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Three coaches dominate rumor mill in Alabama basketball coaching search

Shaka Smart, Steve Prohm and Gregg Marshall
Shaka Smart, Steve Prohm and Gregg Marshall

With the Alabama coaching search in full swing, three names seem to be coming to the forefront. Who are they?

Gregg Marshall – Head Coach, Wichita State. (Age 52)
Marshall graduated from Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, and started his coaching career there as an assistant in 1985. He also spent eight years as an assistant at the College of Charleston and two more at Marshall University before accepting his first head coaching job at Winthrop University, where he spent nine season. In 2007, Marshall accepted the job at Wichita State where he currently has the Shockers set to face Notre Dame in the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

As the head coach for Winthrop, Marshall had an overall record of 194-83 in nine seasons. There, he lead the Eagles to five regular season Big South Championships, and seven Big South tournament championships. Due to their dominance in conference, Winthrop became a regular in the NCAA tournament under Marshall, making seven trips in his nine seasons, and advancing to the round of 32 in 06-07, his final season before leaving for Wichita State.

His success has continued as head coach of the Shockers, where he took over a struggling program, and now in his eighth season, has made it to the big dance four straight seasons. In his first season (07-08), Marshall’s Shockers were 11-20. He improved to 17-17 in year two, 25-10 with an appearance in the NIT in year three, and 29-8 with a victory over Alabama to win the NIT Championship in his fourth season. Over the last four years, the Shockers have advance in the NCAA tournament each year, made it to the final four in 2013, earned a one seed in 2014 and lost to Kentucky in the round of 32, and have now advanced to the sweet 16 this year with last nights win over in-state power Kansas.

Sources say Marshall is the early frontrunner, with the Tide possibly offering to pay him as much as $3 million per year. However, he has indicated before that he would not be interested in going to any school that is not a perennial power in their conference. Would the money be enough to lure him to Tuscaloosa? ESPN’s Andy Katz doubts it.

Steve Prohm – Head Coach, Murray State (age 40)
Prohm is an Alabama graduate, and was a student assistant for the team while in college. Prohm learned under current Texas A&M head coach Billy Kennedy, starting in 1998 as his assistant at Centenary College, then at Southeastern Louisiana University, and again at Murray Stats University from 2006 through 2011.

In 2011, Prohm was promoted to Head Coach of Murray State after Kennedy took off for Texas A&M. As head coach, he has lead the Racers to an impressive 103-28 record, one Ohio Valley conference championship, and one NCAA tournament appearance, where the Racers advanced to the round of 32. This year, many say Prohm’s squad was snubbed after being left out of the NCAA tournament with a 28-5 record and a top 25 national ranking.

If Prohm gets an offer from UA, he will almost certainly take it. It’s his dream job.

Shaka Smart – Head Coach, VCU (age 37)
Shaka graduated from Kenyon College on Ohio, and earned his masters at California University of Pennsylvania while beginning his coaching career as an assistant. Smart was also an assistant at Akron and Clemson before coaching under Billy Donovan at Florida. In 2009, he was hired by VCU as Head Coach after Anthony Grant took off for Alabama.

Smart’s VCU Rams have advanced to the NCAA tournament five straight seasons, with a final four appearance in 2011. He has an overall record of 163-56 as VCU’s head coach. The Rams were knocked out in the first round of the tournament each of the last two seasons.

Smart is another coach whose name is mentioned every time a big job opens up. It will be difficult for the Tide to pull him away from his current job, even with a significant pay increase. Unfortunately, the program is just not viewed as a desirable destination for most of the hot coaching prospects right now.

But with the financial resources Alabama has at its disposal, that could quickly change.

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