UNT basketball coach search update

North Texas is in the early stages of its search for a new men's basketball coach. Jacksonville State head coach Ray Harper could be one possibility. (DRC file photo)

North Texas is in the early stages of its search for a new men’s basketball coach. Jacksonville State head coach Ray Harper could be one possibility. (DRC file photo)

North Texas has just begun its search for a new men’s basketball coach, but some names are starting to emerge.

Coaching Changes, a Twitter account that covers college basketball, posted today that Ray Harper to UNT is a done deal.

It’s far too early for anything to be a done deal, but Harper heading to UNT does made a lot of sense for a couple of reasons.

First off, Harper used to coach Oklahoma City, an NAIA school where he won two straight national titles. UNT athletic director Wren Baker was the head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Rogers State in Claremore, Oklahoma.

I have been told Baker and Harper know each other and are friendly.

Harper has been successful everywhere he has coached. He also won two Division II national titles at Kentucky Wesleyan. He later landed at Western Kentucky and led the Hilltoppers to two NCAA tournaments.

Harper resigned at WKU and landed at Jacksonville State, which he has in the NCAA tournament this year in his first season.

Coming to UNT would give Harper the opportunity to move up and to exact a little revenge on WKU. Don’t discount that.

With Jacksonville State in the NCAA tournament, nothing is going to play out quickly, and I wouldn’t be sold on the fact that Harper is the only coach UNT will consider.

Multiple sources within the college basketball community said not to dismiss the idea that UNT will try to make a run at a couple of other established coaches — Scott Cross at UTA and Grant McCasland at Arkansas State.

Cross has had a ton of success at UTA, which just won the outright Sun Belt Conference title. Cross will be highly marketable this offseason and has probably done about all he can do at UTA.

If a national name program doesn’t pick Cross up, UNT could become attractive. It’s another step up the ladder and offers a chance to build his resume.

McCasland is also a call UNT seemingly would have to make. Arkansas State has thrived under the former Baylor assistant. McCasland is from Irving.

The question with McCasland is the same as it is with Cross. Does he get snapped up by a school higher up on the national landscape? If he doesn’t have that opportunity this year, does he hold out for another season or listen to UNT? Is UNT even a big enough jump for McCasland to consider?

What is apparent at this point is that UNT is serious about Baker’s mandate of hiring a current Division I head coach. Multiple college coaches have said that UNT has put the word out that it is after a proven head coach this time.

Will it be Harper?

That looks like a possibility, but it appears as if UNT has a some calls to make and some options to consider. Harper also has an NCAA tournament to coach in.

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