Schaus, Ohio Looking For Next Head Coach

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Update Friday, April 4, 2:53 p.m.: NBC4's Matt Barnes tweeted Friday, "Hearing from a source that Ohio AD Jim Schaus is only looking for a current/former head coach to fill the vacant position. No assistants." This would rule out the potential candidacy of any assistant coach, including Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals, Illinois assistant Dustin Ford and Jim Christian’s top assistant at Ohio, Bill Wuczynski.

In his career as an Athletics Director, three of Schaus' four head coaching hires for men's basketball – Mark Turgeon, Gregg Marshall and Christian – had head coaching experience at the collegiate level. John Groce was the only coach to be hired by Schaus following a season as an assistant coach.

With Jim Christian darting for Boston College just two years after accepting the head coaching job at Ohio, Athletic Director Jim Schaus is now on the search for the 18th head coach in program history and its second in three years.

Schaus has hired four men's basketball head coaches as an AD. While at Wichita State, he brought in now-Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon and Gregg Marshall, the man who led the Shockers to a perfect regular season this year. Schaus has hired two coaches at Ohio. John Groce led Ohio to the Sweet 16 in 2012 and moved to the greener pastures of Illinois and now Christian ships up to Boston to replace Steve Donahue.

Now, the speculation starts of where Ohio will look to replace Christian. Similar names from the 2012 search have popped up including Ohio State assistant Jeff Boals and a former Ohio assistant under Groce, Dustin Ford. 

Boals has been an assistant for six years in Columbus. He has previous Mid-American Conference coaching experience as an assistant with both Ohio and Akron. Boals was with the Zips for three seasons and was responsible for recruiting Zeke Marshall, who was a Top 35 recruit nationally and two-time MAC Defensive Player of the Year. Boals has also been an assistant at Robert Morris and Marshall.

Ford followed Groce to Champagne after spending spending 2009-2012 as an assistant in Athens. During his time with the Bobcats, Ford worked mostly with the frontcourt players, most notably Jerome Tillman, DeVaughn Washington and Ivo Baltic. Prior to joining Groce’s Ohio staff, Ford was an assistant at Western Carolina University from 2006-2008. Ford showed his recruiting prowess when he netted two Southern Conference Defensive Players of the Year, Brigham Waginger and Richie Gordon. Ford was also responsible for recruiting Southern Conference Freshman of the Year Harouna Mutombo. Ford’s coaching career began as the varsity coach at Jackson High School.

An issue with Boals and Ford are they are both Ohio University alums, which is something Schaus' track record shows he avoids.

Another alum that expressed interest in the coaching job in 2012 was three-time MAC Player of the Year Gary Trent. Trent is currently a coach at Uneek Inc. LLC and has served as an AAU coach. Trent also provides one-on-one coaching sessions and is a professional intervention specialist in St. Paul, Minn. His name could surface as a potential candidate that could come out of left field, but his lack of coaching experience makes it highly unlikely he'd get the nod.

If Ohio chose to hire from within, Christian's top assistant Bill Wuczynski could be another option. Wuczynski came with Christian from TCU and has become a favorite with players. Wuczynski has also served as an assistant at Florida International, Loyala University-Chicago and UNLV.

Kevin Kuwik, an assistant on the Dayton coaching staff that coached their team to an Elite Eight berth this year, is another possible candidate. Kuwik has experience with big-time head coaches Thad Matta and Brad Stevens from his time at Ohio State and Butler, where he served as the video coordinator for two seasons and as the director of basketball operation for one year, respectively. Before Kuwik went to Butler, he served as an assistant at Ohio University from 2001-2008 where he was a favorite in Athens. 

Other former assistants that could receive a call include Michigan's Bacari Alexander and Butler's Chris Holtmann. Alexander has two stints as an assistant in the MAC with not only the 'Cats but the has other MAC experience with Western Michigan from 2008 to 2010. Holtmann worked with Ohio from 2008 to 2010 and also has three seasons of head coaching experience from his time at Gardner-Webb. Holtmann also shares the distinction of being a Taylor University graduate, the alma mater of John Groce.

Another name surfacing as a leading candidate for a coaching upgrade is North Dakota State's Saul Phillips. Phillips has led the Bison to two NCAA Tournaments in his seven years as head coach including an upset of No. 5 seed Oklahoma in the second round of this year’s tournament. In 2009, Phillips led the Bison to the Summit League title and the NCAA Tournament in the team’s first year of eligibility.

Chas Wolfe of High Major Scoop floated a few more names including Eastern Kentucky's Jeff Neubauer, Robert Morris' Andy Toole, Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard, Maryland assistant Scott Spinelli and former Wake Forest coach, Ohio alum and ESPN analyst Dino Gaudio. Spinelli could be an interesting option considering his tutelage under Turgeon at both Maryland and Wichita State.

Another name familiar with the MAC is Stan Heath, who was let go after six seasons with South Florida. He went 12-19 overall last season for the Bulls and advanced to the round of 32 in the 2012 NCAA Tournament before losing to the Ohio Bobcats. Heath has some experience in the MAC as the head coach of the Kent State team that made a run to the Elite Eight in 2002. Following that season, Heath accepted a job at Arkansas where he coached until 2007. He also played for Eastern Michigan in the 1980s and was an assistant coach at Bowling Green from 1994-96.

More names will come and go as Ohio pushes toward making a hire. Schaus will have a plethora of options in front of him this week at the Final Four in North Texas where coaches and athletic directors gather every year for the National Association of Basketball Convention. Look for Schaus and Ohio to act quickly. After Groce left in 2012, Christian was hired only six days later.