Alabama targeting several top names as new coach, views Trendon Watford as priority recruit | Zagsblog
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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.
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Sunday / September 22.
  • Alabama targeting several top names as new coach, views Trendon Watford as priority recruit

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    By ADAM ZAGORIA

    CHAMBLEE, Ga. — Alabama is targeting several top names as the school’s men’s basketball coach to replace Avery Johnson, with whom the school parted ways last week.

    Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, former Ole Miss and Cincinnati coach Andy Kennedy, former Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin, Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall and Detroit Mercy coach and former Alabama player Mike Davis are under consideration, sources said.

    Hoiberg and Cronin have also been linked to the UCLA opening.

    One dark horse candidate at Alabama is former Louisville, Kentucky and Providence coach Rick Pitino, now coaching in Greece.

    “The only thing I can say with my broken record is that in my 30+ years as a head coach I’ve never cut a dirty deal or gave any improper benefits to any athletes,” Pitino said Monday by text from Greece. “All you have to do is ask my over 30 assistants who have become head coaches or any player that has played for me.”

    Pitino was fired at Louisville in the fall of 2017 after the Brian Bowen/Adidas scandal, but he was never directly tied to the payments made to Brian Bowen Sr. via Adidas. Pitino has also maintained he had no knowledge of the stripper scandal at Louisville orchestrated by former staffer Andre McGee.

    Meantime, Alabama officials have let in-state star Trendon Watford, a three-time state champion, know that he’s a priority recruit for the school, regardless of who the new coach is.

    “They just fired their coach, Avery Johnson was the first coach to ever offer me,” said Watford, who’s also considering LSU, Indiana, Memphis and Duke and plans to announce April 20 at the Jordan Brand Classic Game in Las Vegas. “I feel like the program has good guys coming back, so we’ll just see how that turns out with the next head coach.”

    In the meantime, Watford said Alabama officials are making him a priority.

    “They’ve reached out,” he said. “I don’t know who the next head coach will be, but the players are still reaching out to me, saying they want me to be their teammate.”

    He added: “If they hire somebody in the next few weeks or next week and they start recruiting me, then we’ll just go from there.”

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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.