Brett Reed has been successful at Lehigh thanks to zero-star-recruit-turned-superstar C.J. McCollum. Is there any reason to believe something separates him from other successful mid-major coaches, both as a coach and to NU's administration?
One of the names I've seen tossed around a lot in the Northwestern basketball head coaching search in the wake of Bill Carmody's firing is Brett Reed, who piloted Lehigh to a win over Duke in the NCAA Tournament. In fact, when ESPN's Andy Katz broke the news of Carmody's firing, he only named two potential replacements: Duke's Chris Collins, who we've already written about a few times, and Reed.
There's no doubting that Reed has done a really strong job at Lehigh. Five years, two NCAA Tournament appearances, after only three appearances in the entirety of Lehigh history - and of course, the one big 15-2 upset the Mountain Hawks pulled over Duke. It's worth noting that almost all that success is in some way attributable to C.J. McCollum, who was in Reed's first recruiting class for Lehigh. McCollum was a zero-star recruit as a 6'1 freshman out of Canton, Ohio, not even drawing scholarship offers from MAC schools. But he soon showed the potential Reed apparently saw in him, and surpassed it tenfold: He was the Patriot League player of the year as a freshman, again as a junior, and is the conference's all-time leading scorer, despite missing most of his final season after breaking his foot. McCollum could have been a first-round draft pick after dropping 30 on Duke, but made the risky decision to come back to Lehigh,citing a desire to finish his education - something that speaks well to Reed's ability to sell recruits with high academic standards on the value of completing a degree at a quality school like Lehigh. (Without McCollum, Lehigh made the CBI this year.)
And judging from a quick Twitter search, Lehigh fans seem to think he's on his way out there, lamenting the fact that a guy who has brought them a great amount of success and notoriety is likely headed to a more prominent program. But is there any evidence it wil be Northwestern?
So far as I can tell, not a whole lot. Reed doesn't have any connection to Northwestern or Illinois. Unlike fellow successful mid-major coach Dave Paulsen, he doesn't have a link to anybody at Northwestern. It should be noted that none of this excludes him from consideration at Northwestern, nor should it, but one would assume it makes him less likely to coach at NU. (Neil Hayes of the Sun-Times points out that Reed is actually Dr. Brett Reed, which should hypothetically tie him to Northwestern because books? If you're super-curious, Reed's doctorate is in Instructional Technology from Wayne State, so he's an obvious fit at Northwestern.)
For what it's worth, Fran McCaffery, who has done a terrific job at Iowa, was also a Lehigh coach and got them to an NCAA Tournament in his third year, but he got the Iowa gig thanks to three NCAA appearances - and two wins - in his last three years at Siena. Reed is on his coaching tree, working under McCaffery at UNC-Greensboro.
We shouldn't discount the report from Andy Katz - after all, he was the one who reported Carmody's firing before anybody else, so he knows what's up. But even Katz put Reed behind Chris Collins in likelihood - he didn't cite sources or anything with Reed, and very well could have just been spitballing.
Could Reed bring a McCollum to Northwestern? It's tough to say. Finding one diamond in the rough is a testament to a coach's recruiting ability, but not necessarily something that's replicable. First, he'd have to prove to Northwestern's administration that there's something separating him from the bevy of other successful mid-major coaches linked to Northwestern.