As coach Scott Nagy leaves for Wright State, fans and players ponder the future.

South Dakota State men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy stepped down this week after a successful 21-year run in Brookings.  He has left to take a job at Wright State, a Horizon League program in Ohio for, reportedly, almost double the salary he had at SDSU.

 Much can be said about the things Nagy did during his time here, from guiding the Jacks through the transition to Division I to turning them into a legitimate mid-major threat come March. But at what can be unequivocally referred to as the end of an era for Jackrabbit men’s basketball, most eyes will now turn towards the future. Where do the Jacks go from here?

 Two questions quickly come to mind: who will replace Nagy and will players transfer?

 The first is probably the biggest question the casual fan will ask. Obviously, whoever comes in will have some big shoes to fill. With seniors like Deondre Parks, George Marshall and Jake Bittle leaving, as well as the transfer of Connor Devine, the roster will look a lot different from the 2016 incarnation that pushed Maryland to the limit in the NCAA tournament.

All that being said, SDSU is still a fairly attractive mid-major job. In recent days, a couple of candidates have risen to the top of the pile, at least among the discussions of writers and fans around the program. 

They are, in no particular order, SDSU assistant Rob Klinkefus, Augustana head coach Tom Billeter and UNLV assistant Ryan Miller.

 “Klink” has been an assistant under Nagy for the last 10 years and is currently in charge of all team activities until a new head is hired.  He would provide major continuity for the program and players. The biggest appeal here is clearly comfort. But the one big downside is he has never been a head coach. That can be a big knock against a candidate in searches like this, and I think it will ultimately put Klink behind other candidates.

 Billeter has had exceptional success at Augie, culminating in a Division II National Championship this season. His track record is excellent, and there is a fairly widespread belief that he can do his thing at the D-I level, as reflected by the reports that he is also in the running for the head coaching job at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

 Miller is the brother of NBA journeyman sharpshooter Mike Miller and was a standout at Northern State. He also has no head coaching experience, but as a younger coach that’s less of a knock on him, whether that’s fair or not. He is definitely a hire that would excite fans and was apparently in the running for the University of South Dakota job two years ago, so his desire to return to SoDak and get a head gig is definitely a factor here.

 So regardless of whom they hire, you have to wonder what players will think and if any of them want to leave. And first and foremost in the discussions of potential transfers is breakout star Mike Daum. And according to all reports and tweets that one can track down, the “Dauminator” is staying in Brookings. Daum is what can be considered the foundation piece of this roster, mostly because he still has three years of eligibility and looks primed to dominate the Summit League for those three years.

 So Daum is (probably) staying, which turns the attention to the rest of the roster, which now sits with a few more question marks. The backcourt losses of Parks, Marshall and Bittle plus the end of eligibility for key reserve Keaton Moffit leaves the Jacks with a severe lack of guards. Young bucks Tevin King and Cole Gentry showed some promise, but whoever takes over will likely be in the recruiting market for a guard, possibly from a junior college so he comes in with a little more experience.

 The Jackrabbit basketball team may currently be without a permanent leader, but athletic director Justin Sell has made several hires in other sports in his time here. His selections in wrestling, baseball, softball and volleyball have all been smart, effective hires and there should be no doubt that this hire will be the same. They have targets in mind, but they will likely hear out any qualified applicants. No specific timetable has been given, so for now we just wait and see.