John Kuester, basketball coach the past two seasons at Boston University, emerged last night as the leading candidate to succeed Gerry Gimelstob as coach at George Washington University and probably will be named within 48 hours.

Kuester, 30, reportedly has agreed to terms of a long-term contract. Final arrangements are expected to be made at a meeting today between Athletic Director Steve Bilsky and GW President Lloyd Elliott. The university is planning a press conference Friday to make the formal announcement.

Kuester, a native of Richmond who played guard for Dean Smith at North Carolina, emerged as the top choice over Bob Dukiet, coach at St. Peter's, who is seventh among active Division I coaches in won-lost percentage.

The third finalist, Pat Kennedy, evidently withdrew when it became apparent that GW could not match the financial deal he has as coach at Iona. He runs an eight-week summer camp that is a major portion of his package there.

Kuester, who is expected to bring a pressing, running style of basketball to the Colonials, was unavailable for comment.

Sources close to the GW program say Bilsky considers Kuester "a diamond in the rough." Although Kuester was only 31-28 in his two seasons at Boston University, Bilsky is said to believe he is a winner. The high school team he played on won three state championships and he was named the most valuable player in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for North Carolina in 1977.

Gimelstob resigned last month after four years at GW. Kuester's personality is said to be 100 percent the opposite of the intense, sometimes abrasive Gimelstob.