It's time for fun baseless speculation time!
Now that it's official with Mizzou issuing a release stating that Coach Tim Fuller won't be returning next year we should take a few minutes to review some possible candidates. It looks like Coach Kim Anderson will be interviewing candidates at the Final Four this year, which is a pretty normal time for interviews to be going on. Who Kim Anderson is going to interview isn't yet known, but there have been a few names kicked around. So we'll start with the 3 names that Gabe DeArmond mentioned, then talk about a few more. If you listened to the podcast, we already touched on one of them. So I wanted to go a bit deeper here.
Photo credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports
Grant's past is pretty solid. He was a hot coaching commodity when he was hired at Alabama 6 years ago. Grant landed some big recruiting wins with several 5-star players and a few high 4-stars also, but was never ever to really translate that into the kind of success that Alabama wanted. Interest was waning in the program, and Grant just didn't present a very interesting style. His teams were always tough, physical, and played menacing defense. But they struggled to score, played at a plodding pace and didn't win enough. Before Bama Grant was a head coach at VCU where he helped elevate the program that Jeff Capel had build there, and Shaka Smart followed Grant by taking them to even higher highs. Before VCU he was an assistant coach under Billy Donovan at Florida and Marshall.
Grant is obviously a very attractive candidate because he can recruit, he knows the SEC, and he's incredibly well respected around the country. Its because of those reasons that Grant will likely have a LOT of options. He could go the ESPN route and be a commentator for a few years waiting for the right job, or he could jump onto just about any Division 1 staff he wanted to. He could also be a hot candidate at several mid-majors, or even at a few high-majors that maybe whiff on their first or second choice. So with that, I just don't see Grant and Mizzou as a connection that is likely to happen. To me this is about as likely as Gregg Marshall to Alabama.
Ray is very similar to Grant in the reasons why he's an attractive candidate, but he's got less of a pedigree so he might be more attainable. Ray was handed a dumpster fire at Mississippi State, and was pretty unceremoniously fired recently for not putting out the fire fast enough. Likely scenario had State sniffing around Ben Howland before firing Ray, essentially serving up Ray as the sacrifice to die on the sword of the crapfest of a program that he inherited, build it back to not a crapfest, and then get fired. Ray deserved better, in my opinion, but that's the business. Before Mississippi State Ray was a hustler for basketball working his way up the chain as an assistant going from Indiana State to Northern Illinois to Purdue to Clemson before getting the job at State.
Ray is a good recruiter, and has a lot of respect in coaching circles, and frankly would be a VERY good hire for Kim Anderson. But like Grant I think he'll have a lot of options. It's probably more likely that Mizzou lands Ray than Grant, but I still think he'll have better chances, and like Grant, could even be a good candidate at a mid-major. It's always difficult when your first head coaching job is at a high-major, and Ray built MSU up steadily. It would be a home run hire if Anderson could lure him to Mizzou for the Associate Head Coach role.
Michael Porter, Sr
Now we get into the fun conversational stuff. Porter is obviously a candidate because he brings experience in coaching and oh yeah he's the father of Michael Porter, Jr. For those that don't follow recruiting, Michael Porter, Jr is a 5-star 2017 stud of a recruit who currently attends Tolton Catholic in Columbia because his dad is an Assistant Coach on the womens team at Mizzou. Porter is a former player who worked his way up through the AAU ranks and took over the role as Director of Basketball Operations for his sister-in-law Robin Pingeton, before moving over as assistant coach.
What is not known is Porters ambitions. He seems happy and very family oriented (he and his wife have 8 kids -- and they all play basketball!), and Pingeton seems to be pretty set in her role as she's recruiting well and turning the program around in Columbia. Is Porter interested in coaching on the mens side? The one downside is his lack of experience recruiting D1 men's basketball. This is a possibility, as Porter wouldn't have to move his familiy, and if he wants to get into coaching Men's basketball this would be the easiest move. And his familial connection could help supplement Mizzou recruiting for the next 10 years, as there are 4 more Porter boys after Michael Jr.
It also looks like Michael Porter Jr. and Namon Wright are forming a friendship, which is nice:
Good, bond together young men... pic.twitter.com/BiAbMd9f8I— Sam Snelling (@SamSnellingRMN) March 26, 2015
Robinson was interviewed last year when the Rob Fulford hire was made. Robinson has worked in D1 basketball for a while and has a good reputation, and has had success in recruiting the Chicagoland area. He's been working with Porter Moser off and on since he was a player at Arkansas Little-Rock, and has coached at Houston, Iowa State and Illinois State. His experience at Houston would put him as a contact for new AD Mack Rhoades.
