Now that the dust has settled on Kevin Stallings being named the new Pitt coach, the process of filling out the coaching staff is on forefront. As we know with Jamie Dixon, the lack of a talented coaching staff was often used as a reason for Pitt's decline in recent years. Pitt didn't have enough good recruiters, they didn't have a solid strategist next to Dixon, you name it - that was the problem. Whether that was true or not, Kevin Stallings has a chance to bring in a fresh new staff to see if that can be a difference in the Pitt basketball program
Obviously before anything could really get going, the Brandin Knight situation took up the spotlight. The former star player and top assistant under former coach Jamie Dixon was offered a job and a "sizable pay raise", but opted to leave to explore other opportunities. While it may come as an unpopular decision among fans, it gives Stallings and Pitt to start fresh from the old regime, and it gives Knight a chance to boost his resume at another school.
The first hire of the new staff was Kevin Stallings bringing Tom Richardson with him from Vanderbilt. According to Vanderbilt's official athletic website, Richardson has been with Stallings for the past 13 season. His bio on the website notes that Richardson is a "trusted friend and a talented instructor." It also goes on to say that he gained a reputation as an "excellent shooting instructor." Richardson spent four seasons as the head man at Illinois State, and guided the Redbirds to the NIT in 2001. He does have ties to the recruiting battleground of Chicago. As recently as the class of 2015, he won a recruiting battle to bring in Joseph Toye out of powerhouse Whitney Young High School to Vanderbilt.
The second hire happened yesterday as Jon Rothstein tweeted that Jeremy Ballard will be joining the staff. Ballard is a well-regarded assistant that comes from the Illinois State staff. He previously served as Shaka Smart's top assistant for three seasons, and was even considered a candidate to replace him before they settled on Will Wade. Ballard is noted as a strong recruiter, and helped bring a three top 100 recruits to VCU in the class of 2014. He brought in players from New York/New Jersey and Philadelphia during his tenure for the Rams. Here are some opinions on Ballard.
Pitt fans should be ecstatic with the hiring of assistant Jeremy Ballard. Great east coast ties + was finalist for VCU head job last spring— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 7, 2016
Love the hire by new Pitt coach Kevin Stallings of Jeremy Ballard. Was with Shaka at VCU, last year at Illinois State.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) April 7, 2016
@GoodmanESPN that's a good dude right there— VCU Ram Nation (@VCURamNation) April 7, 2016
Head Coach Kevin Stallings has also hired Vanderbilt Director of Basketball Operations, Dan Cage, to the same position here. Cage was a player under Stallings, and played for two Sweet 16 teams for the Commodores. According to his bio, he held the position since the 2012-13 season. So with that hire, it leaves one spot open on the coaching staff, and that is for the third assistant position.
Kevin Stallings revealed to Dan Sostek the timeline he hopes to hire the third assistant. It would be my assumption that this final hire could come as soon as today, or sometime this weekend. Matt Steinbrink of Pantherlair.com noted that current Pitt staff member, Jason Richards could be a name for the final spot on the bench. Richards has been with Pitt for six years, and recently held the position as Video Coordinator. If you recall him as a player, he was the point guard for the Steph Curry-led Davidson team that made the Elite 8 in 2008.