Candidates Narrowed as Coaching Search Continues


Men’s basketball head coach Steve Lavin has identified three likely candidates to fill his vacant assistant coaching spot, two familiar with the situation told The Torch.

Darrick Martin, who crossed paths with Lavin when the former was a point guard at UCLA in the early 1990s, is the frontrunner for the job, while Saint Louis assistant Jim Whitesell is also under consideration. Promoting Special Assistant/Advisor Gene Keady is also an option for the third-year head coach, who is not necessarily seeking a like-for-like replacement of departed assistant Mike Dunlap, who left St. John’s to take over the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats.

A decision could be reached within the next seven days to ten days. However, with the pressure of bringing in a big recruiting class gone this season, Lvin feels less urgency to hire someone and could leave the position open until as laste as Oct. 1, a source said.

Martin, the favorite to land the job, played for UCLA from 1990-1994, overlapping with Lavin’s time as an assistant coach to Jim Harrick. He played professionally in the NBA and the CBA for more than a decade. Whitesell is currently the associate head coach at Saint Louis, but was recently passed over for the interim head coaching job after current head coach Rick Majerus took a leave of absence last week.

Promoting Keady is seen by the team as an option should no other options pan out. However, if promoted from his part-time position to a full-time assistant, he may not be able to go back to his advisor job because of NCAA rules.

Dunlap acted as the head coach for all but four games during the 2011/12 season first when Lavin underwent surgery to cure him of prostate cancer and later when the coach returned to the sidelines too soon without enough rest. Dunlap went 11-17 while leading the Red Storm.

Following the year of being thrown into the “gladiator pit”, as Lavin likes to call the Big East schedule, Dunlap landed himself a head-coaching job at the NBA level with the Bobcats. With the 54-year-old, who is known as the “tactician” amongst college basketball circles, heading to the professional ranks, St. John’s found itself in need of a new coach to fill a role that will continue to play a big part this year with the further development of a young team.

The full Red Storm squad will be seen in action for the first time on Oct. 12 as they take the court for the annual Red Storm Tip-Off event.