Nothing has been made official, and a formal announcement will likely have to wait until sometime later this week, but save for putting pen to paper and tying up all loose contractual ends, Brian James will become the next member of new Northwestern coach Chris Collins’ staff. That’s the word out of Philadelphia, James’ current city of employment, where he works as an assistant for 76ers coach Doug Collins.
The elder Collins will not return as 76ers coach next season, according to Ken Berger of CBS Sports, which made James – a well-respected assistant with 13 years of NBA experience and 20 spent toiling on the Chicago high school circuit, including Collins’ Glenbrook North team – a coaching free agent, and an obvious target for son Chris’s Northwestern staff.
Just over a week ago, Northwestern announced Collins would retain longtime assistant Tavaras Hardy, who was reportedly coveted by several Big Ten schools. Keeping Hardy and Adding James are two early and encouraging moves for the long term health of Collins’ tenure. Recruiting is the elemental fuel of any successful program, and Collins is wasting no time on that front. His ties to the area, history working with the winningest college coach in Division I history and experience with Team USA are obvious selling points.
An NBA assistant of James' caliber, one with deep knowledge of the area’s highschool landscape and more than a decade’s worth of professional tutelage, is an excellent addition (if true) for Collins to make less than one month on the job.
The 76ers play their final game of the season Wednesday night, at which point James will be free to traverse the Collins’ family tree and join former highschool pupil and McDonald’s All American selection Chris. Collins is expected to make one more addition to his staff. Former Duke guard Jon Scheyer, a 2006 McDonald’s All American selection who Collins recruited to the Blue Devils out of Glenbrook North, was once thought to be a strong candidate, but a report from CBS’ Jeff Goodman over the weekend indicated Scheyer would return to Duke as a special assistant to coach K. Another former Blue Devils guard and current Ohio State assistant, Greg Paulus, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.
Speculating about assistant No. 3 is an exercise better saved for a later date. In the meantime, everything but an official announcement indicates Collins has made a big-time addition to his staff. The only way Collins can trump this news this early in his tenure? By ensuring the most decorated recruit in program history, Jaren Sina, signs back on with the Wildcats during the upcoming spring signing period (which begins Wednesday, April 17). After all, isn’t that part of what great assistants are for, luring top prospects and elevating your program’s talent base?
With James on board, even if Sina decides elsewhere, Collins has two respected coaches well-versed in Chicago’s recruiting channels and outposts. That’s an awfully good place to start.
We’ll have more on James reported hiring if/when it becomes official.