NBA Coach Retreads Line Up For USC Gig

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett needs to make a big splash with the hiring of his next men’s basketball coach, if for no other reason than to stop the freefall the program is suddenly in.

So how about Coach Bill Fuller from “Hang Time,” also known as Reggie Theus, the former NBA star who was just let go because he wasn’t good enough for the Sacramento Kings? He had success coaching at New Mexico prior to the NBA gig (and really did pretty well in Sacramento, the sad state of that roster is not on him).

Or how about the guy best known for being choked by Latrell Sprewell? P.J. Carlesimo was let go last season because he wasn’t good enough for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He did take Seton Hall deep in the NCAA dance as a coach, although that was another lifetime ago.

Those are your top two candidates to be the next head coach at USC. Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons has interviewed, too. Notice the trend here is NBA guys — no college coaches in the mix. That makes some sense, with a hard hit program Garrett need to make big splash of a hiring. And an ex-NBA coach carries some weight with recruits — he knows what it’s like at the level they all want to be at.

Of course, the other side of that is no college coach worth his salt will go near USC right now. First, all the talent has fled the sinking ship — Demar DeRozan and Taj Gibson are in the NBA Draft and three of the school’s top recruits for next year have asked and been granted out of their letters of intent. Basically, only two guys who saw decent minutes last year are coming back and not a lot of freshman with big game are coming in.

And it may be hard to get them in the future if sanctions are coming down. The NCAA is investigating the O.J. Mayo recruitment by the turn-tail-and-run former coach Tim Floyd (which has been combined with the football recruitment of Reggie Bush into one big NCAA storm headed to the USC campus).

Theus and Carlesimo can coach — the question is how good can they really be with one hand tied behind their back? Either would be the kind of splash USC wants. Whether or not that is enough is another question all together.

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