Big Ten Playbook: Illini coaching candidates. A who's who. And what's up.

A lot of names are being thrown out there in the search for the next Illinois basketball coach.

Gould Headshot square

That’s not a bad thing. John Groce is nearing the end of a five-run that includes a 32-52 Big Ten record and what is likely to be the school’s first four-year NCAA tournament drought since the Big Dance had a field of 32. Groce has had his chance. And hasn’t measured up.

I gave you eight names of possible candidates last week. This week, I’d like to update that—and cross off some potential candidates who would be shocking hires, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m going to divide the names into three categories: I've got five guys who aren’t coming. Five guys who are the most intriguing candidates. And four guys I really don’t have a feel for at this point.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]


Fred Hoiberg. He’s not leaving the Bulls for Illinois.

Jerrance Howard. Not ready for a job like Illinois.

Lon Kruger. Been there. Done that. And he’s as old as me.

Norm Roberts. I like him a lot. But if he struggled at St. John’s, why would he get a shot at Illinois?

Tony Bennett. He’s not leaving Virginia for Illinois.


Dan Muller. Seems to be doing a great job at Illinois State. Would that translate if he moves down I-74?

Tim Jankevich. Doing well at SMU. Would that translate at Illinois? What would be the interest level of this Bill Self protege?

Will Wade. At 34, awfully young. But doing exceptional things in his three years as a head coach—two at Chattanooga, one at VCU. Could be a reach. Could be a home run. Need to do a lot of homework on him.

Steve Wojciechowski. Hasn’t had breakout at Marquette. Yet. But he learned from Mike Krzyzewski. And now, there’s the Chris Collins precedent.


Note: I'm listing these guys in no particular order.

@ Cuonzo Martin. I was skeptical of him initially. Why would a Purdue guy who just agreed to an extention at Cal want the Illinois job? Yeah, he’s an East St. Louis native. But it didn’t make sense to me—and in a way, it still doesn’t.

But I’m hearing from reliable places that he’s interested. And if he really wants the job, he’d be a very interesting hire. As a bonus, former Thornton/Wisconsin star Tracy Webster is his trusted lieutenant.

@ Monty Williams. The former New Orleans Pelicans coach was an Oklahoma City assistant last year, is out of basketball at the moment after the tragic death of his wife in a car accident last year. Former Illini Jerry Colangelo, who heads up USA Basketball, is in the corner of Williams, who was a USA Basketball assistant.

Again, a very interesting prospect if he really wants to be in Champaign.

@ Kevin Keatts. The UNC-Wilmington coach is going to move up this spring. He’ s proven winner at the mid-major level who learned from Rick Pitino. He’s very worthy of thorough consideration.

@ Chris Mack. He’s knocking it out of the park at Xavier. Would he be up to the recruiting intrigues at Illinois?

@ Archie Miller. I initially thought he might be headed for Ohio State, if Thad Matta decided his chronic back troubles force him to resign. But if Matta continues, and I hope he does, Archie Miller is another excellent candidate.[/membership]