During an interview last summer to fill a position on his staff, LSU men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones learned something pretty quickly in talking to former NBA coach Eric Musselman.
That was how badly Musselman wanted to be a head coach again. Musselman, who coached the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, asked Jones if he would be able to do that as an LSU assistant.
In fact, Jones said the 50-year-old Musselman was on a mission.
Just nine months later, it paid off when Musselman received an offer Tuesday to become the head coach at Nevada.
Musselman was chosen over three other candidates for the position that came open when David Carter was fired after a 9-22 season — his third straight losing campaign and fourth overall in six years.
The other coaches interviewed were former Auburn coach Tony Barbee, San Diego State assistant coach Justin Hutson and Arizona associate head coach Joe Pasternack, who previously was the head coach at UNO.
The hiring is expected to become official Thursday at a special meeting of the Nevada Board of Regents in Las Vegas.
“To be able to come in here and for us to have the success that made him attractive enough for someone to really buy into him, we’re excited about that,” Jones said. “Muss came in for a year not really knowing what to expect. I can tell you he did a tremendous job with us this year, and he was a joy to be around.”
Musselman was also a candidate for the coaching job at the University of San Diego, where he played in the late 1980s. But HoopDirt.com reported Tuesday that he had emerged as the front-runner at Nevada to replace Carter.
Carter, who was 98-97 in six seasons, had been an assistant at the school under former LSU coach Trent Johnson and current Georgia coach Mark Fox.
Musselman is no stranger to the area. He coached the Reno Bighorns of the NBA D-League in 2010-11, Warriors from 2002-04 and Kings in 2006-07.
Before coming to LSU, Musselman was a member of Herb Sendek’s staff at Arizona State for two seasons. Sendek was fired Tuesday.
In Musselman’s only season at LSU, the Tigers were 22-11 and reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in six seasons before being eliminated with a 66-65 loss to North Carolina State last Thursday.
Jones said he’ll do his due diligence in finding a replacement, much like they have to keep recruiting when players leave.
“This is a championship-caliber job and a great atmosphere and a great opportunity,” he said. “A lot of interest has been shown in the position, just like last year, and we have to make sure we get the right fit, the right person, in here as we continue to move forward.”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter: @MicklesAdvocate.