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Kumar: Interesting candidates for Temple MBB heading coaching job

03/20/2023, 12:00pm EDT
By Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar (@vrkumar8)

Temple University relieved Aaron McKie of his duties as head men’s basketball coach last week after four years on the job. The former Owls star, who also played in the city for the 76ers, seemed poised for a breakout year in his fourth season before the team finished disappointingly down the stretch. 

Without any teams in the NCAA Tournament, tha men’s City 6 hoops talk for the last week has been centered around who will be the next Temple men’s basketball coach. Colgate’s Matt Langel, a former Temple assistant under Fran Dunphy who has led his team to the last four NCAA Tournaments, is a popular name brought up to fill the position. Here are some other interesting names who might be up for the job:

Grant Billmeier, Maryland assistant coach
A longtime assistant to current Maryland head coach Kevin Willard, Billmeier joined the Terrapins after 11 seasons at his alma mater, Seton Hall. Billmeier has been known to be a strong recruiter in the northeast and perhaps more intriguing to Temple fans, has honed in his chops as a big man development coach, tutoring the likes of Angel Delgado, Ish Sanogo, and Romaro Gill. He was in the mix last year to replace Shaheen Holloway at Saint Peter’s. 

Aki Collins, Penn State assistant coach
One of Micah Shrewsberry’s first hires at Penn State, Collins has been known as an ace recruiter since he got into coaching. He has served in an assistant role at Marquette under Buzz Williams, and also with Temple’s league foe Memphis under Josh Pastner, among others. Collins also served as a scout in the Oklahoma City Thunder organization for five seasons.

Chris Caputo, George Washington head coach
Caputo spent twenty years alongside Jim Larranaga at both George Mason and Miami. Caputo was on the bench for GMU’s Cinderella Final Four run in 2006, as well as during Miami’s ascent as an ACC power over the last decade. Caputo has been a strong recruiter, particularly in recruiting arguably the country’s most talent laden region in the DMV. In his first year back in the nation’s capital, Caputo led George Washington to his first .500 or better season since 2016-17.

Kim English, George Mason head coach
The former Missouri star from Baltimore has been a fast rising star in the coaching world. English got his first head coaching job at age 32, just six years after getting into coaching, and seemingly has the “it” factor that Temple desperately needs in re-engaging the fanbase. On the basketball side of things, English has been instrumental in coaching defense, and been a fantastic recruiter as well, including landing 5-star guard Kennedy Chandler at Tennessee. In two years at George Mason, English has beaten out several Power 5 schools for a couple of players in Justyn Fernandez and Devin Dinkins.

Bruiser Flint, Kentucky associate to the head coach
Simply put, Bruiser Flint is one of the most affable, well-liked coaches in the country. Flint is a Philadelphia native, an Episcopal Academy and Saint. Joseph’s alum who is best known for his 15-year stint as head coach at Drexel. Flint made five NITs with the Dragons, including two teams that were infamously robbed of an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Flint is a top-notch defensive tactician, and was known for finding and developing diamond-in-the-rough players at Drexel. He also led successful recruitments of highly sought-after players at UMass, both as head coach and also as the top assistant to John Calipari.

Adam Fisher, Penn State associate head coach
A Bucks County native, Fisher was Micah Shrewsberry’s first hire in Happy Valley. The Penn State alum spent time under Jay Wright at Villanova as a graduate assistant, and then as a support staffer for Pat Chambers at Boston University and Penn State. Fisher then made his mark at Miami and was the lead recruiter on area commits Lonnie Walker and Isaiah Wong. Fisher checks a lot of boxes for a program that has lost a lot of cache with local prospects.

Chris Gerlufsen, San Francisco head coach
Despite being a West Coast guy for much of the last decade, Gerlufsen is a Philadelphia native, West Chester East graduate and is also the son of John Calipari’s UMass predecessor Ron Gerlufsen. Gerlufsen is actually part of the John Chaney tree, having spent time on Dan Leibovitz’s Hartford staff in the late 2000’s. Gerlufsen served as interim head coach at Hawaii a few years back and last offseason was promoted to head coach of the Dons after Todd Golden left the Bay Area for Florida after players campaigned hard to promote him. Might be a bit early, but he did have a mid-tier WCC school ranked in the Top 100 again.

Jonas Hayes, Georgia State head coach
Hayes also has just one year under his belt but gained a reputation for being one of the elite recruiters in the country. Hayes spent the previous four seasons at Xavier and coached the Musketeers to an NIT championship after the firing of Travis Steele as the interim coach. Hayes was a candidate at both Xavier and at his alma mater, Georgia, last offseason. Hayes is also well regarded as a big-man developer, dating back to his time at UGA with Nic Claxton and Yante Maten.

Karl Hobbs, Rutgers associate head coach
Hobbs is probably the most familiar name to Temple fans, as the successful head coach of Atlantic 10 rival George Washington for ten seasons. Hobbs was a longtime Jim Calhoun assistant at UConn, vital in developing Ray Allen’s jumpshot, and lead recruiter on several Huskies stars such as Coatesville’s Rip Hamilton. Hobbs’ tenure as Colonials head coach was also stellar – three straight tournament appearances from 2005-2007, two Atlantic 10 titles that included a perfect 16-0 conference season. Hobbs’ head coaching tenure ended with poor on court results when GW severely tightened admissions requirements in the wake of the Washington Post story that questioned the academic credentials of some players. The Massachusetts native has spent the last decade back as an assistant, winning another national title at UConn and then building the Rutgers program from scratch under Steve Pikell. Hobbs was deeply in the mix last year at La Salle.

