GSU’s LaBarrie interested in Kennesaw State job

Georgia State assistant basketball coach Darryl LaBarrie said on Wednesday he is interested in the head coach opening at Kennesaw State.

“I’ve always thought Kennesaw State is like a gold mine,” he said. “They have so much potential with facilities and so much growth on the campus. With the right leadership, it’s a program that has potential to be in the NCAA tournament frequently.”

The Owls fired Jimmy Lallathin on Monday, though athletic director Vaughn Williams has neither cited the team’s 10-22 record nor its 36-point loss in the Atlantic Sun tournament among any reasons for the change. He has had a member of the sports information department respond to interview requests. Assistant David Rivers was named the interim coach.

LaBarrie, 36, has been an assistant coach at Georgia State for the past four years under coach Ron Hunter, during which the Panthers have twice won the Sun Belt’s regular season title, recently won the conference’s tournament title and defeated Baylor in the second round of the NCAA tournament. LaBarrie said Hunter is aware of his interest in the Kennesaw State job.

A player and graduate of Georgia Tech, LaBarrie served as an assistant with the Yellow Jackets, East Carolina and Campbell before coming to Georgia State.

LaBarrie, a native of Decatur, works with the guards at Georgia State and helps with the defense during games. Off the court, he oversees academics, discipline, monitoring the individual workouts in the offseason and other day-to-day activities.

He is known as a solid recruiter, helping the Panthers land transfers Ryan Harrow and Manny Atkins.

“The main thing I think I bring is a relationship to the state of Georgia, where we can get players right out of high school or transfers back that normally wouldn’t think about going to Kennesaw State,” he said.

LaBarrie said he prefers to run a ball-screen offense that spreads the floor, and a full-court pressure defense that incorporates zone schemes with some man-to-man.

LaBarrie has never been a head coach, but pointed out that neither VCU’s Shaka Smart nor Butler’s Brad Stevens had been head coaches before taking their teams to the Final Four.

The Owls have gone through two head coaches in the past two years. Lallathin took over for Lewis Preston midway through the 2013-14 season, and then was promoted to head coach before the 2014-15 season. LaBarrie said the churn and the team’s lack of success since transitioning to Division I in 2005-06 (85 wins, 175 losses) didn’t concern him.

“All programs that have recently transitioned to Division I have challenges,” he said. “A lot of people said Georgia State wouldn’t be where we are today. There’s a way to go about the challenges and still get the job done.”

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