MANHATTAN — Bruce Weber wants to hire an assistant coach to his staff with ties to Kansas State basketball, but he will have to go outside the current program to find one.
On Tuesday, Weber said all three of K-States assistant coaches under Frank Martin Brad Underwood, Matt Figger and Lamont Evans will follow him to South Carolina. Director of basketball operations Andy Assaley and strength and conditioning coach Scott Greenawalt have also accepted positions with the Gamecocks.
When Weber was introduced as K-States new basketball coach on Saturday, he expressed heavy interest in hiring an assistant who has connections to the Wildcats. He viewed Underwood, a 1986 K-State grad and McPherson native, as a perfect choice and pushed hard for him to stay.
But Underwood turned down the offer.
"I talked with Brad Underwood," Weber said. "He was my first call Saturday morning. But he called me back yesterday and said that he had made the decision to go to South Carolina. I understand, but I left it open to him. Ive still got a few days here before I do anything final, so I told him, If anything changes let me know.
Unless Underwood changes his mind, that leaves Weber searching for a new assistant with K-State roots. Weber said he asked Underwood for recommendations, and that former K-State player Darren Kent, who served as a graduate student manager last season, has told him he wants to remain on staff.
"I want somebody with K-State ties," Weber said during his introductory news conference. "I think it is important, they know the lay of the land, they have the relationships."
Weber said on Tuesday that recruiting connections could be a big factor in whoever he hires.
He currently has two spots to fill. Though nothing has been made official by K-State, Weber anticipates Chris Lowery to join his staff in the coming days. Weber said they have agreed on a deal and are waiting on paperwork to be approved.
Lowery was recently fired after an eight-year run with Southern Illinois, but he had great success with the Salukis during his time there. Lowery went 145-115 as the Salukis coach. He guided them to three NCAA Tournaments and two Missouri Valley Conference championships. His best season came in 2007, when Southern Illinois won 29 games and reached the Sweet 16.
Lowery served under Weber for two seasons at Southern Illinois before becoming the Salukis head coach. Together, they helped Southern Illinois go 52-15 and reach back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, including a trip to the Sweet 16.
K-State paid $40,000 to consulting firm For his help during the hiring process of Bruce Weber, Kansas State agreed to pay Todd Turner and his consulting firm Collegiate Sports Associates $40,000 plus pre-approved expenses. K-State has 30 days to pay Turner for his services.
The Eagle obtained a copy of the contract made between K-State and Turner on Tuesday via an open records request.
As the president of CSA, Turner has helped numerous other schools search for coaches and athletic directors. K-State came to terms with CSA on March 26. Turner and CSA agreed to provide its services until the Wildcats hired a new basketball coach. Weber was hired on Saturday.