10 candidates Ole Miss may consider to replace Andy Kennedy as men’s basketball coach

Andy Kennedy announced on Monday that the 2017-18 season would be his last as the Ole Miss men’s basketball coach.

After 12 seasons of marriage to the former Cincinnati coach, the Rebels must look to replace the program’s all-time wins leader with its next hire. That’s no easy task for Ross Bjork, who just recently completed the task of naming a new Ole Miss football coach when he removed the interim tag from Matt Luke’s title after a 6-6 effort as Hugh Freeze’s temporary replacement in 2017.

With the Rebels hoops program sporting an 11-14 record and in danger of its first losing record since Kennedy arrived in 2006, it’s clear the next coach may have some work cut out for him.

But the SEC has increased its profile as a basketball conference on the national scene this season, producing at least nine teams deemed worthy of NCAA Tournament consideration by ESPN bracket expert Joe Lunardi. With accomplished coaches such as John Calipari, Frank Martin, Bruce Pearl and Ben Howland calling the league home, it may be as easy as ever to sell an outsider on grabbing one of the 14 head coaching gigs in the league otherwise known for football, baseball and softball excellence.

Or do the Rebels go with the familiarity route instead? It’ll be an interesting coaching search to follow.

The Clarion-Ledger’s Hugh Kellenberger and Antonio Morales recently released a list of eight candidates to replace Kennedy:

  • Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee coach
  • Dan Hurley, Rhode Island coach
  • Eric Musselman, Nevada coach
  • Darris Nichols, Florida assistant coach
  • Jon Scheyer, Duke assistant coach
  • Earl Grant, College of Charleston coach
  • Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast coach
  • Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State coach

Meanwhile, RebelGrove.com’s Eric Bossi also produced a list of potential candidates to become the next Ole Miss coach:

  • Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee coach
  • Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast coach
  • Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State coach
  • Earl Grant, College of Charleston coach
  • Penny Hardaway, Memphis East High coach/former NBA player
  • Steve Prohm, Iowa State coach

Let’s take a little closer look at the four names that overlap both lists coming out of Oxford news sources.

Kermit Davis, Middle Tennessee

This isn’t the first time that the Blue Raiders coach has been mentioned as a prime candidate in a Power 5 search, yet he still remains in Murfreesboro, Tenn. as one of the top coaches in Conference USA. Davis has been at Middle Tennessee since 2002, and is looking for his third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. His team has advanced to the Round of 32 in each of the last two tournaments, with upset wins against Michigan State and Minnesota bringing plenty of attention to his program. Davis, who owns a 332-187 record at Middle Tennessee, is now 58 years old and may be facing a “now or never” decision on moving into a Power 5 league. Davis is a Mississippi native, though his past stints at Mississippi State may be a red flag for Rebels purists.

Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast

Thanks to the work of former Florida Gulf Coast coach Andy Enfield, “Dunk City” has become a basketball hot bed in the years since his team’s 2013 run to the Sweet 16. Enfield road that success to a new gig at USC, and Joe Dooley was the man who took over and continued the excellence in Fort Myers, Fla. Since that well-publicized tournament run, Dooley has maintained success at Florida Gulf Coast by running up a 111-54 record and placing the team in the NCAA Tournament during each of the last two seasons. At 52, Dooley has plenty of coaching life left if the Rebels decide to make a move.

Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State

Forbes is a former assistant coach of Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall who has made it on his own at East Tennessee State. Last season, Forbes led the Buccaneers to the NCAA Tournament on the heels of a 27-win season. His 72-24 record through three seasons with East Tennessee State has turned some heads, and the former Tennessee assistant also has some familiarity with the league from his time working with the Vols under Bruce Pearl.

Earl Grant, College of Charleston

Another former Gregg Marshall assistant, Earl Grant offers a younger alternative to the names other three candidates who appeared on both lists. At 41, the best coaching days are likely ahead for the College of Charleston head coach. Grant earned the CAA coach of the year award in 2017 after a 25-win season earned his squad a trip to the NIT, and he’s followed that success with another strong performance so far this season. Already at the 20-win plateau with room to spare, Grant is aiming to land his team in the Big Dance this time around. The South Carolina native’s roots are deep in that area, though, making the former Clemson assistant a candidate to hang around the Palmetto State where he enjoys a strong recruiting advantage.

The post 10 candidates Ole Miss may consider to replace Andy Kennedy as men’s basketball coach appeared first on SEC Country.

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