ATHENS — Tom Crean has names in mind for his new staff at Georgia, and Jonas Hayes may indeed be one of them.
Hayes, a former Georgia basketball player, just completed his fifth season as a full-time assistant with the Bulldogs. Hayes has played a central role in the recruitment of several key players, including 5-star point guard Ashton Hagans, who de-committed from Georgia last month because of concerns about former coach Mark Fox’s job status.
Crean said he and Hayes spoke by phone Thursday night after Georgia made Crean its new coach. And the two probably will sit down and talk again, possibly about a role on the staff.
“He’s definitely somebody I want to get to know; there’s absolutely no doubt about that,” Crean said when asked if Hayes was under consideration to be retained.
Hayes, 37, was at Crean’s introductory press conference Friday afternoon, taking a spot in the back of the room along some other members of the staff. Hayes was the only one of Fox’s three assistant coaches who was seen.
During his press conference, Crean said that he was looking at some assistants he had worked with in the past, but he said he also knew it would be beneficial to have some with a direct connection to this area.
“Certainly, I’ve got my ideas,” Crean said. “I have to think through that a little bit. There certainly have been people that have reached out.”
Before becoming a full-time assistant coach, Hayes spent one year as an operations director. Hayes and Fox were often seen together on recruiting trips and around campus. If Fox gets another coaching job — he’s been mentioned as a candidate for the top job at Colorado State — Hayes could be a candidate to join him. Western Carolina, where Hayes played for one year before transferring to Georgia, has an opening for a head coach. And Georgia Tech has an opening for an assistant coach.
There was even sentiment among some in the Georgia fan base to consider Hayes to replace Fox. But UGA’s search focused first on former Ohio State coach Thad Matta, and then Crean. Athletics director Greg McGarity said he also spoke by phone with another candidate, whom he did not name.