The Akron Zips basketball program will soon have a new leader. Former Illinois and Ohio head coach John Groce is reportedly close to becoming the next head coach at the University of Akron.
The 45 year old was recently fired from Illinois after five years with the program, compiling 95-75 overall record but a 37-53 record in conference play. His best season there came in 2012-2013 when he took the Fighting Illini to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
Groce’s best run as a head coach came at his first stop with the Ohio Bobcats where he helped lead the program to two MAC championships (2010, 2012) as well as getting the Bobcats to the Sweet Sixteen in the 2012 NCAA tournament which helped Groce land the Illinois job.
Before becoming a head coach, Groce spent fifteen years as an assistant coach at Taylor, NC State, Butler, Xavier and Ohio State. He was an assistant under current Ohio State head coach Thad Matta from 2000-2008 at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State.
The Zips have been looking for a head coach since Keith Dambrot left the program a week ago for Duquesne.
I think this is a great hire for the Zips program once it’s official. Groce has been a solid head coach and his familiarity with the MAC helps. He’s always been a solid recruiter and has found talent. DJ Cooper and Nick Kellogg were great players for the Bobcats and were the key pieces towards the two conference championships and Sweet Sixteen run.
It may take a season before Groce can get the Zips back to where Dambrot had the program so that he can get some recruits in and try to replace guys like Kwan Cheatham and Isaiah Johnson who are graduating this year, but I believe Groce can keep the Zips a winning program and may even get them farther than they’ve been into tournament play.