Utah Jazz assistant Alex Jensen has withdrawn his name from consideration to be the next men’s basketball coach at the University of Utah, the Deseret News confirmed through sources familiar with the former Utah basketball star’s interview process.
Jensen’s withdrawal from consideration was first reported by The Athletic on Thursday afternoon.
Jensen, who turns 45 on May 16, had multiple conversations and interviews with Utah athletic director Mark Harlan and “seriously considered” making a move back to the collegiate ranks, but ultimately decided against it, a source said.
Jensen has reportedly been “on the fence” for several days, but his loyalty to Jazz coach Quin Snyder and belief that the team can contend for an NBA title this year ultimately won the day.
Since Utah fired head coach Larry Krystkowiak on March 16, Jensen has been seen as the primary candidate for the opening, which will pay upward of $2 million annually. Jensen’s salary with the Jazz is unknown, but has been estimated to be in the $800,000 to $1 million range.
Jensen joined the Jazz in 2013, having been hired by former coach Tyrone Corbin, but stayed on when Snyder came aboard. He has interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs, and his belief that he will ultimately land a head coaching job in the premier basketball league in the world also contributed to his decision to stay with the Jazz, a source said.
Meanwhile, it is back to the drawing board for Harlan and the Utes, who are searching for the 16th head basketball coach in Utah hoops history, and fourth since Rick Majerus stepped down in 2004. Jensen played under Majerus at Utah in the program’s glory days, and was seen by many as a way to rekindle waning enthusiasm in the community for the once-proud program.
Several outlets have reported that Utah also has interest in Utah State coach Craig Smith and New York Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant, a former Ute, and the Deseret News has confirmed that interest.
The Athletic reported Thursday that Utah has interest in Florida coach Mike White, a name that has not been mentioned to the Deseret News in its reporting of the situation.
Jensen grew up in Bountiful and was the Deseret News’ Mr. Basketball in 1994 while a senior at Viewmont High. He led the Vikings to the 4A state championship in 1993 and to third-place finishes in 1992 and 1994.
He averaged 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a freshman at Utah, then served in the England London South Mission for two years for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He returned in 1997 and starred for the Utes for three more seasons.
The timing just wasn’t right to return to his alma mater, he told the Deseret News’ source.