Grades on the Coaching Hires in College Basketball this Offseason
Updated: Apr 22
This was one of the craziest seasons College Basketball has had in recent memory with UCLA making it all the way to the Final Four, Oregon State in the Elite Eight and Baylor cutting down the nets. With a crazy season usually leads to a crazy offseason which is exactly what we have unfolding in front of us. Many coaching changes like Shaka Smart and Chris Beard going back home, Porter Moser and Wes Miller getting jobs at major programs and Mark Adams and Hubert Davis getting the bump up to Head Coach. Here we will be evaluating some of the top coaching changes and predicting if it will be a good fit or not.
Shaka Smart to Marquette: A-
Former Team: Texas (6 Seasons, 109-86 Record)
Accomplishments: Final Four 2011 (VCU), A10 Tournament 2015 (VCU), NIT Champions 2019 (Texas), Big XII Tournament 2021 (Texas)
Shaka Smart had been on the hot seat for awhile now at Texas and it was only a matter of time before he would be fired from UT. It seemed like he might have saved his job after winning the Big XII Tournament and getting a three-seed in this year's NCAA Tournament with hopes of making a deep run just like his 2011 VCU team. However, 14-seed Abilene Christian had other plans as they held the Longhorns to their lowest score all season and upset UT in the first round. This was the breaking point for the donors and Shaka was out by the following weekend. After his firing, Smart decided to head home to Wisconsin and take over a Marquette team that has a tradition of making it to big dance. I believe this was the right move for Shaka to make because he has lower expectations at a smaller school, leads the dominant sport at that school and can get donors and a fanbase behind his back just like he did at VCU. Give Shaka a few years and he will have Marquette back on top of the Big East.
Wes Miller to Cincinnati: A+
Former Team: UNC Greensboro (10 Seasons; 185-135 Record)
Accomplishments: SoCon Tournament (2018, 2021), SoCon Coach of the Year (2012, 2018)
I believed Wes Miller should've gotten the job at his Alma Mater of North Carolina, that's why this is the highest rating on this list. Cincinnati got a steal in my eyes because of how well Wes Miller can coach and how well he turned UNC Greensboro around. In the five seasons before Wes Miller became the coach, the program went 55-98 and was at the bottom of the league in the three seasons before he took over. In the last five seasons that Wes Miller has been the coach, the program has gone 125-43 with two NCAA Tournament appearances and three regular season championships in the SoCon. I believe Wes Miller has a perfect opportunity to become one of the best non-power five coaches in D-1 and turn this Bearcat program around. Wes Miller could turn Cincinnati into a program like Houston (of the same conference) or Loyola Chicago who is always a threat to make a run in the tournament.
Mike Woodson to Indiana: B
Former Team: New York Knicks (2 1/2 Seasons 2012-2014; 109-79)
Accomplishments: 5 Playoff Appearances (Hawks & Knicks)
This is probably the one hire that would make you scratch your head wondering why. Mike Woodson has not been in the college game since he was playing for Indiana from 1976-1980. Things have changed since then and he's going to need to adjust quickly for the impatient Indiana fans. He's been in the NBA mostly as an assistant coach since 1996 with two gigs as Head Coach in Atlanta and New York. After Indiana's failed Archie Miller experiment, Woodson is entering the Hoosier program at a tumultuous time as their fans are eager for their program to be at the top again and aren't willing to settle for any more mediocrity. Although Woodson has been out of the recruitment process for awhile, he has still managed to land his first big-time recruit in 2021 4-Star prospect, Tamar Bates. If Woodson can get some more highly-rated recruits in the next few years, Indiana could see itself back around the top of the Big Ten in a couple of years.
