It’s this time of year that Ed Pinckney’s name most frequently comes up.

And while his 1985 Villanova team now has competition as one of the unlikeliest national champions in NCAA Tournament history after Connecticut’s victory Monday night over Kentucky, the current Bulls assistant coach is still recognized as the face of the preeminent Final Four moment in the history of college basketball. In the 29 years that have passed since he led an upset of Big East rival Georgetown—featuring long-time counterpart Patrick Ewing, an All-American center who would go on to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft a few months later—in what was dubbed “The Perfect Game,” the easygoing Bronx, N.Y., native has gone on to quietly develop a reputation as one of the league’s more highly-regarded assistant coaches and a viable head-coaching candidate.

Pinckney went on to a long and solid, if unspectacular professional career and after retiring from the league in 1997, he became a broadcaster for the Miami Heat, the final NBA team he played for. He soon embarked upon his coaching career, starting from the bottom with a stint in the now-defunct USBL, then returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach—helping Villanova to the school’s only Final Four appearance since its championship run, a 2006 berth led by current NBA guards Kyle Lowry and Randy Foye—before jumping back to the pro ranks when he was hired by former Boston Celtics teammate Kevin McHale to be an assistant coach in Minnesota.

After a few seasons with the Timberwolves and a brief return to Philadelphia, where he was the 76ers’ television analyst for a year, Pinckney came to Chicago with Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau in 2010. Thibodeau isn’t a huge proponent of his staff talking to the media—Pinckney isn’t much of a self-promoter anyway—but that unique background, in the opinion of ex-colleague Ron Adams, is part of the reason Pinckney’s stock is rising in NBA coaching circles these days.

“The one thing about Ed is he has a real love for basketball and he really loves the game. Enjoys the game, enjoys the players. It’s kind of interesting with the guys he’s recruited over the years at Villanova, he’s still in contact with the kids, with the parents. That’s just who Ed is. If you look at Ed’s background as both a player in the pros, a player in college, he has an interesting perspective because he’s also done broadcasting. Some people may not think that’s important, but I think it is because you get to sit back, you watch people, you watch games obviously,” explained Adams, now the Celtics’ lead assistant after holding the same position with the Bulls under Thibodeau. “You look at the game from a different level and I think as a head coach in this league, it’s important to look at the game through many lenses and I think Ed has the potential to do that. But let’s face it: in this league, for many people, it’s just a matter of getting a break. He’s been around the league for a long time, been around really great coaches, been at great programs. He’s learned from Tom, [legendary Villanova coach Rollie] Massimino in college. He really has a rich legacy of basketball behind him, so why not?

“I think Ed should easily be a head coach in this league,” the long-time NBA assistant coach went on to say. “I just think he’s a really solid human being. He’s fun, serious. He cares. He’s easy to be around on a staff. He contributes something—not only as a professional, but as a human being, he contributes. So Ed’s a real positive individual in that regard and I think he has a really intense desire to be successful, for his team to be successful, for individuals he’s coaching to be successful in that regard.”