Kevin Keatts

Missouri is officially on the recruiting trail for a men’s basketball coach after Kim Anderson stepped down on Sunday, March 5 with two years remaining on his contract.

Several reports have the Tigers targeting California’s Cuonzo Martin, and NCAA hoops pundit Gary Parrish of cbssports.com tweeted yesterday, “Who will Missouri target? California head coach Cuonzo Martin is at/near the top of their wish list, according to multiple sources.”

Another familiar name that keeps popping up is former Saint Louis University coach Lorenzo Romar, who now directs Washington’s men’s basketball team. A 74-58 blowout loss to resurgent USC left the Huskies at 9-21 and in ninth place in the Pac 12.

Romar has had some success at Washington, but hasn’t made the school a perennial threat to UCLA, Arizona or Oregon. Reports have him safe at Washington, but he simply might be searching for greener pastures.

It’s difficult to believe that Romar departed SLU 16 years ago – and that he will fail to make the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year unless his team miraculously wins the Pac 12 Tournament.

Romar has signed the No. 1 player in the class of 2017, Michael Porter Jr., but he’s landed some big names in the past that have not led the team to success.

Martin would owe Cal $1 million if he departs after this season. Washington would owe Romar $3.5 million in a buyout of his remaining years. According to yahoosports.com, “Romar is well-liked at Washington, which also has helped his cause.”

As far as Martin coming to Mizzou, fate dealt the Tigers a bad hand on Saturday when Illinois blew a 10-point second-half lead and lost at woeful Rutgers. The Illini went from one of the final teams “in” the tournament to “out.” Its dream of reaching the NCAA Tournament is crushed, and John Groce’s team faces a much-improved Michigan team at 11 a.m. today (March 9).

A loss probably creates a job opening at Illinois, regardless of a trip to the NIT.

With Groce out, Martin becomes front-runner at Illinois.

Keep Keatts in mind 

Here’s a guy that Mizzou fans probably aren’t familiar with, but he is proving his worth in a mid-major conference – Kevin Keatts at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

On Monday night, Keatts’ top-seeded Seahawks defeated No. 2-seed Charleston 78-69 to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.

Before his arrival for the 2013-14 season, UNC-Wilmington had seven sub-.500 seasons and suffered six seasons with 20 or more losses. The Seahawks have won at least a share of the regular season conference championship in each of Keatts three years and held a second-half lead over Duke in a first-round NCAA Tournament game last year.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports says the young, African-American coach could be in line for the open job at North Carolina or others – like Missouri.

“His successful track record, recruiting prowess and attractive style of play (quick-strike, up-tempo) can also only boost his chances,” Eisenberg said.

“Resurrecting the UNC Wilmington program has already made Keatts an attractive option for schools in search of a new coach. Winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament this month could only boost Keatts’ stock further.”

Mizzou recruit not happy 

With Anderson’s ouster comes news that Mizzou’s top basketball recruit, C.J. Porter Jr., of Richland, Texas, and his family aren’t happy.

“My family and I are disheartened to learn of Coach Anderson’s resignation from the University of Missouri,” Craig Roberts Sr. said in an email to The Kansas City Star.

“Coach Anderson and his staff had gained our trust, but more importantly he had gained CJ’s trust and had committed to nurturing and developing CJ. CJ is disappointed that Coach Anderson will not be there as he had built a great rapport with him.

“Hopefully the search for a new head coach will be smooth and executed expeditiously as we are all eager to sit down with the new coach and evaluate whether CJ. still fits into the style and vision that Mizzou basketball is headed.”

Seeing that few things in the athletic department at Missouri have gone smoothly in the past 18 months, that might be a lot to ask.

Hamilton a great play 

While black coaches are at the helm of many NCAA men’s basketball programs, there is only one in the latest AP Top 25. Leonard Hamilton of Florida State University has his Seminoles at 16th with a 24-7 record heading into the ACC Tournament in New York.

Hamilton is FSU’s all-time winningest coach with a 279-194 record (.590) over 15 seasons, is seeded second in the ACC Tournament and has wins over Duke, Notre Dame and Louisville this season.

There are four black coaches in the “Other Teams Receiving Votes” category: Ed Cooley at Providence, Mike Anderson at Arkansas, former KU star Danny Manning at Wake Forest and Keatts at UNC-Wilmington.

Harris has ‘dazzling’ display 

Bucky Brooks of the NFL Network was impressed with former Mizzou defensive lineman Charles Harris at the NFL Scouting Combine, calling his effort “dazzling.” Harris was one of his “winners” after his 40-yard dash and skills performances.

“There’s nothing like watching a smooth, fluid athlete move around in space in an effortless manner. Harris breezed through positional drills while displaying exceptional balance, body control, and quickness,” said Brooks.

“Expect his draft stock to surge upward with teams employing 3-4/4-3 hybrid schemes; they'll covet his skills as a potential stand-up defender. Harris was one of the few prospects in DL group drills to show impressive skills as a rusher and in coverage.

“Considering how multi-faceted athletes are valued on draft day, Harris' dazzling exhibition should boost his draft prospects.”

Alvin A. Reid is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook and appears on ABC’s The Allman Report and several sports radio shows, including Frank Cusumano’s “The Press Box” on KFNS. His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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