Grading the head coach hirings this offseason
by: Jonathon Warriner
Indiana-Archie Miller, Grade: B
This is a very good hire for the Hoosiers, while at Dayton his teams were always a threat to win the Atlantic-10 and during the 2014 NCAA Tournament, Miller lead the Flyers to the Elite Eight. This hire is really good but is it spectacular, no. Most people consider Indiana a Top-10 program in College Basketball, while Miller is a great coach he is not a Top-10 coach in College Basketball right now. I think Miller will be a good coach at Indiana and the Hoosiers will be a consistent threat to win the Big Ten.
Georgetown- Patrick Ewing, Grade: C+
This could turn out to be a complete failure or a great hire, only time will tell. While Ewing is an all time great and arguably the best player in Georgetown history, he has no experience in College Basketball coaching. The big thing the program was thinking during this hire is to keep John Thompson happy, this hire did that successfully. I think Ewing will lead Georgetown to the tournament a few times and the Hoyas might have some seasons where they are contending for the Big East title, but I don’t see Georgetown returning to the power they were back in the 1980s
North Carolina State- Kevin Keatts, Grade: A
If North Carolina State wanted to compete in the ACC, they finally got the guy to do it with. Keatts won the Colonial back to back years and both times in the tournament competed with tough ACC teams. I think it might take a few years for Keatts to get his feet under him coaching in the ACC, but he’ll be a successful hire. I expect in 5 years the Wolfpack to be consistently making the NCAA Tournament.
Illinois- Brad Underwood, Grade: A+
I think Oklahoma State regrets lowballing Brad Underwood right now. While at Stephen F. Austin he took the Lumberjacks to the Round of 32 twice and was a rebound away from a Sweet 16 in 2016. This past year after starting 0-6 in Big 12 play he turned the Cowboys around and they won 9 of their next 11. While in his first year Underwood won’t have the players, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are right there with a chance to make the tournament. I think when Underwood settles in the Illini will be consistent threats to win the Big Ten.
Missouri- Cuonzo Martin, Grade: A
No coach has had a better start to their coaching campaign than Cuonzo Martin. In his month at Missouri, he brought the top recruit in the nation to Missouri and has fans actually excited for next season. While Martin underachieved with the talent he had at California and wasn’t a contender in the SEC at Tennessee, he’s still better than what they had. I don’t expect Missouri to contend in the SEC consistently, but I do expect Martin to bring some good teams to Missouri.
Oklahoma State- Mike Boynton Jr. Grade: C
One year ago, Boynton was expected to be named the head coach of Stephen F. Austin after Underwood left for Oklahoma State. The Lumberjacks instead hired Kyle Keller, and Boynton then followed Underwood to Oklahoma State. After Underwood left for Illinois, Boynton became the head coach of Oklahoma State. I expect Boynton to continue some of the success that Underwood had in his first year, ultimately the big question with him is if he can get players to Oklahoma State. I think Boynton will be a good head coach short term, but I could see him searching for a job in about five years.
Washington- Mike Hopkins, Grade: D
Mike Hopkins was the head coach in waiting at Syracuse, but after Jim Boeheim signed an extension Hopkins decided to start his own coaching career. I think Washington could have gotten someone better, as Eric Musselman, Kermit Davis, and Randy Bennett were all good options. I think Hopkins could end up being a good head coach but I think its more likely you see more years of an irrelevant Huskies program. I think Hopkins will not last long at Washington and Hopkins is looking for a new job in 5 years.
California- Wyking Jones, Grade: C
I’m never opposed to promoting a head coach, Jones was a top assistant under Cuonzo Martin and left a good impression as an assistant. Jones could end up being a great head coach or end up being a bust, I’m not sure which. The only thing I would have thought of is possibly hiring Musselman or Bennett as those are two proven coaches. Overall, I could see Jones searching for a new job in five years or leading California consistently to the NCAA Tournament, either is a possibility.
LSU- Will Wade, Grade: C
Will Wade is a good coach from a good school but we’ve seen Jeff Capel, and Anthony Grant previously get fired when going to other schools and Shaka Smart has yet to win a tournament game at Texas. While Wade seems to be a good candidate, VCU appears to be a stepping stone for head coaches. We’ll have to wait and see what Wade does before acclaiming him as a great head coach. I think we’ll see LSU improve from their current position but I ultimately can see Will Wade joining Capel and Grant as former VCU head coaches to be fired.
VCU- Mike Rhoades, Grade: B+
Another former VCU assistant coach got the job, that coach will be successful and help VCU be a threat in the A10 and ultimately leave VCU for a major Conference head coaching job. Mike Rhoades is another coach that seems to follow that trend. Rhoades was an assistant under Shaka Smart and moved to Rice for three years before getting the job. I expect Rhoades to continue the program success that VCU has had, in 5 years he could be coaching for another Major conference team, and the head coaching process will go on at VCU.
Dayton- Anthony Grant, Grade: B-
Anthony Grant has had an up and down coaching career, being very successful at VCU and getting fired at Alabama. Grant now will coach again in the Atlantic 10 hoping to continue the success Archie Miller had before him. I think that Grant will lead Dayton to multiple NCAA Tournaments and will use this job to get him another job around College Basketball.