Report: Four finalists emerge for Fresno State basketball coach

Fresno State President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval is reportedly interviewing the four finalists.

With Quincy Pondexter not in the picture for the Fresno State men’s basketball head coach job, four candidates have emerged this week with interviews scheduled. 

According to multiple reports, Scott Garson, Ryan Pannone, Keith Smart and Vance Walberg are the finalists for the job. 


The big picture: With Fresno State parting ways with Athletic Director Terry Tumey, University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval has been tasked with finding the next coach to replace Justin Hutson. 

State of play: The four reported finalists each have decades of coaching experience on their resumes. 

  • Following a couple years as a high school assistant, Garson has been an assistant coach at Santa Clara since 2018. Following his job in the Bay Area, Garson was the head coach for five years at the College of Idaho, which competes in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). He has also been an assistant at UCLA and Utah. 
  • Smart would bring a bevy of professional experience to Fresno State, having been the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings. Smart coached in the NBA from 2000-2019, which included stints as an assistant with the Miami Heat, Memphis Grizzlies and New York Knicks as well. Since 2019 Smart has been an assistant coach with Arkansas. 
  • Pannone is the youngest of the group at 39 and is wrapping up his first season as an assistant with Alabama, which faces UCONN on Saturday in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament. Pannone spent one season as an assistant with the New Orleans Pelicans before Alabama and has many years of experience coaching overseas. 
  • Walberg has been the coach of Clovis West High School since 2016, returning to the job that he held from 1989 to 2002. He was the head coach at Pepperdine from 2006 to 2008, which followed four years at Fresno City College. Walberg also spent time as an assistant at UMass and in the NBA with the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings. 

What we’re watching: ABC 30’s Jason Oliveira reported that Walberg has the inside track for the job with a bevy of support from other college and NBA coaches. 

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