AUBURN – Bruce Pearl is within days of adding to his staff and former Auburn star Chuck Person is a “strong candidate” to become one of his assistants.
Person was most recently coaching the Jeonju KCC Egis in South Korea after a long career serving as an NBA assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers (2009-13), Sacramento Kings (2007-08), Indiana Pacers (2005-07) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2000-01).
Person moved back to Auburn, where he played from 1982-86, before a 13-year NBA career. Hejoined Pearl at Auburn’s WNIT game two weeks ago.
“Chuck’s a candidate,” Pearl said. “He and I have had an opportunity to be around each other a lot. It’s not so much an interview, it’s just continuing to get to know one another and see what his strengths are and where he might fit. He’s a strong candidate to coach.
“We share a lot of similar philosophies. I’d ask him how do you like to defend the side ball screen? He’d tell, very similar to how I like to defend it. What’s your feelings about ball pressure, closeouts, drills? I was pretty comfortable that we’re close in how we feel. It doesn’t make it right, it’s just there’s some continuity there.”
Person has yet to complete his degree from Auburn but Pearl said that will not be a hurdle to hiring him as one of his three assistants.
“In my mind, the fact that there’s a commitment to finish and I’ve addressed it with the leadership here,” Pearl said. “That is not a road block to him being an assistant. It’s a serious candidacy.”
Pearl was hired two weeks ago and agreed to a six-year deal worth $14.7 million.
He brought in longtime assistant Tony Jones and his son, Steven, to serve on his staff. Though both Jones and Steven Pearl were on the road recruiting through Monday, while Pearl continues to serve his show-cause penalty, Steven Pearl will be reassigned to assistant strength and conditioning coach once the new hires are made.
“I’ll probably have a director of basketball operations this week,” Pearl said. “May have an assistant coach hired at the end of this week, Wednesday or Thursday before we go to the Final Four, or as soon as we get back from the Final Four and then it’ll be that domino effect.”
Pearl will wait to make his last hire until “a week or two” after this weekend’s Final Four and the coaching carousel begins to settle.
“We’re going to a do a lot of interviewing at the Final Four,” he said. “I probably talked to 20-25 candidates, good, bad and ugly. They got all kind of different strengths. The interest had been terrific.”