CARBONDALE — While former Saluki standouts Bryan Mullins and Kent Williams may or may not be in the race to succeed Barry Hinson as the next men's basketball coach, one Hall of Famer is staying out of it.
Darren Brooks, an SIU Hall of Fame guard who was inducted to the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame last year, is staying put in Texas with his own basketball academy.
"I'm not interested in the job," Brooks said. "I'm in Texas with my family and I'm comfortable here. I just want someone to come in and take the program in the right direction."
Brooks runs the Brooks Basketball Academy in McKinney, Texas, about 33 miles from Dallas, which primarily tutors K-12 students and collegians through a variety of programs. Brooks, a four-year player at SIU from 2001-05, was one of the most complete players in school history. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound combo guard originally from St. Louis is sixth in school history in scoring (1,761 points), fourth in assists (410), No. 1 in steals (258) and 13th in rebounding (673). The Salukis won 106 games, went to four NCAA Tournaments during his tenure, and became a national brand.
Even though SIU hasn't played in the Big Dance since 2007, Brooks still believes the Salukis offer a great opportunity for the next coach.
"I do. Recruiting in Chicago, and there are good players in the St. Louis area," Brooks said. "We once were that Midwest mid-major team, that could compete with the best. We were right there with the best Midwest teams in the country, like Wichita, Butler and Creighton. We were right there in the conversation with them, and we can be again."
SIU athletic director Jerry Kill said earlier this week there would be a lot of interest in the job, partly because coaches understand how important men's basketball is to the school and the region.
"There isn't one sport in here that isn't going to tell you that basketball is the kingpin around here and we have to make that kingpin go," he said. "We're going to do what it takes to make that kingpin go. As far as the search goes, it's no different. The people we've hired, I've handled the same way. You go out and get the best. So far, I think we've proven with my team, we've went out and gotten the best. Let's face it, this is the most important hire we'll make."