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St. John's given permission to talk to Paul Hewitt

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports:

Georgia Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich has given St. John’s permission to speak with Paul Hewitt about its coaching vacancy. The request from Red Storm athletics director Chris Monasch was received at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, according to Wayne Hogan, Tech’s associate AD for communications.

(UPDATE: Hewitt will interview tomorrow.)

Hewitt currently says he's happy in Atlanta. St. John's hopes it's not the same "happy" that Billy Donovan is; Donovan reportedly turned down an overture to coach St. John's for $3 million, made through back channels (allowing the Florida AD to say "no contact has been made") earlier. Hewitt has a large buyout on his contract, given as a sweetener after St. John's reached out to the Georgia Tech coach in 2004; the buyout is reported to be in the 3.5 million range. That would seem too rich for St. John's, even with an assist from Glaceau founder/ creator of Vitaminwater/ booster Mike Repole, who was outed in the Daily News, though he had been part of the rumor mill for months now.

On the plus side:

  • Hewitt has brought in some excellent recruits - a number of one-and-dones including Thaddeus Young, Javaris Crittenton, and likely Derrick Favors; also in the NBA are guys like Jarrett Jack, and Chris Bosh. AAU coaches trust him to do right by their guys. He's gotten guys to the pros.
  • Hewitt coaches in a major conference, has been to a national championship game and has 5 NCAA appearances overall (4 at Georgia Tech and 1 at Siena).
  • And he's born in Jamaica (West Indies. Ok, that's only important to me).

But the fans at Georgia Tech would love to see him gone:

  • The school might just waive his $3.6 million buyout (on Hewitt's side) to see him go.
  • Paul Hewitt has lost at least 10 games in every one of his ten seasons in Atlanta; even in the year his team went to the national championship.
  • He has had 4 losing seasons out of ten. His highest finish in the Atlantic Coast Conference is a tie for 3rd (with a 9-7 record), with an average finish lower than 6th in the 11 team conference. Total record at Georgia Tech: 172-141. Conference record: 63-97.
  • In their best season (2004), his teams turned the ball over on 20.1 percent of their possessions. That would be in the middle of the NCAA, and extremely frustrating to watch... and they have been worse since then. Style-wise, there are a lot of dribble penetrators, but few catch and shoot guys... and even the shooters like Glen Rice turn the ball over a ton.

He might be an improvement on Norm Roberts' tenure. But he could also be a frustrating coach.

If he is recruiting New York, he has a chance to bring in the best talent. Moreover, the best NYC talent isn't one-and-done worthy. It's just not. And this could work to Hewitt's advantage: one complaint about his teams is that the team lacks the cohesiveness a squad gets from playing with each other for years. St. Benedict's and the Hurleys might have a one-year player, but the area isn't as fertile as people think it is.

I don't know if the problem with Hewitt's teams is the offensive coaching; the lack of a steady, shoot-second point guard; or youth. He could surprise and be fantastic with a change of scenery. Or he could struggle to get recruits away from West Virginia's Bob Huggins and Villanova's Jay Wright and Connecticut's Jim Calhoun. And for all we know, the downgrade he will have in facilities and (likely) budget from a solid football school in the ACC to a basketball-only university in the Big East could hurt his recruiting. And he hasn't shown that he can fall back on his coaching ingenuity to this point.

But let's see where this goes. This blog will have more to say about this in the future.