Last week we brought you the first installment of the “Early names to watch in the NC State coaching search.’ That list included what we believe is NC State’s top targets including Archie Miller, Will Wade, Gregg Marshall and Chris Holtmann. Since that post we have talked to numerous sources that confirmed some of these names as candidates. Here is what we’ve heard.
– Archie Miller is going to listen. However, everyone we’ve talked to has kind of backed off any optimism that he’ll actually take the job.It seems as if the consensus is that Miller wants the OSU job and if that opens he’s gone. Some believe he’ll wait it out at Dayton for that job to open.
– The Will Wade watch is heating up. We have confirmed that the big money at NC State loves Wade and believes he’d be great fit with the Wolfpack. We’ve also been told that they believe he’s at least somewhat interested. His ACC ties (Clemson) and his confidence in taking a challenging job make it seem like he’ll at least listen. Wade is also an upcoming who you might be able to get at a decent price. We think that number sits around $2.5 – $3 million.
– Gregg Marshall seems to be the home run hire here. While money motivates everyone, Marshall is a true competitor and a guy that you have to believe doesn’t want to retire with any ‘what-ifs.’ He believes he’s a upper-echelon coach and the thought is that before he’s done he’ll want to try and prove that status. There’s no better way to do that than going head to head with two hall of famers in Roy and K. Marshall also is a high ego guy, so he doesn’t want to play second fiddle. If you want Marshall we’re being told that the offer needs to be huge and that he needs to feel like he’s your #1 guy.
– Everyone we’ve reached out to on Holtmann have said that they haven’t heard anything from either his side or NC State’s side. Does this mean he’s not being considered? I wouldn’t go that far, but as of now, there isn’t much to report.
– This is not coming from our sources, but numerous reports say that NC State will be going with an agency to handle the search. If true, it’s a good move. We’re trying to find out who NC State will be using, but we haven’t gotten any word on that just yet.
With all that being said, let’s take a look at the next tier of coaches to watch for.
Kevin Keatts (UNCW)
We’ve spoken to two separate sources that said Keatts is definitely interested and both seem to believe if the offer was right that he would take the job. Keatts was a top assistant for Pitino at Louisville and has turned UNCW from a bottom dweller into a conference powerhouse. But don’t start thinking that the Pack is just going to take Keatts and be done with this. It seems as if NC State views him as a nice option, but someone with a little more risk involved. For one, his defense at UNCW has left much to be desired, and a big qualifier for this job is going to be a coach who puts defense as a priority. He also hasn’t been a head guy for too long and coaching in the ACC is a different animal altogether. Can he cut it? Some believe he can and that his recruiting prowess and connections to this area would help him significantly.
Chis Mack (Xavier)
We haven’t gotten any concrete info that points to Mack being a major candidate for this job, but he does fit the mold of a guy that NC State could be looking at. He’s been very successful at Xavier, taking them to 6 NCAA tournaments in 7 years (including 3 Sweet 16s.) It’s believed that in the next few years Mack could be looking for a more high-profile gig. Should NC State reach out to Mack? Well he’s been extended through 2022, but it’s not like he’s making a ton. As of now he’s making in the $1.5 range, so could $2.5 pull him away? Who knows. One major thing to consider is that Xavier is his Alma-mater, so there are some personal ties to his current school that might make this tough.
Tom Crean (Indiana)
Crean is likely on his way out at Indiana unless his team turns it around in the final month. Again, as is the case with Mack, we haven’t gotten any chatter from the NC State side on this, but we wanted to throw his name out anyways. As a top tier coach that is going to be job hunting, he might take a look at the Wolfpack’s opening. Now, he is making over $3 million, so he’s in the Gregg Marshall range as far as salary goes, but looking at his resume, it’s not all that impressive. Sure, he dominated at Marquette in his early years, and then he turned around Indiana and got them back on the national stage, but is he an upgrade from Gottfried? Take away his 3 ‘rebuilding years’ and you have something pretty similar. Four NCAA tournaments in 5 years, with three Sweet 16s. This year the Hoosiers have been a disaster and there is talk that he’s lost his team and fans aren’t liking the direction of the program. Sounds a lot like the current situation here, which probably gives some real hesitation to this hire.
Vinny Del Negro (retired from NBA)
There were rumors when Sidney Lowe was being hired that Del Negro had reached out to NC State. We’re not sure exactly how real that interest was, but once again we’re hearing his name pop up around this coaching search. According to our sources within NC State, nobody wants to go the NBA route with this hire. The feeling is that the Pack has already been burned by a NBA guy and that while Del Negro has earned his keep at the NBA level, building and running a college program takes a whole different skill set. Maybe Vinny has that skill set, but we don’t believe NC State is going to be very interested in finding out. Had State not gone the Sidney Lowe route, maybe Vinny would be a more intriguing option, but right now the focus is on a program builder with a proven track record.
So there is your second teir of coaches. Certainly not as exciting, but we want to bring up all the possible names and let you know what we are hearing. As of now we believe the first leg of the search is going to be focused on Miller, Marshall or Wade. See if you can land one of those guys and go from there. We will continue to bring up names as they are floated. We’ll be back later in the week to talk about some dark horses in the search, including Scott Drew, Greg McDermott, and Mick Cronin.