After two unsuccessful attempts to bring in some big name coaches, Rick Barnes and Lon Kruger have been targeted to be the next UCLA basketball head coach.
Here we go again as Round 3 of the UCLA basketball head coaching search commences. Today it was reported that Tennessee’s Rick Barnes and Oklahoma’s Lon Kruger are the newest candidates for the head coaching position.
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The Bruins, who are the most storied program in NCAA basketball history, have been without a legitimate head coach since they severed ties with former coach Steve Alford back on New Year’s Eve. The UCLA athletic department has since targeted several candidates for the open position but we have not heard major rumblings until the regular season started to come to a close.
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Two weeks ago, John Calipari was linked to the search, but that ended with him signing a lifetime contract at Kentucky.
That forced UCLA to head in a different direction with the search and targeted TCU’s Jamie Dixon. Reports indicated that UCLA and Dixon were close to a deal, but could not come to terms as UCLA was unwilling to pay the $8 million buyout.
So now UCLA is moving into the next phase of their search with Barnes as the apparent favorite. After his interview, it was reported that the Volunteer’s coach would agree to be the next UCLA basketball coach if offered the job.
Barnes, who is 64, led Tennessee to one of their best seasons in school history as they finished 31-6, were co-regular season champions in the SEC and made it to the Sweet 16. He topped this by winning National Coach of the Year.
Barnes has been a head coach since 1987, making stops at George Mason, Providence, Clemson, Texas, and Tennessee. He has an overall record of 692-364 (.655).
The other name that has been reported is Lon Kruger out of Oklahoma. Kruger, who is two years older than Barnes, has been around a while longer as he started coaching in 1982. For the last eight years, he has been in charge of Oklahoma where he has gone 160-102 (.604). He has gone to the NCAA Tournament six of the last eight years and has two Sweet 16s and a Final Four appearance