Ohio State assistant Archie Miller, the brother of new Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller, could become an assistant coach at Arizona, the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch reported.
Sean Miller had been keeping a job open for his former top assistant at Xavier, Chris Mack, but Xavier confirmed Tuesday that Mack would be the Musketeers’ new head coach.
Archie Miller could not be reached for comment. Miller was coach Thad Matta’s top assistant this past season after John Groce left the staff to be head coach at Ohio University.
Mack, a five-year Xavier assistant, two-time captain as an XU player and XU graduate, will usher in a new era in Musketeer basketball as the program’s 17th head coach. It’s Mack’s first collegiate head coaching job.
Mack will be introduced in a 1 p.m. press conference Wednesday. The announcement ended a limbo period that began Monday when fifth-year former coach Miller accepted the head coaching position at Arizona.
Mack, 39, was assured a job with Miller and the Wildcats if he wasn’t tapped for the Xavier opening. But Mack appeared to be prominently featured on the radar of athletic director Mike Bobinski, who interviewed him for the position first.
After their Wednesday meeting, both parties returned with favorable reviews. Mack said they talked for a few hours and “felt like it went very well,” and Bobinski agreed.
“Today was a good day. I thought we had an excellent, from my perspective, conversation. Chris made a great presentation. (He) filled in some things along the way that were very positive,” Bobinski said.
Bobinski compared Mack to his “leadoff hitter” and said the search would continue from there. The athletic director kept under wraps his other candidates, triggering much speculation about potential rivals for the position.
After the university’s Easter break, Bobinski said he planned to offer his recommendation to university president Father Michael J. Graham.
But long before any recommendation was made, Mack curried favor among many close to the program, from players to radio broadcaster Byron Larkin.
“I’ve known Chris since he was in high school. I know his personality and I think he’s an excellent fit for the job. He’s from Cincinnati, he’s a Xavier graduate, and he played here,” Larkin said. “And he loves basketball. He always has.”
Current players have rallied around Mack, who was instrumental in recruiting many of them. His candidacy was even supported by NBA player and former Musketeer David West, who wrote in a text message that he was “with most guys that we should keep it in the house. The program is continuing to grow. Mack would only continue the tradition of growth.”
Mack’s appointment as head coach was hoped by many sources to ensure continuity during the transition after Miller’s departure, and his long-term Cincinnati ties served as an indication of stability in the role.
Before coming to Xavier as Miller’s top assistant in 2004, Mack spent three seasons as a Wake Forest assistant coach under late former XU head coach Skip Prosser. Mack served as the Muskies’ director of basketball operations from 1999-2001 and was a prep head coach at Mount Notre Dame from 1995-1999.
Mack, who earned a communication arts degree from Xavier in 1992, is a St. Xavier High School product who started his college career at the University of Evansville.
He was a two-year starter for the Purple Aces and averaged 10.1 points and 6.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
Mack transferred to Xavier the next year. After sitting out the 1991 season per the NCAA transfer rule, he became the Muskies’ two-time captain, despite battling knee injuries in both legs. He tore his left ACL just eight seconds into his first exhibition game as a Xavier player.
After graduation, Mack played for Athletes in Action in 1993 and in Europe in 1994.
Mack, the first former XU player to coach the Muskies since former team captain Don Ruberg led the team from 1963-67, inherits a program that last season won a third straight Atlantic 10 regular-season title and advanced to the Sweet 16.
Xavier graduates only two seniors and is projected to be a preseason Top 25 selection next fall.
By Citizen Staff Report, The Cincinnati Enquirer