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Minorities factoring heavily in hoops search

By Denny O'Brien

East Carolina could be on the verge of a groundbreaking hire to fill its basketball coaching vacancy.

According to various sources, three names that have emerged as candidates to replace former Pirates coach Bill Herrion share key attributes. Each is regarded by many observers to be among the best up-and-coming coaches nationally and each is an African-American.

Maryland Senior Associate Head Coach Dave Dickerson, Florida Associate Head Coach Anthony Grant, and Louisiana State Associate Head Coach Butch Pierre have been identified as potential targets to take the reigns of the East Carolina program.

WNCT-AM Talk 1070 first reported the potential candidacy of Dickerson and Grant Thursday afternoon on Talk of the Town [Replay Audio Archive], the station's daily drive-time show hosted by Henry Hinton.

Hinton is also a regular columnist for

Dickerson has 14 years of experience overall and has been a member of Gary Williams' staff since 1996. He is a highly-regarded recruiter, having helped Maryland land the nation's fourth-best recruiting class in 2002 and second best in 2003.

Both Dickerson and Holland share a common thread with former Terrapins coach Lefty Driesell. A forward at Maryland from 1986-89, Dickerson served a year as an assistant to Driesell at James Madison in 1992.

Holland, Driesell's first recruit at Davidson in 1960, eventually succeeded his old mentor at the helm of the Wildcats' program and would go on to coach Virginia against Driesell's Maryland teams in the ACC.

Much like Dickerson, Grant is viewed as a top-flight recruiter. The Florida assistant has been a top aide for head coach Billy Donovan for the last 11 years, dating back to their days at Marshall.

During Grant's Florida tenure, the Gators have inked eight McDonald's All-Americans.

Pierre has spent the past seven seasons as John Brady's top lieutenant in Baton Rouge. When Pierre arrived at LSU, he had a limited number of scholarships to work with but still was able to restock the roster with the talent that eventually captured the 2000 Southeastern Conference championship and a trip to the Sweet 16.

Pierre has already been contacted by Holland, according to an unofficial source.

Despite speculation that Holland had already selected Herrion's replacement when he fired the former Pirates coach, no candidates have been interviewed as of Thursday. The Pirates AD has spent the past week working the phones and gathering information about potential successors, according to East Carolina Director of Media Relations Tom McClellan.

Holland recently contacted South Carolina coach Dave Odom, a good friend and former assistant, to get his thoughts on several potential candidates. Among the names discussed was former Virginia Tech head coach and current South Carolina assistant Ricky Stokes, a former Holland player and graduate assistant.

The Greenville (SC) News reported Thursday that Odom gave Holland permission to contact Stokes, but that the Gamecocks coach was unsure about ECU's interest in the USC assistant.

No timetable has been given by Holland for making a hire.

Page updated: 02/23/07 11:44 AM

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