Incoming Charlotte 49ers athletics director Mike Hill has already accomplished his first task: firing interim men’s basketball coach Houston Fancher and his staff after the team went 6-23 this season.
Up next for Mike Hill will be finding a new coach, something he hopes to accomplish pretty quickly. Whoever it is, he will be the fifth coach the 49ers have had since 2010 (including two interim coaches) and will be charged with turning around a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 2005 and has seen attendance decline steadily in recent seasons.
Here’s a list of 10 possible candidates Hill might consider:
John Pelphrey, assistant, Alabama: Pelphrey, 49, makes a lot of sense for the 49ers’ job.
He was an assistant at Florida for two stints under Billy Donovan during Hill’s time overseeing the Gators’ basketball program as an associate athletics director. Pelphrey has plenty of head-coaching experience (South Alabama, 2002-07; Arkansas, 2007-11). The Razorbacks fired Pelphrey despite going 18-13 in his final season.
Big names, long shots
Tom Crean, most recently Indiana: If Hill is looking for star power, Crean would fit the bill, although he’d likely be too expensive for the 49ers. Fired by the Hoosiers after the 2016-17 season, Crean, 51, has worked as a television analyst this season and has said he’d like to return to coaching. Coached at Marquette for nine seasons, six of them when the Golden Eagles were Conference USA members.
Andy Kennedy, most recently Mississippi: Resigned at Ole Miss in February under curious conditions, saying there was a “cloud” hanging over the program. That could be a red flag for Hill or any other athletics director considering Kennedy, 49, who took the Rebels to the NCAA tournament twice in his 10-plus seasons. Has Conference USA experience from his time as an assistant at Ala.-Birmingham and Cincinnati (he was the Bearcats’ head coach for one season in the Big East).
Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast: Has been highly successful in five years with the Eagles, winning 20-plus games each season and with two NCAA appearances. Dooley, 52, is a former assistant at Kansas and head coach at East Carolina from 1995-99. Might be waiting for a job at a higher-profile program than Charlotte.
Steve Forbes, East Tennessee: Doesn’t have much Division I head-coaching experience, but Forbes, 52, has been highly successful in his three seasons with the Bucs, going 76-29. Took East Tennessee to the NCAA tournament last season. Has spent most of his career as an assistant, including at Wichita State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Earl Grant, College of Charleston: Grant, who has deep ties to the Carolinas, has the Cougars in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999 after winning the Colonial Athletic Association tournament this week. A native of North Charleston, S.C., Grant was an assistant at The Citadel, Winthrop, Wichita State and Clemson before going to Charleston in 2014. Whenever the Cougars’ season ends, Grant, 41, will be a hot commodity.
Wes Miller, UNC Greensboro: A dynamic, young (35) coach whose stock is high after the Spartans earned a trip to the NCAA tournament by winning the Southern Conference tournament this week. Born in Greensboro, Miller is a former North Carolina player who grew up in Charlotte and played his high school freshman season at Charlotte Country Day.
Mike Young, Wofford: One of the Southern Conference’s top coaches who is approaching legendary status in Spartanburg, Young’s Terriers teams have won 232 games in his 16 seasons, including four trips to the NCAA tournament. Wofford pulled off one of the stunners of this season, beating North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Age (54) might work against Young.
Looking down the bench
Hubert Davis, assistant, North Carolina: Would be a splashy hire for the 49ers. Davis, 47, who has family in Charlotte, has little coaching experience (he’s in his sixth season with the Tar Heels). Davis, a former Tar Heels star and ESPN analyst,would certainly get a high recommendation from North Carolina coach Roy Williams.
Jon Scheyer, assistant, Duke: Scheyer is young (30) and only in his fourth season as a full-time assistant to Mike Krzyzewski. Like UNC’s Davis, hiring Scheyer would attract a lot of attention for the 49ers. But Scheyer likely isn’t ready for a head-coaching position.
David Scott: @davidscott14