Multiple outlets are reporting that George Mason has hired former Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt to replace Jim Larranaga. He is expected to be formerly announced at a press conference tomorrow afternoon.
Hewitt was fired earlier this year by the Yellow Jackets after producing a 190-162 record in 11 seasons, including a national runner-up finish in 2004. The veteran coach is known as an excellent recruiter, having lured a bevy of NBA talent to Georgia Tech during his tenure, but his career in the ACC is overwhelmingly marred by underachieving teams, despite a wealth of ability on the roster. He does have experience at the mid-major level having coaches Siena from 1997 to 2000, winning back-to-back MAAC regular season championships in 1999 and 2000 and a conference tournament championship in 1999.
In George Mason, Hewitt walks into a promising situation that will be ripe with expectations. The Patriots are coming off a 27-win season that included a win over Villanova in the round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament. The bulk of the roster will be back next season save for leading scorer Cam Long, but Mason is still expected to be the early favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association and has already garnered several early nods in early preseason top 25 polls.
Hewitt understands pressure so his first season shouldn't be anything he is unfamiliar with and certainly his recruiting acumen coupled with the Patriots growing national name should only continue to help bring talent to the program. The question now however is can he toss aside the underachieving label and help George Mason to another long stay in March?