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Friday, November 28, 2014

Brad Stevens showing commitment to Butler over UCLA?

Brad StevensBrad Stevens is at the top of UCLA’s wish list when it comes to their search for a new head basketball coach, and some reports indicate that the interest is mutual, but a tweet sent by the coach suggests he may prefer to stay at Butler.

Stevens had long been believed to be at the top of the Bruins’ list, which is no surprise considering his success at Butler has made him a top candidate for any major program with a coaching vacancy. Stevens is only 36, and he led the Bulldogs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. He received offers from a number of schools after the 2009-2010 season, but he chose to sign a long-term contract extension with Butler through the 2021-2022 season.

KTLA in Los Angeles reported that Stevens was on the UCLA campus Wednesday to discuss a potential contract. ESPN reported Thursday that Stevens may be in contract negotiations — which would mesh with KTLA’s report — but they say another source dismissed that claim. Additionally, FOX Sports’ Jon Crispin — a former Bruins basketball player — reported that Stevens is probably going to be the next UCLA coach and that he was in Westwood Thursday.

However, Stevens sent a tweet Friday morning that either affirmed his commitment to the Bulldogs, or is a ploy to gain more leverage in negotiations with UCLA:

Given the way Stevens has turned down so many other offers, this tweet seems to be an indication that he is sticking with Butler.

The Bruins previously were believed to be in pursuit of Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart, but he signed an extension to remain at VCU. Other coaches mentioned in connection with the search are NC State coach Mark Gottfried and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, both of whom are former Bruins assistants. There are plenty of coaches available with NBA experience, but ESPN believes Guerrero will go after a college coach.

Other hot names this year are Gregg Marshall, who has led Wichita State to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament, and Andy Enfield, who has taken Florida Gulf Coast to the Sweet 16. Villanova’s Jay Wright and Purdue’s Matt Painter have loosely been mentioned in the search, though either of those coaches seem unlikely as possibilities.

Stevens is accomplished enough where he seems like he would be able to choose the job he wants. There are a handful of truly elite coaching jobs in college basketball; Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and UCLA probably make the list. To get the jobs at Duke or Carolina, Stevens would have to wait until Coach K or Roy Williams retire. UCLA is open now. If he is ever considering leaving Butler, this would be a good opportunity to go to one of the top programs in the country.



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