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Chris Collins still front-runner for Northwestern basketball coaching job

LSalle v Ole Miss

La Salle v Ole Miss

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Chris Collins (above, left) is the leading candidate to replace Bill Carmody at Northwestern. He also is the only assistant among the candidates listed:

• Chris Collins, Duke

• Billy Donlon, Wright State

• John Giannini, La Salle

• Dave Paulsen, Bucknell

• Bryce Drew, Valparaiso

• Bob McKillop, Davidson

• Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

• Brett Reed, Lehigh

Imagine this scenario unfolding at Northwestern: Chris Collins is hired as coach, and eventually his father, former Bulls, Wizards and 76ers coach Doug Collins, joins his staff.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility. Last month, Doug Collins said he’d love to become Chris’ assistant.

“I think my dream would be for Chris to become a head coach,” Doug told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I don’t know if it could ever happen because it might be too much pressure, but I would love to be his assistant.”

Neither Chris nor Doug returned messages left by the Sun-Times, but a source with knowledge of the Northwestern search said Collins remains the leading candidate to replace Bill Carmody.

But he might not be the only former Glenbrook North standout and coach’s son in the mix.

Billy Donlon grew up playing pick-up games at Patten Gym when his father, Bill Sr., was a Northwestern assistant from 1987 to ’94. Billy is the coach at Wright State, where he led the Raiders to the Horizon League championship game. Bill Sr. serves as Wright State’s director of operations.

La Salle coach John Giannini knows a little something about NCAA tournament droughts, which should be of interest to NU.

The Fenwick High School and North Central graduate not only led La Salle to its first NCAA tournament appearance in 21 years, but his 13th-seeded Explorers upset Kansas State and ex-Illinois coach Bruce Weber.

Giannini was a graduate assistant coach at Illinois during the Flying Illini’s 1989 Final Four run. Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips was an Illinois student manager at the time.

Dave Paulsen has won 78 games in three seasons at Bucknell. His Bison lost to Butler in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Northwestern president Morty Schapiro was president of Williams College when Paulsen led the Ephs to the Division III national championship in 2003. Paulsen has been contacted by Northwestern, according to a source.

Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew is the son of longtime Valpo coach Homer Drew and the brother of Baylor coach Scott Drew.

Bob McKillop has coached at Davidson for 20 years and sometimes competed against Carmody for recruits. He took his Wildcats to the Elite Eight in 2008, has graduated 65 of 65 seniors and is a seven-time Southern Conference coach of the year.

“[McKillop has] done a great job of finding diamonds in the rough, and at Northwestern you have to do that,” former Northwestern player and current Big Ten Network analyst Tim Doyle said last week. “You have to find a kid before anyone else does. If Michigan and Northwestern offer a scholarship, 9½ times out of 10 the kid is going to go to Michigan. That’s just the way it is.”

Stephen Curry wanted to follow father Dell’s footsteps to Virginia Tech but wasn’t offered a scholarship. He went to Davidson and become the conference’s all-time leading scorer.

Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson and Lehigh’s Brett Reed also are considered candidates.

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