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Floyd visits, could bring top picks

Citizen Staff Writer



If USC’s Tim Floyd becomes the next Arizona basketball coach, he could bring two highly touted recruits with him.

Floyd made a quick visit Wednesday afternoon to Tucson to talk about the opening, then flew back in the early evening to Los Angeles, a source close to the situation told the Tucson Citizen.

The source didn’t know if Floyd, 55, was offered the job. But the Los Angeles Times, citing an unnamed source, said UA did make an offer and that Floyd had 24 hours to decide. He reportedly earns a base yearly salary of $850,000 at USC.

Unsigned USC recruit Solomon Hill, who committed to UA and then pledged to the Trojans after Lute Olson retired, said he would “weigh his options” if Floyd goes to Arizona.

Fellow USC forward recruit Renaldo Sydney also has not signed a letter of intent to play for the Trojans yet. He would beef up the Wildcats’ inside game with the likely early departures of Jordan Hill and Chase Budinger to the NBA.

“I just heard Tim Floyd had been called down there for a meeting,” Hill said Wednesday night. “It’s kind of weird that it’s Arizona where my (next) coach would go to . . .”

Hill said it’s too early to tell what he’d do because he hasn’t been told that Floyd is taking the UA job.

“It would be a good situation if (Floyd) went there and a good situation if he stayed,” Hill added. “The only thing I worry about is the recruiting class” at UA, which has no one signed for next season except for a junior college player.

“We have a good recruiting class (at USC),” Hill added. “I guess I’d have to talk to the people I got to know going to USC and see what they think about it.”

On Wednesday morning, UA athletic director Jim Livengood declined to speak about the job opening. He did not return a text message on Wednesday night. UA said no news conference had been scheduled for Thursday, but that could change.

“The coaching search is a private affair and once we conclude the process we’ll let (the media) know,” UA sports information director Tom Duddleston said.

USC sports information official Tim Tessalone said USC officials don’t comment “on these types of situations.”

Floyd, 55, has taken USC to the NCAA Tournament the last three seasons, including this year when the Trojans won the Pac-10 tourney title. He has an 85-50 record (39-33 Pac-10) at USC in four seasons.

Before USC, Floyd was head coach for the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets (2003-04) and the Chicago Bulls (1998-2001), and for Iowa State (1994-98), New Orleans (1988-94) and Idaho (1986-88). He also was an assistant at UTEP (1977-86) and Louisiana Tech (1976-77).

UA asked for permission to speak with Floyd on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times said. At a team banquet that night, he gave an emotional speech about staying at USC to win a national title, and not jumping to the NBA.

“Arizona called me and asked for permission. I gave them permission to talk to him,” USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett told the Times. “He’ll come to me and tell me what he’s decided. That’s how it works.”

Floyd turned down a multi-million contract from LSU last year, saying at the time, “This is my last job at SC.”

“If people don’t want to be here, they can go somewhere else,” Garrett told the Times. “And if Tim has decided that, I thought he was a great coach and we’ve just got to find another great coach.”

Most of Wednesday, reports of possible coaches coming and going to UA were rampant, almost changing hour to hour.

By midday, the East Valley Tribune (Mesa) reported Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel, 34, was the leading candidate. But newspapers in Norman, Okla., and Tulsa said Capel had not been contacted about the UA job and was on his way to the Final Four in Detroit.

On potential job openings, Capel told The Oklahoman on Sunday: “Write what you want. I don’t care. My name has been mentioned (for other jobs) every year I’ve been a head coach.”

Also Wednesday, former UA assistant coach Mike Dunlap accepted a two-year deal to be associate head coach at Oregon, and the Ducks will retain head coach Ernie Kent, the Register-Guard in Eugene reported.

Some thought Gonzaga’s Mark Few, also rumored to be a UA candidate, would be interested in the Oregon job if Kent had been fired.

Outgoing interim coach Russ Pennell said he “did not know anything or what was going on” with regard to the coaching search.

Arizona has been in search of a full-time head coach for five months, since the sudden retirement of Hall of Famer Olson in late October. Pennell took over as interim coach a day after Olson announced his retirement.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino, meanwhile, told Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis on Wednesday that “I’m not a candidate for the Arizona job and I never was. I am not interested in any job. I am definitely returning to the University of Louisville.”

Last week, Pitino also told reporters there was “no truth” he was interested in leaving Louisville. The Wildcats lost to Pitino’s Cardinals in the Sweet 16 on Friday.

Capel, in his third season with the Sooners, took Oklahoma (30-6) to the Elite Eight last week and to the second round last year. He has a 69-33 record at OU.

He coached Virginia Commonwealth for four years, and was the youngest head coach in Division I men’s basketball when he was hired at 27. He starred at Duke from 1993-97.


Season Rec. Pac-10 NCAAs

2005-06 17-12 8-10, 6th None

2006-07 25-12 11-7, 3rd Sweet 16

2007-08 21-12 11-7, 3rd 1st Rd.

2008-09 22-13 9-9, 5th 2nd Rd.

Totals 85-50 39-33

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