In the week since the Steve Roccaforte Era ended, the names that have been bandied about by local media and fans as the next Lamar basketball coach really make you wonder if everybody just wants more of the same.
Some of the names that have been mentioned are Pat Knight, who went 1-1 against Lamar at Tech and Alvin Brooks, the former Lamar player who did zero as the head coach at the University of Houston.
If the powers that be at Lamar hire one of these also-rans, expect an extension of the era of staleness.
But let me throw a name out there that no one is talking about and should be — if those aforementioned powers that be are serious about making the men’s program viable again.
Terry Evans. Who? Terry Evans.
For starters, unlike the names that have been mentioned as possible candidates, Evans is a proven winner. He’s currently the head coach of Division II power Central Oklahoma, where he’s put up a ridiculous 193-80 record in nine seasons at the helm and is coming off a 30-4 season, where his Broncho team lost in the regional championship.
Under Evans’ watch, Central Oklahoma has played in seven national tournaments and won five Lone Star Conference North Division titles with seven 20-plus win seasons.But that just scratches the surface of what Evans could do for Lamar University. He’s currently in contention for the job at his alma mater, Oklahoma, where he played for … you guessed it. Billy Tubbs.
From 1989-1993, Evans, a four-year starter at point guard, made his mark on Sooner Nation, leaving the school as the all-time leader in 3-pointers made (259), 3-point attempts (698) and assists (651). He ranks second in steals (265) and 13th in points scored (1,361). Not too shabby.
What’s even better is that, assuming he doesn’t get the Oklahoma position — and with all due respect to Evans, there are some big names contesting for the job — he wants to be at Lamar.
“I am very interested in the job at Lamar, so much that I have already applied,” Evans told The Examiner in phone interview. “Coach Tubbs and I are good friends. We talked and he thought I should apply for the job at Lamar.”
When Tubbs returned to coaching at Lamar, the Cardinals hosted Central Oklahoma in 2004 and narrowly escaped an upset by winning 78-73.
Evans’ resume is impressive beyond what he’s done at Central Oklahoma. He has won at every level, plus basketball is in his DNA. His father, Eddie, was a two-time All-Big Eight point guard at Oklahoma and coached and won three state championships in high school and was the head coach at Central Oklahoma from 1978-82.
As a high school player, Evans helped guide Millwood High School to three consecutive state titles before playing for the Sooners. After graduating from Oklahoma with a degree in business management and a master’s in human relations, Evans coached in the high school ranks at Midwest City High School in Oklahoma, and his team went on a 100-11 run and won three Class 6A state titles. He also was the director of basketball operations at the University of Oklahoma in 2001-02.
So while it’s easy to be impressed with Evans’ credentials, the next question is can the guy recruit in Texas considering he’s an Okie.
“I have former college teammates all over Texas,” said Evans. “Literally one in every city. I also have very good friends that work in the AAU circuit.” Evans likely used his sources because he has no recruiting budget at Central Oklahoma.
It doesn’t hurt that the best player on Evans’ roster from last season is a Texan, out-going senior Dauntae Williams from Missouri City, who prepped at Fort Bend Elkins. The 6-foot-4 Williams led the team in scoring with 20.9 points per game, and Evans says that he will likely be picked in the NBA Draft later this summer.
“UCO has a policy in place where most of the scholarships have to be given to players in Oklahoma,” he said. “But Dauntae is from Texas. He was one of my top players on the team and is getting looks by several NBA teams.”
Tubbs was unavailable for comment but was quoted by the Tulsa World regarding Evans and the Oklahoma job — and while you’d expect Tubbs to say nice things about a former player, Evans sure sounds a lot like what Tubbs and Company are looking for in the next Lamar head coach.
“As far as circles and Xs, Terry’s record speaks for itself,” Tubbs told the newspaper. “We played against him a couple of times when I went back to coaching at Lamar. We brought them in for exhibition games, and he was always tough to play against.”
Tubbs went on to say that Evans is very good with players and has a great personality. “I’m really proud of him would be the best way to put it.”
“Coaching’s coaching, and recruiting’s recruiting,” Tubbs said to the Tulsa World. “If you can do both at the D-II level, you can do them at D-1.”
Last week, I said Lamar has to hit a homerun with this hire. They need it, and there’s no more room for mediocrity. If Evans is passed over for the Oklahoma job, this could be Lamar’s first homerun hire in the men’s program in more than two decades.
Roccaforte interviewing at Tech, others
Steve Roccaforte could soon be leaving Beaumont. Sources say that Roc will make a trip to Lubbock to meet with good friend Billy Gillespie, who was just hired as the basketball coach at Texas Tech.
He will also visit with Auburn head coach Tony Barbee and more than likely meet with Kentucky head coach and former boss John Calipari. The Wildcats are scheduled to play Ohio State in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament on March 25 in New Jersey.
Fred Davis contributed reporting for this column.
Chad Cooper can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or at cooper [at] theexaminer [dot] com.