Coaching Carousel: Rice to Return to UNLV; Brannen Named Interim Coach at Alabama; George Mason Fires Hewitt; Penn Hires Donahue | Zagsblog
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Thursday / May 19.
  • Coaching Carousel: Rice to Return to UNLV; Brannen Named Interim Coach at Alabama; George Mason Fires Hewitt; Penn Hires Donahue

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    20150312_Sun_UNLV__MW_SanDiego_LE10_t653This is the time of year when the Coaching Carousel turns fast and furious, and we will be posting updates here as news warrants.

    Among Monday’s highlights:

    **UNLV coach Dave Rice will get at least another year after his status seemed uncertain heading into Monday.

    “Coach Rice and Coach [Todd] Simon both reached out to reassure me that he’s got multiple years on his contract as per the UNLV AD,” Mark Poyser, father of 2015 commit Jalen Poyser, told SNY.tv. “They are both committed to Jalen Poyser.”

    Rice finished seventh in the Mountain West this year with an 18-15 record and is 89-47 overall at UNLV. He has made two NCAA Tournament appearances without winning a game.

    More from the Las Vegas Sun:

    The 2015-16 season figures to be tournament or bust for Rice, who will have redshirts Jerome Seagers and Ben Carter available, along with several returning players and incoming signee Jalen Poyser and commit Derrick Jones.

    The Rebels are also a finalist for Bishop Gorman High center Stephen Zimmerman, a top-10 player in the class of 2015 whose high school coach, Grant Rice, is Dave’s younger brother. It was widely believed, though not a certainty, that a coaching change would ensure Zimmerman went elsewhere.

    On the current roster, sophomore Christian Wood and freshman Rashad Vaughn figure to have decisions about whether to put their names in the NBA Draft. It’s unclear whether this affects their decisions.

    Wood has been expected for months to make the jump, while Vaughn’s situation is more up in the air — based largely on his lower projected draft status and the knee injury that ended his season Feb. 10. Vaughn tore the meniscus in his left knee after missing much of the offseason recovering from surgery to his right knee.

     

    BRANNEN NAMED INTERIM AT ALABAMA

    After firing Anthony Grant on Sunday, Alabama named associated head coach John Brannen the interim head coach heading into the NIT.

    Brannen will lead the Tide in its NIT opener on Tuesday night vs. Illinois. The game will air on ESPN.

    As of Tuesday morning, the Alabama roster still listed Grant as the head coach.

     

    HIKQFLCIYFOJORI.20140417192849GEORGE MASON FIRES HEWITT

    George Mason fired Paul Hewitt after he went 9-22 this past season, 4-14 in the A-10. His overall record as head coach at Mason was 66-67.

    “Paul has always been a tremendous advocate for the sport of college basketball and we are extremely appreciative for the manner in which he has represented the university and for his service to the student-athletes and to the program,” AD Brad Edwards said in a release.

     

    PENN HIRES DONAHUE

    LVEQVNNAIEETVXI.20150316201113As expected, Penn named Steve Donahue its new head coach to replace Jerome Allen. Donahue will be formally introduced at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m.

    Donahue’s hiring marks a return to Penn for the Delaware County native, who will become the 20th head coach in the program’s 115-year history; he was an assistant coach for the Quakers under Fran Dunphy from 1990-91 until 1999-2000. During that 10-year span, Penn won six Ivy League titles including four separate undefeated conference campaigns, compiling a 182-91 overall record that included a 114-26 mark in Ivy play.

    “After performing a robust and year-long assessment of the men’s basketball program, we entered the search process with a strong sense of the background, skills and character traits we felt were necessary for Penn’s next head coach,” said Penn AD Dr. M. Grace Calhoun. “An impressive group of candidates were thoroughly vetted, and Steve Donahue clearly rose to the top. Coach Donahue is a nationally recognized coach and proven recruiter with unquestioned integrity. His deep knowledge of and appreciation for Penn basketball, the Ivy model of student-athlete development, and the Big Five were unparalleled in the search. We are confident in Coach Donahue’s ability to return Penn men’s basketball to prominence. We welcome Steve, his wife Pamela, and his family back to Philadelphia.”

    “I am thrilled to be coming back to Penn as its head men’s basketball coach,” said Donahue. “Having been a part of Philadelphia and Penn basketball for the greater part of my life, I have a great passion for this city and this program. I spent 10 extraordinary years as an assistant here at Penn working with one of the great head coaches in all of college basketball, Fran Dunphy. That, combined with my experiences as head coach at Cornell and Boston College, have led me to this distinct opportunity to return the program that I grew up watching to national prominence. I plan to provide the energy and the enthusiasm that will put Penn basketball back atop the Ivy League.”

     

    Photo: Las Vegas Sun



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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. 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.