College basketball coaches are always in a process of becoming.
Every coach in the profession is looking for the next milestone. Well, every coach except for Mike Krzyzewski.
If you follow the sport closely, you probably have an opinion on the best coach without a national title, the best coach without a Final Four, the best coach outside of a power conference, the best coach under 40, or whatever the case may be.
If your school is close to making a coaching change, maybe you’re especially interested in the coaches who are on the rise.
For the second part of our college basketball expert survey, we asked a panel of more than two dozen college basketball experts who they believed was in the process of becoming one of the best in the profession.
The results were somewhat surprising from multiple angles. Some of our panelists reached into the low-major ranks to respond. Some reminded us that even coaches who reached the Final Four still have things to accomplish before they reach the top of the mountain.
Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll
Question 2: Which coach is early in his career now but will be considered a top-10 name in the next decade?
Archie Miller, Dayton
Shaka Smart, VCU
Tony Bennett, Virginia
Dan Hurley, Rhode Island
Chris Holtman, Butler
Fred Hoiberg, Iowa State
Sean Miller, Arizona
Chris Collins, Northwestern
John Groce, Illinois
Larry Krystkowiak, Utah
Matt Langel, Colgate
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Cuonzo Martin, Cal
Tim Miles, Nebraska
Steve Prohm, Murray State
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin
Will Wade, Chattanooga
Michael White, Louisiana Tech
• The nature of the question was up for interpretation for many of our panelists — “early in his career” and “top-10” coach are flexible designations. We have coaches from Colgate and Chattanooga listed here along with three coaches who have already reached a Final Four and a number of coaches already at power programs. Sean Miller has coached for 11 total seasons, six at Arizona. That’s early in a career when compared with lifers like Krzyzewski.
• It’s interesting that Sean Miller wasn’t the top Miller on the list. The younger brother Archie Miller took Dayton to the Elite Eight last season and has the Flyers in NCAA contention despite a ton of in-season roster turnover. That said, don’t read too much into that. In all likelihood, much of our panel either already considered Sean Miller a top-10 coach or a guy who’s not “early” in his career.
• That one vote for Boston Celtics coach and former Butler head man Brad Stevens came with this comment — “when he when he returns to college, as he inevitably will.”
• A number of coaches showed up on both this list and our best coaches in the game today poll — Sean Miller, Tony Bennett, Shaka Smart and Fred Hoiberg.
• Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley received three votes. His name should look familiar — he’s the brother of ex-Duke star Bobby Hurley and son of Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley. Dan Hurley is making his own mark, leading massive rebuilds at Wagner and Rhode Island in just five years as a head coach.
• Think of the journey for Butler coach Chris Holtmann. He wasn’t a full-time head coach until December when his boss, Brandon Miller, officially left his post to deal with health issues.
• Also on the list are a few names that are about to move out of low-major ranks into the mid-majors include Chattanooga’s Will Wade (a former Shaka Smart assistant), Louisiana Tech’s Michael White (who was interviewed for the Tennessee job last season), Stephen F. Austin’s Brad Underwood (who is 59-7 as a head coach) and Murray State’s Steve Prohm.
• The most surprising name on this list? Matt Langel. The 37-year-old has been at Colgate for four seasons, taking over a seven-win team the year before he arrived. The Red Raiders went 12-6 for its first winning record in the Patriot League since 2002-03.
More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.
All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.
The panel was comprised of:
Rick Bozich, WDRB Louisville
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon
Wes Durham, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network
Ryan Fagan, Sporting News
John Feinstein, Washington Post/NBC Sports
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports
John Gasaway, ESPN
Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Jeff Goodman, ESPN
Seth Greenberg, ESPN
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times
Raphielle Johnson, College Basketball Talk
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
Will Leitch, Sports on Earth
Mike Lopresti, NCAA.com
Troy Machir, Sporting News
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com
Brendan Prunty, SI.com
Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press
Lindsay Schnell, SI.com
David Teel, Virginia Daily Press
Jerry Tipton, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader
Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Blue Star Media
Luke Winn, SI.com