These three will be players, off the court
ESPN.com's Impact 25 is a primer on the 25 people -- coaches, players, administrators and others -- who should have the most impact on the 2006-07 season.
Not all 25 will be familiar names, and they won't necessarily be All-Americans or Coach of the Year candidates. Rather, our staff predicted who will dominate college basketball headlines from the start of practice Oct. 13 until the national championship game April 2 in Atlanta.
Today: the off-court personnel (in alphabetical order).
Editor's note: Analysts Jay Bilas, Doug Gottlieb and Fran Fraschilla, senior writer Andy Katz and editor Andy Glockner contributed to the final selections.
|Mike Montgomery, unemployed coach|
Why he'll make the news: Well, he likely won't make it publicly, but Montgomery's shadow will loom large this season. He is a towering figure out west now that he's unemployed. Montgomery already has been around Stanford's individual workouts and might make even make more cameos since he has an open invitation from Cardinal coach Trent Johnson, a former assistant under Montgomery.
Montgomery's availability will be a factor in any high-level West Coast opening.
In recent years, there have been a headline coaches who are out of work and sifting through the potential offers that come in the spring: John Calipari, Rick Pitino, Tim Floyd, Leonard Hamilton, Lon Kruger and even Rick Majerus, who went to USC but didn't stay, have been on the market looking for a job during the season. None of them openly campaigned for a job, but there were a fair share of distractions.
Remember when Pitino was linked to UCLA during the season? Steve Lavin certainly does. Expect any coach out west who gets into an early-season funk or starts a slide into March to hear Montgomery's name pop up in the local media.
This doesn't mean Montgomery necessarily will jump back into college basketball. He's approaching 60 and has a contract settlement with Golden State in the millions that will keep him quite content for years to come. Still, if the right opportunity appears, expect Montgomery to listen closely in March. It wouldn't be rare, either, for an intermediary from a school to send out signals to see if Montgomery is interested while the season is ongoing before making a serious push after the season.
Fran Fraschilla's take: When it comes to coaching openings next spring, Montgomery is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. With a big NBA payday coming thanks to his parting with the Golden State Warriors, Montgomery can sit back and decide where, when and if he wants to continue what has been a brilliant college coaching career. It's hard to see him leaving the West Coast and that's why, despite a "save the coach" nonconference schedule this season, Oregon is the early leader. A cozy relationship with Nike's Phil Knight won't hurt, either.
Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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