Year in and year out, Tom Izzo is mentioned among the top college basketball coaches that could make the leap to the professional ranks. Both the Detroit Pistons and the Minnesota Timberwolves were expected to pursue Izzo for their coaching vacancies this offseason.
However, Izzo put a damper on their hopes, as he told ESPN he will be remaining in East Lansing as head coach of the Spartans.
“First of all I’m going to be at Michigan State,” Izzo said on ESPNU’s College Basketball podcast Wednesday. “I still listen to things everyday in our town about Nick Saban saying I’m not going to be the Alabama coach (when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins).
“Nobody knows where any of us are going to be. You have to look at your track record and over all these years is this what he’s done?”
Izzo’s name is regularly floated around when NBA coaching vacancies pop up. Though it seems that he annually opts to remain with Michigan State, he has not yet ruled out the possibility of moving to the pros in the future.
“If somebody made me an offer to be the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers that was so good that it would impress everybody, does that mean I would never say never? I’m not doing that anymore,” Izzo said. “I’ve seen too many people get stung that way. But put it this way, I’ve got a big-time recruit coming in an hour and if I was leaving I wouldn’t be recruiting.”
Earlier this year, Izzo was mentioned as a potential replacement for the now retired Rick Adelman with the Timberwolves. He was also identified as a target of the Pistons, who may have believed they had an edge being Izzo’s hometown professional franchise. Back in 2010, he turned down the chance to take over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Izzo is 59 years old and entering the 19th season at the helm of the Spartans. If he doesn’t make the leap to the NBA soon, he likely never will.