ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 08: Head coach Brad Brownell of the Clemson Tigers reacts in the second half against the Virginia Tech Hokies during their first round game of 2012 ACC Men's Basketball Conferene Tournament at Philips Arena on March 8, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Rick Ray, Clemson basketball's Associate Head Coach and top assistant, is making the big jump from a top assistant to head coach at Mississippi State. The fact that he is leaving Clemson is not a major surprise. He received a lot of interest last offseason from smaller schools and it was expected that he'd eventually take a head coaching job in the near future. It is, however, a bit surprising that he landed big time gig in the SEC. It's also interesting that Clemson tried to hire Rick Stansbury 2 years ago from Mississippi State, and now Mississippi State is stealing our top assistant.
Ray worked primarily with developing our backcourt players. He helped turn Demontez Stitt from a sporadic talent into an All-ACC performer. Andre Young and Tanner Smith also developed nicely over the past 2 years under Ray's watch. Aside from being regarded as a good teacher of fundamentals, Ray was regarded as the best recruiter on the staff. He nabbed TJ Sapp and Bernard Sullivan in the 2011 cycle.
Although losing Ray may hurt a little, Brownell more than likely has had a mitigation plan in place, as he's been aware of Ray's intentions since he got here. The twitter world has already started floating rumors of possible replacements. Several interested candidates have reportedly already contacted Brad Brownell. Rather than speculate on who Brownell my bring in, we'll be in wait-and-see mode and provide our analysis after the hire is made.