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NC State has an assistant to hire: Who are the potential candidates?

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Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

So for the first time in the Mark Gottfried era, there is an assistant coach opening on staff. With Rob Moxley moving to a supplementary position, there is now a spot to fill on the Pack bench. There are a few obvious internal candidates, several others with Pack ties, and a few with no previous relationship to NCSU.

Among the internal candidates, two have previous coaching experience. Director of Basketball Operations Jeff Dunlap has assistant coaching experience at Alabama with Gottfried as well as a few years scattered among other schools. He also played at UCLA and has an impressive resume among grassroots-level basketball. Dereck Whittenburg is also a potential candidate due to his historic ties to the program, head coaching experience with Fordham (record notwithstanding), and assistant coaching experience. Whitt is also a favorite of the players and would be an amiable recruiter. Both are likely long shots, but are on the board.

Two more plausible candidates are both former Wolfpack stars whose careers overlapped while in Raleigh. Levi Watkins played for State over 10 years ago and served several years for the program in an operations role before having the chance to join Bobby Hurley's staff at Buffalo and now Arizona State. He has a combination of the experience and likely interest that should make him a leading candidate.

Former ACC Player of the Year Julius Hodge is another obvious candidate. He has only been an official collegiate staff member for one year, also at Buffalo, but they made the NCAA tournament this season and look like a program that is maintaining success. He loves Raleigh more than anyone and would jump at the opportunity to coach at his alma mater.

From outside of the State family tree, there are not a lot of options that jump right out at you. Kenny Johnson at Louisville could be on the table if Rick Pitino retires. State (and many other schools) have had high interest in him due to his connections to the DC area. There would be a bidding war for Johnson if Pitino leaves Louisville and Johnson becomes a free agent.

Tim Fuller is an assistant at Missouri and had been in the mix for a spot at NC State when Gottfried was hired. He has been noted as an excellent recruiter, but Mizzou has been terrible this year, which could hurt his candidacy. Other top assistants at similar-level programs could and should be in play.

An off-the-wall candidate could be Dennis Smith, whose name should be obvious if you follow NC State at all. The father of DSJ could be a long shot candidate, as he was rumored at least in a few circles as eventually joining the staff from the high school ranks. I would not expect this to happen, but since it had been mentioned, it's worth noting. As has been the case with the nature of the sport lately, a head coach from a top high school program could become a major player for this coaching position, because 'crootin' never ends.