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Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
BYU's bench, including assistant coach Quincy Lewis (middle, facing the camera and wearing a suit), erupts as the Cougars take the lead on Valparaiso in NIT Semifinal action at Madison Square Garden in New York City. BYU lost 70-72 Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Lewis is the Cougars' interim head coach following Dave Rose's retirement. Lewis is considered one of the candidates to replace Rose.

What about Quincy Lewis?

The current interim basketball coach is a candidate to replace his retiring boss Dave Rose at BYU, and, like others, he has not been a Division I head coach. But might it be disrespectful to not give him more credit as a prospect when many Cougar faithful are clamoring for a new, shiny, exciting change?

Perhaps.

Lewis is a veteran coach who has had legendary success at the high school level. Whatever failing or criticism BYU basketball has undergone the past few seasons should not be pinned on Lewis, according to friends like former Orem High coach Golden Holt, who coached star Lone Peak players TJ Haws, Eric Mika and Nick Emery on an AAU team for years before they won a national title at Lone Peak.

“Quincy is his own man with his own ideas and strengths and if he isn’t highly considered atop the list, maybe it’s because people take his talents for granted. But if UVU’s Mark Pope took the BYU job, I think Quincy would be an instant top candidate to replace Pope there,” Holt said.

Former BYU coach Steve Cleveland, who is now a TV analyst, agrees.

Cleveland does not have a “dog in the race” and, like many others, believes the BYU job is Pope’s if he wants it. But dismissing or disrespecting Lewis and his resume would be a mistake.

“I think with Quincy, he has a great basketball mind. And, you know, regardless of what level you're at, you start thinking about how hard it is to win seven to eight state titles. With all the things he did in high school, he has to have a great basketball mind. I don't care whether the players are 15 years old or 19 years old or 30 years old,” Cleveland said.

After serving as a mission president in Indiana for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after his coaching job at Fresno State, Cleveland remembers talking with Lewis after he was hired by Rose as an assistant coach.

The son of a very successful coach, Tim Lewis, at Timpview High, Quincy has the coaching life in his blood. He has coached and recruited at Utah Valley, Southern Utah and BYU-Hawaii. In 12 seasons at Lone Peak, his record was 250-45 (.847) with seven state trophies. After his 2013 season, which ended 26-1, he was named the national high school coach of the year by Max Preps and Naismith.

While other candidates may see the BYU job as a step up or an opportunity to make a move through and out of the West Coast Conference, Lewis, say friends, is a loyalist who would make it a lifelong dream job for as long as the university wanted him on the scene.

“I sat down with him and watched a little bit of film and talked a lot of hoops with him. And, you know, he'd been prepared. He’s been around. People think because he hasn’t been a Division I coach, he’s not prepared, but he is ready to coach at the next level. If it’s not at BYU, then it will be somewhere else," Cleveland said. "He has a great understanding of the game offensively and defensively and he has an ability to connect with players. I watched him in practices and in all kinds of game settings. He had a little more responsibility this year but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the capacity to do it all."

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Many observers of BYU’s hiring process, including Cleveland, believe the school is finished with interviews and a decision could come soon. Cleveland likes all the candidates, although he doesn’t personally know a few.

In addition to Pope and Portland State’s Barret Peery, candidates with Division I experience, Lewis joins a list of other aspirants that include Los Angeles Laker assistant Mark Madsen and Philadelphia 76er assistant Kevin Young. Current Utah Jazz assistant Alex Jensen was asked to interview for the job but, after a brief contact, made it known he would not go further in the process.

The application process on BYU’s employment website lists April 9 as the closing date.