SAN DIEGO – It could very well be Kevin Willard’s last act as Seton Hall’s head basketball coach, and it was incredible.
After TCU eliminated the Pirates from the first round of the NCAA Tournament, and they were asked to respond to speculation that he would take the vacancy in Maryland, Willard spoke honestly and in all likelihood prophetically about what’s next for the show. .
He endorsed former right-hand man Shaheen Holloway, who just led Saint Peter’s to a first-round victory over Kentucky, as his successor.
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Here is the full text of his answer:
“I’ll give you exactly what I can tell you. I have an agent that I haven’t talked to yet. I don’t know who he’s talking to. I have no idea. But when I get home, I’ll talk to my agent and we’ll discuss things.
“I’ve had three different agents in the last month. So my original agent that I had for 12 years (Jordan Bazant) went into broadcast television. I’ll be honest with you: If I’m not here next year, I would love for Shaheen Holloway to be here, it would be the happiest thing that could happen to me.”
When asked about his reaction to the Kentucky upset and what Holloway has accomplished at Saint Peter’s, Willard was effusive.
“I’ll tell you what, I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever been,” he said. “I have never seen a game so closely and with such attention.”
The two worked side by side for three years at Iona and eight at Seton Hall, rebuilding both programs from the ashes.
“I’ve never been so happy for a young man that, when I hired him at Iona, he was an assistant at St. Pat’s,” Willard said. “And he has an incredible knowledge of the game, an incredible thirst for the game. He’s a great person, a great teacher, and he’s going to be a great leader for many, many years to come. It was one of my best days as a director.” coach.”
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It should be noted that Holloway doesn’t need Willard’s backing. He’s already a favorite son, having starred in Hall’s last team that made the Sweet 16, in 2000. He has a great relationship with current Seton Hall athletic director Bryan Felt, who hired him from Saint Peter’s in 2018. And any skepticism about Holloway’s suitability for a Big East job that might have remained among other Pirates power brokers evaporated the moment he cut the net in the MAAC Tournament.
There will be no “national” coaching search when Willard leaves. No search company. There is no need. Holloway is the perfect fit. The favorite son doesn’t even have to change residence.
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In short, while Willard’s response certainly seems like a breach of protocol because Saint Peter’s has a round of 16 game on Saturday against Murray State, and because he sucks at having one foot out as he prepares for the biggest game of the season, he basically vocalized what everyone on both sides of the Seton Hall-Saint Peter relationship already knew.
Remember, Saint Peter’s athletic director, Rachelle Paul, came from the Hall. So did Holloway’s assistant principal, Ryan Whalen, and several administrators from the Jersey City school’s athletic department.
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They all knew the sheet music. Now the public knows it too.
Jerry Carino has covered the New Jersey sports scene since 1996 and the pace of college basketball since 2003. He is an Associated Press Top 25 voter. Contact him at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: Seton Hall basketball coach Kevin Willard endorses Shaheen Holloway