Mississippi State Sports Blog


Article Comment 

So.....what's next for Mississippi State and the men's basketball coaching search?


The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog detailed who could be occupying the offices at the Mize Pavilion.

The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog detailed who could be occupying the offices at the Mize Pavilion. Photo by: Courtesy of MSU athletics


Matt Stevens


STARKVILLE -- As we reported first, Mississippi State University has hired the private firm Parker Executive Search to assist in the process of filling the men's basketball coach opening. 


The Dispatch confirmed this transaction Thursday evening through sources inside school administration after MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin said it was likely the direction they would move in the process. 


Stricklin said the inclusion of a private search firm along with a small circle of administrators inside the university is to communicate with candidates without having to seek interest before requesting permission from the school to interview the person. 


"More of that is logistics-based than anything else, because they can do a lot of groundwork and make connections," Stricklin said "Especially in a situation where people are playing and you want to be respectful but you also want to put feelers out. I think sometimes, especially in basketball, that's helpful." 


The hiring of Parker Executive Search is interesting because of where the firm was founded and has one of its bigger offices - Atlanta. The Georgia Dome hosts one of the four Regional sites this week in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight rounds of this NCAA tournament so it's not inappropriate to suggest if Stricklin and MSU are interested in one of the coaches who has a team at that site, contacts and interest could be gauged in-person this weekend.  




-- This weekend University of Kentucky officials were unable to confirm to The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog Mississippi State executives had requested permission to interview Wildcats assistant coach Kenny Payne. BulldawgJunction.com first reported his name as a candidate last week. Payne, a native of Laurel, Miss., is in his second year with John Calipari and Kentucky men's basketball after spending six seasons as an assistant at Oregon under Ernie Kent.  


Payne is nationally recognized as one of the game's top recruiters thanks to his connections with Nike consultant William Wesley, Payne played a key part in John Calipari's 2011 recruiting class, the school's third consecutive top-ranked class. All four of UK's freshmen are ranked in the top 25 of most major recruiting services. 


During his tenure at Oregon, Payne helped the Ducks burst onto the national scene with two NCAA Tournament Appearances in 2007 and 2008. Oregon also claimed one Pacific-10 Tournament title and three Ducks were selected in the first and second rounds of the NBA Draft under Payne.  


Prior to coaching, Payne traveled the globe playing basketball for 10 different professional leagues. In 1989, Payne was chosen in the first round and 19th overall in the NBA Draft, playing four years for the Philadelphia 76ers. 


A four-year letterwinner at Louisville from 1985-89, Payne joined the Cardinals from Northeast Jones High School in Laurel, Miss., where he was a Parade All-American and the state's player of the year. Payne helped lead Louisville to the 1986 NCAA national championship as a sophomore when he appeared in 34 games and averaged 3.6 points per game. As a senior, Payne averaged 14.5 points and 5.7 rebounds and was named Second-Team All-Metro Conference. 




-- ESPN.com college basketball reporter Andy Katz said Sunday Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall "isn't a lock" to become the next coach at the University of South Carolina because he's very happy with the Shockers program. The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog would translate that to mean he may not be in play for MSU as well. Wichita State men's basketball coach Gregg Marshall earned a $100,000 raise last year to take his salary to $900,000 a year in a seven-year extension through 2018 which automatically renews each year. 


"Our men's basketball program is in great hands," WSU athletics director Eric Sexton said in the release in May 2011. "I believe Coach Marshall has and will continue to coach Wichita State to be a national contender, and I want him to be here for a long time doing just that." 


Also included in the contract are items such as: Marshall can earn several bonuses annually, including $18,000 for a conference title or conference tournament title; $8,000 for an NIT appearance; $18,000 for an NCAA Tournament berth, $36,000 for a spot in the NCAA's round of 16, $54,000 for the Final Four and $90,000 for an NCAA title.  


Marshall and his staff is provided a private plane for a minimum of six recruiting trips each year. Chartered planes with at least 30 seats will be provided for all away games, although the contract allows for busing to trips to nearby games such as Missouri State in Springfield and Tulsa. 


Should Marshall leave WSU before his contract expires, he must pay WSU $325,000 within 30 days.  


"If I were Mississippi State, I'd try to beat South Carolina to Gregg Marshall, pointing out the difference in recent track record between the two schools," Sporting News national college basketball writer Mike DeCourcy said. 




-- After going through arguably the most memorable season in Murray State men's basketball history, Racers first-year coach Steve Prohm was adamant with the media after his team's third round loss to 3-seed Marquette Saturday that he would be back roaming the sidelines in Murray, Ky. 


"I'll be back," Prohm said in the Saturday post-game press conference. "I love Murray, and I want to be at Murray. We signed a great class, and we have great kids coming back. We have a great future." 


Prohm, who took over the program last May when Billy Kennedy left for Texas A&M, figures to be a hot name in the coaching search carousel after guiding the Racers, picked to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference, to arguably the greatest season in school history. 


Murray State went 31-2, winning both the regular-season and conference tournament titles. The Racers won just the third NCAA Tournament game in school history by beating Colorado State University Thursday and were in The Associated Press Top 25 since December. 


Prohm was the lead recruiter and a key part of one of the most successful periods of the Murray State program from 2006-11 which included three straight Ohio Valley Conference regular-season championships in the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He was also part of MSU's 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where the Racers scored their second win in program history with a victory over Vanderbilt in 2010. Prohm recruited Murray State star guard Isaiah Canaan out of Biloxi, Miss., who averaged 19.1 points per game this season. He was a first-team Sporting News All-American and the OVC Player of the Year. 




-- Mississippi Valley State coach Sean Woods is being more diplomatic in hiding his feelings toward wanting an opportunity to be the next coach at MSU.  


The 41-year-old coach, who led the Delta Devils to the NCAA Tournament this season after winning the Southwestern Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, stated he had "no comment" on the MSU opening to The Dispatch in a short phone interview Monday.  


"I just don't want to get too far out there in my comments at this time about that situation," Woods said Monday.  


As a player at Kentucky, Woods was a member of a senior-laden team colloquially known as the "Unforgettables". Coached by Rick Pitino and also including fellow seniors Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, and John Pelphrey, surprised many by garnering a No. 2 seed and reaching the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament that year. 


Woods just finished his third season at MVSU after most recently serving as director of basketball operations and then assistant coach at Texas Christian University. Woods, who also served as an assistant coach at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi for a season, began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant at High Point University, where he assisted in game and practice preparation, player development and scouting, and also helped coordinate on- and off-campus recruiting efforts. 




All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.



back to top






Follow Us:

Follow Us on Facebook

Follow Us on Twitter

Follow Us via Email