Thursday, May 08, 2008
Sunday evening blog, Posted by Dan Wolken
Sunday evening blog
Posted by Dan Wolken
I went to Atlanta this week to cover the Wesley Witherspoon announcement, which obviously went the way I expected it to go. Witherspoon will be a nice addition, and he’s a fun kid who will be interesting to cover as a college player. He has lots of personality, which I will write more about in the paper soon.
Someone who does a high school sports show in the Atlanta area was there and mentioned to me that Witherspoon will be a big help for Memphis because he can make free throws. I asked Witherspoon what his percentage was, but he didn’t know. “I didn’t miss many,” he said.
- Talk about reloading. The new name that has come up for the open assistant coaching position is Arizona’s Josh Pastner, as first mentioned in the blog of Dick “Hoops” Weiss. After talking to some people this weekend, Pastner is indeed in the mix, and I would not be surprised if something happens this week.
If Pastner is hired, it’s huge for Memphis. Usually, when you lose one of the best recruiters in the country — as Derek Kellogg was — you can’t immediately replace them with somebody who is just as good. But make no mistake, Pastner is absolutely in Kellogg’s league as a recruiter.
When I first heard about Pastner, I was a bit skeptical at first. For one thing, he played at Arizona (though he didn’t play much as a walk-on) and has been there as an assistant for awhile. And Arizona is an elite program in its own right. But the more I’ve heard about the situation there, the more it makes sense. Things are pretty chaotic in Tucson right now. Lute Olson is back, but Kevin O’Neill is gone and assistant Miles Simon was let go just a couple days ago. So pretty much an entirely new staff will be on the sideslines there. Pastner might also feel as though he’s spinning his wheels a bit at Arizona. His name has come up for a couple head coaching jobs recently but hasn’t broken through, and obviously Memphis has been a good situation for assistants. Pastner is from Texas, and obviously with four C-USA programs in that state, his name would be hard to ignore for any opening in the league. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if more money is involved, as the Pac-10 pay scale isn’t overly impressive (according to the Tucson Citizen, Simon was making $90,000 a year, which is less than what Memphis assistants make).
– The other name that has been out there with the Memphis opening is Oregon assistant Kenny Payne, another highly-regarded recruiter. I’m not sure that’s totally out of the question at this point, but I’m told Payne is reluctant to leave especially after bringing a couple of big-time guys from Chicago all the way out to Oregon this fall.