Former Georgia Tech player Mario West, who joined coach Josh Pastner’s staff in 2016 as director of player personnel, has been elevated to interim assistant coach following the departure of Tavaras Hardy to be head coach at Loyola-Maryland.
Pastner made the move to allow Pastner to have the full complement of three assistant coaches available to coach and go on the road to recruit, joning Eric Reveno and interim Julian Swartz, who himself was elevated following Darryl LaBarrie being put on paid leave in November before his resignation in February. For basketball, NCAA rules permit only the head coach and three assistant coaches to engage in off-campus recruiting. On campus, only designated coaches, graduate assistants and student assistants are permitted to be directly involved in practices.
West went with Pastner and Swartz to make a home visit to Buford High prospect Marcus Watson this past weekend. He was in a photo of the visit that Watson posted on his Twitter account. West has also taken part in on-campus recruiting visits.
“I’ve been impressed by him,” Pastner said. “He sells Georgia Tech athletics, he sells Georgia Tech. Obviously, he’s inexperienced in recruiting, but I believe if you look at his history, he’s been very successful, and he’s good.”
West came to Tech as a walk-on guard in 2003 and went on to play 103 games for the Yellow Jackets, earning team captaincy his senior season. He went on to play in four NBA seasons, three with the Hawks, before playing internationally.
Pastner chose between West and scouting director Tyler Benson as Hardy’s temporary replacement. He had hoped to be able to switch the designated-assistant tag between the two of them, but learned that that wasn’t possible.
“He’s real good on the (practice-court) floor,” Pastner said of West. “Especially being a full-time coach, you can guard guys, be in the drills with them. That’s a big plus. When he’s not in that role, he’s not able to do that. I want to take advantage of that while he can.”
As player-personnel director, West is the staff’s liaison with various campus entities such as academic services and housing. He also helps coordinate the team’s community-service activities and is a connection point for former Tech players.
West does not have coaching experience, which may limit his candidacy to be a full-time replacement. Asked if he would be considered, Pastner didn’t say no, but didn’t say yes, either.
“I’m interviewing people and going through the process and meeting with (athletic director) Todd Stansbury and (associate AD and sport supervisor) Marvin Lewis, and we’ll come up with the two best for those two spots,” he said. “But I’ve been very impressed with Mario.”
Pastner’s search for full-time assistants is ongoing. Despite Twitter reports that he had made hires, Pastner said that he hadn’t offered either job to anyone.
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