Porter Moser to Oklahoma: B+
Former Team: Loyola Chicago (10 Seasons; 188-140)
Accomplishments: 2018 Final Four, Sweet Sixteen (2018, 2021), MVC Coach of the Year (2018), MVC Tournament (2018, 2021)
This move has a lot of similarities with Shaka Smart to Texas, but we will have to wait and see how it plays out. I believe Moser pretty much had a lifetime contract at Loyola Chicago because that job and school was perfect for him. However, he decided to leave and is heading to Oklahoma with his famed Final Four appearance in 2018 and a Sweet Sixteen run this past season front and center on his resume. The last four seasons as the Ramblers coach, Moser led his team to a 99-36 record with two March Madness appearances. Moser is known for his amazing defensive schemes he runs and the full-court press that is very hard to get through. The reason I believe he will have a rough start at Oklahoma is because he's going in with nothing left. Players such as Austin Reeves, Brady Manek, De'Vion Harmon, Alondes Williams and Trey Phipps all either entered the transfer portal or declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. That's a loss of nearly 70% of their scoring from last season and it will be hard for Moser to bring in guys who can replace the core of the roster. This may take three to five years and I don't think Oklahoma fans are wanting to wait that long to turn the program back to the Lon Kruger way. But, let's see if Porter Moser can bring his magic to Norman and make something out of almost nothing.
Chris Beard to Texas: A
Former Team: Texas Tech (5 Seasons; 112-55)
Accomplishments: 2019 Runner-Up, Elite Eight (2018, 2019), AP National Coach of the Year (2019), Big XII Coach of the Year (2018, 2019), Big XII Regular Season (2019), Sun Belt Tournament (2016)
Chris Beard is one of the most sought after coaches of the past three years and he leveraged that into his dream job at his Alma Mater, the University of Texas. I believe this was the only job Beard would have taken and was fine waiting in Lubbock for the job to open. Beard comes in after an amazing five seasons at Texas Tech where he won coach of the year in 2019 for taking the Red Raiders all the way to the National Championship game. Beard is known as one of the best when it comes to getting his players to play for each other. He's turned a failing program into one of the best in the nation and now he takes over a large school who have had some limited success but haven't been to the Final Four since 2003 or the Elite Eight since 2008. Chris Beard has already turned this program into a powerhouse in my eyes as he was able to keep Andrew Jones for another season while getting Devin Askew from Kentucky and Timmy Allen via the transfer portal. If Beard can get Greg Brown and Jericho Sims to play another year with the Longhorns, this team might contend for the Big XII title again in 2022.
Hubert Davis to North Carolina: B+
Former Team: North Carolina (Assistant; 9 Seasons)
Accomplishments (Assistant): NCAA Champion (2017), Final Four (2016, 2017)
After Roy Williams announced his retirement, Hubert Davis was the clear favorite to take over. In my opinion, Wes Miller would have been better for the job, but they wanted to keep it in house. Davis was a graduate of UNC in 92' and went on to play in the NBA for 12 seasons. However, his coaching experience consists of just nine seasons as an assistant which means the potential success of this hire is a total toss-up. But I believe Hubert Davis can be a great coach for the Tar Heels. Davis has lost a lot of guys to the transfer portal, but he already has a huge name coming to UNC in Brady Manek of Oklahoma. If Davis can bring in seniors and juniors via the portal, we could see the Tar Heels make some noise in the ACC next year.
Tommy Lloyd to Arizona: A
Former Team: Gonzaga (Assistant; 20 Seasons)
Accomplishments (Assistant): Runner-Up (2017, 2021), Final Four (2017, 2021)
Tommy Lloyd was always thought of as the "head coach in waiting" at Gonzaga but with Mark Few only 58 years of age, Lloyd saw an opportunity to take a highly-touted job in Arizona. Lloyd has been the top assistant at Gonzaga for awhile and he is credited with bringing in most of Gonzaga's foreign players such as Domantas Sabonis, Rui Hachimura and Kelly Olynyk. This is a home-run hire for the Wildcats as they get one of the top assistants in the nation and it's already paying off as Lloyd has received a commitment from 2022 4-star recruit Dylan Anderson just a couple days after the announcement of the hire. I believe if Wildcat nation gives Lloyd 3-4 years to build this program, they could become one of the top programs, not only in the Pac-12, but in the nation.
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