Last night, ESPN's Jeff Goodman quieted rumors that Cuonzo Martin was the new lead target for the Jacket's head coaching vacancy:
Cal’s Cuonzo Martin is not a candidate at Georgia Tech, sources told ESPN.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 7, 2016
This afternoon, the AJC's Ken Sugiura obtained some quotes from AD Mike Bobinski that confirmed Martin was not a candidate:
Bobinski made an oblique reference to Martin, saying the report was "about a coach that's on the West Coast at this point in time."
Bobinski called the supposed candidacy a "complete fabrication" and "100 percent, unequivocally untrue," sharing his frustration that the story had taken a life of its own.
Bobinski also said that a large percentage of reports about the search are "wholly inaccurate."
"Trust me, a lot of what has been reported and said has no relation to fact or reality," he said. "Take that for what it's worth."
Where the search goes from here is anyone's guess, but we'll be sure to update you on any new developments.
Two days after missing out on Bryce Drew, who appeared to be Tech's top target, the head coaching search appeared to be in disarray. Then, this afternoon, reports surfaced that AD Mike Bobinski is now targeting Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin. Connor Letourneau with the San Francisco Chronicle reported the news:
Georgia Tech has made Cuonzo Martin its prime target for its head-coaching vacancy, multiple sources told The Chronicle on Wednesday afternoon.
The Yellow Jackets have "zeroed in" on Martin and are "very interested" in working out a deal with him, one source with knowledge of the situation said. This comes after multiple reported possibilities for Georgia Tech’s opening have been removed from consideration.
Martin played college basketball at Purdue and was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the 1995 draft. He went on to play in the NBA and overseas for three seasons before being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. After his cancer went into remission, Martin returned to Purdue to finish his degree and was hired as an assistant coach there one year later.
Martin stayed as an assistant coach at Purdue for eight seasons, before accepting the head coaching job at Missouri State in 2008. In three years at Missouri State, he improved the team's record from 11-20 in his first season to 26-9 in his final season. In 2011, Tennessee hired Martin to replace Bruce Pearl, who was fired as part of an NCAA investigation. Martin made the postseason every year at Tennessee (2 NIT, 1 NCAA), including a Sweet Sixteen run as an 11 seed. Despite the tournament appearance, Tennessee fans campaigned for Bruce Pearl to be rehired all season long, eventually leading Martin to leave for Cal after the season ended. Last season, the Bears went 23-11, earning a 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. At all three schools, Martin has improved every year on the previous seasons record.
|NIT Second Round
|NIT Second Round
|NIT First Found
|NCAA Sweet Sixteen
|NCAA First Round
Martin is an excellent recruiter who has previous experience recruiting the Atlanta area. Jacket fans probably remember last season, when Martin and Cal were able to come into Marietta and swoop up Jaylen Brown, a top 5 player nationally in the 2015 class. In that same class, Martin was also able to secure the services of fellow 5-star PF, Ivan Rabb. Under Brian Gregory, the Jackets were seriously lacking someone who was able to secure elite talent, especially in the Atlanta area. The 2017 class in Georgia contains three 5-stars and nine 4-stars, which should make the Atlanta job appealing to a top recruiter looking to rebuild quickly.
Last month, Cal assistant coach Yann Hufnagel was fired for alleged sexual harassment. In the wake of that scandal, Cal administration announced they were going to investigate Cuonzo Martin, to confirm he properly fulfilled his responsibility reporting the allegations. This investigation has led to a delay in Cal signing Martin to a contract (still on an offer sheet), and would therefore be available for the Jackets taking, buyout free. At this point, all signs point towards Martin being innocent in the Hufnagel scandal, but the way things have been handled may have led to a rift between him and Cal administration. Letourneau reported "Martin has been interested in pursuing opportunities elsewhere for some time."
AAU basketball starts this weekend and if the Jackets still do not have a coach by that time, they will be significantly behind on the start of summer recruiting. Therefore, if there is in fact traction behind Cuonzo to Georgia Tech, I expect things to move very quickly. Make sure to stay tuned as the story continues to develop.
What are your thoughts on Cuonzo Martin? Is the the splash hire that would excite the GT fanbase?