Bill Self has completed his staff at Kansas, as he has replaced Joe Dooley, who left to take over the Florida-Gulf Coast job, with Jerrance Howard, according to a report from Jason King of ESPN.
Howard spent last season as an assistant on Larry Brown’s bench at SMU, but was on staff at Illinois for years prior to that. He played for four years at Illinois, backing up the likes of Frank Williams, Dee Brown and Deron Williams, from 2000-2004, the first three seasons under Bill Self. He was also a member of Billy Gillispie’s staff at Texas A&M and Kentucky.
This hire didn’t come as much of a surprise, as many believed it was only a matter of time before Self scooped up Howard.
Howard has developed a reputation for himself as one of the best recruiters in the country, particularly in the city of Chicago. That’s important these days as Chicago is one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country. Two of the top five players in the Class of 2014 — big men Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander — both hail from the city and play AAU ball together for the Mac Irvin Fire.
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With an 11-member setup the Sun Belt Conference has played a 20-game conference schedule the last couple of years, which may be seen as a positive when it comes to determining the regular season champion (home-and-home between every team). But for a conference that spans from North Carolina (Appalachian State) to Texas (UT-Arlington, Texas State) travel was far from easy in that setup.
And with Coastal Carolina joining next season, it was clear that the league needed to do something with its scheduling.
Thursday the Sun Belt members approved an 18-game conference schedule, which will begin with the 2016-17 season when the league consists of 12 members. Included in the agreement is the assignment of travel partners (similar to setups in the Pac-12 and Ivy League), and teams playing no more than three consecutive conference games on the road.
Schools will also be guaranteed at least five weekend home games during conference play, and there will be no more weekends in which teams play conference games both home and away (thus cutting down on travel). Obviously with the addition of Coastal Carolina the Sun Belt needed to make some changes in their scheduling, and this week the conference made the moves they needed to make.
Prior to a one-year stint as the head coach coach at Bowling Green that came to an end in early April as a result of an incident at a Bowling Green restaurant, Chris Jans was a member of Gregg Marshall’s coaching staff at Wichita State from 2007-14. During those seven seasons Jans was a key figure as the Shockers made the progression to a respected national power.
Jans is back in Wichita, with Paul Suellentrop of the Wichita Eagle reporting Thursday that he’s serving as a consultant to the program. Jans’ consulting agreement runs for 45 days, which the school can renew, and he’ll be paid $10,000 for the work. While Jans isn’t allowed to do any coaching, he can watch practices and provide Marshall and the coaching staff with his observations.
“He will be able to consult with the coaching staff, only on what he observes in practice,” said Darron Boatright, WSU deputy athletics director. “By NCAA rule, a consultant is not allowed to have communication with student-athletes … not about basketball-related activities or performance.”
While Jans (who according to the story has served in a similar role for another school) can’t do any coaching in this role, his return does give Marshall another trusted voice to call upon when needed. Wichita State bid farewell to an assistant coach this spring with Steve Forbes being hired as the head coach at East Tennessee State, with his position being filled by former Sunrise Christian Academy coach Kyle Lindsted.