Brand-new Vanderbilt Athletic Director Malcolm Turner wasted no time getting rid of Bryce Drew. The Commodores didn’t win an SEC game this season but Drew only had lottery pick Darius Garland for a handful of games before the McDonald’s All-American floor leader went down with a season-ending knee injury in November. Drew was on the bench for just three seasons, went to the NCAA Tournament in his first year and showed the ability to recruit at a high level by getting a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans.
Vanderbilt is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. The sell is the city of Nashville and the academics. The downside are the facilities and the lack of big-time support for the program. Kevin Stallings went to the NCAA Tournament seven times in his 17 years at Vandy and Eddie Fogler went twice in four seasons.
Malcolm Turner – He took over on Feb. 1 as the athletic director following a five-year stint as the NBA’s G-League director. He has no experience in college athletics but his academic credentials are impressive. He went to North Carolina and then to Harvard for his MBA. Turner also worked for Wasserman Media Group in its golf division.
Men’s Basketball Hires: None
TAKE A SWING
Thad Matta – He could have had Georgia a year ago and no one is sure whether he truly wants to get back into coaching. It depends on his health. Matta’s credentials are extremely impressive – a title game appearance, another Final Four and going to the NCAA Tournament just about every season he was at Ohio State.
Mike Brey, Notre Dame – Brey is pretty comfortable in South Bend but now is the time to move – if he’s ever going to leave for another spot. The Irish have struggled the last couple of years.
Tommy Amaker, Harvard – It’s unlikely he leaves Boston for this one, but it’s worth the call. He’s done an incredible job at Harvard over the past decade.
Shaka Smart, Texas – Smart actually fits well with the Vandy program but the issue will likely be money. Would Smart leave cash on the table when he’s owed a ton by Texas? Only if he can get a lengthy, lucrative deal and that means Vandy would have to step up.
Steve Prohm, Iowa State – He’s more apt to leave Ames for Tuscaloosa since he’s an Alabama alum. But he should be on a short list as he fits Vandy in many ways.
John Thompson III – The former Georgetown head man has been at ESPN the last couple years. He’s a safe pick in a sense that he took the Hoyas to the NCAA Tournament eight times in 13 seasons but Georgetown only went once in his final four years.
Mike Rhoades, VCU – He’s had experience at a high academic school when he was at Rice and he got VCU back into the NCAA Tournament this season. Rhoades, 46, also has experience grinding at Division III Randolph-Macon.
Mike Young, Wofford – He’s now gone to the NCAA Tournament five times, including earning a No. 7 seed this season and nearly knocking off Kentucky in the second round. Young can coach but the question would be whether he could recruit in the SEC.
John Brannen, Northern Kentucky – The former Alabama assistant has been tremendous at Northern Kentucky, taking a program that recently went through a transition into the DI ranks to the NCAA Tournament twice in the last three years.
James Jones, Yale – He’s obviously had success at a high-academic institution. Jones has turned the program around the last handful of years and Yale has gone toe-to-toe with Harvard. Jones has made a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances in the last four seasons.
Matt McMahon, Murray State – He should be a hot name with taking the Racers to the NCAA Tournament the last two seasons and also recruiting a kid named Ja Morant.
Russell Turner, UC Irvine – He was a former Stanford assistant who has taken the Anteaters to the NCAA Tournament twice and this year they pulled the upset over Kansas State.
Ryan Odom, UMBC – The Retrievers pulled the ultimate upset a year ago, becoming the first No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed. He’s also got the bloodlines with his father, Dave, being a former Wake Forest head coach.
Earl Grant, College of Charleston – He inherited a mess and has taken the program to the NCAA Tournament and also to the NIT. He’s won at least 24 games each of the last three seasons and hails from Charleston.
Casey Alexander, Lipscomb – The schools are close in proximity and Alexander led the Bison to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and to a regular-season title this season. He’s obviously a long shot.
OUT OF LEFT FIELD
Jerry Stackhouse – Turner ran the G-League and Stackhouse was the G-League Coach of the Year. Turner also has a degree from North Carolina, and Stackhouse was a former UNC star. You never know …
MY PICK – Thad Matta – I’ve spoken to him recently and Matta seems much healthier than he was a couple years ago. He’s clearly done the most of anyone on this list and would be a nice fit down in Nashville for Vandy.
WHO I THINK THEY WILL WIND UP HIRING: John Thompson III – He seems to have the most momentum and he’s coached at a couple of academic institutions: Princeton and Georgetown.