When I saw Johnny Dawkins' name on Andy Katz's list of candidates to replace Gary Williams after the longtime Maryland head coach announced his retirement last week, I nearly spit out my coffee. Having grown up a Terps fan, the thought of athletic director Kevin Anderson replacing a legend with a promising, but unproven head coach--and Dukie--seemed preposterous. Maryland is a top 20 job, man!
Bigger names immediately surfaced, including Brad Stevens, Jamie Dixon, Jay Wright, Sean Miller, and Mike Brey. All of them were on Katz's list. Stevens, Dixon, and Wright expressed no interest in the position. Miller, who guided Arizona to the Elite Eight this season, appeared to be the leading candidate by Saturday night, but signed a contract extension to remain in Tucson. Brey, a Maryland native, is reportedly expected to sign a contract extension that will keep him at Notre Dame. So where does that leave Maryland? Would they consider Dawkins?
The latest rumored top candidate is Texas A&M head coach Mark Turgeon. The other names on Katz's list are Shaka Smart, who turned down an offer from NC State to remain at VCU last month, Mark Few, Tubby Smith, and Dawkins. Katz isn't the only media member who has made the Dawkins-to-Maryland connection. Jon Wilner weighed in on the possibility this weekend:
There’s zero doubt in my mind that Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C, a short drive from the Maryland campus, is interested.
Dawkins would leave Stanford on his own terms for an ACC job in his hometown, and the Cardinal could turn around and hire former player/assistant Eric Reveno, who has averaged 20 wins a season for the last three years at Portland and finished runner-up to Dawkins for the opening three years ago.
After Stevens said he wasn't interested, I desperately wanted Maryland to lure Miller away from Arizona. With Miller and Brey now out of the picture, I'm lukewarm about Turgeon, I don't think there's much chance Few would leave Gonzaga, and I'm terrified at the thought of Tubby Smith replacing Williams. I'd still be shocked if Dawkins was offered the job, but I'd approve of it as a Maryland fan. Based on his track record of landing highly rated prep talent at Stanford, I think Dawkins would be a recruiting force in the DC area.
As a Cardinal fan, I'd be sorry to see Dawkins go, which might put me in the minority. Stanford hasn't enjoyed much success since Dawkins replaced Trent Johnson, but I think he deserves one more year--and his first with a point guard of his choosing--to get the program back on track. That said, I'm really impressed with the job that coach Reveno has done at Portland, and he obviously knows what it takes to win at Stanford.
One way or another, I'll be rooting for a Johnny Dawkins-led team next season. We should know in the next few weeks whether Dawkins will return to Stanford, as expected, or head back to the ACC. The latter possibility no longer seems so preposterous.