Avery Johnson was considered a pretty big get for the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball program when he was hired, given his NBA success. After just four seasons, he is on his way out.
Johnson, who was 75-62 with the Crimson Tide, and the school agreed to a buyout over the weekend. The move made Alabama the third program in the SEC to open this month, following Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.
There are now four. Moments ago, Arkansas elected to move on from longtime head coach Mike Anderson after eight seasons.
Along with jobs like BYU, Cal, Nebraska, St. Joe’s, Temple, UCLA, UNLV, and Washington State, and there are a bunch of notable openings. That doesn’t even count precarious situations at places like Arizona and LSU.
Many of the same names will come up for a number of those job.
AL.com has outlined some of the major names to follow as potential Alabama basketball hires to replace Avery Johnson.
The prediction that writer Creg Stephenson ultimately lays out is Steve Prohm of Iowa State. Of course, that was before the Cyclones coach landed an extension after clinching a six-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Excited to announce we have agreed to a contract extension with @CoachProhm through 2025. Awesome to have a basketball coach that fits our department's culture of excellence while also having integrity, kindness and humility.
— Jamie Pollard (@IASTATEAD) March 26, 2019
So given what will be a massive buyout coming on the heels of that extension, Prohm is almost definitely off the board.
From there, we’ve heard Pitino rumors with a number of schools, including UCLA and UNLV. He’s more or less ruled out the Rebels job, as the school just fired his former assistant Marvin Menzies.
Alabama provides no such conflict for him, and he didn’t deny (or confirm) interest in the Alabama job when asked recently.
The guy Stephenson says would be his pick is former Ohio State head coach Thad Matta. Matta was connected to the Georgia job last year, and has come up for UNLV as well.
The only question with Matta is health, as chronic back problems ended his run at Ohio State and caused him to turn down the Georgia job last year. If he’s up to the workload, Matta — who made two Final Fours with the Buckeyes — would be a slam dunk hire and would win a lot of games at Alabama.
Other major names he brings up: former UAB and Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy, former Iowa State and Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg (who may be Nebraska-bound already), and a trio of coaches with current jobs.
Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin and Texas Tech’s Chris Beard are both listed. Cronin is coming off of yet another first weekend NCAA Tournament flame out, though his Bearcats’ nine straight bids would be a huge step up for the Crimson Tide. Beard, meanwhile, has the Red Raiders in the Sweet 16, after an Elite Eight run last year. He’s quickly turned Tech into a top Big 12 team in short order. His buyout is reportedly a major issue though.
Beard has risen in a short time from mid-major success at Little Rock to back-to-back Sweet 16s at Texas Tech and is the kind of up-and-comer Alabama thought it had in Anthony Grant. However, Beard has coached most of his career in Texas (where he grew up) and his buyout is reportedly more than $12 million.
Another name getting a lot of talk is Kelvin Sampson, whose Houston Cougars face Kentucky this week in the Sweet 16. Houston was dominant in the AAC this season. Alabama will have competition though.
I know Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas A&M are all interested in Kelvin Sampson (particularly Arkansas), but so is UCLA. Gotta think UCLA would have the leg up in that race, right?
— Brian Rauf (@brauf33) March 26, 2019
Clearly Alabama wasn’t happy with one brief Tournament appearance in four years, but they chose a pretty competitive off-season in which to open up the job.