Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Rutgers is targeting Fran Fraschilla, Eddie Jordan and Jim O’Brien to replace Fred Hill, multiple sources with knowledge said.
“I believe they’ve reached out to all three,” a source close to the program said.
The source said Fraschilla, the former St. John’s and Manhattan head coach who now serves as an ESPN analyst, remained the No. 1 choice.
The question is whether Fraschilla, like St. John’s coach Steve Lavin before him, would leave ESPN for a Big East rebuilding project.
Fraschilla politely declined comment when reached Tuesday via text.
“I think what it’s gonna take is a commitment from the university,” the source said. “They have to prove to him that there’s a commitment to the program and if there isn’t then he’s not gonna take the job.”
Bob Hurley, the Hall of Fame St. Anthony coach who has endorsed Robert Morris coach Mike Rice, said he doubts Fraschilla will take the job.
“Both of his sons are in school in Dallas,” Hurley said of Fraschilla. “I have a feeling that he’s just going to stay with ESPN.”
Jordan is a former Rutgers standout who was recently let go by the Philadelphia 76ers and would have to take a pay cut from his NBA days to join his alma mater.
“I think that they’re going to give Eddie Jordan a serious look,” the source said.
Former Rutgers great Phil Sellerstold Gannett New Jersey he thinks his old teammate would be a good fit.
“Some things happen as a blessing in disguise,” Sellers told Jerry Carino. “The program’s going to really need some new life, somebody to come in there and get it back on track, and Eddie can do that with his charisma.”
He added: “It would be a good marriage, not just for the team, but for the school and for the alumni.”
Despite a published report Tuesday that O’Brien, the former Boston College and Ohio State coach, was the leading contender, the source said that was not the case.
“I’ve never heard Jim O’Brien’s name seriously associated with the job,” the source said. “They may sit down with the guy. I know he’s one of the guys that they’re looking at. I don’t think he’s the best coach that’s available to us. I don’t think he’s the answer.”
O’Brien was fired six years ago by Ohio State for alleged NCAA violations, which could factor in considering what just happened with Hill.
“Why do you go out and hire a 61-year-old man with the past that he has to replace a guy who was an abject failure?” the source asked. “If you’re gonna take a chance, take a chance on Fran Fraschilla, who’s high-profile right now and has international connections.”
Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti said he would consult with the New Jersey high school coaches about the decision. Hurley has already endorsed Rice, but Rutgers has not yet contacted Rice, sources said.
“Mike Rice is out,” the source said.
MILLER, BIRUTA UPDATESDane Miller, a 6-7 freshman wing who is arguably the team’s best player now that Mike Rosario is transferring to Florida, has no plans to transfer, according to his AAU coach.
“He hasn’t mentioned it,” said Mickey Walker of Upstate Basketball. “He’s interested to see who the coach is. He likes Fred. He and Fred had a good relationship. He’s worked his way through that. The other people on the staff are trying to help him through it.”
As for Gil Biruta, the 6-8 forward from St. Benedict’s Prep who signed with Rutgers, he will meet with Pernetti later this week, Thursday or Friday, a source with knowledge said.
“I’m just waiting for my release from Rutgers,” Biruta said Saturday at the Jordan Brand Regional Game Saturday at MSG.
“Seton Hall, Maryland, Creighton, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, these are the schools,” he said, referring to schools he’s considering.
Pernetti mentioned Biruta in his conference call Monday night.
“It’s been well-documented that there have been conversations with Mr. Biruta and we will continue to have those conversations,” he said.
(Photos courtesy ESPN and Rutgers Athletics)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.