You knew it wasn’t just going to be Benjy Taylor vying for the long-term Hawaii basketball job.
Once UH posted the job on Wednesday, speculation began in earnest about who would come forward with interest in the post.
One of the first people to do so is Phil Handy, the former Rainbow Warriors guard (1993-94 and 1994-95) who has found success in the NBA as a player development coach, first with the Los Angeles Lakers and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“As an alumni of Hawaii, I always have love for the school,” said Handy, 43, when reached by phone on Thursday. “To be quite honest … I haven’t really thought much about coaching college basketball, but when the job came up I started getting phone calls from different people and I think the calls from other people got me more intrigued about the job than my initial interest. I’ve just had people call me and ask if I was interested, would I coach at Hawaii. Is it something I’m interested in doing.
“Initially, I hadn’t thought much about it. But if the school has interest in me and thinks I’m a good candidate for the job, I would definitely be interested in talking with the school.”
Handy didn’t say if he’s applied yet. The job posting on the UH website is listed to be posted until April 13.
Handy has worked with some of the best in the game — first Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol with the Lakers, and now LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love with the Cavs.
After his UH days, he was a professional player for a decade, domestically and overseas. He then headed up his own training and development company, 94 Feet of Game, for 12 years, and ran a California AAU team along the way. He latched on with the Lakers in 2011.
“Obviously, having the opportunity to work for the Lakers was my first job as an NBA coach. That was an opportunity I (wasn’t) going to pass up,” Handy said. “Hawaii, I kind of feel the same way about being a college coach. Never really been interested (on that level), but I would be interested in the potential opportunity of maybe coaching at my alma mater. That’s a little different feel because it has more of a personal touch.”
He was a key part of the 1994 NCAA Tournament team, making the WAC All-Newcomer team that season.
He said he’s kept tabs on his school over the years, watching games on national TV or online. He expressed some concern about the difficult season the Rainbows just endured.
“I’m still always watching, wondering how the program is doing,” Handy said. “Just being a former player there and having success there, it’s always a part of me wanting to see the school continue to be successful.”
Who would you like to see as a candidate for the UH job? Or, are you content with Taylor at the helm?