College basketball coaching changes: LSU hires VCU's Will Wade, VCU hires Rice's Mike Rhoades
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Tuesday brought even more openings in the college basketball coaching world, as VCU was able to quickly get a deal done with Rice coach Mike Rhoades. This came after Monday night brought the latest big coaching change in college basketball. LSU opted to hire Will Wade (six-year contract) away from VCU.
Wade coached at VCU the past two years, getting the Rams to the NCAAs each time. He has a 91-45 career record as a coach; he previously coached at Chattanooga for two years. Wade cut his teeth as an assistant at VCU for Shaka Smart before returning to Richmond.
Rhoades was previously a top assistant under Smart. It’s been a good week for the Smart coaching tree. Rhoades makes the most sense to succeed Wade. Prior to joining the D-I ranks, he spent 13 years on the bench in Virginia at D-III’s Randolph Macon.
There have now been more than 30 coaching changes this year in college basketball.
Here’s a full, up-to-date list with coaching hirings, firings, resignations and retirements in 2017:
Out: Johnny Jones
LSU’s only sub-.500 season under Jones was this season, a 10-21 disaster that included a 2-16 mark in the SEC. Jones made one NCAA Tournament appearance in his time in Baton Rouge. He’ll mostly be remembered for coaching Ben Simmons and not making the NCAAs in 2016.
In: Will Wade
Wade is an intriguing hire in Baton Rouge. LSU is the sleeping giant in the SEC. The Tigers opt to go young, as Wade is 34. LSU’s job is one with incredible potential, meaning Wade will have to recruit like he never has before in order to keep pace in an SEC that has a lot of big-time coaching talent. Wade is the latest to leave VCU for a traditional Big Six Conference job, following in the footsteps of Jeff Capel (Oklahoma), Anthony Grant (Alabama) and Shaka Smart (Texas).
Out: Lorenzo Romar
Romar was at Washington from 2002-2017. He went to the NCAA Tournament six times, including two Sweet 16 runs. But after a 9-22 season, despite having projected No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz, Romar was fired.
In: Mike Hopkins
Hopkins was Jim Boeheim’s assistant at Syracuse the past 22 years.
“The University of Washington is such a unique place, with a world-class University, an exciting basketball history and unbelievable fan support,” Hopkins said. “Together, I believe we can build something very special in Seattle, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Hopkins’ experience with USA Basketball likely played a factor, and for him to make this move speaks to his eagerness to finally run a program. Because of this move, Boeheim has extended his contract well beyond 2018. Hopkins is originally from the West Coast and should be able to recruit effectively to the Pacific Northwest. There were a lot of good candidates up for the UW job; Hopkins is worthy of the post.
Out: John Groce
Groce spent five years in Champaign, making the NCAAs his first season but living life on the bubble (or underneath it) in all other years. Groce’s firing comes after he signed a consensus top-15 recruiting class. As of now, none of the players who committed to play for Groce have backed off their vows to the Illini.
In: Brad Underwood
The decision comes as a financial one because Underwood, who took Oklahoma State to the NCAA Tournament in his first season after coming over from Stephen F. Austin, was paid just more than $1 million annually at OSU. Ironic, given billionaire T. Boone Pickens’ ties to his alma mater. Underwood has made the NCAA Tournament all four years of his head-coaching career. Illinois nailed the hire.
Here’s what Illini AD Josh Whitman said in a statement.
“In searching for a new coach, we were looking for a proven winner who would build upon our proud tradition while developing an unmistakable identity for Illinois Basketball. Brad’s teams play a fast, aggressive style and show unyielding toughness. They have a tremendous energy that I believe will ignite the Orange Krush and our fans to once again make State Farm Center one of the most intimidating venues in all of college basketball. Off the court, Brad builds strong, personal relationships with his student-athletes. His winning combination of strong Midwest values and tenacious work ethic are a perfect fit for our community and the Illini Nation.”
The style is also going to be run-and-fun. Underwood’s OSU team had the No. 1 offense in college basketball this season. In a statement, Underwood called the chance to coach at Illinois a “once-in-lifetime opportunity.”
Out: Mark Gottfried
Gottfried was told he wouldn’t be returning in mid-February. He coached out the rest of the season. In his six seasons at NC State, Gottfried made four NCAA Tournaments, two of those appearances including Sweet 16 runs. NC State was projected to be a clear-cut tourney team in 2016-17 but finished 15-17. It remains to be seen if Gottfried will remain in coaching or look to make a return to broadcasting.
