As the Gonzaga program emerged as a staple in the Top-25 and the NCAA Tournament, each off-season seemed to be littered with Mark Few being linked to different programs. However, as Few continued to turn down opportunities at elite schools across the country, it became clear that he was in no rush to leave the program he built in Spokane. With Few staying put at Gonzaga, assistant coaches Billy Grier (USD) and Leon Rice (Boise St.) decided that it made more sense to pursue a head coach gig somewhere else, instead of waiting for Few to potentially retire.
With the departure of Grier and Rice, it became interesting to speculate on who might be next in line to replace Few. According to Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports, the answer to that question is Tommy Lloyd:
Now, if and when Few decides to retire, assistant Tommy Lloyd will be the guy who takes over the reigns of the west coast power.
"That's accurate," Few told CBSSports.com. "I've been blessed to have terrific assistants. People focus on his ability to get European guys, but Tommy can coach, recruit and develop players. He's also extremely well thought-of with all the former players."
Lloyd, 37, is best-known for his ability to recruit outside of the U.S. borders. He's helped the 'Zags land Ronny Turiaf, Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos, but Few said he brings far more than recruiting to the table.
"He does everything," Few added.
We heard some rumblings about this during the recruitment of Przemek Karnowski, but it is very interesting to see that the information is now public knowledge. The first thing that I'm sure is crossing the minds of many Gonzaga fans is whether this means the retirement of Mark Few is imminent. I don't think this is the case, as it was public knowledge that both Billy Grier and Leon Rice were in-line to replace Few whenever he left. This is a point that both Few and Goodman emphasize in the article:
The question here, though, becomes whether Lloyd will stick around long enough in Spokane to replace Few -- or follow Grier and Rice, who understood that Few almost certainly will retire at Gonzaga -- and take a head coaching job elsewhere.
Few will turn 50 in December and has led the 'Zags to the NCAA tournament in each of his 13 years at the helm. He admitted he has no timetable for how long he'll stick around as the head coach.
"I love it at Gonzaga," Few said. "I'm just happy we've been able to have a plan in place -- and Tommy will do a terrific job once I decide to retire."
Just because this information is now out there, it doesn't mean that Few will step down in the next couple of years. However, Few is also a coach that has the rare ability to find balance between being the head coach at a national program and finding time to spend with his family. It's well-documented that Few enjoys his time with his family and away from the court, so it would be a surprise to see him on the sidelines for Gonzaga into his 60's and 70's.
As we pointed out on Twitter, Lloyd is an excellent option to have in place to take over the Gonzaga program. Lloyd has been at Gonzaga since 2000/2001, when he began as an administrative assistant. He then joined the staff a year later. Lloyd has been a huge part of the growth of the Gonzaga program, as his International recruiting has brought in the likes of Ronny Turiaf, Elias Harris and Kevin Pangos just to name a few.
Lloyd understands the nuances of the Gonzaga program and the type of player that fits the program. Gonzaga isn't a place that typically gets a ton of unofficial visits, as it can be difficult to get to Spokane at an affordable price if you aren't from Washington, Oregon or Idaho. However, the team camaraderie and campus support are unique and is the reason that elite talents have made their way to Gonzaga over the past six years. Lloyd understands how to sell what Gonzaga can offer and how to get the Top 75/Top 100 recruits on campus. This recruiting ability was emphasized when Lloyd was chosen by his peers as one of the top assistant coaches in the country:
Regardless of affiliation, if you had to pick one assistant coach to get a prospect, who would it be?
1. Russell Springmann, Texas
2. Jerrence Howard, Illinois
3. Butch Pierre, Oklahoma State
4. Dalonte Hill, Kansas State
5. Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga
In reality, this news doesn't mean a ton, as nobody knows when Mark Few may retire. However, for those wondering if the Gonzaga program might take a step back when Few retired, having Tommy Lloyd waiting in the wings means that this program only continues to head in the right direction.