Nick Van Exel

Nick Van Exel is an assistant basketball coach for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies and is a potential candidate for the head coaching position at the University of Cincinnati. Van Exel played for the UC from 1991-93 and in the NBA until 2006.

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.

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.

John Brannen

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.

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.

Darren Savino

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.

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.

Managing Editor

Matt Huffmon has been with The News Record since 2018 as staff reporter, sports editor, and managing editor. He has bylines with The Plain Dealer/, and this summer, he will be a communications intern with Kentucky Speedway.