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Kevin Durant wants Texas to consider Royal Ivey as next head coach

Kevin Durant has some thoughts on the coaching search for the Texas Longhorns men’s basketball program after Shaka Smart was named the new head coach of the Marquette Golden Eagles on Friday after six years in Austin.

The Texas Ex told Stadium basketball analyst Jeff Goodman that he’d like to see athletics director Chris Del Conte consider another Texas Ex — Brooklyn Nets assistant Royal Ivey, who played for Rick Barnes from 2000-04.

Ivey’s name surfaced as a potential candidate early in the day from the Austin American-Statesman’s Brian Davis.

A guard for the Longhorns who signed to play for Barnes out of Queens, Ivey started 126 of the 133 games he played for the Longhorns, averaging 7.8 points per game. Most of Ivey’s contributions were on the defensive end — he was known as an excellent defender and got the assignment of Syracuse’s Carmelo Anthony in the 2003 Final Four.

Drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round, Ivey spent 11 seasons in the NBA, including several years playing with Durant with the Oklahoma City Thunder — Durant once called Ivey his “best teammate” in the NBA — before joining the Oklahoma City Blue as an assistant following his retirement. From there, Ivey moved onto the bench under Billy Donovan for two seasons. In 2018, Ivey returned to New York to serve as an assistant for Tom Thidodeau with the New York Knicks, focusing on player development. This past offseason, Ivey reunited with Durant when he joined Steve Nash’s staff with the Brooklyn Nets.

With Ivey’s experience as an NBA assistant, the easy comparison is to Michigan’s Juwan Howard, who had a similar background before taking over for John Beilein at his alma mater.

Hiring Ivey would certainly represent a risk — he’s never been a head coach at any level and he’s never coached in college. But his hire likely would energize the fan base and if it worked, at 39, Ivey could be a longterm solution for the Longhorns.

With so much roster turnover at Texas, including the possibility of one or more of the four 2021 signees asking out of their NLIs, Ivey would need to quickly leave the bench in Brooklyn to take over in Austin and that could potentially complicate his decision.

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