EDWARDSVILLE — Jon Harris and John Brannen are the finalists for the vacant SIUE men's basketball coaching job.
Following a national search, the university's men's basketball search committee has named Brannen, the Alabama interim head coach and Harris, an assistant coach at California and an Edwardsville High graduate as the finalists. Both will visit the SIUE campus this week.
Brannen will make his visit Monday and Tuesday The visit includes a 5 p.m. reception Monday night with Cougar season ticket holders, SIUE corporate partners, and community members. The reception will take place in the Cougar Pavilion inside the Lukas Athletics Annex at SIUE.
Harris will be on campus Wednesday and Thursday. Harris' visit includes a 5 p.m. reception Wednesday night with Cougar season ticket holders, SIUE corporate partners, and community members. The reception will take place in the Cougar Pavilion inside the Lukas Athletics Annex at SIUE.
Harris and Brannen are vying to replace Lennox Forrester, who wasn't retained after coaching the Cougars the last eight seasons.
Here's a short capsule on each finalist:
Brannen completed his sixth season on the Alabama coaching staff in 2014-15. It was his second season in the role of associate head coach. Brannen was elevated to interim head coach when head coach Anthony Grant was let go following the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Brannen then led the sixth-seeded Crimson Tide to a first round upset of No. 3 seed Illinois in the NIT. Alabama lost at Miami in the NIT second round.
A native of Covington, Ky., Brannen spent the first four seasons at Alabama as the program's assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. He served in the same role on Anthony Grant's staff at VCU and was a part of Grant's staff for a total of eight seasons.
In three seasons at VCU, the Rams were 76-25. The Rams earned three straight Conference titles and made three postseason appearances. Securing his spot as one of the nation's premiere recruiters, Brannen brought in highly-touted recruiting classes, including his 2008 class which made up the starting five of VCU's memorable run to the Final Four in 2011.
Prior to his time at VCU, Brannen spent three seasons (2003-2006) as the recruiting coordinator at St. Bonaventure.
Brannen has a keen knowledge of the Ohio Valley Conference, having spent three seasons (2000-2003) as the top assistant at Eastern Kentucky. Brannen also spent a season on staff at the College of Charleston.
As a player, Brannen also spent time in the OVC, beginning his college career at Morehead State before transferring to Marshall, where he scored 1,008 in only two seasons. Brannen played his first season at Marshall for head coach Billy Donovan. He led the Southern Conference in scoring (20.9 ppg) as a senior (1996-97) and earned Most Valuable Player honors at the SoCon Tournament. As successful off the court as he was on the court, Brannen was a Rhodes Scholar finalist and received postgraduate scholarships from both the NCAA and Southern Conference.
Harris, an Edwardsville native, has spent the past seven seasons on the staff of Cuonzo Martin, first at Missouri State for three seasons and then three seasons at Tennessee. Harris joined Martin at Cal in April 2014. The Bears finished this past season 18-15. Cal defeated Washington in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament before falling to No. 5 Arizona.
In three seasons at Tennessee, Harris oversaw an extremely successful frontcourt. Under Harris' tutelage, Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon earned All-SEC honors for the Vols. Tennessee ranked near the top of the SEC in defensive rebounding and rebounding margin during three seasons under Harris.
In three seasons on staff at Missouri State, the Bears averaged more than 20 victories and captured the program's first-ever Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship. MSU improved from 11 wins in the 2008-09 campaign to a 24-12 record and the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament title in 2009-10.
Harris, who played four seasons at Marquette, including three for head coach Tom Crean, served on the staff at his alma mater for the 2002-03 season. The Golden Eagles finished 27-6 and reached the Final Four in his one season on the coaching staff.
As a player, Harris was one of the best rebounders in Conference USA history, finishing with 494 career rebounds. As a senior (2001-02) Harris and teammate Dwyane Wade led the Golden Eagles to a 26-7 overall record, an NCAA Tournament berth, and a No. 9 ranking in the final Associated Press national poll.
Prior to his collegiate career, Harris was standout for coach Mike Waldo at Edwardsville High School where he scored 1,269 points during his career. He was an Associated Press All-State selection in Illinois. He also was a USA Today Honorable Mention All-America pick.