Duke assistant Chris Collins interviewed with Northwestern athletics director Jim Phillips on Monday at an off-campus location, a source told the Sun-Times, and could be named as Bill Carmody's successor later this week.
From the beginning, this job was Collins' to lose. However, according to the source, the former Glenbrook North standout was so impressive in an interview that he could be named Northwestern's head coach before the Blue Devils play Michigan State in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Indianapolis, Ind., on Friday.
Phillips hired a search firm to help produce candidates other than Collins, who was considered the leading candidate since Carmody was fired on March 16. La Salle coach John Giannini, Valparaiso's Bryce Drew and Bucknell's Dave Paulson are also being considered but the source said it's Collins' job if he wants it.
Former Bulls and current Sixers coach Doug Collins is Chris's father, and said last month that his "dream" job would be to serve as his son's assistant.
Doug's future with the 76ers is unclear after a disappointing season. He recently said he would re-evaluate his future when the NBA season ends. Doug and Chris are very close and speak daily. Doug might also choose to support his son in an unofficial capacity.
Chris Collins was back in Durham, N.C. for Duke's practice Tuesday afternoon but was not made available to reporters. Duke officials said he would not be available for interviews in Indianapolis, either. The team is leaving for Indianapolis on Wednesday, which may provide Collins with another opportunity to meet with Northwestern officials and perhaps even visit the Evanston campus.
A former Mr. Illinois Basketball at Glenbrook North, Collins played four seasons at Duke before joining the coaching staff in 2000. The 38-year-old was named associate head coach in 2008.
Paulson led Williams College to the Division III National Championship in 2003 when Northwestern President Morty Schapiro was the president of that school and has already been contacted by Northwestern officials, according to a source.
Giannini has not only led La Salle to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 years but has them in the Sweet 16.
He was a graduate assistant at Illinois when Phillips was the basketball team's student manager.
"He's one of the hot coaches in the NCAA right now," former Illinois coach Lou Henson said of Giannini. "He's won every place he has gone, and he has had some tough jobs. He can teach kids how to play and motivate them. I think he would be a credit to any NCAA team that wants to hire an outstanding coach."