Boston College Basketball Coaching Search: What About Jamion Christian?

Joe Robbins

Shaka get smart-lite.

The Globe's Gary Washburn decided to weigh in on the Boston College men's basketball coaching search on Wednesday. I didn't know who Gary Washburn was until I looked him up, but apparently the Celtics' beat writer has some #hotsportstakes on Boston College's coaching search. OK.

I'm not going to full FJM this article but a few things worth pointing out.

1) "This is not the optimal time to search for a basketball coach. That was about three weeks ago. Jobs are being filled quickly. The hot candidates are being hired quickly, and it appears many of those passed up BC as a viable option."

Oh? Who are all these hot candidates being hired by other programs? Auburn's Bruce Pearl is one, though the Tigers scooped him up. Virginia Tech's Buzz Williams is another. Marquette's Steve Wojciechowski might be another, depending upon your feelings on the hire. That's ... really it.

Are we losing sleep over Washington State's hire of Ernie Kent?

As I've said since the beginning, Boston College is one of the top available job openings this offseason. BC's direct competition is down to California, Wake Forest and a coach's current school. That affords the program a little more time to get the hire right. That said, just because BC is one of the top available openings and the Board has authorized Bates to spend money on the next coach doesn't guarantee a splash hire. Ultimately, that falls on Bates to hire the right coach given this offseason's favorable head coaching market factors.

2) "BC's is the least-talked-about Division 1 college opening."

That's ... not true. Must have missed all those coaching search updates on Delaware State's coaching search flying across my Twitter timeline. People are definitely talking. As fans, we might not like what people are saying, but they are definitely talking. The people in-the-know, however, aren't.

3) "Now that Steve Wojciechowski has taken the Marquette job, which should offend BC folks because he considered a job in the flailing Big East a better position than one in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Eagles are limited in their options to create sizzle."

Not so. Wojciechowski to Big East over ACC says little/nothing about the strength of the Big East over the ACC. Marquette's last three hires have been of the long-time assistant variety. That's basically their program's M.O. Also, Woj would have had to have been courted by either Boston College, Wake Forest or Virginia Tech (when the opportunity was open) for this to feel like an intentional slight. That's the part that's always missing from the narrative.

There's also this:

Kinda weak on Krzyzewski's part but I get it. When you have won four NCAA National Championships, I suppose you can do what you want. Could this have also played a role in Amaker's decision-making process as well? That is, if he was ever a serious candidate for the Boston College opening to begin with.

OK, with those three points of clarification out of the way, Washburn floats three more against the grain / bigger upside candidates for the Boston College opening. Celtics assistant coach Walter McCarty is one. I suppose this is why the Globe's Celtics beat writer is weighing in on BC's coaching search? Former coach Al Skinner is another, which, not happening. The third is Mount Saint Mary's head coach Jamion Christian.

Aside from being the second person with a last name of "Christian" linked to Boston College's search, the second year Mount Saint Mary's coach is an intriguing candidate. Christian is Shaka Smart-lite, having served as an assistant at VCU during the Rams 2011-12 season. At just 31 years of age, Christian has a promising coaching future and is likely bound for a major conference job at some point; despite holding down the head coaching gig at his alma mater.

Mount St. Mary's finished the year sub .500, but ran through the NEC Tournament and earned an NCAA Tournament berth in 2013-14 before bowing out to Robert Morris in the play-in game. The year before, despite finishing the regular season in a tie for fifth, Mount Saint Mary's upset Bryant and Robert Morris before losing to LIU-Brooklyn, coming within a game of the NCAA Tournament.

While light on coaching experience, Christian has a ton of upside. Sports Illustrated's Martin Rickman was in Dayton for this year's First Four and sums up Coach Christian's brand of basketball thusly:

"I was really impressed with Christian against Robert Morris and in the First Four in Dayton even though they lost. His style of play is addicting and it's easy to get recruits to want to play that way. Basically if you play hard on defense, you'll be rewarded on offense with being allowed to dunk and shoot threes. As he continues to grow and learn, he won't just be a Shaka Smart disciple. He'll continue to find his own style. I think he's got a lot of upside."

I mean, if we're going to continue to throw names against the wall and see what sticks, why shouldn't mini-Shaka Smart get a look? To me, sounds like the better of the two Christians with far more upside. That's not meant as a slight to Jim Christian, who has the far superior coaching credentials of the two. More that I don't think Jim, having run from the one "major" conference gig he's held citing a "lack of institutional support" (umm, hello?), is the right fit for the Boston College opportunity.

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