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April 11, 2012
A year ago, Frank Haith was busy putting his staff together at Missouri and targeted then Murray State assistant coach Isaac Chew. Now, Haith finds himself looking for Chew's replacement. The Chicago native is leaving Missouri to be the lead assistant for newly hired John Groce at the University of Illinois.
Though he is returning to his home state and refers to Illini assistant Jamal Walker as one of his closest friend from their days together on the Murray State bench, it wasn't professional reasons that primarily led Chew to leave Columbia.
"The first factor was family. I love Mizzou this is a great location for me to begin with. This job puts me closer to my family for the first time in my professional career," Chew told PowerMizzou.com. "In terms of moving up the food chain that's what we all look to do. It wasn't an easy decision by any means. It basically happened overnight. Mizzou has been a great place for me."
"I'm very happy for Isaac. It's a really good move for him in that he has a chance, they've got a baby daughter, he and Patrice, who is from St. Louis, and he is from Chicago," Haith said. "He's never worked before near his family. He will go from being third here to number one there. I said at the banquet the other night, I think Isaac is going to be a head coach down the road and this puts him closer to that. I'm excited for him and Patrice, and I thank them for what they've done this year. He was really vital in our success."
And it is that success that put Chew on Groce's radar. The Tigers won 30 games this season with Chew on the bench. Haith understands that with success comes turnover.
"We keep winning we're gonna keep having these things happen," Haith said. "He goes from being number three to being number one. I would hope that Tim Fuller leaves here for a head coaching job and that's it. We win 30 games I'm sure that helps and Isaac was a big part of that. We don't want to have a lot of turnover all the time. When I hire guys, I'm for their careers. I want assistants who want to be head coaches."
Haith relayed those same thoughts to Chew after Illinois offered him the job as lead assistant.
"Coach Haith has always been my family. He told me this is better for your family, I have to support you. I understand and in this business you need family so much it's hard to overcome not being around. I had an opportunity to learn a lot from everyone on this staff," Chew said. "You never go into a situation saying you're going to be here one year. I never thought that. Planning on going on the road on Friday for the University of Missouri, then this happened."
As for hiring Chew's replacement, Haith says he is "not in a big hurry." Haith said Director of Basketball Operations Toby Lane will likely be promoted temporarily to allow him to be on the road and recruit during the upcoming evaluation period.
"We'll sit back and look at it. I do have some guys in mind, but I'm not in a hurry," Haith said. "One thing that is tremendously important to me that I have same chemistry (on the staff), but now I know everyone's strengths and weaknesses."
When Chew was hired a year ago, Detroit assistant coach Derek Thomas was a strong candidate. St. Louis native Chris Carawell also expressed interest in the job. Ole Miss assistant Torrey Ward was also mentioned as a potential candidate a year ago.
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