, working as an assistant at Oregon from 1992 to 1996, so he understands what it takes to win at this level. The only trouble with Braswell is that his team slipped quite a bit this year, but he is young (late 30's) and brings enthusiasm and the rep of being a good defensive basketball coach.

Paul Westphal (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Paul Westphal (Donald Miralle/Allsport)
Pepperdine Head Coach Paul Westphal

How about an ex-NBA coach with Seattle ties? Then Paul Westphal may be Hedges' guy. The former head coach of the Phoenix Suns and the Seattle SuperSonics recently finished his first year coaching the Pepperdine Waves, a job held at one time by Lorenzo Romar.

Westphal and the Waves made it to the NCAA tourney, only to lose to Wake Forest in the first round. His team ended up 22-8, good enough for a tie for first place in the WCC with Gonzaga.

Westphal brings a lot of coaching experience to the table. With the Suns, he compiled a 191-88 (.685) record in three-plus seasons and guided the team to the 1993 NBA Finals. Additionally, he served as the head coach for two-plus seasons in Seattle beginning in 1998, posting a 76-71 (.515) mark.

Including the playoffs, Westphal's overall NBA head coaching record stands at 294-181, and the .619 winning percentage ranks among the best on the league's all-time chart.

Believe it or not, Pepperdine is Westphal's first D1 coaching job. Would he be interested in coming back to Seattle to coach? He does have a Pac-10 pedigree, having been a three-time All-Pacific 8 Conference performer and a two-time All-American at USC, so it's not out of the realm of possibility.

Tim Floyd (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)
Tim Floyd (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)
Former Chicago Bulls Head Coach Tim Floyd

Another ex-NBA guy that just might be interested in taking over the Washington program is former Idaho head man Tim Floyd. Floyd resigned on December 24, 2001 after compiling a 49-190 record in Chicago, but it's not his NBA career that's of interest.

The reason he became the Bulls' head man was, in part, because of the success he enjoyed as a college head coach. Floyd posted an 81-49 record in his four years at the helm at Iowa State, and is the only coach in Cyclones history to post three consecutive 20-win seasons and lead the team to three straight first-round NCAA Tournament victories.

Before joining Iowa State, Floyd tallied a 127-58 mark in six seasons as head coach at New Orleans. During his tenure, UNO advanced to postseason play five times, including NCAA Tournament appearances in 1991 and 1993, and averaged 21 wins a season. Floyd is one of only four Division I coaches who have won four conference championships in the first five years at their school.

. Floyd's first head coaching assignment was in Moscow, Idaho, where he resurrected the Idaho program in two seasons (1986-88) before moving to New Orleans. In Floyd's first season, the Vandals posted their first winning record in four seasons after three straight last-place Big Sky Conference finishes. His 1987-88 team was the winningest Idaho team in five seasons as the Vandals posted their best league finish in six seasons.

It's clear that Floyd has the resume to throw his hat back into the collegiate ring. The real question is, will he? If Hedges feels strongly that Tim can regain the form he showed when he was at Ames, he just might be the guy to take the Huskies where they want to go.

Rick Majerus (Todd Warshaw/Allsport)
Rick Majerus (Todd Warshaw/Allsport)
Utah Head Coach Rick Majerus

You know a head-coaching search in the Western United States can't go on without a few words about the man who always seems to be mentioned - Utah's Rick Majerus. And with good reason. Majerus is widely considered to be one of the top college coaches of the last two decades, and his record is proof of that.

The Utes had continued an impressive string of seven consecutive conference championships, only to be broken by Steve McClain's Wyoming team. In 18 seasons at Marquette, Ball State and Utah, Majerus has posted an impressive 382-133 career record (.742).

Majerus, who has never had a losing season, has averaged 21 wins a year over the course of his career. He has won 20 games 12 times and 30 games twice. Majerus has also guided ten teams to the NCAA Tournament and four others to the NIT.

In the last eight years, the Utes have claimed five consecutive Western Athletic Conference regular-season championships outright (including divisional titles in 1997, '98 and '99), and won a share of two Mountain West Conference titles (2000 and '01). Utah has also made seven consecutive postseason appearances, including six straight trips to the NCAA Tournament from 1995-2000.