In: Kevin Keatts
The 44-year-old had an interview on Friday, less than 24 hours removed from his team’s loss to Virginia in the NCAAs, and agreed to terms of a deal shortly thereafter. Wolfpack AD Debbie Yow targeted Keatts early in her search, and it’s clear he became a prime target. It looks like a good fit for both Keatts and the school. This seems like the exact right time for Keatts to make the next big step in his career. Amazingly, he’s gone from prep school coach to the ACC sideline in the course of six seasons. Talented coach. He’ll be ready for the challenge.
Keatts spent three seasons as an assistant for Rick Pitino at Louisville, then turned around the UNC Wilmington program the last three seasons. He won 72 games at UNCW and made the past two NCAA Tournaments. His teams lost in the Big Dance to ACC coaches Mike Krzyzewski and Tony Bennett. Now he joins their league.
Out: Tom Crean
Crean went 166-135 with IU in nine seasons, including a 71-91 record in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers made history this season, becoming the first team ever to beat two eventual No. 1 seeds in non-conference play but go on to miss the Big Dance. Indiana was beset by injuries, including the loss of projected first-round pick OG Anunoby. Crean lost the fan base in Bloomington in recent years, but his reputation as a coaching tactician is held in high regard. He’ll land on his feet at a solid job.
The Indiana job is a top-10 gig in college basketball. Realistic names to consider: UCLA coach Steve Alford, who starred at IU in the 1980s; Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, who has had offers to leave Wichita the past three years; Butler coach Chris Hotlmann, who is in-state and a fast-riser in the business; and Dayton coach Archie Miller, who has passed on other opportunities while waiting for a bigger job.
Out: Brad Underwood
Underwood will replace John Groce at Illinois. Now Oklahoma State finds itself looking for a coach much, much sooner than expected. CBS Sports’ Doug Gottlieb, who played at Oklahoma State, will interview for the job on Thursday. A faction of the fan base will want him to get the job. Other candidates to consider: SMU’s Tim Jankovich and Middle Tennessee’s Kermit Davis.
Out: Cuonzo Martin
Martin spent three years with the Golden Bears. He went to the 2016 NCAA Tournament and lost as a No. 4 seed in the first round. Martin has held three previous positions as head coach, spending three years at all three schools (Missouri State, Tennessee, Cal). He has made two NCAA Tournaments in nine years, highlighted by a Sweet 16 appearance with Tennessee in 2014. Saint Mary’s Randy Bennett and Nevada’s Eric Musselman have both turned the job down. Richmond’s Chris Mooney was a finalist the last time this job opened, and might be worth a look again. Other good potential fits: Harvard’s Tommy Amaker and Boise State’s Leon Rice.
Out: Kim Anderson
The Tigers fired Kim Anderson after three seasons in which the program was not competitive in the SEC. Anderson had a three-year run that resulted in a 27-68 mark. Missouri’s gig is interesting because the fan base is passionate, but its overall standing in the universe of college basketball is unknown. Now in the SEC, the hope is that this can be a top-five job in that league.
In: Cuonzo Martin
Martin signed a seven-year deal. He grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, just over the Missouri border. It’s approximately two hours from Missouri’s campus. Martin brings with him a reputation as an exceptional recruiter. This could include a move that would change the dynamic of the SEC next year. Early speculation has Martin trying to hire Michael Porter Sr., who worked at UW with Romar. If that happens, it’s likely Martin could get Michael Porter Jr. to Missouri next season. Porter Jr. is the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2017. Those details are still in flux.
Martin will be the fourth coach in eight season at Mizzou. Missouri is considered one of the best programs to never make a Final Four. Since 2004, the school had made the NCAAs five times. Martin has made one Sweet 16 and has three NCAA Tournament wins to his name.
Out: Derek Kellogg
The state’s highest paid employee was paid to leave, as Kellogg is out after nine seasons with the Minutemen. He took the program to the NCAAs in 2014 as a 6 seed but did not win a game there.
In: Pat Kelsey
An inspired hire by AD Pat Bamford. I’d be surprised if Kelsey doesn’t take the Minutemen to multiple NCAA Tournaments. He was hired away from Winthrop, which he just took to this year’s Big Dance thanks to a 26-7 record. Kelsey was at Winthrop the past five years and went 102-59. The A-10 hits another level if UMass is a top-40 team, and Kelsey has a great chance to achieve that.
