USC's Haden right to look at Syracuse coach-in-waiting Hopkins

By Jeff Goodman | College Basketball Insider

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim confirmed on his radio show that Orange coach-in-waiting Mike Hopkins recently met with USC athletic director Pat Haden about the Trojans job opening.

Hopkins would be a home run for Haden and USC. Sure, he's just an assistant coach -- but he's also the next Syracuse basketball coach. That means Haden would hire someone who left the opportunity to coach a top-10 program on the table. That's called winning the press conference.

Hopkins is a California kid who graduated from prep power Mater Dei and would bring energy into a program that has been largely irrelevant for the last few years. Hopkins can recruit both coasts and has both played and coached under a Hall of Famer in Boeheim.

Would he take the job? Hopkins declined to comment when reached, but sources told that he feels as though USC is a sleeping giant on the West Coast. That's accurate -- for the right guy. Hopkins would be an ideal fit, especially while the West Coast is ripe and vulnerable in recruiting circles. Remember, UCLA coach Ben Howland went so far as to hire an AAU coach from Georgia a year ago, and he has been forced to recruit on the East Coast of late. California is prime real estate right now to get talent. The state is loaded with quality young players. Arizona coach Sean Miller, who had virtually no West Coast ties, has been able to make quick strides in California due to the inability of both UCLA and USC to protect its home turf of late.

Hopkins doesn't know how much longer Boeheim will coach at Syracuse. Could he step down after a year in the ACC -- or will he keep going another handful of years? No one truly knows, maybe not even Boeheim.

What we do know is Tim Floyd isn't getting this job. Let's be serious. I'm not sure what Haden was doing meeting the former Trojans coach in the first place, but it doesn't matter. Former New Mexico State and Sacramento Kings coach Reggie Theus is trying to get involved, but he's been unsuccessful finding his way back into the college ranks. I'm told by multiple sources Theus doesn't have a shot, either.

The hip pick is Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon returning to the West Coast (that's where he's from). The 47-year-old Dixon is set to go to his ninth NCAA tournament in 10 seasons since taking over for Howland. It could happen, but Dixon has had other opportunities to leave -- including one before Kevin O'Neill took the USC job three years ago -- and has spurned them all. The USC program is in a better place now, and Pittsburgh is headed into a stacked ACC, so it makes more sense for him to head west now than it did a few years back. However, the question becomes his buyout and whether he'd actually pull the trigger when the time comes to make a decision.

Dixon, from what I'm told, sits atop Haden's list. He's won 261 career games in 10 seasons. A decade ago, he was an unproven assistant -- just like Hopkins.

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