University of Miami

UM’s Jim Larrañaga loses two assistants; Katie Meier hires two

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga looks on during the NIT tournament in Richmond, Va., on March 24, 2015. Miami won 63-61.
Miami head coach Jim Larranaga looks on during the NIT tournament in Richmond, Va., on March 24, 2015. Miami won 63-61. Miami

University of Miami men’s basketball coach Jim Larrañaga will begin the 2015-16 season without two of his three longtime assistants by his side.

On Monday, Eric Konkol was named coach at Louisiana Tech, replacing Michael White, who went to the University of Florida to fill the vacancy left by Billy Donovan’s departure. Last month, Michael Huger was hired away from UM as coach at his alma mater, Bowling Green. Larrañaga’s lone remaining assistant from his George Mason staff is Chris Caputo.

“Eric Konkol is one of the brightest young coaches in the college game,” said Larrañaga. “His intelligence, energy, enthusiasm and commitment to academics are at the highest level. His knowledge of the game, his ability to recruit outstanding student athletes, and his ability to communicate with those players will make him highly successful as a head coach.

“The players at Louisiana Tech are going to love this guy, just like our Miami players did.”

Konkol had been with Larrañaga the past 11 years — four at UM and seven at George Mason.

“Eric has a national reputation as a great recruiter, a rising star and a coach with a highly intelligent basketball mind,” Louisiana Tech athletic director Tommy McClelland said.

Huger spent eight seasons on Larrañaga’s staff.

“He’s an outstanding X-and-O man, a terrific recruiter and a real family man,’’ Larrañaga said. “He will bring Bowling Green to new heights.”

Meanwhile, 6-10 center Ebuka Izundu of Charlotte, North Carolina, signed a letter of intent to play at UM. He averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks for Victory Christian Center School. He originally committed to Charlotte but got a release. He chose UM over Arkansas and Cincinnati.

“Ebuka Izundu is a young man from Nigeria who is fairly new to the game of basketball,” Larrañaga said. “Like Tonye Jekiri coming out of high school, he is 6-10, 205 pounds and has the potential to develop into an outstanding frontcourt player.”

There have also been changes on the women’s basketball staff. Coach Katie Meier hired two new assistants — Fitzroy Anthony from FAU and 19-year veteran Tia Jackson from Rutgers.

Anthony, a former AAU and Coral Springs Charter School coach, is well-connected in recruiting circles.

“I am extremely humbled, working for the University of Miami has always been a dream for me, being a South Florida guy,” said Anthony, who moved to Boca Raton at age 12 from Antigua.

“Fitz is a rising star in this profession. He works hard, is extremely loyal and has a passion for the game that is unmatched,” Meier said. “His energy and work ethic will make an immediate impact on this program. … Fitz will help us make huge strides in recruiting, as he has worked he way up the ranks in Florida via both the high school and AAU levels.

“Most importantly, Fitz has always wanted to be a Miami Hurricane.”

Jackson, a former Rutgers player, spent four years as head coach at Washington. She replaces Darrick Gibbs, who left to become coach at North Florida.

“Tia is an incredibly significant hire for me personally and for this program,” Meier said. “We have positioned Miami as one of the nation’s elite basketball programs, and hiring Tia pushes us over the top.

“She’s a tremendous recruiter, terrific with her X’s and O’s, and brings head-coaching experience that will enhance our program.”

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