We all know them. The former high school jock who still hasn't moved away from the zip code where he zipped 40-yard crossing routes to his next door neighbor. At the time the future seemed bright and the ladies were plentiful, then that Division I scholarship offer never came in the mail, and academically that jock wasn't up to snub. Quickly his less athletic peers went away, got educated, and got a career. The jock now has a labor job and is poking around the crowd on a Friday night as his former high school team takes the field.
If you think about it, college basketball has these types of townies too, and I say that endearingly. It's a far more admirable story arc: a player that's good at everything but great at nothing, loved by his coach, has a stint overseas but can never crack more than a 10-day contract in The League.
Syracuse's Gerry McNamara; Pittsburgh's Brandon Knight; just about every white guard that played at Duke in the 80s and 90s. These are just a few of the game's former players who haven't quite left the school. These somewhat local legends, more like glorified townies, used to run the floor. Now they run the stat book.
This is a weird entry to help preview the upcoming season, no?
Well, anyway, there's no doubt the 2011-2012 season will provide us with at least a handful of team leaders turned assistant coaches.
Robbie Hummel (Purdue) - Sadly, Hummel has gotten a tremendous head start if he's interested in transitioning to the sidelines. He's spent the last 18 months in street clothes during games while rehabilitating two ACL injuries. While he's excited to return to the court, these tragic setbacks have likely made pro scouts incredibly wary of committing to such damaged goods. But we all know the kid's basketball IQ and passion for the game is there. Hummel is an NBA talent, let's not mistake him for someone not good enough to play at the next level. Unfortunately, because of what he's been through the past two seasons, it may be a blessing in disguise that leads him towards a successful coaching career.
Ryan Kelly (Duke) - Thankfully the Brothers Plumlee (remember, there are three of them now) all have NBA aspirations - Mason could even be a lottery pick when he leaves Duke - otherwise, it would be quite bizarre to see them all flanking Coach K in about seven years. But this list wouldn't be complete without a Blue Devil. Their staff of assistants is the most prominent amongst their brethren, and Kelly may be the next guy to don a black suit and clipboard upon graduation. Recently named as a team co-captain, Kelly is good enough the earn a spot in the team's rotation, but it's doubtful he plays much pro ball. Perhaps he could replace Chris Collins, who's primed for a head coaching gig elsewhere.
Ray McCallum (Detroit) - The McDonald's All-American decided to play for daddy at a mid-major school. And while he'll likely get a shot at the NBA, you gotta think there's a coaching position waiting for him back on campus if things fall through. Perhaps it's a classic example of nepotism, but if the Titans win the Horizon this season (and three preseason all-conference players means they most certainly can), dad might just owe a job to son.
- DJ Cooper (Ohio) - If you're trying to quantifiably justify why a current player would make a great coach, look no further than the Bobcats leading man. Cooper was second in the country last season with a 44.7 assist percentage, while also leading the team in scoring. With Cooper being a tad undersized, it's likely he will end up as nothing more than a campus legend. But point guards naturally have a high basketball IQ, so he's certainly got my vote for moving into the coaching ranks.
- Tim Abromaitis (Notre Dame) - The quintessential wing player whose skills simply do not translate at the next level, Abromaitis will leave (and maybe return to South Bend) with exceptional career numbers and an Academic All-American award to boot. While there's nothing out there to suggest he wants to be a coach, he absolutely fits the description of someone who should at least give it a shot.
Ronald Nored (Butler) - There's no bad joke to tell here about townies being analogous to college basketball assistant coaches. Nored is genuinely a head - not assistant - coach in waiting. Just watch any interview he has ever given, and read up on the work he's doing with the next generation of players in Indianapolis. He's incredibly smart, well spoken and loves the game. Frankly, there's a far more redeeming career manning the sidelines waiting for Nored than globetrotting to continue his playing career.
Does your school or favorite team have a coach in waiting on its roster? Drop in a comment and let us know if you think they'd be good for the job.