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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Self tops candidate list

Former KU aide has reasons to stay at Illinois

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Bill Self of Illinois probably is the leading candidate to replace Roy Williams as Kansas University's men's basketball coach.

But Self, a former Oklahoma State player who served as a graduate assistant coach at Kansas under Larry Brown in 1984-85, might not be eager to leave Illinois.

"I have not been contacted by Kansas," Self said in a statement issued Monday night. "There are some programs in America we won't be able to match tradition with over time, but that doesn't mean we can't accomplish some great things here and be considered among that group."

Illinois has won Big Ten Conference championships two of the last three years. IU won 25 games last season with a starting lineup that consisted of senior Brian Cook, the Big Ten Player of the Year, three freshmen and a sophomore.

Eight of Illinois' top 10 scorers will return for the 2003-2004 season.

"We're in a great situation, and in the immediate future Illinois has the opportunity to springboard nationwide among the great programs," Self said. "I'm the coach at Illinois. We're happy where we are."

After last season, Self signed a five-year contract extension that will guarantee him about $1 million a year. In addition, the 40-year-old coach will receive a $500,000 annuity if he stays for those five years. At Kansas, Roy Williams earned a base annual salary of only about $130,000, but his total package was well over $1 million a year.

Other possible candidates include:

  • Fourth-year Marquette coach Tom Crean, 37, who led the Golden Eagles to their first Final Four since 1977. The former Michigan State, Pittsburgh and Western Kentucky assistant led the Eagles to 26- and 27-win seasons the past two years.
  • Mark Turgeon, who played at KU from 1984-87, has been head coach at Wichita State the past three years after working as an Oregon assistant five years, one year as a Larry Brown aide with the Philadelphia 76ers and two years as head coach at Jacksonville State. Turgeon, 38, also assisted Roy Williams from 1989 to 1992 at KU.

"I am curious about who will become the next head coach," Turgeon told the Wichita Eagled. "I'm not necessarily interested for myself, but KU basketball is very important to me, obviously. It has been since I can remember."

  • Fourth-year Gonzaga coach Mark Few, 40, is another possibility. Few has compiled a 105-29 mark the past four season, including a 24-9 mark this past year. He led the Zags to a pair of NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, losing in the second round to Arizona this year.
  • Notre Dame's Mike Brey, 44, is another possibility. The Duke graduate is 165-83 in eight years as a head coach, five years at Montana and three at Notre Dame.
  • Memphis' John Calipari, 44, worked one year as a Larry Brown aide. Calipari, a former head coach at Massachusetts, has been at Memphis for three seasons.

Other possibilities are Michigan's Tommy Amaker, Cal's Ben Braun, and perhaps Brown, who guided KU to the 1988 NCAA championship.

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