Majerus' feats have earned him widespread recognition. While at Utah, he has won five National Coach of the Year awards: Basketball Times (1991), UPI (1991), Playboy (1992, '98) and John Wooden (1998). Majerus is also a seven-time District Coach of the Year (1991, '93, '95, '96, '97, '98, '99) and a five-time conference Coach of the Year (1991, '93, '95, '97, '99). He was named the Utah Sports Person of the Year in both 1991 and '97.

If Hedges is looking for a 'name' coach that could immediately add marketing value and cache to a suffering program, Majerus is one of the most-likely targets. His name almost always comes up with most jobs, so the Washington job should be no exception? But is he a viable candidate? Depends on whether or not Hedges wants to take a chance on a young, energetic coach or a 'name'.

Steve McClain (Harry How/Getty Images)
Steve McClain (Harry How/Getty Images)
Wyoming Head Coach Steve McClain

Speaking of Mountain West coaches, a coaching search in this area also must include Wyoming's Steve McClain. McClain has attracted national attention by guiding Wyoming to 80 victories in his first four years. He earned Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year honors from MWC media members for the 1999-2000 season, and earned the same honor from CollegeInsider.com for the 2000-01 season. Also during his first four years, he earned berths in the 1999 and 2001 National Invitation Tournaments as well as the 2002 NCAA tournament, where the Cowboys upset Gonzaga.

Prior to accepting the head-coaching position at Wyoming, McClain served as an assistant coach at Texas Christian University for four seasons. While at TCU, McClain helped lead the Horned Frogs from obscurity to a Top 25 ranking and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998. McClain, 39, was an original member of Billy Tubbs' staff at TCU, so it's no surprise that the Horned Frogs are currently looking to retain McClain, so time may be of the essence if Hedges is serious about him as a possible candidate.

"I really like Steve McClain," Telep said. "He is a guy that gets his players to overachieve year in and year out. You can just see it."

Stan Heath (Craig Jones/Getty Images)
Stan Heath (Craig Jones/Getty Images)
Kent State Head Coach Stan Heath

Make no mistake about it; Stan Heath is the hottest coach in America right now. Heath, 36, spent the past five seasons under Michigan State mentor Tom Izzo, establishing MSU as one of the nation's preeminent basketball programs before accepting the Head Coaching spot at Kent State.

Heath took over for Gary Waters and continued Waters' legacy for the Golden Flashes. KSU posted a record of 70-25 and advanced to national postseason tournaments each of the past three seasons before Heath's arrival. All Heath has done is go 27-5 and lead them to a Sweet-16 berth in the 2002 NCAA tournament.

Heath has the reputation of being a great recruiter, recruiting guys like Jason Richardson, Marcus Taylor, Zach Randolph and Kelvin Torbert to Michigan State. The only issue with getting a guy like Heath is that he has absolutely no ties to the Northwest, or even the West Coast, for that matter.

"His ties to the mid-west are so deep that he'll be on the short list for any Big-10 vacancy, so he's probably not in any hurry to go anywhere," said Telep. "And besides, Kent's got a good thing going on right now. It's not a bad place to be at all."

Barry Collier (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)
Barry Collier (Jonathan Daniel/Allsport)
Nebraska Head Coach Barry Collier

Barry Collier was a name that kept popping up when Bender was looking at Texas and Vanderbilt. There was good reason for that too, because all Collier was doing as the mastermind behind Butler was earning a rep as a program-builder.

Collier eventually cashed in his hard work for the head coaching job at the University of Nebraska in 2000, leaving Butler as their winningest coach of all-time. (196-132) Collier's hard work helped Butler earn the reputation as one of the nation's most disciplined teams. In fact, during Collier's head coaching career, his teams have held opponents to 70 points or less in 217 of his 358 games coached and 60 points or less in 112 games. On the glass, his teams were just as solid. Collier has now directed his teams to a positive rebounding margin for 11 straight seasons overall, including an 8.1 advantage during his 1994-95 season.

Currently, he has guided the Cornhuskers to a 27-31 record in his two years coaching the ballclub, but in his last four years at Butler, Collier's teams compiled a 90-39 (.698) overall record and made four consecutive postseason appearances, a Butler school record.

Collier is of interest to Hedges because of his West Coast ties. Starting with Seattle Central Community College, Collier worked as an assistant with SCCC, Idaho, Oregon, and lastly with Stanford from 1977-1989. His stint with the Cardinal was with current Stanford Head Coach Mike Montgomery.

