Report: Steve Masiello expected to become next USF Bulls basketball coach

25

March

Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, a 36-year-old Rick Pitino disciple who spent six years on Pitino's staff at Louisville, is expected to be named USF's ninth men's basketball coach later today.

A formal announcement is expected from USF at any time.

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday morning that Masiello has accepted the school's offer to replace Stan Heath, fired March 14 after compiling a 97-130 mark in seven seasons. His deal reportedly is for five years at slightly more than $1 million annually.

Late Tuesday morning, Masiello already was following at least two current Bulls players -- guard Corey Allen Jr. and redshirt freshman Bo Zeigler -- on his Twitter account (He later unfollowed them). He emerged as the top candidate for the job last week.

"I'm gonna tell you this, it's a great hire by (new athletic director) Mark (Harlan)," said USF baseball coach Lelo Prado, whose tenure at Louisville (1996-2006), briefly overlapped with Masiello's (2005-11).

"I mean, everything I used to hear about this guy, he's gonna be a star, he's a go-getter. I think they hired a great guy. ... I think he'll go big-time into the community and I think it's a great hire."

ESPN analyst and basketball hall of famer Dick Vitale said the components -- renovated Sun Dome, palatial new practice facility, winnable conference (American Athletic) -- are in place for an energetic coach such as Masiello to win.

"I think it's a terrific hire with his energy and enthusiasm. I'm sure that the South Florida people, based on Rick Pitino's recommendation, are hoping and praying that they strike gold like when Rick recommended Billy Donovan to Florida."

A New York native and former New York Knicks ballboy, Masiello resuscitated the Manhattan program virtually overnight.

Winners of six games the season before his arrival, the Jaspers finished 21-13 in 2012 -- the nation's biggest turnaround that year -- and have gone 60-39 in Masiello's three seasons.

They captured the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title -- and the conference's automatic NCAA berth -- this past season, losing to Louisville 71-64 in the second round despite leading late.

In his half-dozen years at Louisville, Masiello earned national acclaim for his recruiting chops, helping Pitino land four top-20 recruiting classes and four McDonald's All-Americans during his tenure.

In that span, two different national websites -- FoxSports.com and Rivals.com -- named Masiello one of the nation's top 20 assistant coaches.

"Rick doesn't have anybody on his staff that doesn't (recruit tirelessly), I can promise you that," Prado said. "You won't last long with Rick if you're not constantly on the go. If you're standing still, you're out.

"Rick demands a lot out of his assistants, but you'll notice a lot of them are successful everywhere they go. I'm so glad we got (Masiello) and I'm glad we pulled the trigger on it quick, because I think if it would've taken a longer time everybody would've been after this guy."

A walk-on guard for Pitino and later Tubby Smith at Kentucky, his four seasons in Lexington amounted essentially to a coaching apprenticeship. Masiello totaled 42 career points in 215 total minutes, but was on two Final Four teams including the 'Cats' 1998 national title team.

In his final home game at Rupp Arena in March 2000, against a Florida club that would reach the NCAA title game a month later, Masiello started and played eight minutes. Kentucky won, 85-70.

Assuming no one transfers, Masiello inherits a 12-20 team that loses only seniors Victor Rudd and Martino Brock, the No. 1 and 2 scorers, respectively. By contrast, Manhattan graduates its top three scorers in Rhamel Brown, George Beamon and Michael Alvarado.

[Last modified: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 1:14pm]

    

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