With Jordan Mincy moving on to take the Jacksonville University job the Gators have a vacancy on their bench to fill. Assistant coaches have important roles in the operation of a college basketball program and Mike White has a huge decision to make in who will fill the opening.
Considering the fact that White feels more confident on the defensive side of the basketball, it’s likely they’ll be looking for someone who can contribute offensively when it comes to tactics and game planning. Of course, recruiting and development play a huge role in modern basketball and any coach will need to have chops in those areas as well.
Here are some names I am hearing that could be tied with the current opening.
San Diego State
Chris Acker has spent the last couple of years at San Diego State and has been a key role in their offense–one that has been very good. Last year the Azteks were 45th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency and 11th the year prior, a pretty incredible mark for a Mountain West team. Acker was also in charge of the development of Malachi Flynn who turned into a first round NBA pick out of nowhere and former Vanderbilt big Yanni Wetzel who took a huge leap after coming to SDSU. Those two weren’t Acker’s only development successes as he also worked closely with Justinian Jessup, Derrick Alston, and Chandler Hutchinson (all NBA guys) during his stop at Boise State prior to SDSU.
Acker has been a part of a few of the biggest stories in Mountain West development and offense in the last couple of years so you can see why Florida is interested. He doesn’t have any obvious ties to the state of Florida, but he brings the skills the Gators are looking for.
This name will be familiar to most of you as Eddie Shannon was a four year starter at Florida when Billy Donovan first came to Gainesville. Currently at Chattanooga, Shannon also spent time at Canisius and his teams have success at both stops. Something that is apparent at both his stops is that the players he has worked with have gotten better, whether it’s high school recruits or transfers that didn’t work out at other programs that turned into high-level Southern Conference performers. Shannon has been chiefly responsible for the development of these players and that makes him an enticing candidate for the Gators.
Chattanooga has been an efficient offensive team in recent years, one of the best at scoring the ball in the Southern Conference, a league where you see a variety of defensive styles. Of course, Shannon knowing how to put up points shouldn’t be a surprise. Billy Donovan referred to him as one of the best offensive minds he has ever coached.
Shannon has also done well recruiting high major players to Chattanooga, and it stands to reason he would have no problem getting players to Florida.
In a press conference earlier in the week, athletic director Scott Stricklin said that Mike White was going to lead the Gators for a long time. If Florida wants to hire an assistant that is going to be in it for the long haul, it’s safe to assume Shannon would be that guy who wouldn’t be looking to go to a different job in a couple of seasons. He is a Florida native who bleeds orange and blue and he’d bring an immense amount of passion to Florida’s bench.
Robert Ehsan is only 38 years old but has a good amount of coaching experience, including four years as the head coach at UAB before getting fired a year ago.
Before that he was an assistant at UAB, Virginia Tech, and Maryland all starting in 2007. Oftentimes when making a coaching decision you’re balancing youth with experience but when it comes to Ehsan you’re getting both.
Ehsan’s four seasons as the head coach at UAB weren’t bad and he came away with a winning record in each of them. When he was fired there were plenty of fans who thought he should have been able to stay on, and some think the only reason they fired him was because they had former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy lined up to take the job.
As a head coach at UAB his teams weren’t the most talented but they changed up styles and grinded hard to find ways to win, something that reflects well on Ehsan. For a Florida team that hasn’t exactly gotten the most out of their talent recently Ehsan could be a guy who brings a new mindset.
Adam Cohen is a popular name in coaching circles known as a rising star in the industry. Currently the associate head coach at Stanford, Cohen also has experience as an assistant at Vanderbilt, Harvard, and Rice.
Cohen leads the recruiting for Stanford, a team that has done pretty well in bringing in talent. He has also been known as the leader of development for their guards, something he made a name for himself doing after getting the most out of some talented guards at Harvard and Vanderbilt.
With a big reputation in the coaching industry already as a younger guy you can see why Florida would want him. He’s definitely the coach they are after with the most established recruiting pedigree, something that always helps. Is this the kind of guy that would stick around Florida for a while? Is that something that matters to Florida? We can’t be totally sure, but Cohen is a fantastic young coach who would be a great hire if the Gators were to get him.