Butler is set to hire LaVall Jordan to be the team’s new head coach, sources confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The 38-year-old Jordan just finished his first season as a Division I head coach at Milwaukee as he is a Butler alum and former assistant for the Bulldogs under head coach Todd Lickliter.
Jordan has a unique tie to this position at Butler since his athletic director, Barry Collier, is his also his former head coach. During his career as a player at Butler, Jordan made three NCAA tournament appearances, helping the Bulldogs to their first tournament win in 39 years in 2001 during his senior season.
A respected recruiter during his time in the Big Ten as an assistant at Iowa and Michigan, Jordan should understand what it takes to win at Butler from a talent standpoint since he helped the program succeed as a player and assistant coach. Replacing Chris Holtmann is going to be tough but this could be a strong hire for Butler given Jordan’s background and reputation as an up-and-coming coach.
The key question for Jordan will be how he handles the on-court coaching at such a high level as a young coach. In his only season at Milwaukee, Jordan only finished 11-24. But the Panthers also peaked at the end of the year and nearly made the NCAA tournament after making the Horizon League conference tournament title game as the No. 10 seed. For a team of mostly underclass players in a rebuilding year, it was a positive sign of things to come for Jordan at Milwaukee.
But Jordan now also has to go head-to-head with respected and experienced coaches like Jay Wright, Chris Mack and Ed Cooley. It might take some time for Jordan to figure out who he is as a coach, but if he can continue to bring in talent then Butler should be in a good position to continue to make NCAA tournament runs.
This hire is also intriguing for Butler because they didn’t promote an assistant coach like they’ve done so many times before. Holtmann, Brad Stevens, Todd Lickliter and Thad Matta were all Butler assistant coaches who were promoted from within, but Collier is opting for an “outside” hire by picking Jordan instead of current Butler assistant Ryan Pedon.
Obviously, Jordan has many ties to Butler as a former player and assistant coach, so it’s not as if he’s a total stranger to the program’s culture, but he hasn’t been with the Bulldogs in any capacity since 2007, so he has been gone from the program for the last decade.