Theus and Carlesimo near top of list at USC

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Former NBA coaches Reggie Theus and P.J. Carlesimo have emerged as two of the leading candidates for the USC basketball job, independent sources familiar with the situation said.

Another source said Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons has already talked with USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett, whose football and basketball programs are under NCAA investigation.

There were no indications that Garrett was close to making a decision. A USC spokesman said Garrett would not comment on the search to replace Tim Floyd, who resigned last week amid mounting pressure due to the NCAA probe.


Theus, 51, spent 1 1/2 seasons as coach of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, who fired him in December. Before that he was head coach at New Mexico State, going 41-23 in two seasons and taking the Aggies to the 2007 NCAA tournament. They went 6-24 in 2004-05, the season before he arrived.

Carlesimo, 60, was fired as coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder in November, early in his second season with the team. He also has coached the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. Carlesimo last coached on the college level in 1994, the last of his six seasons at Seton Hall. The Pirates reached the NCAA championship game in 1989.

Theus declined to comment, and attempts to contact Carlesimo were unsuccessful.

Both fit the profile Garrett has sought in football and basketball coaches in the past -- former college coaches with experience on the professional level.

In football, Garrett went after Dennis Erickson and Mike Riley before hiring Pete Carroll, who was a college assistant before becoming head coach of the New York Jets and New England Patriots. In basketball, Floyd coached at Iowa State before doing NBA tours with the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.

Cleamons, meanwhile, spoke with Garrett late last week. He also has professional-collegiate experience. He was head coach at Youngstown State and an assistant at Ohio State and Furman. He was the Dallas Mavericks’ head coach and has served as an NBA assistant, winning titles with the Chicago Bulls and Lakers.

Floyd resigned last week, part of a tumultuous off-season for the Trojans that has included an allegation that Floyd gave at least $1,000 to a runner for an agent at a February 2007 meeting. USC has had three players declare for the NBA draft and lost five recruits since the season ended.


Johnson to stay?

Forward Marcus Johnson, who told Floyd two weeks ago that he was turning pro, continues to take summer classes and may return to USC to play.