Baylor's Drew latest serious candidate as search heats up

Drew

CLEMSON -- Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips is believed to have conducted a series of interviews Thursday and Friday, with more possibly coming today as the university continues its search for a new men's basketball coach.

Baylor coach Scott Drew spoke with Clemson officials Friday, according to a source. He is believed to be interviewing for the position today along with Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel.

The source speculated Drew could be near the top of the list.

Another source said Wright State coach Brad Brownell spoke with Clemson officials Friday after a confirmed meeting Thursday. Brownell was reached by The Post and Courier on Friday and was asked about contact with Clemson.

"I don't comment either way," said Brownell, who led UNC Wilmington to the NCAA tournament twice in four years before taking over the Wright State program in 2006.

Tigerillustrated.com and the Spartanburg Herald Journal reported Friday that Wofford coach Mike Young met with Phillips. In his eighth year at Wofford, Young led the Terriers to 26 wins and a Southern Conference title. Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor also met with Clemson officials Friday.

Multiple sources said Friday that Ohio coach John Groce has emerged as a coach of interest for Clemson.

Groce, 38, led Ohio to an upset win against Georgetown in the NCAA tournament and was credited with being a key recruiter in bringing together Ohio State's "Thad Five" recruiting class that included Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr. Ohio University officials declined to comment on whether Groce had been contacted.

Former Boston College coach Al Skinner reportedly met with Clemson on Thursday.

Whoever the next coach is might have quite a few decisions to make regarding Clemson assistants.

A source said Friday departing Clemson coach Oliver Purnell will likely only bring one assistant with him to DePaul in part due to a DePaul mandate, and in part due to pressure from Chicago-area prep coaches who want certain assistants retained.

It is critical Purnell have a portion of his DePaul staff with ties to Chicago.

As for Clemson players, add Noel Johnson to the list of Tigers on the fence.

Johnson is considering transferring, though it is not because of Purnell's departure.

Like Devin Booker who had been unhappy playing under Purnell, a source said Johnson was similarly dissatisfied with playing time.

Clemson signee Marcus Thornton has asked to be released from his letter of intent, though he is still considering Clemson.

Reach Travis Sawchik at tsawchik@postandcourier.com and check out his Clemson blog at www.postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks