With Jerry Colangelo reportedly a consultant in Illinois’ search for a new men’s basketball coach, Dan Majerle’s name has surfaced as a potential candidate.
After all, it was Colangelo who steered Grand Canyon University to the former Suns guard four years ago when the Antelopes began the transition from NCAA Division II to Division I.
But Majerle said Friday that he’s not going anywhere.
“I’ve got a job to do here,” said Majerle, who has proven to be a hot coaching commodity in his four years at the the school, compiling an 81-46 record. “We’ve had back-to-back 20-win seasons. Next year, we’ve got our chance to go to the (NCAA) tournament. I’m excited.”
Colangelo, the former Suns owner, who went to college at Illinois, was instrumental in the Antelopes’ move to Division I and landing opponents such as Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, San Diego State in the last four years. GCU’s business college is named after Colangelo, who is used as a consultant by GCU President Brian Mueller.
Majerle is grateful for the opportunities Colangelo has provided him in his life as an NBA player and now a head college coach. Colangelo has said he believes GCU can become a Butler or a Gonzaga, a mid-major basketball power that will thrive as a Top 25 program under Majerle.
Majerle is coming off maybe his most impressive season as coach, leading a team depleted at times by injures to a 22-9 record and a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference that ended on a seven-game winning streak at regular-season champion CSU-Bakersfield.
Because of players needing to recover from injuries, GCU elected not to participate in the Collegeinsider.com Tournament this year.
The Chicago Tribune this week reported Majerle’s name as a possible successor at Illinois because of Colangelo’s ties.
Majerle takes it as a compliment.
“It means someone is looking at you,” he said.
He is locked up through 2020 at GCU, given an extension two years ago when he was made the highest-paid men’s basketball coach in the WAC.
Majerle has no reason to leave.
He is treated like royalty at GCU, where men’s basketball is the biggest ticket, and with a student section as strong as any in the country, filling out the 7,000-seat arena, turning it into what Majerle has described as “a party.”
He loves the Valley, where he has restaurants. His son will be starting high school next academic year.
And GCU is on the verge of hitting it big.
“I’m happy with what is going on here,” Majerle said. “As long as we continue to make strides and be a Top 20 team, I have no reason to leave.”
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The Antelopes received a commitment from 2017 post player Alessandro Lever of Italy, according to Scout.com. Lever, 6-foot-10, played in the FIBA Under-18 European Championships, averaging 13.2 points and 5.8 rebounds. Lever took an official visit to GCU last week. He will join 6-1 point guard Damari Milstead of Hayward (Calif.) Moreau Catholic High next season at GCU. Milstead signed in November.
Suggest human interest stories to Richard Obert at [email protected] or 602-316-8827. Follow him at azc_obert