Mike Jones, Virginia Tech associate head coach
Jones has only been a college coach for two seasons, but prior to joining Mike Young’s staff in Blacksburg, Jones spent 19 years at one of the pre-eminent high school hoops powerhouses in the country in DeMatha (Md.). Jones won eight WCAC crowns in his time there. It would be somewhat of an out of the box hire at this point, but Jones is royalty in the DMV, and making inroads in the region would simply be very beneficial to Temple.

Mike Jones, UNC-Greensboro head coach
Another Mike Jones? Yes. Jones is in year two in Greensboro after a decade at Radford. Jones turned the Highlanders into a consistent Big South power by the end of his tenure. Jones recruited and developed an NBA player at Radford in Javonte Green, and also has high major experience. Jones was on John Beilein’s staffs at Richmond and West Virginia, spent six years at Georgia, before landing at VCU with Shaka Smart and the 2011 Final Four team. Jones is well connected in his hometown of Washington DC, as well.

Brandin Knight, Rutgers associate head coach
Like Hobbs, Knight has played a large role in elevating Rutgers from the worst Power 5 program into a legit NCAA Tournament contender. Knight elevated Pitt similarly as a player under Ben Howland, then returned to his alma mater after a brief pro career, as a Jamie Dixon staff member. The New Jersey native has become an elite level recruiter, reeling in five star 2024 prospect Ace Bailey to the Scarlet Knights program and has RU in the mix for several other very highly touted prospects including another five-star in Dylan Harper. Knight has done a great job in developing guards over the years, and was so beloved by Pitt’s players that they pushed for then AD Scott Barnes to hire him in 2016 to replace Dixon. Knight was in the mix last year to replace Shaheen Holloway at St. Peter’s but got a big raise to stay in Piscataway.

Darren Savino, UCLA associate head coach
Savino is a New York metro guy through and through. The longtime Mick Cronin top lieutenant at both Cincinnati and UCLA is a St. Anthony’s alum, and has spent time on the staffs at Seton Hall, St. John’s and Rutgers among other stops. Savino has been an elite recruiter, including landing a McDonald’s All American in Mike Rosario at Rutgers, and has also been in charge of developing the frontcourt for Cronin’s programs. Savino would also bring a defensive identity back to any program he takes over.

Tony Skinn, Maryland assistant coach
A starter for George Mason’s 2006 Final Four team, Skinn is as connected to the DMV hoops scene as any. Skinn started his coaching career as an assistant for arguably the best grassroots program in the country in Nike’s Team Takeover. After entering the college game, Skinn has been at four schools, including positions on Kevin Willard’s staffs bookending a year at Ohio State where worked closely with first round pick Malaki Branham. Skinn also was instrumental in the development of star Seton Hall guard Myles Powell.

Keith Urgo, Fordham head coach
A longtime assistant to Pat Chambers at Penn State, Urgo finds himself on the radar after delivering Fordham its first 20-win season since it joined the Atlantic 10 in the mid-90s. The Washington, D.C. native has experience in the Big 5, having spent time on Jay Wright’s staff in various roles, including as an assistant for two seasons. At Penn State, Urgo helped land the strongest recruiting classes in program history, focusing heavily on prospects from Philadelphia and the DMV (many of whom Temple strongly pursued). Urgo joined Kyle Neptune’s staff at Fordham after Chambers was let go at PSU, and was promoted to head coach after Neptune left after players heavily campaigned for him. *Urgo signed an extension last week*

Jason Williford, Virginia associate head coach
Williford has had as large a role as any in elevating Virginia into a national power. Williford is a Richmond native and UVA alum and has not left Charlottesville since Tony Bennett brought him aboard his initial staff in 2009. He recruited some of the best Cavaliers players in this era, including Philly’s De’Andre Hunter and former Sixer Justin Anderson. Virginia has built its program into Top 10 status without blue chip players, which should appeal to most programs anywhere in the country looking to hire a coach. Williford was connected to the American job but appears to be in no rush landing a head coaching gig. Would he consider leaving the Virginia area?

Christian Webster, Virginia Tech assistant coach
Less than a decade removed from his playing days at Harvard, Webster has been a fast riser in the coaching business even for fast-riser standards. The former team captain for the Crimson immediately joined the coaching ranks after his playing days and is well-entrenched in his hometown of Washington DC. Retaining Webster was a priority for VT’s head coach Mike Young when he took over for Buzz Williams in 2019, and has been well-beloved by his players. It’s a matter of when, not if, he’ll become a head coach. He has a strong track record of developing guards, including Hokies standouts Justin Robinson, Wabissa Bede and first round pick Nickeil Alexander-Walker. 

Kimani Young, UConn associate head coach
A New York native that has grinded his way up to Dan Hurley’s top assistant spot, Young looks primed to land a head coaching job soon. He was a standout on a few of the legendary Don Haskins’ final UTEP teams as a player and was involved in the grassroots scene in the Big Apple for about a decade. Young joined the college ranks under Richard Pitino at FIU and Minnesota, gaining a reputation as an ace recruiter. At Minnesota and UConn, he recruited local standouts Ahmad Gilbert and Jalen Gaffney, as well as a long list of New York metro and New England Prep school standouts. Young has a track record of developing guards and was reportedly in the mix at UMass last year.

Fran Dunphy, La Salle head coach
He left a Big 5 rival for Temple once before right? 

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