Each college basketball season there is no lack of coaching changes made across the country. That’s what happens when there are 351 men’s basketball programs in Division I alone.
Although it’s virtually impossible to predict the success a new head coach will have with his new team, here are five schools that appear to have hired the right man for the job.
1. Brad Underwood, Illinois
Underwood is at the top of our list for the second straight season after making the surprising move from Oklahoma State to Illinois. In Underwood’s only season in Stillwater, the Cowboys rebounded from an 0–6 start in Big 12 play to earn an at-large invitation to the NCAA Tournament. And they did so playing an entertaining style, leading the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency (according to KenPom.com) after ranking 153rd the previous season with a similar roster. Prior to Oklahoma State, Underwood recorded an astounding 53–1 record in the Southland Conference in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin. The Lumberjacks advanced to the NCAA in all three seasons, highlighted by an upset over West Virginia in a 14 vs. 3 game in 2016. A former Frank Martin assistant at both Kansas State and South Carolina, Underwood coached in the state of Illinois for 11 years as an assistant at Western Illinois from 1992-2003.
2. Archie Miller, Indiana
Miller carved out a well-deserved reputation as one of the top young coaches in the game during his six seasons at Dayton. He inherited a program that had been to the NCAA Tournament one time in the previous seven seasons and — after two years of rebuilding — guided the Flyers to four straight NCAAs, from 2014-17. Indiana set its sights on Miller after deciding to part ways with Tom Crean and locked him up with a seven-year contract that will pay him a reported $3.35 million per season.
3. Chris Holtmann, Ohio State
Holtmann made the seemingly odd move in 2013 to leave his job as a head coach at Gardner-Webb to join Brandon Miller’s staff as an assistant coach at Butler. Well, four years later, it’s safe to say things worked out quite nicely. Holtmann was named interim head coach at Butler prior to the ’14-15 season when Miller took a medical leave of absence, and was named to the job on a permanent basis after guiding the Bulldogs to a second-place tie in the Big East and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Butler returned to the NCAAs in both of the next two seasons, including a trip to the Sweet 16 this past April. Holtmann seems to be the ideal fit at Ohio State.
4. Kevin Keatts, NC State
It’s been a rapid rise for the former Rick Pitino assistant, who was a head coach at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy as recently as 2011. Keatts engineered a quick turnaround at UNC Wilmington, taking a program that went 9–23 in 2013-14 to 18 wins in ’14-15 to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in ’16 and ’17. The Seahawks went a combined 41–13 in the CAA in three seasons, winning at least a share of the league title each year.
5. Will Wade, LSU
A former manager at Clemson, Wade has been a head coach for four seasons and won’t turn 35 until November. The one-time Shaka Smart assistant went 40–25 in two seasons at Chattanooga and 51–20 in two seasons at VCU. He is a relentless recruiter and has already done a nice job restocking the roster at LSU.