With spotlight gone, Thomas tries to build FIU

April, 27, 2009
Quick hitters on Monday:

• The paparazzi-like news conference is in the past, the cameras have turned away, the interest has shifted and now FIU coach Isiah Thomas is trying to build the program.

Thomas has made a few moves so far, which include hiring TCU assistant Anthony Anderson. Thomas will take his time with the other members of the staff, to ensure he gets the right people on board.

Thomas said he would continue to study the NCAA manual and will take the mandatory compliance test in time for the July evaluation period.

He hopes to sign at least three to four players in the spring. He said even though he didn't go on the road last week, he's trusting his AAU contacts in New York, Detroit and Chicago. He's maintained contacts with AAU programs in Florida, too. "I'm an AAU kid from Chicago,'' Thomas said. "I've always kept up those relationships."

Thomas said he will address scheduling concerns over the next few weeks, too. He would love to play a game at Indiana or DePaul, but he also wants the players to build up confidence during the nonconference schedule before the Sun Belt season gets under way.

Thomas said he has no issue recruiting at a lower level after dealing with the NBA.

"I'm still the guy who would get in a van and drive 60 miles for an AAU game,'' Thomas said. "That's me. I'm glad to be back in touch with real basketball."

• The John Wall sweepstakes continue to be interesting after he visited Miami over the weekend. Wall is expected to trim his list down this week before making a final decision. I'd be shocked if Kentucky isn't high on the list for the top point guard in the 2009 class.

• Davidson coach Bob McKillop said he has turned down the head coaching job of the World Championship for Young Men's team this summer in New Zealand. McKillop coached the team during the qualifying event last summer. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who serves as the chair of the junior national teams, said that a replacement for McKillop hasn't been determined yet. The assistants on the team are still slated to be Pitt's Jamie Dixon and Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, and Dixon could end up being the choice as the head coach. UCLA's Ben Howland was queried about his interest, but he declined because he didn't want to miss the first seven days of the July evaluation period.

Jrue Holiday is spending some time working out at the IMG Academy in Florida in preparation for workouts for the NBA draft. It will be interesting to see if the UCLA freshman can maintain his eligibility since he's taking some time off from school to work out. Holiday is apparently working on his studies while preparing for the draft, according to the UCLA staff. He will be a first-round pick if he stays in. However, he has a chance to be the No. 1 option for the Bruins, with the ball in his hands, if he returns to Westwood for at least one more season.

• Boeheim said the Orange would have been a top-four team in 2009 had point guard Jonny Flynn returned to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. Without Flynn, Syracuse will struggle to be in the top 25, according to Boeheim. And to clarify some of Boeheim's comments from last week, the Orange will still have to make up for the losses of Paul Harris and Eric Devendorf with Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson and guard Andy Rautins. Boeheim wasn't dismissing Harris' and Devendorf's importance to the squad, but he does believe the Orange can survive the hits.

• The four hosts of the CBE Classic in November that will end with games in Kansas City are Pitt, Texas, Iowa and Wichita State. The anticipated finale would be Pitt versus Texas at the Sprint Center.

• Northeastern anticipated the potential sanctions against its program, which occurred under former coach Ron Everhart. That's why Northeastern coach Bill Coen and the administration self-imposed a scholarship limitation and took away two visits this past season. The Huskies did receive a two-year probation for the unauthorized benefits that were given to an international student-athlete by a booster. Despite the sanctions, Northeastern will once again be looked at as a potential favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association next season.

Andy Katz | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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