Michigan basketball coaching search is speeding up

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has entered the interview phase of the athletic department’s search for a new men’s basketball coach.

Manuel was scheduled to speak with Providence head coach Ed Cooley about the job on Monday before interviewing Miami Heat assistant and former U-M star Juwan Howard on Tuesday, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. A source also said Manuel has talked with current Michigan assistants Luke Yaklich and Saddi Washington about the job.

A date for Manuel’s decision has not been determined, but a source told the Free Press a hire could be made this week.

It’s unclear if or when Butler coach LaVall Jordan, a former Michigan assistant, will interview with Manuel. Jordan had been on Michigan’s candidate list since John Beilein resigned from his post at Michigan to become the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers on May 13.

Cooley, 49, has been at Providence since 2011. Manuel is familiar with his work from his days as Connecticut’s athletic director, when both programs competed in the Big East. Cooley, a Providence, Rhode Island, native who played at Stonehill College in Massachusetts, got his first Division I assistant job at Rhode Island in 1996 before joining Al Skinner’s staff at Boston College in 1997.

After helping Boston College to five NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 run, Cooley took over a Fairfield program that was coming off a nine-win season. Cooley was 92-69 at Fairfield, with 23- and 25-win seasons his last two years. He took over at Providence in 2011 and has made five NCAA tournament appearances in eight years. He has signed four top-25 recruiting classes at Providence and has coached five players who had NBA careers, including former first-rounder Kris Dunn. In an anonymous CBS poll of college coaches conducted last year, Cooley was listed as the second-most underappreciated head coach in America, behind Davidson’s Bob McKillop.

Cooley made $2.6 million last season at Providence, a private school. His buyout is not publicly known. Cooley has a 162-110 record with the Friars.

Howard, of course, has a great deal of support inside the Michigan basketball community — notably from his former Fab Five teammates.

Former Michigan stars Jalen Rose and Chris Webber endorsed Howard for the job last week, as did former Michigan standout Mark Hughes. Over the weekend, ex-Fab Fiver Jimmy King also threw his support behind Howard.

Howard, 46, has been an NBA assistant coach with the Miami Heat since 2013. He’s had multiple NBA head-coaching interviews, including a recent talk with the Minnesota Timberwolves (who are reportedly set to hire Ryan Saunders). Howard has never been a head coach and he’s never coached in college, though his knowledge of the game has been respected in basketball circles for some time.

Manuel, who has been working with the search firm, Turnkey Search, during this hiring process, spent most of last week having conversations with various coaching representatives about prospective candidates.

Things have sped up now, though, as Manuel could be inching closer to a final decision.

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Posted by Tribune News Services

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