“I look forward to the challenge of making UMass a major factor on the national level once again,” Kelsey said.
Out: Mike Lonergan
Lonergan was fired in September after an independent investigation found cause for his termination. The investigation centered around multiple claims of verbal abuse toward some of his players in addition to subversive comments allegedly made by Lonergan about his former athletic director. Lonergan, through his lawyer, denied the claims and challenged the validity of the university’s decision.
In: Maurice Joseph
Joseph was the in-house assistant chosen to be interim coach after Lonergan’s firing. Now he’s coached his way to a permanent spot. The Colonials went 19-14 but missed out on an NIT invite. GW finished its season 6-1 down the stretch, prior to CBI play. Joseph, 31, is keeping his entire staff on.
Out: Orlando Antigua
USF took a flier on Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua, who was a tremendous recruiter under John Calipari but had never held a head-coaching post. Antigua was fired on Jan 3. amid an NCAA investigation regarding possible academic fraud within the program. That investigation began last summer. Antigua went 23-55.
In: Brian Gregory
Sources told CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish that South Florida athletic director Mark Harland viewed Gregory as a good candidate — after Akron’s Keith Dambrot reportedly passed on the job — because of his lengthy experience. Gregory has been a head coach for 13 years, previously at Dayton and Georgia Tech. South Florida’s previous attempt to hire a coach, three years ago, failed miserably. First, the school was set to hire Manhattan’s Steve Masiello, but inaccurate information on his resume (regarding having acquired a college degree) led the school to backtrack.
Gregory took Dayton to the NCAA Tournament twice in his eight years there, then went o-fer in five seasons at Georgia Tech. He was fired in 2016. Gregory takes the job after working as a special assistant for Tom Izzo at Michigan State.
Out: Tony Benford
Benford was fired after five seasons, none of them ending above .500. North Texas went 8-22 this season, the lowest win total for the Mean Green since 2002-03.
In: Grant McCasland
McCasland gets the job after one season at Arkansas State wherein he went 20-12. North Texas nearly doubled McCasland’s salary, and he made the move because most of his family lives less than an hour from Denton, Texas. For business and personal reasons, it’s an ideal career step for McCasland, who’s a promising young coach.
Out: Will Wade
With Wade bolting on Richmond, a logical candidate to replace him is former VCU assistant and current Rice coach Mike Rhoades, who’s done a good job in Houston, getting the Owls to 23 wins this season. Another VCU assistant who is currently a head coach will also be in play: Mount St. Mary’s Jamion Christian. He’s taken that program to the NCAA Tournament twice in the past four years. If VCU wants to look outside the Ram family, Monmouth’s King Rice would be an inspired hire.
Out: Kevin Keatts
This is a top-four job in the CAA and should draw from a good candidate pool of higher-major assistant coaches. AD Jimmy Bass will be working on his third hire since he took the job in 2010. If there is not roster turnover due to transfers out of the program, Wilmington will have a chance at 20 wins again next season.
Out: Jack Perri
The most regrettable decision made by any administration in this year’s coaching carousel. Perri, who carries a good reputation, just won 20 games and finished second in his conference. Sources told CBS Sports that the move came from powers above the athletic department. That makes sense, because no AD worth their salt would fire a coach with a team as good as Perri had built at the low-major level. Perri should get another opportunity in the next year. Candidates to consider include Jim Ferry, who got LIU Brooklyn to the NCAAs before taking the Duquesne job (I’m told he would take this job again), and former Drexel coach Bruiser Flint.
Out: Pat Kelsey
At 41, Kelsey takes a good leap to UMass. Now Winthrop could look in-house and promote associate head coach Mark Prosser, who could keep continuity at that top-two Big South program. Another strong candidate with in-state ties is Mike Boynton Jr., who starred at South Carolina and has been Brad Underwood’s top assistant at Stephen F. Austin and Oklahoma State.
Out: Mike Rhoades
The big question is: How many coaches are trying to lure Marcus Evans away from that team now? Evans is one of the best mid-major players in America. Rice has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1970. It is a challenging job but a great school/campus. As one coach put it to me: “They have Ivy League admission standards in a JUCO league. MTSU, WKU, UAB, UTEP all can get ANYONE in school. It’s an extremely hard job.” The hire has to be just right. If Evans stays, Rice has a chance at flirting with winning the auto bid next season.
