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Staff assembly top priority for Antigua

Published Apr. 9, 2014

Less than 40 hours after exiting the AT&T Stadium floor with the rest of Kentucky's dejected entourage, Orlando Antigua was expected to report for his new gig at USF.

USF's sports information department said Antigua, a Wildcats assistant hired March 31 to replace Stan Heath as Bulls coach, was expected in his new office early Wednesday afternoon.

Details of his initial itinerary weren't clear, but Antigua is expected to begin assembling a staff and meeting with Bulls players before being given a pass code to the door of the practice facility.

Among the strongest candidates to join him: 'Cats assistant (and NBA veteran) Rod Strickland and his younger brother, Seton Hall assistant Oliver Antigua.

Florida-based basketball recruiting analyst Russ Wood, citing only a "reliable source," reported via Twitter on Saturday that Strickland will join Antigua at USF. A special assistant to UK coach John Calipari, Strickland and Antigua also served together under Calipari at Memphis.

A potential barrier to Strickland's hiring could be a legal history that includes four DUI arrests, the last of which occurred four years ago. If he were to come aboard, his NBA resume -- albeit checkered -- could nonetheless serve as a valuable recruiting hook; Strickland spent parts of 18 seasons in the NBA.

Oliver Antigua didn't respond to an e-mail from the Tampa Bay Times, but told USF's student newspaper, The Oracle, that joining his brother is "a possibility."

In 10 seasons as head coach at St. Raymond High in the Bronx -- he and his brothers' alma mater -- Oliver Antigua collected 186 victories and three intersectional titles. Ironically, he also spent a season at Manhattan as an assistant to Steve Masiello, USF's first choice to replace Heath.

Whether any of Heath's assistants will be retained by Antigua is unclear. All technically remained on staff following Heath's dismissal and attended the Final Four as representatives of the Bulls, athletic director Mark Harlan said.

Antigua's five-year contract includes a $700,000 salary pool next season for his staff (three assistants and a director of basketball operations), a 33-percent increase from the one afforded to Heath.