Mick Cronin, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Cincinnati, announced plans Tuesday to leave the university and accept a position as head coach at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), leaving UC with a void to fill.
“We will begin moving forward immediately on a national search to find our next head coach,” said Mike Bohn, UC’s director of athletics, in a news release.
The Bearcats have appeared in nine consecutive NCAA tournaments and are back-to-back American Athletic Conference Tournament champions.
So, who will replace Cronin for the 2019-20 season? Here are a few potential candidates who could take over the men’s basketball program:
Nick Van Exel
Van Exel, 47, has served as an assistant coach for the Memphis Grizzlies since 2016.
Memphis Grizzlies assistant Nick Van Exel has interest in the head coaching job at his alma mater, Cincinnati, sources tell ESPN. Jerry Stackhouse recently left Grizzlies staff for Vanderbilt job.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) April 9, 2019
Van Exel began his playing career at Trinity Valley Community College in 1989 before transferring to UC in 1991. As the starting point guard in 1991-92, Van Exel led the Bearcats to the Final Four after averaging 12.3 points and 2.9 assists.
After a 13-year NBA career, Van Exel began his coaching career in 2009 and has had stops with Texas Southern University, Atlanta Hawks, Milwaukee Bucks, Texas Legends (NBA G-League) and the Grizzlies.
“I need one of these college jobs that’s open,” Van Exel tweeted March 29.
Brannen, 45, has been the head coach of the Northern Kentucky University Norse since the 2015-16 season. He compiled an 81-51 record in NKU’s transition from Division II to Division I and was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year in 2017.
One name that is certain to be on Cincinnati’s short list is Northern Kentucky’s John Brannen. Has done a ridiculous job since taking over — transition program and has gone to a pair of NCAA’s in four years.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) April 9, 2019
The Norse were Horizon League Tournament champions in 2017 and 2019, as well regular-season champions in 2018 and 2019.
Brannen also has local ties, as he grew up in Newport, Kentucky.
Savino, 47, has been on the UC staff since the 2010-11 season. He was promoted to associate head coach in April 2018 and held the title temporarily during the 2014-15 season, as Cronin missed the final 25 games due to health reasons.
After Cronin was ejected in the second-half of the Jan. 15, 2019, win over the University of South Florida, Savino became the acting head coach for the remainder of the game.
Feel like the choice for Cincinnati is an easy one. Promote Darren Savino.— Raphielle Johnson (@raphiellej) April 9, 2019
Savino has 20-plus years of experience coaching college basketball, and his résumé includes stops at Rutgers University, Murray State University, Quinnipiac University, the University of New Mexico, East Carolina University and St. John’s University.