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Monday, March 15, 2010

Auburn hasn't made contact with Sam Mitchell about vacant basketball coaching job

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn hasn't made contact yet with Sam Mitchell regarding its vacant basketball coaching position, although the former NBA coach said he would be amenable to moving to the college game.

Mitchell, a Columbus native who went to school at Mercer in Macon, Ga., and currently lives in Peachtree City, wants to get back into coaching 15 months after being fired by the Toronto Raptors. He's not limiting himself to NBA opportunities.

"I'm a coach and I want to coach," he said. "I haven't closed my mind off to having an opportunity to coach in college."

Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs has been mum about potential candidates to replace coach Jeff Lebo, although Mitchell's name has hit the rumor mill already. Mitchell said he has not had any contact with the school.

A 13-year NBA vet, Mitchell coached the Raptors for four-plus seasons, going 156-189 before being fired in 2008. He's since returned to Georgia, where he's spent time as a commentator on NBA TV in addition to doing high school and AAU camps and clinics.

"I know a lot of prospects this year," he said. "I know a lot of AAU coaches. I know a lot of the high school coaches from the state of Georgia, being from here. I do a lot of clinics and camps and things of that nature, so I'm familiar with a lot of the players and a lot of the coaches. I don't look at (recruiting) as being difficult."

He thinks Auburn's situation — with the new $92.5 million Auburn Arena set to open next season — will be a good opportunity for someone.

"I think Auburn would be a great job," Mitchell said. "I think you have a lot of potential, a lot of possibilities. I just think the most important thing for Auburn, and they would say the same thing, is getting the right person who is going to push the program and build a program to a national power, like it used to be in the early '80s.

"We've got enough talent in the South to do that. I just think somebody's got to come in and stop everybody from all around country from walking off with all the talent."

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