By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
It’s one week until Will Wade reaches the artificial deadline he set for filling out his staff. Things could be coming to a head soon for the two remaining spots on LSU’s bench and the supporting roles around the program.
“When we’re able to go back out for the first live period in April,” Wade said at his introductory press conference, “I want to have a full staff ready to go.”
So far, Wade’s already brought on Tony Benford, the former head coach at North Texas who has extensive ties not only in the Lone Star State, but also in the midwest from his days at Nebraska and Marquette, and along the west coast, thanks to his tenure at Arizona State.
Wade also mentioned the need for “Louisiana flavor” on his staff, though whether that’s coaches or support staff wasn’t specified.
“I’ve been down here recruiting myself some,” Wade said, “but I’m going to get the lay of the land and we’re going to hire some guys with some Louisiana flavor. We’re going to hire some guys that know this state, that know this area, that’s a priority for me.”
Who else might he add? Here are some names I’m hearing could be in the mix.
- Heath Schroyer: Schroyer has experience both as a head coach – most recently he led UT-Martin to consecutive 20-win seasons – and as an assistant. He was UNLV’s recruiting coordinator from 2011-2014, helping the Runnin’ Rebels reel in a couple of top-10 classes. Schroyer is a proven recruiter and a defensive-minded coach with connections on both coasts.
- Greg Heiar: Heiar has been Gregg Marshall’s right hand man at Wichita State for years, and he was considered to be a likely candidate to land a mid-major head coaching gig himself this offseason. He’s a former JUCO head coach (he was an incredible 164-15 at Chipola) who was a Southern Miss assistant before heading to Wichita, where he, too, has been heavily involved with the Shockers’ defense. Landing Heiar, who is well thought of in basketball circles, would be a coup for Wade, but would he leave a perennial power like Wichita for LSU?
- Shyrone Chatman: A Baton Rouge native, Chatman was a big part of bringing ESPN 100 prospect DeJon Jarreau from New Orleans to UMASS, where Chatman has been an assistant since 2008. Chatman played at Memphis and was associate head coach at UMASS last year. He helped the Minute Men get Baton Rouge native and 2018 five-star prospect Javonte Smart on campus for an unofficial visit last year. With Derek Kellogg out at UMASS, Chatman could be up for grabs this offseason.
- Wes Long: One of Wade’s assistants at VCU and Chattanooga, Long could follow him to Baton Rouge. But he’s also in the mix at a couple of head coaching jobs, including the Chattanooga job, vacated by Matt McCall, now at UMASS. Long is, pardon the pun, more of a longshot here than the others listed.
- Butch Pierre: The former LSU assistant under John Brady has been in the mix for a return to Baton Rouge, but there’s been pushback from factions who would like to see the program start fresh. Pierre was at NC State last season and certainly fits the Louisiana flavor criteria.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the two spots left on Wade’s staff are filled by two of these names. Wade should be in Phoenix this weekend for the Final Four, where he’ll likely talk to others to fill out his staff.
As far as supporting cast goes, Greg Goldin should join LSU as Director of Athletic Performance for Men’s Basketball. He was Wade’s strength coach at Chattanooga and VCU. I also look for Wade to hire his video coordinator from VCU. Alex Wharton held that position last year and was also with Wade at Chattanooga.
Lastly, Wade should get to hire some additional support staff the program hasn’t budgeted for the last couple of years. At VCU, he had five “directors,” from operations to video to player development. If Wade doesn’t have Louisiana flavor on his staff, these spots, whichever he’s allowed to hire for at LSU, could see some local hires made. If Wade’s looking for a player development guy, former Tiger Darnell Lazarre could be a fit. A member of LSU’s 2006 Final Four squad, Lazare is currently working with the Memphis Grizzlies in player development.