With the Illinois position opening up after AD Mike Thomas fired Bruce Weber on Friday, there have been questions as to who Thomas would call on to fill the opening. Many jumped to throw Shaka Smart’s name into the ring as he worked with Thomas at Akron, where Smart was an assistant coach.
But another name to keep an eye on is Duke assistant Chris Collins, who according to the Raleigh News-Observer could be interested in the position.
The Northbrook, Illinois native did express that he would have interest should the opportunity present itself, but most importantly the Duke assistant is focused on the task at hand. That would be Lehigh, who the Blue Devils play on Friday in Greensboro.
“To be distracted at this moment is not good. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for our team. I’ve tried to push all that stuff aside and really focus on being successful with this team in the NCAA tournament.”
Regardless of who ends up getting the job there will be some areas on the roster that will need addressing. Meyers Leonard and Brandon Paul could both put their names into the NBA Draft, and with the NCAA deadline to withdraw being April 10 there isn’t much time for either a new coach or the player to get a full evaluation.
Collins may not have head coaching experience but he’s got plenty of winning experience, and being involved in a program the caliber of Duke’s would have to be seen as an attractive selling point.