When it comes to Florida’s assistant coaching search things had been quiet for a number of weeks as news was hard to come by and speculation started to ramp up more and more.
While it may have been quiet for a while–things really started to heat up the last few days.
For starters, there was a rumor that the Gators were going from two open spots vacated by Jordan Mincy and Darris Nichols taking head jobs at Jacksonville and Radford to three open spots. Associate head coach Al Pinkins was rumored to be heading to Illinois, a team that lost all three assists over the last couple of weeks.
These rumors were loud, with nearly all the smoke coming from the Illinois side. Some were reporting it was a “done deal” but according to my sources that was far from the truth. Word is that Pinkins was contacted by Illinois, but they never had an official interview, and certainly didn’t have an official offer on the table. For the time being it looks like Pinkins will remain at Florida, potentially with a raise coming his way. Illinois is a problem that has paid their assistants extraordinarily well recently, and if Pinkins could convince Florida that they had heavy interest it wouldn’t be shocking if he leveraged a raise out of the interaction.
There was also a rumored candidate in James Kane, a former Florida manager at Iowa State, who went off the table. A talented young coach who once upon a time recruited Ja Morant to Murray State, it would have made sense that Florida would have been interested in the former Gator but ultimately he went to Dayton, and I can confirm that Mike White never actually reached out, so it doesn’t seem like he was ever an option.
Now, the good stuff.
First, I’m hearing a major name to watch is Christian Webster who is currently at Virginia Tech. If that name sounds familiar, it could be for a couple of reasons. As a coach, you might have heard his name out and about as he has been known as one of the best young coaches in the country. Despite being only 30 years old, he just completed his sixth season at Virginia Tech. Being so young and spending that much time at a high major, he has pretty much been on every “30 under 30” or “40 under 40” list that has been written over the last couple of years, something that has built his reputation.
You also might know him from his days as a player. Webster was a star at Harvard, one of the winningest players in program history during some of the team’s best years.
Webster is known as a great recruiter and someone who played a large role in the development of Keve Aluma, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Justin Robinson, and of course, Kerry Blackshear. Something that jumps out about those credits is that two of those players, Alexander-Walker and Robinson, were about as good of college guards as you’re going to see, and Aluma and Blackshear were outstanding big men. That shows his versatility as a developer of talent, something every staff is looking for.
Another name to be aware of is Adam Cohen, another young star in the coaching profession who has also seen his name on pretty much every published list of young coaching talent. Cohen is currently at Stanford where he has been for six seasons. Before that he was at Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Rice.
Cohen is the ace recruiter on Stanford’s staff and has done an outstanding job of getting elite talent there. Looking at recruiting rankings over the last few seasons they have been one of the top programs in the Pac-12, something that isn’t easy considering the academic standards at Stanford.
Cohen is also known as their offensive coordinator, something Florida has desperately needed on their staff.
Responsible for working with Stanford’s perimeter players, if Cohen came to Florida he would also fill a void left by Mincy and Nichols who both spent time working the Gator perimeter players.
Cohen is also very familiar to one Gator–2021 star Kowacie Reeves Jr. who had Stanford in his final schools before picking Florida. His lead recruiter at Stanford was Cohen, who i’m told did an outstanding job of recruiting him. Considering the stature of Reeves as a recruit, the fact Cohen had him strongly considering Stanford speaks to his quality as a recruiter.
I’m told that the Gators are likely to announce a hire later this week. Considering how the recruiting calendar has opened up it makes a lot of sense that the Gators would have some urgency to make a hire, but more than an urgency it looks like they have honed in on a name or two that they really want.