Wake Forest has targeted Tulsa coach Danny Manning as a potential candidate to fill its head coach vacancy. Manning confirmed contact between the two parties to the Tulsa World.
Here’s a quick breakdown of Manning’s profile as a candidate for the job.
Experience: Manning has the least experience of any coach that has appeared on athletic director Ron Wellman’s board. He just wrapped up his second season at Tulsa, where he’s gone 38-29. He had the Hurricane in the NCAA Tournament this season. Before his first head coaching job, he was an assistant under Bill Self at Kansas from 2003-12.
Pros: Manning, using his status as a former No. 1 pick and NBA all-star, would boost the Demon Deacons’ recruiting immediately. He was one of the lead recruiters at Kansas, which consistently reeled in top-five classes. Manning also has a reputation as an elite big man coach. He developed such college stars as Cole Aldrich, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey at Kansas. Manning would have an immediate impact on current forwards Devin Thomas and Andre Washington, and he would be able to recruit highly ranked big men to Wake Forest in the future. His past as a star basketball player would immediately give Wake Forest a recognizable figure on the sideline, even if his coaching profile is shallow. That element can’t be overstated considering the unknown presence that Jeff Bzdelik was before taking the Wake Forest job and even during his four years.
Cons: There’s not much history you can use to forecast how Manning will fare. Two years of head coaching experience is far less than ideal for a high major job. While Manning may be an up-and-comer, he would not be a splash hire at a time when Wake Forest really needs a splash hire. His career win percentage is only 56.7 percent while playing in the Conference USA. Despite his track record of recruiting at Kansas, that hasn’t translated to Tulsa yet, where he’s only signed one three-star prospect in the last two classes.
Where He Stands: Just because Manning was contacted doesn’t mean he’s a top candidate for the job. We know Shaka Smart is the No. 1 target, and he’s yet to officially say no. Until Smart does that, Wake Forest won’t proceed with anyone else. With Ben Howland not getting the Marquette job, it’s safe to assume that he’s higher on the radar than Manning, too. It would be hard to imagine Xavier’s Chris Mack being a lower priority than Manning. Archie Miller at Dayton is another coach who Wake Forest will likely at least try to get in touch with. But, of course, everything has been quiet on all of those fronts in the past few days, while news about Manning is heating up.