Heath close to completing coaching staff

Fans clamoring for news on who Stan Heath will choose for two openings on his coaching staff shouldn't have to wait long, as announcements could be coming on the replacements for Dan Hipsher and Byron Samuels as soon as the end of this week.

We've previously reported that one strong candidate is Bowling Green assistant Lamonta Stone, a Detroit native like Heath and a strong recruiter in any talent-rich area that Heath knows well. Heath has said his priority is on finding recruiters who can help him improve the talent level at USF, and Stone fits that billing and has known Heath for about 25 years.

Heath also met last week with former USF guard and assistant Tommy Tonelli, who has spent the last two years on the Bulls' bench as director of basketball operations and is being considered for a promotion to a full-time assistant.

Two new names in contention are former head coaches trying to stay in the college game as assistants, much like Hipsher and Samuels were when Heath hired them at Arkansas and USF. The first is a name we've mentioned in passing before: former Georgia Southern coach Jeff Price, who originally signed Tampa's Toarlyn Fitzpatrick, the power forward who got a release after his dismissal and signed with USF. Price has local ties as well, as a 1977 Seminole High graduate who later played at St. Petersburg College; his father now lives in Pinellas County.

The second is former Toledo coach Stan Joplin, who spent 12 years coaching the Rockets but was out of basketball last season. Heath was an assistant at Wayne State when he met Joplin and has said that Joplin helped him get on Tom Izzo's staff at Michigan State in 1996 when Joplin left for the Toledo job. Joplin, who turns 52 next week, went 203-155 at Toledo and would give Heath a familiar, well-respected veteran presence on his bench.

We don't know all the names involved, but one more name to remember is Andy Hipsher, who played for his father Dan at Akron from 1999-2004 and has spent the past five seasons working his way into college basketball coaching. He was a graduate assistant on Bob Knight's staff at Texas Tech for two seasons, then spent a year as a full-time assistant at Utah Valley State before spending the last two seasons at Western Michigan. Not sure how Hipsher might fit in with Heath's new staff, but he could be a match for USF's director of operations position, should that come open.

-- Onto the links: Heath did an interview with Zagsblog, a great college basketball blog, and addressed both the season ahead and the recruitment of junior college center Jarrid Famous.

-- The annual baseball draft starts tonight at 6 and actually will spill out over three days this year -- just three rounds tonight, and that's high enough that any USF names you hear are almost certainly gone. They'll draft through round 30 on Wednesday, then finish the draft on Thursday. We'll update the blog each time a USF player or signee gets their name called ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:35pm]

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