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Monday, August 14, 2006

Barbee May Take Milt Wagner with Him to UTEP

Memphis assistant Barbee to take over UTEP

Aug. 13, 2006
By Gary Parrish, CBS Senior Writer

Memphis assistant Tony Barbee will replace Doc Sadler as the coach at UTEP, a source with knowledge of the situation told CBS Sunday. An official press conference in El Paso could come as early as Monday.

Barbee interviewed with UTEP athletic director Bob Stull on Saturday morning in Dallas. He was selected over multiple candidates, among them Kansas assistant Tim Jankovich, Texas assistant Rodney Terry and LSU assistant Butch Pierre.

A 35-year-old graduate of UMass, Barbee is known as a great recruiter, and is the man responsible for landing much of Memphis' talent in recent years, including NBA first-round pick Rodney Carney. He will compete in Conference USA against his mentor and college coach, John Calipari, and do so from what is likely the second-best job in the league.

Barbee inherits a program that is rich in tradition, yet short on relevant returnees from a squad that went 21-11 overall -- 11-3 in Conference USA games -- last season. Gone are the Miners' top four scorers, including frontcourt standouts Jason Williams (15.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game) and John Tofi (13.9 points and 9.2 rebounds). The best returning players are senior point guard Kevin Henderson (started all 31 games last season) and wing Stefon Jackson, the latter of whom endured a broken jaw early during his freshman campaign but recovered nicely to average 8.0 points in 25.2 minutes per contest.

Maurice Thomas, a 6-8 sophomore forward, is the only other current Miner who scored a point last season. He averaged 3.1 points in 10.6 minutes per game.

As far as completing a staff, a source told CBS that Barbee will likely try to keep current UTEP assistant David Anwar, who has been the Miners' link to the East Coast. Anwar is the former coach at Lutheran Christian Academy in Philadelphia, and was the key to UTEP landing four prospects from Philadelphia who are on the 2006-07 roster, among them Jackson and Thomas.

It's also possible Barbee could -- with the expected-blessing of Calipari -- take Milt Wagner with him to UTEP, the lure being a more prominent role on staff. Wagner has been the director of basketball operations at Memphis since Calipari took over prior to the 2000-2001 campaign, working last year behind Barbee and fellow assistants Derek Kellogg and John Robic.

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