Out: The Vikings ended their relationship with Tyler Geving after eight seasons. He averaged 14 wins per season. Portland State is looking for a return to the top of the Big Sky. The program made back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2008 and 2009 with Ken Bone .
Out: Sean Woods
Woods’ behavior cost him his job. Woods resigned in December amid an investigation into his allegedly physical behavior — multiple incidents — with current players on the team. This is one of the three or four best jobs in the Ohio Valley Conference.
In: Preston Spradlin
Spradlin ran the team after Woods parted ways. He’s the 14th coach in Morehead State history. He’s from Kentucky, previously worked as grad assistant and ops guy for John Calipari, and it’s a hire that makes sense. He led the program to a 12-8 record from Dec. 19 on, after a rough start and uncertainty with the Woods situation. Spradlin was named interim coach on Dec. 15. At 30 years old, he’s now the youngest coach in Division I.
Out: Jim Ferry
Duquesne is a very hard job, and Ferry was unable to get the team into the top half of the league in his five seasons in Pittsburgh, averaging 12 wins per season. Ferry could be a possible candidate for Quinnipiac, if the Bobcats want to take that route. Duquesne has not made the NCAAs since 1977.
Out: Grant McCasland
The school finds itself in need of a coaching hire sooner than expected, as McCasland spent only one good season there before being lured away by North Texas.
In: Mike Balado
Balado comes over from Louisville, where he is currently an assistant. He’s been on Rick Pitino’s staff for four seasons. He’ll stay on staff with the Cardinals until that team’s tournament run is through, and then head to Jonesboro.
Out: John Cooper
Cooper never got it going, as he averaged 12 wins per season in five years with the program. This is a MAC school with potential. The league isn’t what it was 10, especially 20 years ago, but it’s still capable — with the right coaches and without a rash of transfers — to be a two-bid league again. It needs schools like Miami University to be better.
Out: Gary Waters
The Vikings had Waters run the program for 11 seasons, making the NCAAs in 2009. The past two years, CSU had nine-win campaigns. From this program to Miami University to Youngstown State, and perhaps more to come, the state of Ohio will have a influx of new coaches this spring.
Out: Ray Giacoletti
Drake is the toughest job in the Missouri Valley. Giacoletti abruptly resigned in early December. The program has gone to the NCAA Tournament four times. It was won the Missouri Valley regular-season title once since 1971.
Out: Tom Moore
Moore cut his teeth as an assistant under Jim Calhoun at UConn. At Quinnipiac, he often had good talent but seldom was able to turn that into March success. The Bobcats won at least 11 league games four times under Moore but never made the NCAA Tournament. QU could be a highly coveted low-major job, as the school is reportedly prepared to pay as much as $800,000 per year if it can land its dream target.
Out: Bob Williams
Williams was with UCSB for 19 years, and made the NCAAs in 2002, 2010 and 2011. His contract expires in August, and he and the school agreed to part ways. From a location standpoint, this is one of the best mid-major jobs in the country.
Out: Willie Hayes
Hayes spent six seasons in the SWAC, never getting above .500. This year, Alabama A&M went 2-27 and ranked as the worst team in college basketball, per KenPom.com’s metrics. The program last made the tournament in 2005.
Out: Dave Loos
After almost 30 years on the sidelines at AP, Loos retired amid a battle with cancer. Austin Peay made the 2016 NCAA Tournament, and Loos took the program dancing four times. He finishes with 402 career wins at the school.
Out: Jerry Slocum
The Penguins haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in their history. Slocum spent 12 years with the program but never won more than 18 games in a season. This year, Youngstown State went 13-21. The program should seek to hire an elite assistant who knows the midwest well and can recruit.
Out: Cameron Dollar
Dollar, who starred at UCLA back in the day, was Seattle’s coach through its transition to Division I. The program is in the WAC. The Redhawks went 13-17 this past season. Dollar finished above .500 once in the previous seven seasons.
Out: Byron Samuels
Florida A&M announced a coaching change on Friday evening. Samuels won 16 games in three seasons. The program has not been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007. The Rattlers went 6-23 this season.
Out: Gravelle Craig
Craig spent six seasons with the program but did not make an NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats finished 10-22 this past season. This MEAC program has been in Division I for more than 30 years but is yet to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Out: Shawn Walker
An oddity, as Grambling parted ways with Walker after the school went 15-17 this season, a nine-win improvement from the year prior. In fact, this was the most successful season for the Tigers in 19 seasons.Read More
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