Allen Griffin was rumored to be recruited by Indiana for a vacant assistant coaching position earlier in the week before he ultimately decided to remain at Syracuse, according to reports. Though Griffin is staying, the coaching staff as it stands won’t remain intact forever.
Jim Boeheim will retire at some point, and if the administration promotes from within, there will be an assistant coaching vacancy. Of course, Griffin, Red Autry or Gerry McNamara could also seek coaching opportunities elsewhere.
If that were to happen, where could Syracuse look to fill that vacancy? Here are some ideas:
Ryan Blackwell: What is one thing that Griffin, Autry, McNamara and Boeheim all have in common? They all were Syracuse guards. With due respect to other guys on this list like Eric Devendorf (below), the coaching staff is already guard heavy. Since Mike Hopkins left to take over the job at Washington, the Orange staff has lacked someone who can develop big men. Enter Blackwell, who was a versatile forward during his time at SU, and also has extensive coaching experience both overseas and locally, including with Boeheim’s Army and Liverpool High School.
Josh Pace: Pace, a rugged forward from Syracuse’s 2003 national championship team, got into coaching starting in 2015. He started as an assistant coach with the Pepperdine Waves women’s team, before taking over as the Western New Mexico head women’s coach earlier this year. Pace joined me on The Juice on the Cuse podcast earlier in the year, and told me he keeps regular contact with Boeheim, and also plans on throwing in some zone as part of his defensive scheme.
Jason Hart: After a 10 year NBA career with nine different teams, Hart began his coaching career in 2011. He’s been an assistant under Andy Enfield at USC since 2013. Hart was a First-Team All Big East guard in his senior season and would certainly bring plenty of knowledge to the staff. But it would be difficult prying him away from Los Angles for a second time.
Stephen Thompson: Sticking with the Pac-12, Thompson has been an assistant coach at Oregon State since 2014. He also has head coaching experience at Cal State Los Angeles from 2002-2014. Thompson had a brief stint in the NBA, and was named to the Syracuse basketball All-Century Team in 2000.
Eric Devendorf: Devendorf has already spent time on the coaching staff, joining the team as the assistant strength coach from the 2016-18 seasons. He was also a special assistant at Detroit Mercy for a season. Devendorf has kept strong ties to the coaching staff, and continues to play on Boeheim’s Army. Sure, he’d be another guard on the staff, but no one can deny his passion for the game.
Lazarus Sims: Sims was part of Boeheim’s coaching staff in player development from 2007-2012, and was also an assistant coach with Binghamton from 2012-14. More recently, Sims was named the head coach of the Tampa Bay Titans of The Basketball League earlier in the year. Sims was of course SU’s point guard during its magical 1996 NCAA tournament run. Speaking of that team…
John Wallace: If someone could develop big men, it would be Wallace, who had his No. 44 jersey retired earlier in the year. He currently works for the New York Knicks in a public relations capacity, and also started a clothing line recently. Wallace was the main star behind Syracuse’s run to the 1996 title game, which included this miracle shot against Georgia in the Sweet 16.
Felisha Legette-Jack: If you’re looking for an out of the box candidate, how about Legette-Jack, who is currently the head coach of the women’s team at nearby Buffalo? Legette-Jack’s credentials are impeccable, having previously led Hofstra and Indiana. She owns a 303-261 head coaching record in 18 seasons as a head coach, and has thrived with the Bulls, with a 162-98 overall record. Legette-Jack is also a 1989 graduate of Syracuse, where she scored 1,526 points and grabbed 927 rebounds. She was named to the Big East Silver Anniversary Team in 2004.
Katie Koinski: On the same vein, Kolinski is currently the assistant head women’s basketball coach at Lafayette. She was Boeheim’s head basketball manager from 2011-2016, and graduated SU with a degree in physical education.