“Some people see me as a Division II coach,” Evans said. Others “see me as we’ve got one of the top 100, top 120 programs in college basketball. It depends on how you see my situation.”
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione interviewed Evans earlier this week. Evans declined to comment on the interview, but though the ninth-year UCO coach remains a longshot for the job, he’s rising up the list as other coaches fall off the OU radar.
Basketball is different from football, which has few layers between major powers and lower divisions. But in hoops, between the Big 12 and the next lower division, you’ve still got various degrees of mid-major and low-major.
So a Division II basketball coach is expected to climb the ladder gradually.
But Evans has a counter.
“I don’t agree with that,” Evans said. “Division II, when you’re at the level we’re at, that’s the same as the low to mid D-I’s.
“Look at our RPI. I would put ours up with Tulsa. I would put us ahead of ORU. To me, I’m already at that level. I know Joe would hire me if I was at Tulsa, but I understand the public perception.”
Evans has turned UCO into a Division II power. In 10 years on the job, Evans has a 223-84 record, including 134-27 the past five seasons. The Bronchos have been to eight NCAA Tournaments under Evans.
There are 340 Division I schools. So some might delegate a Division II program, even a power like UCO, to somewhere around No. 350 in the nation.
“I just don’t see our program like that,” Evans said. “If you ever look at D-II basketball powers, those teams are all top 100, top 150 in college basketball. That’s not the Southland Conference, not the SWAC, some of the lower conferences. But I understand perception.”
Evans was a record-setting 3-point shooter on Billy Tubbs’ OU teams, 1989-93. Evans is a 1988 graduate of Millwood High School.
“Most people that played at a high major school would like to go back and coach at that school,” Evans said. “Especially the experiences we had. That would be a great opportunity.”
Reports: Kruger, Weber not candidates
Where does Terry Evans rank on the OU basketball radar? Who knows, but he could be moving up fast.
Las Vegas newspapers reported Wednesday that UNLV coach Lon Kruger had pulled out of the OU running, though it is believed an offer remains on the table.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber apparently has pulled his name from the OU coaching search.
Multiple reports Wednesday said Weber was talking with Sooner athletic director Joe Castiglione, but Weber today said no thanks.
"I received a few interest calls regarding other positions, but nothing beyond that," Weber said in a statement. "I remain committed to the University of Illinois.
We held our first spring workouts yesterday. I enjoyed being in the gym with our returning players and look forward to welcoming a talented recruiting class to the mix.
"I am fortunate to have one of the elite jobs in all of college basketball and am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for our program. We will work tirelessly to ensure that Illinois is competing at a championship level both in the Big Ten and nationally."
Las Vegas newspapers on Wednesday reported that UNLV Lon Kruger no longer was interested in the OU job, though some believe a Sooner offer remains open to Kruger, who played and coached at Kansas State.
BY BERRY TRAMEL