Is Collier interested in getting back to his roots by going out West? Hard to tell. Chances are good he'll stick with the 'Huskers, but expect Barbara to at least give him a call to gauge interest.

The Final Group - The Assistants

Will Barbara Hedges take a gamble and hire an assistant coach to guide the Huskies? Odds are slim that she will, but if she decides to really shake things up and hire much in the same way Missouri did with Quin Snyder, it could happen.

"I really like it when AD's take chances on assistants," Telep said. "I think Washington really needs a high-energy guy that can really kick up recruiting, and getting a top-notch assistant who is known for that is one way to do it."

Here are three assistant coaches that could get calls in the coming weeks.

Dwane Casey (AP/John Froschauer)
Dwane Casey (AP/John Froschauer)
Seattle Sonics Assistant Coach Dwane Casey

Dwane Casey? You bet. Casey is now getting mentioned for some potential NBA head-coaching spots, so why would he look at the Huskies? Well, simple. That opportunity in the NBA may come at some point, but it might not. Here is an opportunity right now in the city he coaches in to be the man right now.

Dwane is in his eighth season with the Sonics coaching staff and in his second as associate head coach. Dwane was promoted to associate head coach in November of 2000 when Nate McMillan was named head coach.

Casey knows how to recruit. He did it well when he was an assistant at Kentucky under the legendary Eddie Sutton from 1985-1990. While at UK, he recruited and coached eventual NBA players Winston Bennett, Sam Bowie, Rex Chapman, LeRon Ellis, Shawn Kemp, Chris Mills, Dirk Minnifield, Irving Thomas and Melvin Turpin. Before his stint at UK, Casey coached under another legend, Clem Haskins, at Western Kentucky for 5 years.

A reach? Perhaps. But Dwane Casey may get some serious consideration from Hedges, and it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Jay John (courtesy TheInsidersHoops.com)
Jay John (courtesy TheInsidersHoops.com)
Arizona assistant coach Jay John

John, who has 14 years of NCAA Division I coaching experience, joined the Arizona program in 1998 after one year at Oregon under Don Monson and eight seasons (1989-97) as an assistant to Barry Collier at Butler University.

Jay is known as a guy who gets a lot out of his guys, especially the big guys. In his first season, he guided a Wildcat frontline that helped the team lead the Pac-10 in rebounding throughout the 1998-2000 seasons. He was instrumental in the development of Michael Wright into a first-team All-Pac-10 and third team All-America pick and a second-round selection by the New York Knicks in last summer's NBA draft. He also helped Loren Woods, the 1999-2000 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year, an honorable mention All-American in his final season and an All-NCAA Final Four pick.

Having already coached at two Pac-10 programs, John brings a current familiarity with the conference that not many other candidates have. At 43, John is ready to move into the ranks of the head coaching community.

John is also the kind of coach that Telep thinks could jump-start Washington's recruiting efforts. "With Arizona, look at the talent base in that region," he said. "It's just not that big. But they have been able to bring in talent from other areas and build a top-notch program. Guys like Jay John have proven track records."

Neil Dougherty (courtesy TheInsidersHoops.com)
Neil Dougherty (courtesy TheInsidersHoops.com)
Kansas assistant coach Neil Dougherty

You may not think a Kansas assistant coach that grew up in Kansas would be a good fit for a Pac-10 program in the Northwest, but Neil Dougherty has plenty going for him.

For the Jayhawks, Dougherty's main duties include recruiting, where he has helped Kansas sign eight McDonald's All-Americans during his tenure. "Neil Dougherty has a map of L.A. in his pocket at all times," said Telep. Drew Gooden and Paul Pierce are two L.A.-area players KU has picked up, and last year they went to Portland to nab Aaron Miles and Michael Lee. Erroll Knight was very interested in the Jayhawks before Bender was able to lock him up.

Besides Roy Williams, whom Dougherty has worked with for the past 8 seasons, he has also worked with Eddie Fogler, a Dean Smith disciple, at Vanderbilt for four years. He was recruited and played one year for Mike Krzyzewski before transferring to Cameron University in Oklahoma.

Dougherty is a hot commodity, as TCU is about ready to lock him up unless Steve McClain gets there first. Whoever gets Neil, 40, will be getting an assistant that is more than ready for his shot as the top guy.

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