Oregon's search turns to Anderson

Oregon asked for permission to speak with Missouri coach Mike Anderson late Thursday night after it had already spoken with him at a golf event in El Paso, Texas.

A Missouri official confirmed Friday that Oregon, which fired Ernie Kent a month ago, asked to speak with Anderson. The Oregonian first reported that Anderson and former athletic director Pat Kilkenny, who is leading the job search, met Anderson earlier Thursday in Texas at Nolan Richardson's golf tournament. Anderson was on Richardson's coaching staffs at Tulsa and Arkansas.

Missouri athletic director Mike Alden told ESPN.com on Thursday afternoon that he had yet to hear from Oregon. The request came later that night.

A school asking for permission to speak with a coach is a formality but doesn't always occur prior to a discussion between the two parties.

The mood among Missouri officials is one of cautious optimism. Anderson has coached the Tigers to NCAA tournament appearances in the last two seasons, reaching the Elite Eight in 2008-09, and Missouri just assembled the best recruiting class (Phil Pressey, Tony Mitchell, Ricky Kreklow and Kadeem Green) under Anderson. ESPNU's Scouts Inc. rates Missouri's class 11th in the country.

Guards Kim English and Marcus Denmon and inside player Justin Safford, who missed the last six games of the season due to injury, also are returning for next season. The Tigers are expected to be a solid contender in the Big 12.

Anderson received a seven-year contract extension from Missouri last season and had his annual salary bumped to $1.55 million. Anderson was courted by Georgia a year ago but instead accepted a significant raise to remain with Missouri. A source said Missouri is not in a position to offer Anderson more money this time around.

Sources close to Anderson say that if he were to leave Missouri, the job at Arkansas -- if open -- is one he'd have strong interest in.

Former NBA coaches P.J. Carlesimo and Terry Porter remain candidates at Oregon. Former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, an assistant at UCLA when the Bruins won the national title in 1995, is also on the Ducks' list.

The Ducks have reportedly made overtures to a significant number of head coaches, including Florida's Billy Donovan, Pitt's Jamie Dixon, Minnesota's Tubby Smith and Michigan State's Tom Izzo. But what was actually offered has not been determined. The one certainty: Oregon wanted to hire Gonzaga coach Mark Few, a Eugene-area native, but was rebuffed by the coach.

Senior writer Andy Katz covers college basketball for ESPN.com.