WSU Basketball Coach Search: Kelvin Sampson and Ernie Kent Rumored Among Final 5


Dec 12, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Houston Rockets assistant coach Kelvin Sampson react to an officials call during the fourth quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center. The Blazers won the game 111-104. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington State basketball coaching search is heating up and there’s no denying that the realistic names being brought to the table are more intriguing than the season we just witnessed.

Cougfan is all over the idea of former Cougar coach Kelvin Sampson and/or former Oregon coach Ernie Kent being in what amounts to Moos’ final five. There’s really no need to expand on what Cougfan said, so I’m really not trying to do that, other than to reiterate that both would be solid hires. Both are growing on me as coaches that could definitely lead this team back to relevancy in the Pacific-12 Conference, and really, neither one above the other. They make too much sense not to be leading candidates for the job and have been that way since the beginning, but it’s important to note that neither is confirmed in the final list and there is still plenty of other intrigue to consider.

CF.C’s ‘well placed’ source(s) haven’t named anybody, but told the site that all five of the final candidates meet the following criteria:

  • are or have been a head coach
  • have major conference experience (Moos stated last week that his ideal hire would ‘preferably’ have major-conference head coaching experience)
  • are proven recruiters who Moos believes could sell Washington State University, especially on the West Coast

Now, what that means is still up in the air to me, but let me refresh your memory as to who I believe could still meet that criteria outside of Kent and Sampson. Well, four of the seven that I thought about in this article a couple days ago still fit the bill…

  • Ben Howland – Longshot based on what we know but gotta believe he was at least on the first list Moos put together.
  • Kevin O’neill – The more I think about it the less I like the thought of O’neill to WSU, but he at least fits some of the criteria.
  • Archie Miller – Dayton’s in the Sweet-16 after upsetting Ohio State and Syracuse, so Archie might not make the final cut if Moos wants his answer by mid-next week. He would be a dynamite hire (maybe not the perfect fit, but definitely the perfect hire in regards to fan excitement), even if he only has two years head coaching experience. Remember he assisted Sean at Zona and is a fabulous recruiter. Also, if you’re thinking the A-10 is too small to fit the criteria, I think assistant at one of the top two Pac-12 powerhouses overrides that in this one case. Unfortunately for me I think, he has quickly become my favorite ‘idea’ for our next head coach.
  • Tommy Amaker – Still makes perfect sense to me if he could be bought somehow. He is a younger Ernie Kent and unlike Miller is less dynamite and more “perfect fit”. The Ivy League is definitely more ‘mid-major’ than the A-10 in my opinion, but Amaker also coached at Michigan and Seton Hall. He may not be able to be bought though.

Even if some of these names don’t seem available, it doesn’t mean they aren’t part of Moos’ final five list. He is notorious for pulling names you would never consider as ‘reachable’ and honestly the head coach angle that CF.C’s source says all five coaches have met necessarily weeds out all assistants we have looked into, such as Damon Stoudamire at Zona, Kenny Payne at Kentucky or Tommy Lloyd and Donny Daniels at Gonzaga. He also said that there “could be” some NCAA Tournament bound coaches in the mix directly after firing Ken Bone less than a week ago.

A couple other candidates that could make the list are Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) and Dan Monson (Gonzaga, Minnesota, Long Beach State). Another very interesting name that CF.C put forth a couple days ago as a potential candidate; Larry Brown, who is currently at SMU and also has a healthy resume of NBA head coaching experience.

That gives you nine logical names based on the criteria available (seven with West Coast ties), Sampson, Kent, Howland, O’neill, Miller, Amaker, Pearl, Monson and Brown. The list is down to five and only Leon Rice makes sense to me outside of that, but he seems to not be interested based on this article by CF.C., so there’s that.

The search continues, and thanks to a very careful Moos, we are in full speculation mode. This is the most fun I’ve had all season and still, it wouldn’t surprise me if Moos goes outside this list for our next basketball coach!

Go Cougs!