I'm not sure of how likely Robinson is since he was already passed over once. But he brings Division 1 experience and is a respected recruiter
We talked about this a bit last summer when Fulford was hired. Part of the worry with Anderson was the "getting the band back together" part of the hire. Tate fits that description. There's no doubt that Corey brings positives to the table however, and we should discuss them. First of all, Tate is a former Mizzou player (obviously) who came from Pattonville HS in St. Louis, went to Mineral Area CC (my former school also) and then played 3 years at Mizzou. He spent a year as a Graduate Assistant at Mizzou before playing overseas, then returned to become the assistant and then head coach at Mineral Area. Tate also spends his summers coaching with the St. Louis Eagles AAU club, which is chalk full of players at this point, and it currently slated to coach the 17U team this year with players like Jayson Tatum, Xavier Snead and Tyler Cook... all of whom have offers from Missouri.
Tate is a pretty strong candidate for a variety of reasons, but I worry about the timing. He has obvious Mizzou ties and will be coaching and around some of the best players in the east side of the state and SW Illinois. Those kinds of relationships could give Mizzou unprecedented access to St. Louis basketball in a way it has really never had. Tate has the highest likelihood of the coaches on this list I think. The one downside of Tate is a lack of Division 1 coaching experience.
Tatum is a guy that also had his name floated out there last year. Tatum has coaching pedigree, just not at the college level. Tatum played in high school with Larry Hughes at CBC in St. Louis, and went to SLU for college in an era when several of the top area basketball stars decided to stay at home. Tatum recently got involved in high school coaching and turned around the program at Soldan High School where he was a state champion, before taking over the job at his alma mater CBC, where he won another state title. Tatum can coach, and you won't find an area coach in St. Louis that has faced his teams that would tell you different. The obvious connection to Tatum would be the fact that he is the father of one of the top 2016 recruits in all the land in Jayson Tatum. Tatum is the 2016 version of Michael Porter Jr, a stud 5-star point forward type of player with limitless potential.
Tatum has expressed that he would listen if a college came offering a position on staff, but it would have to be the right move for him, and it might not even mean that you would land his son. The downside to Tatum would be the same as Tate, a lack of experience at the Division 1 level. But there is no doubting Tatum's coaching chops, and his connections to St. Louis and it's players there. I don't really see Mizzou going to Tatum because of the experience factor, but then that would also likely rule out Tate.
In the MOVE-EM-OVER-MOVE-EM-UP side of things, Tibaldi brings experience of already being on the staff and working with the existing coaches for the last year. Tibaldi was a walk-on at Michigan State and after graduating stuck around to be a graduate assistant, then did some scouting and video coordination for the Chicago Bulls before moving to Columbia with the Frank Haith era. He's been in the role of Basketball Operations since. Tibaldi is young, and if you listened to our podcast interview with him, not much of self promoter.
Tibaldi is probably in line for an assistant job at some point, it's just a matter of time. He's a smart, hard working and well liked guy in coaching circles. I don't see him getting this job for a variety of reasons, chief among them is experience, but also because I think Mizzou is likely looking for an African American head coach. And even if that wasn't the case, Tibaldi would have to fight a pretty uphill battle to get on the short list. There will be a lot of experienced coaches on the list at the end of the decision.
Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Welp, I had to put this name on here because Mizzou fans love talking about him, and he recently talked about being a coach next season. There's no question that Kim English is an outspoken ambassador for the University of Missouri. He's well respected for his mind in basketball circles, and still actively playing basketball overseas (or, in this years case, on the same hemisphere, just south). Kim's story is very well documents, he was recruited to Missouri to play under Mike Anderson, and finished his career under Frank Haith as one of the most winningest players in Missouri history. Kim left as a second round draft pick, but never could quite stick in the NBA despite a couple short stints.
English has always professed his love for the University publicly, and that sort of public endorsement has many fans hoping for a triumphant return of it's prodigal son at some point. I expect now that Kim is ready to start coaching he'll have a lot of places to pick from. But I would think that the Missouri job is a little over his head at this point in time, and he'd be best served at a lower level D1 or mid-major at most.
These are the names I'm running with so far. As more information comes out, we'll certainly discuss it. But it's my personal opinion that none of these guys will get the job. The highest chance would probably be Corey Tate, but then Mizzou would be wasting having a former Mizzou player and a guy who is close with Coach Anderson in front of a pretty big trio of players from St. Louis all summer. Plus Tate's lack of experience with Div 1 coaching makes me think it's not going to happen.
Much like players on the roster, Mizzou needs guys who are going to make an impact on the team next year so the less learning on the job that might be required, the better. I suspect over the Final Four weekend, Coach A will interview a LOT of coaches, and come away with somebody with more experience and less pizzazz.