CLEMSON -- Clemson athletic director Terry Don Phillips is thought to have begun traveling to interview candidates Thursday.

Former Boston College coach Al Skinner was the first candidate to be interviewed to fill Clemson's vacant men's basketball post, according to reports. Skinner and Boston College "mutually parted" ways last month.

Phillips can cross Butler coach Brad Stevens off the list.

Stevens signed a 12-year contract extension with Butler on Thursday. Stevens told The Post and Courier on Wednesday he had not been contacted by Clemson.

Two coaches with ties to Virginia Commonwealth remain candidates for the position.

As reported in The Post and Courier on Thursday, Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is a candidate according to multiple sources.

A well-placed source said Capel wants out of Oklahoma.

Another source said Capel is atop the Clemson's list, but might be more interested in the Wake Forest position, which came open after Dino Gaudio's firing Wednesday.

Capel has ties to the ACC from his playing days at Duke, and coached at VCU before taking over the Sooners' program in 2006.

Asked about the Capel-to-Clemson rumors by the Tulsa World, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said: "We went through this last year. We went through this the year before. Again, you have great coaches, I wouldn't say you ever come to expect it, but you certainly aren't surprised by any of it."

VCU's Shaka Smart, a former assistant at Clemson, is also considered a candidate for the position.

VCU athletic director Norwood Teague told the Post and Courier on Thursday he has not been contacted regarding Smart.

Smart told the Richmond Times-Dispatch he had not been contacted by Clemson.

A source said Baylor coach Scott Drew remains a candidate.

Other names being speculated as candidates are former Winthrop coach Gregg Marshall (Wichita State), Kansas assistant Joe Dooley, Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman and Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor.

--The Atlanta Journal Constitution has reported Clemson signee Marcus Thornton is considering asking for a release from his letter of intent to Clemson.

The 6-7 forward was named Mr. Georgia Basketball by the AJC and reportedly is drawing interest from Georgia Tech and Georgia should he be released from his scholarship.

--Another Clemson player with Atlanta-ties, rising sophomore guard Noel Johnson, has reportedly taken Devin Booker's wait-and-see approach regarding Clemson's new coach and his future with the program.

Clemson's other players say they expect few if any defections among their ranks.

--Purnell arrived back to Clemson Wednesday night to explain his sudden departure for the first time to his players before saying goodbye.

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