On Friday morning, Ohio State finally landed their guy.
Butler head coach Chris Holtmann agreed to an eight-year deal worth nearly $25 million to replace Thad Matta as the head coach of the Buckeyes.
Now, Bulldog athletic director Barry Collier finds himself in a tough spot. We’re just five weeks away from the start of the July live period and he is without a head coach, which is the third time in the last four years that he’s found himself forced to making a coaching decision in an awkward time in the college basketball calendar. In 2013, Collier hired Brandon Miller in July after Brad Stevens accepted the Boston Celtics job. A year later, in October, Collier, a former Butler coach himself, hired Holtmann as an interim coach following Miller’s leave of absence.
One thing to not about the Butler job: not only is it around a top 25 close in the sport, it’s a great stepping-stone job. The last four Butler head coaches that did not leave due to health reasons were Thad Matta (Ohio State by way of Xavier), Todd Lickliter (Iowa), Stevens and Holtmann.
So who will Butler target this time around?
Micah Shrewsberry, Boston Celtics: It’s not a secret that Butler like to keep it within the Butler family when it comes to making coaching decisions, and Shrewsberry certainly falls under that umbrella. He spent three seasons as a Butler assistant when Stevens was the head coach, helping lead the Bulldogs to both national title games, before moving onto Purdue and, eventually, the Celtics with Stevens. It is thought that Shrewsberry would have Stevens’ endorsement, and that still carries weight at Butler. Shrewsberry was a candidate for the UMass opening earlier this spring.
Lavall Jordan, Milwaukee: Jordan is a Butler grad that spent three years as an assistant with the Bulldogs before following Lickliter to Iowa. He spent six years on John Beilein’s staff with Michigan before taking over at Milwaukee this past season. The Panthers went just 11-24 this season, but they came within one game of reaching the NCAA tournament as they advanced to the Horizon League title game.
Terry Johnson and Ryan Pedon, Butler: Both Johnson and Pedon are assistants on Butler’s staff, and Collier has a reputation for giving his current assistants a shot at interviewing for coaching openings. Johnson has been on staff for 11 years while Pedon joined the program two years ago from Illinois. Mike Schrage, Butler’s third assistant, joined the program last spring after spending time at Stanford and Duke.
Michael Lewis, Nebraska: Lewis is a former star at Indiana — he held the program’s assist record until Yogi Ferrell broke it — that was a high school star in the state. He spent time on Bobby Knight’s staff at Texas Tech before a five-year stint as an assistant with the Bulldogs. He left Butler for Nebraska prior to last season.
Matthew Graves, South Alabama: Graves spent 13 seasons as a staffer at Butler, spanning the tenures of Matta, Lickliter and Stevens, before taking over at the head coach at South Alabama in 2013. He hasn’t had much success with the Jaguars — he’s never won more than 14 games or had a winning record in league play — and that may drop him down the list.
Ronald Nored, Long Island Nets: It’s a long shot — Nored is just 27 years old — but he was a Stevens favorite as a player on both of Butler’s Final Four teams that has bounced around the coaching ranks ever since. He spent a year in high school, time as an assistant in the D-Leauge and on Steven’s Boston staff as well as a year with Northern Kentucky before he took over Brooklyn’s D-League team prior to last season.