In barely a year, it seems that assistant coach Kevin Ollie is now the favorite to replace Jim Calhoun as the head coach of the UConn basketball program. Technically, Calhoun hasn't officially announced his return for the 2011-12 season, but all indications -- including playing a major role in recruiting DeAndre Daniels and Omar Calhoun -- point to him coming back.
But at 69, Calhoun won't coach forever. In fact, he really could hang it up in a season or two, which means that the Huskies need to start thinking about his replacement now (assuming they haven't).( Tue Aug 02 10:08:24 PDT 2011 $__output )
Way back in April, weeks after UConn won their third national title under Calhoun, we wrote that, "There is no disputing Ollie's credentials, but for all he brings to the team in basketball IQ, recruiting is the foundation upon which championships are built. No program has ever suffered NCAA sanctions for shady in-game coaching practices. It almost always revolves around recruiting. And maybe [former assistant Andre] LaFleur wasn't head-coaching material. It happens. But unless the Huskies have a plan to fill the recruiting void LaFleur leaves behind, the future suddenly looks a lot less rosy."
Well, not only can Ollie coach -- the Connecticut Post's Neill Ostrout describes his work ethic and drive as "tenacious" -- but he also knows how to recruit. Ollie was instrumental in landing Omar Calhoun for 2012, and Ostrout writes that "his work on the recruiting trail and on the bench with the Huskies in one season has seemingly been outstanding," adding "He has ties to a few recruiting hotbeds (Los Angeles, Dallas) and has already proven a more- than-capable recruiter."
Perhaps Ollie isn't quite ready to take over one of the best programs in the country, and maybe that's one of the reasons Calhoun could return to the bench. But Ollie's ascension from lowly assistant to heir apparent in a year's time is a testament to what those familiar with the program think about his potential.
Ostrout also lists other potential candidates for the UConn job: Butler head coach Brad Stevens; Quinnipiac head coach (and former UConn assistant) Tom Moore; Other former (and current) UConn assistants Glen Miller, Karl Hobbs, Dave Leitao; and Arizona head coach Sean Miller.
Of course, there's also the possibility Calhoun waits until October to retire to insure that the guy he wants to succeed him gets the gig.