Basketball

USC to hire Aztecs assistant basketball coach

USC is finalizing a deal to hire San Diego State assistant basketball coach Jay Morris in a move that history says shouldn’t come as a surprise.

He wouldn’t be the first SDSU assistant to go to the Pac-12. He wouldn’t even be the first to go to USC.

He wouldn’t even be the first hired by Trojans head coach Andy Enfield.

Morris, according to multiple sources outside the program, will become the third Aztecs assistant to land at USC, joining Marvin Menzies (2003 under Henry Bibby) and Tony Bland (2013 under Enfield). Gregg Gottlieb went to Cal in 2007, and Rod Palmer to UCLA in 2019. A formal announcement from USC is expected in the coming days.

Morris initially was hired by SDSU in 2017 as director of player development, then left after a month (with head coach Brian Dutcher’s blessing) when a full assistant job opened at San Jose State. He returned to SDSU the following year to replace assistant Tim Shelton, who joined Justin Hutson’s staff at Fresno State.

Given his strong Southern California recruiting ties and success at SDSU, Morris received interest from Utah and Washington earlier this year and declined. But USC proved too attractive when Enfield was looking for a replacement for Jason Hart, who was hired as head coach of the G League Ignite, the developmental team serves as an alternative for one-and-done college players.

Morris grew up in Los Angeles and has a home there where his family lives; he had an apartment in San Diego during the week. There’s also the matter of the pay raise, believed to be in the $75,000 to $100,000 range.

The timing isn’t ideal — it never is — because SDSU is pursuing high school players who are expected to announce visits and commitments in the coming weeks and months. Morris was the lead recruiter on several of them.

Dutcher should receive no shortage of resumes, however, given SDSU’s reputation of launching coaching careers. Three former assistants under Steve Fisher became Mountain West head coaches (Menzies, Hutson and Dutcher).

Potential candidates include Jaydee Luster, a Pacific assistant who is a Hoover High alum and played in the Mountain West at Wyoming; Reggie Morris, who coached sophomore guard Keith Dinwiddie at Fairfax High in L.A. and had assistant coaching stints at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount; Rodney Billups, the former head coach at Denver; and JD Pollock, SDSU’s current director of player development who served as an assistant coach at Bakersfield.

As part of the 2018 job search, Dutcher also spoke with Jeremy Castleberry, a walk-on on the 34-3 team in 2010-11 who is coaching the Los Angeles Clippers’ summer league team in Las Vegas. Castleberry said he was intrigued by a return to his alma mater but opted to stay in the pro game.

Schakel with Kings

Last week, former Aztecs Jordan Schakel had 13 points for the Golden State Warriors in a summer exhibition against the Sacramento Kings. On Tuesday night, he was playing for the Kings.

Schakel switched clubs before the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, figuring he might have a better shot at a training camp invite from the Kings. He missed all five 3-point attempts Tuesday but had several good sequences in the Kings’ 89-75 win against the Washington Wizards. He had a steal that led to a reverse layup between two defenders. A few minutes later, he made a high-arching fallaway jumper, then dove to the floor to tip away another steal that led to a fast-break basket.

French club signs Mitchell

Matt Mitchell has yet to get into any of the San Antonio Spurs’ summer league games in Las Vegas, but he already has a contract if things don’t work out in the NBA. Mitchell signed with French club SIG Strasbourg, although most European rookie contracts have an escape clause if a player makes an NBA roster.

“Matt is a young player with great potential, with many qualities and very explosive,” Strasbourg coach Lassi Tuovi said. “He understands the game very well. He is a very humble youngster. For sure, he is not completely ready and will need to get used to European basketball, but his potential is enormous.”

Touvi replaced Vincent Collet, who left after a decade in Strasbourg to become national coach and took France to the gold-medal game of the Olympics.

Seiko plays with Uganda

Senior guard Adam Seiko will play for the Uganda national team at the 16-team Afrobasket tournament in Rwanda later this month. Uganda opens Aug. 25 against Senegal. Cameroon and South Sudan are also in Group D. The tournament runs through Sept. 5.

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