By: Trey Walker
As we head into the final week of college basketball, some programs have already gotten a head start on filling coaching spots. One notable position was filled today by a familiar face from our area. Let’s take a look at the biggest hiring from today’s Coaching Carousel….
– Panthers tap Duke assistant Jeff Capel to lead basketball program
The Pitt of Misery looks a little less worse today. The University of Pittsburgh has supposedly reached an agreement with Jeff Capel to take over the reigns as head coach for the Panthers. Capel should bring stability in place of the somewhat tumultuous wake left by his predecessor, Kevin Stallings. Capel is widely known for his recruiting ability. Under his direction, Duke has managed to land the #1 recruiting class in the nation for the last 3 seasons. Aside from his ability to recruit, Capel also brings plenty of coaching experience to Pitt. Prior to teaming up with Coach K, he served as the head coach of both Oklahoma (5 seasons) and VCU (4 seasons).
In a statement today, Mike Krzyzewski responded to the departure: “Jeff Capel is one of the most dynamic coaches in the country. He possesses championship-level experience as both a head and assistant coach”.
Due to the state of disrepair in Pittsburgh, I think it might take a couple years for Capel to find his place, especially as the ACC continues to grow as the nation’s premier college basketball conference. However, Capel’s recruiting touch is unparalleled to anyone in the game today and if he can continue that at Pitt, he will restore success to the ailing program.
On the flip side, this is a HUGE loss for Duke. Coach K lost his closest confidant and best recruiter from his bench. He will now look to newcomers Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer to fill the massive void Capel will leave.
Other North Carolina schools with changes or vacancies:
UNC-Charlotte: (HIRE)- UVA’s Ron Sanchez took over for Mark Price ahead of the 49ers 2018-2019 campaign. This will be his first job as a college head coach.
High Point: (HIRE)- After getting the boot from Memphis in just 2 seasons, Tubby Smith returns home to coach his alma mater, claiming his new role with the Panthers as his “dream job”.
Western Carolina: (DEPARTURE)- Larry Hunter called it quits after leading the Catamounts for 13 seasons.
UNC-Asheville: (DEPARTURE)- They say all good things must come to an end, and that is an appropriate fit for Nick McDevitt’s time at UNCA. The former Bulldog guard coached his team to 2 Big South Regular Season titles and a NCAA tournament bid. Middle Tennessee plucked McDevitt to lead their program last week.
East Carolina: (DEPARTURE)- Longtime coach, Jeff Lebo resigned earlier this season after an unsuccessful run with the Pirates. Assistant coach, Michael Perry was given the interim job but isn’t considered as a serious candidate. Expect the Pirates to take their time filling this job, especially following the buyout of athletic director, Jeff Compher.