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College basketball: Search begins for new UC hoops coach

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The abrupt departure of Mark Downey as the University of Charleston men's basketball coach has left the school with a quickly dwindling window of time to find his replacement.

"Right now, the most important thing is getting the best person for the job," UC Communications Director Scott Castleman said. "We obviously want to move as quickly as we can, because the new school year is about a month away.

"At the same time," he added, "we want to make sure we get the best person in that can help us on and off the floor in the Mountain East Conference."

Downey left UC to become head men's basketball coach at Division II West Alabama of the Gulf South Conference. UWA announced the hire Friday. The 41-year-old Morgantown native was a two-time UC hoops captain and coached the Eagles to winning seasons in each of his three years at the helm.

Under Downey, UC went 15-13 in 2010-11, jumped to 26-7, a national ranking and an NCAA Tournament berth in 2011-12 and had a 19-9 record in 2012-13. The program suffered a significant off-the-court blow when three players - Robbie Dreher, Terrell Lipkins and Quincy Washington - all were arrested on first-degree robbery charges in April. The three, all among the Eagles' top four returning scorers, were removed from the team.

As quickly as UC must fill the position, Castleman said the university has received correspondence from other coaches about the job just as quickly. The job opening was posted Friday morning.

"I know there's been a lot of interest already," Castleman said. "We've received a lot of calls and emails. It looks like we're going to have a good pool to choose from."

There are a number of possible candidates out there, many of whom have West Virginia connections. Below is a list of coaches that, according to Daily Mail sources, either have expressed interest or may express future interest in the job:

 

  • Bob Bolen - Bolen was hired last month as an assistant at East Tennessee State after a dominant 19-year run at Mountain State University, where he compiled a 487-123 record and won the 2004 NAIA national championship while being named NAIA national coach of the year. With Bolen in charge, Mountain State reached five national semifinals and finished No. 1 in the final NAIA poll in 2004-06.
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  • Jim Boone - Boone is a Winfield native that just finished his first season at Delta State in the Gulf South Conference after guiding West Virginia Wesleyan to a school-record 22 wins the season before. He won a school-record 228 games as California University of Pennsylvania's head coach and had head coaching stops at Robert Morris, Eastern Michigan and Tusculum.
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  •   Bret Campbell - An assistant at Austin Peay, Campbell was head coach at Tennessee-Martin from 1999-2009 and spent the 2010 season as director of operations at Murray State.
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  • Jacob Gruse - Gruse just finished his first season of college coaching as Bob Williams' assistant at WVU Tech. He has 11 years of overall coaching experience, spending eight seasons at Dan River High School in Ringgold, Va., where he took the program to four consecutive state tournaments.
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  • Paul Molinari - Currently the assistant head coach at Fairmont State, Molinari spent nine seasons as an assistant at Winthrop, along with seven seasons as a Cleveland State assistant and three years as a Wichita State assistant.
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  • Bryan Poore - The West Virginia State head coach went 10-19 last season, but that was the Yellow Jackets' first season without a winning record since 2001-02. Since becoming WVSU's head coach in 1999, the team has won at least 20 games seven times, won two West Virginia Conference regular season titles and three WVC tournament championships.
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  • Mark Richmond - This West Virginia University graduate has spent the last two seasons on Downey's UC staff. Before that, he was an assistant for two seasons at Centenary College in Shreveport, La. The Martinsburg High graduate was head manager for Bob Huggins and served as a practice player and manager for John Beilein at WVU.
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  • Rick Scruggs - Currently the Mars Hill head coach, Scruggs was the head coach at Gardner-Webb for 15 years, overseeing its transition to NCAA Division I in 2000-01 and was named the Atlantic Sun's coach of the year in 2005.
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  • Adam Williams - The Gatorade state high school player of the year at St. Albans in 2003-04, Williams has been the assistant director of operations at the University of Central Florida since September 2012. He was an assistant at WVU Tech for two years before that and was a graduate assistant at Marshall under current UCF Coach Donnie Jones. He played at Kentucky as a freshman, transferred and played two years at Marshall before forgoing his senior season to become a grad assistant.
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  • Bob Williams - The head coach at WVU Tech, he has 25 years of coaching experience, including the last 11 with the Golden Bears. Williams coached Glenville State from 1997-2002 and Jefferson Community College in New York from 1995-97.
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