Well, as expected, the Dennis Felton era came to an end in January 2009. He extended his reign over the UGA hoops program for an extra 10 months by winning the SEC Tournament Title last season on Tech's court. However, a dismal 2008-2009 season was enough for AD Damon Evans and Felton was relieved of his duties on Thursday morning. Felton stepped in to a tough situation, but had plenty of time to turn around the program and it did not look to be headed in the right direction. He is a good man and a good coach, but the time to move on was now for UGA...
Now that we have the firing behind us, lets take a look at who may be next in line. Evans said in his press conference that he wanted to make a "big splash" and "money is not an issue." If this is the case, Evans should be able to attract a pretty big name to Athens with the talent base in Georgia. As discussed a few weeks ago here, the lack of keeping the big-time local talent in-state was one of the big downfalls for Coach Felton. Just take a look at the team UGA could have had this season if Felton had only recruited 2 high schools in GA, Wheeler and Norcross.
PG - Sharaud Curry (Providence - 10.7, 4.5, 2.0) / JT Tiller (Missouri - 7.5, 3.1, 3.1)
SG - Jodie Meeks (Kentucky - 25.8, 3.7, 1.7) / Tony Neysmith (Auburn - RS)
SF - Jordan DeMercy (Florida St - 3.8, 3.4, 2.1) / DeQuan Jones (Miami - 3.4, 3.1, 2.1)
PF - Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest - 12.8, 8.7, 2.0) / Dan Emerson (Mercer - 13.8, 10.6, 2.2)
C - Gani Lawal (GT - 15.6, 10.4) / BeJay Corley (Mercer - 2.5, 2.3)
This team would not only be a NCAA tournament team, but a national title contender. I know it was not possible to recruit all these guys to UGA, but it shows the level of talent around the metro Atlanta area. The next coach needs to have a strong recruiting background and a knowledge of Metro Atlanta AAU and HS hoops.
Word is the dream candidate is Jeff Capel at Oklahoma. This would be a fine choice, but I can't see Capel leaving/Oklahoma letting him leave. OU would match whatever UGA was willing to offer to keep him in Norman and the job is a lateral move at best. Lon Kruger and Tubby Smith have been mentioned, but I don't think either is a good fit.
Here is a list of the top 5 guys I would contact, in order of least to most desireable...
5) Sean Miller - Xaver - Miller may not be interested in moving to a rebuilding job but is an excellent coach with a resume that includes deep runs in the NCAA tournament.
4) Anthony Grant - VCU - Grant coached in the SEC for 12 years under Billy Donovan and has successfully recruited Georgia for even longer. Has had some success at VCU, but I am not sure how much of that is solely because of Eric Maynor.
3) Scott Drew- Baylor - Drew has proven he can build a program and is the son of another good coach in Homer Drew. May be looking for another challenge now that he has successfully rebuilt the Bears. Lutheran
2) Mike Anderson - Missouri - A guy that came up in the SEC (Arkansas) and plays the style of ball that would require the type of athlete that GA produces. Has recruited the state before and may be intrigued at the opportunity to come back to the SEC and get paid. Would require a huge salary, but would bring energy and excitement back to the program (a la Bruce Pearl).
1) Mike Davis - UAB - Davis had success at Indiana, going to the National Championship game in 2002. However, no one was going to be happy with the successor to the legendary Bob Knight. Having been at UAB for a few years now, he is familiar with GA and is an excellent recruiter. Plus, he provides the best option to "win now." That's because super-recruit DeMarcus Cousins has said that he wants to play for Davis, but not at UAB. Alabama has a coaching vacancy as well and may try and hire Davis, but if they don't, I say go for it. Cousins and Thompkins inside next season make UGA an instant threat in the SEC. Instant success will cause more local players to jump on board. While Davis is not the best X's and O's guy, if you have players like the local ones listed above, almost any competent coach can compete for titles.