Morgantown, West Virginia – When long-time assistant coach Erik Martin left West Virginia to become the new head coach at South Carolina State, an important position on the Mountaineers’ coaching staff immediately opened up.
Martin was a terrific recruiter and trusted Huggins’ confidant, and this is a critical time in the program’s history so picking the right person for the job is very important.
Early rumors suggest that Huggins is leaning towards choosing Josh Eilert, the current Assistant Athletics Director for Basketball Operations at West Virginia, to replace Martin. Eilert was the director of basketball operations from 2017-22 after he spent the first six seasons as the video coordinator and coordinator of basketball operations from 2013-17.
Although Eilert has been with the West Virginia basketball program since Huggins took over in 2007, he has very limited actual coaching experience.
While everyone would like for Huggins to coach the Mountaineers forever, the reality is that a plan needs to be developed for life after Bob Huggins.
The remaining assistant coaches on the staff – Larry Harrison, 67, and Ron Everhart, 60 – are unlikely to be the coach to take over for Huggins after he retires. And neither is Eilert.
In addition, it would be far easier for a younger coach to form relationships with high school players and recruit them to West Virginia, and this is precisely what Huggins’ staff lacks currently.
The two obvious names – for West Virginia players Joe Mazzulla and Darris Nichols – are both very content with their current positions and unlikely to take an assistant job if offered.
Mazzulla is an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics in the NBA and Nichols is the head coach at Radford. Although a potential move to West Virginia as an assistant would seemingly be a step down for either, the position would become far more attractive if they were given the “head coach-in-waiting” tag.
Both are young, energetic, highly respected coaches who would be given an opportunity to learn under Huggins, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball history, before ultimately taking over when he ultimately decides to retire.
Be bold, West Virginia. Make either Joe Mazzulla or Darris Nichols an offer that they can’t refuse and bring them back home to lead the Mountaineers in the future.